Guidance

Living in Belgium

Official information British people moving to and living in Belgium need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

Brexit: what you need to know

There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Belgium while the UK remains in the EU.

While the government continues to negotiate Brexit, you should:

Before you go

See our travel advice for Belgium and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for Belgium in our travel advice.

You must carry ID at all times.

You must register at your local commune (French)/gemeente (Dutch) (town hall) within 8 days of arriving in Belgium. You might be asked to bring:

  • 4 passport-sized photos
  • originals and copies of your passport
  • the lease for your apartment/house
  • documents proving you can support yourself in Belgium, such as your employment contract or proof of your pension
  • proof of health insurance
  • the required fee (usually €20)

You may be given further forms for you or/and your employer to complete and return.

The police will verify your address by making a house call. If you’re not at home when a police officer calls, the officer will leave a card giving you an appointment at your local police station.

Once the police have verified your address, you’ll get a statement of registration and you can apply for an electronic residence card, valid for 5 years.

Healthcare

See our travel advice for Belgium.

The NHS has information about healthcare for British people living in and visiting Belgium.

You need a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get emergency medical treatment during temporary stays in EU countries. You also need comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your EHIC.

You must register with a mutuelle (French)/ziekenfonds (Dutch) to access the healthcare system.

Both you and your employer must make contributions to your social security and health insurance through the mutuelle/ziekenfonds. The amount you have to pay is set by the Belgian government.

When you visit a doctor or pharmacist, you need to pay and then send the receipt to your mutuelle/ziekenfonds. The amount you’ll be reimbursed depends on the health services covered by your insurance.

You can find English-speaking doctors. You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Belgium.

S1 form – healthcare paid for by the UK

You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Belgium and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.

You need to apply for a S1 form – contact the Department for Work and Pensions’ International Pensions Centre.

Working in Belgium

See working in another EU country.

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check).

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

Belgium and the UK have a double taxation convention to prevent income being taxed in both countries.

See paying income tax in Belgium.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Belgium.

All residents must declare assets outside Belgium, including bank accounts, securities, rights, insurance, annuities and property. The declaration is separate to the annual tax return, and there are severe penalties and criminal charges for non-compliance.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

If you’ve worked in Belgium, you must apply for your pension through the Federal Pensions Service.

If you haven’t worked in Belgium, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you’ve worked in several EU countries, see state pensions abroad.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You may be eligible to claim some Belgian social security benefits – see Belgian social security benefits.

If you’ve worked in Belgium but haven’t paid enough national insurance contributions, you should get a statement of your UK National Insurance contributions.

Driving in Belgium

See driving abroad and road travel in Belgium.

See driving licence renewal and exchange and taking a vehicle out of the UK.

If you spend more than 6 months of the year in Belgium with your UK-registered car, you must register your vehicle with the Belgian authorities. See vehicle registration service.

You can also change your UK licence to a Belgian licence at your local commune/gemeente.

When driving, you should always have:

  • your driving licence
  • your car papers
  • your insurance paper
  • your MOT/Control technique certificate
  • your passport or ID and those of your passengers

Voting

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.

If you’re resident in Belgium, you can vote in local municipal and European parliamentary elections.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

Deaths

See what to do after someone dies.

See also:

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Pets

See travelling with pets.

Emergencies

As well as the European emergency number 112, Belgium also has:

  • 100 – medical emergency and fire brigade
  • 101 – police

See Belgium – emergency numbers.

If you need urgent help, contact the British Embassy Brussels.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Disclaimer

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Belgian authorities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.

Published 15 May 2013
Last updated 28 March 2018 + show all updates
  1. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.
  2. Updated life certificate instructions for UK state pensions.
  3. First published.