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Working in Belgium: Professional card for foreigners


A foreign, non-European entrepreneur wishing to work in Belgium as a self-employed professional, either as a physical person or within an existing company, must obtain a formal authorisation in form of a professional card.

Criminal penalties exist when the business is carried out in the absence of a professional card when this is required.

In principle, in order to work as a self-employed professional in Belgium, the application for the professional card will take place at the embassy or the consulate of the country of origin or the country of legal residence.

In some specific cases, you can apply when already in Belgium through the “Guichet des Entreprises” (http://economie.fgov.be/fr).

It is very important to carefully prepare the application for a professional card in light of the criteria (such as economic utility for Belgium) in order to ensure the chances of success. The administration has a margin of appreciation when analysing the file. Anticipating the way how legal prerequisites are interpreted and demonstrating that one fulfils all of the criteria is of paramount importance.

If the professional card is denied, an appeal will be possible within 30 days. However, if the appeal is not successful, a new application for the same business plan can only be introduced after a lapse of 2 years.

Once the professional licence has been granted, it is often for an initial trial period of 2 years. The licence can be valid for a maximum of 5 years, but can be renewed. The licence indicates the profession for which it has been granted. After the professional licence has been obtained, there are additional formalities which must be completed such as registration at the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises.

A visa or residence application must be prepared with as much attention as the application for a professional licence, especially since other criteria are bound to apply.

Altea offers advice by expert lawyers, adapted to your personal situation.

Contact Céline Verbrouck or Catherine de Bouyalski, specialist lawyers in immigration law and international family law, certified by the Order of Lawyers of the Bar of Brussels.