Guidance

Living in Belgium

Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Belgium, including guidance on residency, healthcare, passports and the Withdrawal Agreement.

What you should do

You should:

Stay up to date

You should:

Attend a citizen outreach meeting

The British Embassy regularly holds events across Belgium for UK nationals. Attend one of our citizen outreach meetings to keep up to date on working and living in Belgium.

You can also:

The Withdrawal Agreement

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights. It sets out a transition period which lasts until 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to live, work and study in the EU broadly as you did before 31 January 2020.

If you are resident in Belgium at the end of the transition period, you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in Belgium.

Any rights that are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be the subject of future negotiations. Read this guidance page for more information.

In the meantime, make sure you are registered as a resident in Belgium. We will update this guidance as soon as more information becomes available.

You should also read our guidance on living in Europe.

Visas and residency

Check the entry requirements for Belgium.

You must carry photographic ID at all times.

Residency

You must register at your local town hall (commune/gemeente) 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 or house
  • documents proving you can support yourself in Belgium, such as your employment contract or proof of your pension
  • proof of health insurance

You may be given further forms for you and/or 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, at a cost of around €20.

There are many types of residency cards in Belgium, the following are currently the most relevant for UK nationals resident in Belgium:

  • E card: for EU citizens resident in Belgium less than 5 years
  • E+ card: for EU citizens resident in Belgium more than 5 years
  • F card: for non-EU spouses of an EU citizen, resident in Belgium less than 5 years
  • F+ card: for non-EU spouses of an EU citizen, resident in Belgium more than 5 years

If you are already resident in Belgium, you will receive a letter from your Commune/Gemeente before 31 December 2020 explaining how to obtain a new residency card. You do not need to take any action until you receive this letter.

There will be no change in residency rules or registration procedures if you arrive in Belgium on or before 31 December 2020. UK nationals legally resident in Belgium, that have started the registration process at the local town hall, before the transition period ends will be able to stay.

Read the Belgian government’s guidance on residency rights.

Please note that residency is separate to citizenship.

Healthcare

If you are living in Belgium or move there permanently before 31 December 2020 you’ll have life-long healthcare rights in Belgium as you do now, provided you remain resident.

You must register with a healthcare insurer (mutuelle/ziekenfonds) to access the healthcare system if you are resident in Belgium. If you are working, both you and your employer will make contributions to your social security and healthcare system 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 refunded depends on the health services covered by your insurance.

Check the Belgian government guidance on health and social security entitlements.

Read our guidance on who can access healthcare in Belgium and how to register.

State healthcare: S1

If you live in Belgium and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may currently be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate.

You can apply for an S1 certificate through the Business Services Authority.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are resident in Belgium, you must not use your EHIC from the UK to access healthcare in Belgium.

When you travel from Belgium for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country. During that short stay:

There will be no changes to your healthcare access before 31 December 2020. You can also continue to use your EHIC, as you did before, during this time.

You should also read guidance on:

Passports and travel

The rules on travel will stay the same until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. During this time, you can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.

You can apply for or renew your British passport online from Belgium.

Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

We will update these pages with details of any changes to the rules as soon as information is available. You should sign up for updates to this guidance.

Driving in Belgium

Driving licence rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

If you are a resident in Belgium, you should exchange your UK licence for a Belgian driving licence. You can still use your Belgian licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test if you return to live in the UK.

For information on driving in Belgium, read the guidance on:

When driving in Belgium, always have:

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

Vehicles

Contact your vehicle insurance provider to obtain a motor insurance Green Card. The Green Card for your vehicle covers your trailer. If your trailer is not attached or exceeds 500 kg, you will need an additional Green Card for it.

Read the guidance on car insurance validity when travelling to Belgium.

Bringing a UK-registered vehicle to Belgium

Read our guidance on 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 (in French). You can read the European Union’s guidance on car registration rules and taxes. You may be exempt from some of these taxes. If so you will need certificates of exemption.

Working in Belgium

If you are registered as a resident in Belgium you have the right to work in Belgium. Read our guidance on working in an EU country.

To apply for a job you may need to apply for a:

  • UK police certificate
  • Belgian criminal records certificate (extrait de casier judiciaire/uittreksel uit het strafregister), which you can request at your local town hall (commune/gemeente)

If you are resident in Belgium on or before 31 December 2020, you will maintain your right to work, as long as you remain resident in Belgium.

Education and professional qualifications

If you are resident in Belgium on or before 31 December 2020, your right to study in Belgium will stay the same, as long as you remain resident.

For more information read studying in the European Union.

Professional qualifications

If you have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications, this will remain valid after 31 January 2020.

If you have not had your professional qualifications recognised, you can submit an application under the current rules until 31 December 2020.

If you need to take action to secure the recognition of your academic or professional qualification in Belgium, visit the Business Belgium website.

Money and tax

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Belgium to ensure you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. Ask the relevant tax authority your questions about double taxation relief.

Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Belgium have not changed.

Read guidance about:

You should get professional advice on paying tax in Belgium.

Declaration of assets

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 if you do not comply.

National Insurance

Find out if you can pay National Insurance while abroad so that you protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

If you are employed or self-employed in the EU or EEA and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.

Pensions

Tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

If you retire in Belgium, you can claim:

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.

Pensions after 31 January 2020

There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming the UK State Pension in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

You can continue to receive your UK State Pension if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension.

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you will get your UK State Pension uprated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions explained in the new State Pension guidance.

If you are living in Belgium by 31 December 2020, you will be able to count future social security contributions towards meeting the qualifying conditions for your UK State Pension.

If you work and pay social security contributions in Belgium, you will be able to add your UK social security contributions towards your Belgian pension. This will happen even if you claim your pension after 31 December 2020.

Read our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.

Benefits

Tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

You may be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Belgium.

You should:

Many income-related benefits such as pension credit and housing benefit cannot be paid to you if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

You may be eligible for Belgian benefits. Find out if you are entitled to Belgian benefits and how to claim them:

You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC if you are asked for this.

Benefits after 31 January 2020

There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming UK benefits in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020, you will continue to receive any UK benefits you already receive. This will continue for as long as you live there and meet all other eligibility requirements.

If you work and pay social security contributions in Belgium, your UK social security contributions will be taken into account when applying for Belgian contributions-based benefits. This will happen even if you claim contributions-based benefits after 31 December 2020.

Read our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.

Voting

If you have been resident in Belgium for more than 5 years, you can vote in local elections.

To do so, you must:

  • register on the municipal register where you live
  • formally declare your intention to vote and register on the local electoral roll
  • confirm your status every 2 to 5 years to remain registered and be able to vote

You cannot vote in federal or regional elections in Belgium or European Parliament elections.

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. For this, you can:

Births, deaths and getting married

If your child is born in Belgium, you will need to register the birth abroad.

If someone dies in Belgium you can:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

Find out about notarial and documentary services for UK nationals in Belgium.

You may also need:

Accommodation and buying property

Read guidance on how to buy a property in Belgium.

Pets

Current pet travel rules will stay the same during the until 31 December 2020.

If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you must visit your vet to get a pet passport.

Read guidance on bringing your pet to the UK.

Emergencies

You can dial the European emergency number on 112 or:

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

Consult the Belgium emergency numbers.

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

Returning to the UK

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.

If you have further questions

Contact us through our web form if you have a specific question on living in Belgium.

Disclaimer

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 23 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Brexit update: includes further details on passport validity, healthcare rights and State Pension uprating if the UK leaves the EU with a deal.

  2. Brexit update: healthcare section updated to reflect transitional arrangements announcement

  3. Brexit update: Pensions section updated to include further details on State Pension uprating.

  4. EU Exit update: added information about passport validity to passport section

  5. EU Exit update: added information on the latest no deal legislation in healthcare, visas and residency, education and driving sections

  6. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.

  7. EU Exit update: Updated information on passports. You must use the checker tool to see if your passport is still valid for your trip.

  8. EU Exit Update: Belgian government draft legislation on UK citizens' rights in a no deal added to the EU Exit section.

  9. EU Exit update: added latest information from the Belgian government about residence rights in the case of a deal or no deal in the EU Exit section.

  10. EU Exit update - Updated information on access to healthcare.

  11. EU Exit update: updated information on pensions and driving

  12. EU Exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in pet section.

  13. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  14. Updated life certificate instructions for UK state pensions.

  15. First published.