Hiring foreign employees: what are your obligations?

Last modified:

Thursday 31 October 2019

If you are planning to hire a national from another country, chances are this person will require a work permit. Here’s what you should know.

Whom does this concern?

  • An employer in Belgium wishing to employ a non-European citizen in their company.
  • An employer abroad asking one of their employees to work in Belgium.
  • Foreign nationals wishing to work in Belgium as an employee.

Which persons are exempted?

1) Foreign nationals in a specific residence situation

  • nationals of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland;
  • students, asylum seekers, nationals with subsidiary protection status, on humanitarian grounds, family reunification, etc.

See the list of residence situations that lead to an exemption.

2) Certain foreign nationals that come to Belgium to work there temporarily

In these cases, the exemption is generally limited to three months.

In all other cases, the employer must request authorisation before employing the worker in Belgium.

Permit application: submission process

The employer or their agent needs to request an authorisation to employ a foreign national in Belgium. The applicant needs to be a natural person lawfully residing in Belgium.

That means that an employer established abroad, for whom an employee comes to Belgium to work there temporarily, needs the services of an agent. In that case, the agent's mandate must be attached to the application.

The type of authorisation to be requested depends on the situation of the (candidate-)worker. As this list is relatively long, we strongly advise you to follow the instructions on the Brussels Economy and Employment website.  For each "situation", you get a clear overview of the necessary authorizations.

You must complete the application form, date and sign it before the person starts working in our country. Your request should be addressed to Brussels Economy and Employment.

If the application is approved, the foreign national will receive a work permit (valid for maximum 90 days) or a single permit (valid for maximum one year). A single permit proves the right to reside and work in Belgium.

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