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When traveling to Belgium, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require a work permit. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.
What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?
As a business visitor to Belgium, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:
- » Negotiate contracts with customers
- » Conduct evaluation interviews
- » Attend strategic meetings
- » Follow an internal training course
- » Receive, on behalf of a foreign employer, goods supplied and manufactured by a Belgian company
If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Belgium?
Nationals of the European Union, United States, Canada, and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in Belgium. If your nationality is not eligible for a visa waiver, you must obtain a Schengen C Business Visa from a Belgian Embassy or Consulate prior to travel.
What types of activities require a work permit?
The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Belgian law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Belgium, even if conducted for a short duration.
- » Hands-on technical work
- » Consulting
- » Market rollout
- » Conducting training
In limited circumstances, foreign nationals may engage in specialized professional and technical activities without obtaining a work permit, though an after-sales contract and additional eligibility criteria may apply. An individual assessment is required before deciding whether a work authorization exemption is appropriate.
If I am traveling to Belgium for work, what type of work permit do I need?
The requirements for a work permit depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work, and on whether your employer has an entity in Belgium. The most common Belgian work permits are:
- » Specialized Technician Work Permit (short term assignment work permit for work up to 90 days)
- » Specialized Technician Single Permit (short term assignment work permit for work between 90 days and six months)
- » Single Permit for Highly Skilled Workers and Executives (long term work permit)
- » EU Blue Card (high-skilled work permit)
Is it possible to be exempted from work permit requirements?
Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are not required to obtain a work permit in order to work in Belgium. However, registrations or other formalities may be required prior to working or residing in Belgium.
Additional work permit exemptions are available in Belgium under Vander Elst rules as well as for journalists. In these cases, a legal assessment to determine the possibilities for work permit exemptions should be obtained prior to traveling.
Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.
Copyright © 2019 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.