Tuesday June 2022
All you need to know when you come to work in Belgium
Hello, my name is Lavinius, I settled down 1 year ago to work in Belgium. Here is all the information I would have liked to have to facilitate the transition.
By an expat for expats!
Lavinius Belgian guide
Belgium is split into three very distinct regions:
- Wallonia – where people speak French (with a small German minority in the East)
- Flanders – where people speak Dutch
- Brussels – where people officially speak both languages (although 95% are French speakers)
Because Belgium is a federal state, the rules can vary a bit from region to region. So please make sure to check that the information you get is relevant to your case. Almost all information about Belgium can be found on https://www.belgium.be (NL/FR/DE/EN). If you require specific information regarding a particular region of Belgium, you can check:
- for Wallonia - https://www.wallonie.be/fr (FR/DE)
- for Flanders - https://www.vlaanderen.be/ (NL/EN/FR/DE)
- for Brussels - https://be.brussels/ (NL/FR)
Do not hesitate to contact any of your B.E.S. colleagues if you require more details. Life in a federal state can be confusing for newcomers.
What you need to live in Belgium:
A Place to stay
The most popular real-estate website in Belgium is https://www.immoweb.be/en (EN/FR/NL). Be ready to make quick decisions – the Belgian real estate market is very volatile. Moreover, make sure you pick a place where you would like to stay for a long time – ideally at least 3 years. Depending on the region, you may have to pay specific fees if you leave your rented apartment too early.
The tenant must acquire insurance for the house. It is recommended also to get civil insurance – if someone gets hurt on your property, even if they should not be there (e.g., children recovering a ball), you are liable for damage if you do not have civil insurance. You may use a comparator to choose the best insurance for you:
Electricity, water, and gas
The tenant must also conclude contracts for utilities
- The water contract is automatically concluded once you rent a property. You will receive a letter from the water company which will give you more details.
- The electricity and gas contract(s) can be concluded with any supplier on the Belgian market. To choose one, you can use:
- https://www.compacwape.be/client/#/myProfile (Wallonia)
- https://vtest.vreg.be/ (Flanders)
- https://www.brusim.be/client/#/myProfile (Brussels)
TV & Internet
You would surely like to have internet, and maybe TV at your place. Again, a comparator is the best tool to use - https://www.astel.be/ (FR/NL). Yes, internet/TV and mobile numbers are expensive in Belgium.
A Belgian ID
If you intend to stay in Belgium for more than 3 months, you must get a Belgian ID. More information can be found at https://www.belgium.be/fr/famille/identite/carte_d_identite (also available in Dutch).
When you will get the Belgian ID from your town hall, you will also be registered for a garbage pick-up contract. The garbage system in Belgium is based on separating your garbage, recycling garbage, and minimizing the amount of produced waste. You are taxed on the quantity of garbage you produce. The sorting rules depend on the region and on the municipality, so make sure to ask for more information at your town hall.
Health Insurance system
If you work and live in Belgium, you are automatically registered to the universal health insurance system. However, to benefit from the system, you must be registered with a health insurance fund. To find the right one for you, you should use a comparator:
- https://www.guide-epargne.be/epargner/comparer-mutualites.html (FR)
- https://www.spaargids.be/sparen/ziekenfondsen-vergelijken.html (NL)
- There is also free health insurance found. However, it does not offer any of the benefits that a paid one might offer - https://www.caami-hziv.fgov.be/fr (NL/FR/DE).
In some stores in Belgium (mostly in Flanders) Visa/Mastercard bank cards are not accepted. Thus, it is recommended to either open a bank account in Belgium to get a Maestro card (which is also useful in the Netherlands) or to always carry cash on you. To find the right bank for you, you can use a comparator:
For some online stores in Belgium, only Belgian phone numbers are accepted (e.g., Carrefour). You receive a Belgian SIM card from B.E.S. If you would require more, you can use a comparator to choose the right operator:
- https://www.mon-abonnement-gsm.be/comparatif-abonnement-gsm (FR)
- https://www.mijn-gsm-abonnement.be/vergelijking-gsm-abonnement (NL)
Belgium has an expansive public transport network. It is strongly recommended to order a MoBiB card once you get a Belgian ID, so you pay less for your trips. The websites of the different public transport operators are:
- https://www.letec.be/ (bus/tram operator of Wallonia – FR/NL/DE/EN)
- https://www.delijn.be/ (bus/tram operator of Flanders – NL/FR/DE/EN)
- https://www.stib-mivb.be (bus/tram/metro operator of Brussels – FR/NL/EN)
- https://www.belgiantrain.be (railway transport operator of Belgium – NL/FR/DE/EN)
List of useful links expats
- Cost of living in Brussels
- Expats in Brussels
- Internations (Community of expats in Belgium)