22 August 2018
Expat in Belgium? A handy checklist
Coming to live in Belgium for work? Time to enjoy our great fries, Belgian chocolate and our famous beers! Settling abroad can be quite a challenging adventure and preparation is essential. To help you, here’s a handy checklist.
1. Think about all the formalities and documents required
You won't get far without the right paperwork. You may not even be able to arrive in Belgium if your administrative documents are not in order. So be sure to remember the following:
- your international passport, if you are not an EU citizen
- your work permit and your residence permit
- your deregistration in your country of origin and registration in Belgium.
Check well in advance how long these procedures take. Also make copies of your birth and marriage certificates and, if necessary, have them translated into French, Dutch or German (the three official languages of Belgium).
Register as soon as possible with the consulate of your country of origin in Belgium. They can often help you through the administrative formalities and can be very useful in case of any problems.
2. Organise your move and find accommodation
You'll also need somewhere to live in Belgium. If you aren't staying for long, you could opt for a temporary solution such as a hotel, bed & breakfast or Airbnb. If you plan to stay a bit longer, the best option is to rent or buy a house or apartment. You can find your own accommodation on the Internet or go through an estate agent.
Be sure to check if the property is furnished and whether or not the water, gas, electricity, phone and internet are included. Would you like to get a Belgian mobile plan, a postal address in Belgium and perhaps a newspaper subscription? You can arrange most of these things ahead of time.
Be sure to get insurance!
Are you renting or have you bought a property? ING Home Insurance for tenants or ING Home Insurance for owners offers you customised coverage. You are covered for damage (fire, water, flood, etc.) that may occur during your stay in Belgium. Our insurance also covers potential damage to your personal belongings, such as furniture, clothing, electronics, etc.
Some employers use the services of what are known as ‘relocators’, professionals who help you through all the aspects of the move. Check who's paying and what this person will be arranging on your behalf.
3. Don't forget your healthcare costs
- To start with, go and see your doctor before you leave, for a full health check.
- Also check your insurance policies and your social security status in Belgium. If applicable, also adapt your treatment and medication.
4. Don’t forget about your social life in Belgium
Being far from family, friends and colleagues while working in another country is not always easy. Fortunately, Belgium is full of great places for every taste and many are particularly welcoming of expats.
You can also take some language courses to learn one or all of the three official languages. There are also many conversation tables where you can combine the useful with the agreeable by meeting local people. At the same time, several communities such as InterNations, Expatica and Let’s meet in Belgium organise activities aimed at creating ties with both locals and other expats.
5. Check your banking and tax arrangements
Before you leave, file a final tax return in your country of origin and apply in Belgium to be taxed as a resident.
Want to know more?
Are you preparing to settle in Belgium soon and don’t quite know where to start?