in Belgium - Provincia di Genova



in Belgium - Provincia di Genova
Mini Guide
Living and working
Broaden up your skills
in Belgium
F o r ewo r d
This brochure does not intend to be
a tourist guide and it does not pretend to give every detail essential to
a successful integration in Belgium.
However, in this mini guide you will
find some important information
which will allow you to form a general notion of the situation in Belgium and to collect quickly all the
information needed during and after your stay on Belgian territory.
Certain information in this brochure
has been drawn from quoted Internet sites.
Belgium is a federal state divided into communities and regions. The division into communities is based on
language and culture. The division into regions is based on economic interests. In addition the country has
10 provinces and 586 municipalities.
The principal responsibilities of the Federal State are among other things: Foreign Affairs, National Defence, Justice, Finance, Social Affairs as well as great parts of Public Health and Home Affairs.
The Federal State
The Communities
The Flemish Community
The Regions
The Flemish Region
The French Community
The Region of Brussels–Capital
The German-speaking community
The Walloon Region
- © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
BELGIUM : communities, districts, provinces, regions...
Flanders Language : Dutch
Borders on : Germany, France and the Netherlands
Important cities : Antwerpen, Brugge, Brussels, Gent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, ...
Wallonia Language : French
Borders on : Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands
Important cities : Charleroi, Liège, Namur, Mons, ...
Region of Brussels-Capital Languages: French and Dutch
The City of Brussels is all in one : an agglomeration of 19 municipalities forming one of the three Regions of the Belgian Federal State, the
capital of the Kingdom of Belgium, the seat of the governments of the French and Flemish Communities and also the place where the European Commission and the Council of the EU reside.
The German-speaking Community Language : German
Borders on : Germany and Luxembourg
Important cities : Eupen, Saint-Vith, ...
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
To remember ...
1. Telephone numbers to remember
The numbers below are all free
Everywhere in Europe ;
passing emergencies towards
the adequate service
Ambulance (SAMU – Medical Service for emergencies)
Fire brigade
The Red Cross (Assistance
and intervention in case of
Children’s telephone number of
the French Community
Child Focus
(European Centre for disappeared or sexually abused
disasters and catastrophes)
Tele-onthaal :
Télé-Accueil :
Difficulties of life « Somebody
Difficulties of life « Somebody
to speak to» - 24h/24
to speak to» - 24h/24
(Dutch speaking)
(French speaking)
070 245 245 : 02 268 62 00 : 0800 32 123 : 0800 20 120 : 02 227 52 52 :
- © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
Anti-poison centre
Centre for burns
Suicide prevention centre
Information help Aids
Information drugs
2. Opening hours
In the urban zones you can find a large range of goods and services, shopping streets, local stores,
night shops, supermarkets and shopping centres. In those centres you can generally cover the distances
between the various shops and agencies on foot.
Generally the pleasant shopping streets, often with very many tourists, are located in the central parts
of the cities. The big shopping centres and supermarkets are often situated on the periphery of the
urban zones. Public transport takes you from the centre towards the periphery of the cities.
In the country you sometimes have to drive a little longer to do your shopping, but the distances
between the countryside and the city are never very great. The majority of the stores are open from
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and certain department stores,
shopping centres and supermarkets until 8 p.m.. In
certain shopping centres, stores remain even open
until 21 p.m. one day a week or on Sundays. Bakeries are also open on Sundays. In the big cities you
can also find night shops which offer an increasingly
large range of products.
3. Money
Since the first of January 2002 the official currency is the Euro (1 € =
0,403399 Belgian francs).
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
4. Languages
As indicated before, Belgium is a crossroads of many influences. One can easily notice this fact in the multilingualism which defines this small country. Each Community has indeed its own language and all three
of them (Dutch, French, German), have been recognized as national languages.
It is hard to find Belgians who are fluent in all three of the national languages but English is often understood, in particular at Brussels, a very international city.
5. Religion
Belgium is a country with a predominantly Catholic population (75 %) but other religions like Islam, Judaism and Protestantism are also practised.
6. National holidays
January 1 (New Year’s Day)
Easter and Easter Monday (the dates change)
May 1 (Labour Day)
Ascension day (6th Thursday after Easter)
Pentecost and Whit Monday (7th Sunday and Monday after Easter)
July 21 (national holiday)
August 15 (Assumption of the Holy Virgin)
November 1 (All Saints’ Day)
November 11 (Armistice of 1918)
December 25 (Christmas)
The federal public services are also closed on November 15 (King’s Day)
- © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
7. Means of communication
The prefix of the telephone numbers to Belgium is 00
32. The public telephones function with coins, bank
cards or phone cards which you can buy in many retail
outlets such as the post office and the bookshop. The
private fixed home telephones have been used a lot
less since the rise of mobile telephony (GSM). The three
major operators of mobile telephony (Proximus, Mobistar and Base) propose various formulas of payment :
subscriptions and rechargeable cards.
8. Banks
You can open an account in a Belgian bank. Your bank probably has a local correspondent in Belgium.
Check this before leaving. Generally banks are open from Monday to Friday between 10h and 16h and
sometimes on Saturday morning. If you make an appointment the time schedules are more flexible.
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
quite Belgian
according to
Here follow some characteristics of the Belgians which could perhaps be useful to you... It is always delicate to generalize but a certain number of characteristics refer to the majority of the Belgians :
- In general they are modest and moderate ;
- They are said to be good hosts and easy going and jovial ;
- The Belgians have the reputation of being hard workers, the productivity rate is one of the highest in the world ;
- The Belgians invest considerably in their housing, from which is drawn the expression « Ils ont une
brique dans le ventre » (they have a brick in their belly).
Social contacts
Because of the climate, the Belgians live a lot inside, they don’t live outside so much, except perhaps during a
beautiful day in the summer. They are attached to their private life and regard their house as a refuge. They
cannot bear noise in the street, noise of neighbours, dustbins left about outside...
At a first meeting, people show themselves rather reserved. When they meet somebody for the first time, they
shake hands, they present themselves and a polite phrase is always welcome (« Pleased to meet you » or « How
are you ? »).
The Belgians are not very spontaneous, they say hello by a handshake or a nod, the hugging and kissing is reserved for close relatives. They will not shout to greet a friend who is on the other side of the road.
On the telephone, courtesy wants people to present themselves and after that they can start to explain the
reason of the phone call. When they pick up the telephone at home they immediately present themselves.
10 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
In a general sense and even more with the official authorities, it is very important to present yourself in
time for an appointment. If you cannot arrive in time or if there is a hitch, it is advisable to give a phone
call to the person concerned.
Standards and values
An essential Belgian value is the family. It is true, the number of marriages does decrease incessantly and
the birth rate drops, but the family does remain very important in the considerations of the Belgians.
In Belgium the individual person is important too. If a member of a family behaves badly, only this individual is held responsible and not the whole family.
Fairs : You can find there ice cream vendors, cotton candy, « fritkots » (chips stalls), as well as horse-gear
and attractions for children. These village fairs travel up and down Belgium from town to town.
Les Gilles de Binche : Since the
14th century, the town of Binche has celebrated the arrival of
spring with its carnival every year.
Binche is a town in Wallonia in the
province of « Hainaut ». The Gille
is the central character of this carnival. The carnival of Binche lasts
three days and on « Mardi gras »
(Shrove Tuesday), the Gilles throw
Saint-Nicolas : Each year, December 6, Saint Nicolas comes to bring toys and sweets to the children… if
they have been good ! Saint Nicolas is helped by black men and he travels with his grey donkey.
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Before leaving
You decided to come to work in Belgium. Before your departure, you must carry out a certain number
of formalities. First of all, you must have a valid passport provided by your country of origin (or only
an identity card for certain countries).
Secondly, you may need to obtain a visa at the Belgian embassy or the consulate in your country.
This depends on your country of origin and the period of your stay. Thirdly, you must perhaps also
get the authorization to practice your profession.
To know which documents are required :
Eures : the European services for employment
A network which favours your mobility
Everything you need to know about life and work abroad.
All the European job offers on line.
To inform you about the living and working conditions and to help you
to find employment in another Member State of the European Union than
yours, you can consult the public services of employment. These services are free and you can consult
them in your own country as well as in the state where you wish to work. All these services are connected
by a network called EURES (European Employment Services), created to encourage the mobility of the
workers in the European Union.
Each of these EURES departments has one or more advisers, charged to inform, advise and help you to
find employment in another Member State than yours.
12 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
EURES, that’s also a whole team at the
service of transborder workers
You regularly cross a border to go from your
residence to your work ? You are a little at
sea trying to keep up with the paperwork and
the legislation which evolves unceasingly ? You
would like to benefit in the best way from your
situation ? EURES can advise you and give the
assistance and the support that you are looking for.
Indeed, the network EURES has also specialized in borderwork and has created specific
cells gathering employment officers in border
zones. Belgium counts three Eures of this type:
one for the relations between Belgium, France
and England (Eures Channel), a second for
Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany (Eures
Meuse-Rhine), and a third for Belgium (province of Luxembourg), France (Lorraine), and the
Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (EURES Crossborder PED for development of transborder
All the information and addresses of the
Network Eures Meuse-Rhine (transborder
work between Belgium, the Netherlands and
Germany) :
All the information and addresses of the EuresChannel network
(transborder work between Belgium, France and/or England) :
All the information and addresses of the EURES Crossborder PED for development
of transborder work between
the Province of Luxembourg,
Lorraine, and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) :
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Living in Belgium
Small by its size, the Kingdom of Belgium is a dense
country by definition. Dense in terms of population (342
habitants/km², 10 million inhabitants) of course, but also dense in terms of daily life. Politically,
economically, culturally, Belgium is located at the crossroads of several influences, and that must be
reconciled with everyday life. That is not always easy...
Belgium has become the administrative centre of Europe, and has been able to offer a new appearance
to the Europeans who (re)-discover it gradually, Brussels, the capital, to begin with. However, Brussels
remains worried about its old demons : the various communities tearing each other apart. The cause of
these political quarrels are the important social and economic disparities. The various communities which
constitute this federal country must often compromise « in the Belgian way » and are not always very effective in governing together.
Belgium offers living and working conditions above average, but it is advisable to analyze the
labour market thoroughly before planning to settle there. Indeed there are many shortages in
various sectors but Belgium also counts many jobs for which there are more applicants than
there are vacancies.
Moreover, the various areas differ in many respects, so situations on one side of the linguistic borderline can be different on the other
side. Pay attention to those facts and maybe
Belgium could offer you much more than you have
ever imagined !
14 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
The arrival in Belgium
Everybody who comes from a country which is a member of the European Union can stay in Belgium as
a tourist for three months without inscription (European regulation). On the other hand, somebody who
wants to work must be registered within 8 days after his arrival. For this registration you have to contact
the Foreigners Department of the municipality where you live and you will have to hand in a series of
administrative documents. Here we quote the documents most currently asked for, but other documents
can be required :
• Documents of identity (for copy) ;
• Appendix 19 bis (certificate to apply to the employer) ;
• In case of a marriage, the act of marriage .
You will have to give your co-ordinates (addresses, telephone numbers...) and fill out some documents
intended for the district police. After inspection by the police (checking if you live on the mentioned
address), you will receive an invitation to present yourself on a fixed date and hour with the following
documents :
• 4 identity photos ;
• Certificate of the employer ;
• Documents of identity ;
• In case of a marriage, the marriage certificate.
The inherent cost of this request for registration is fixed by each municipality. At the time of the inscription,
the interested party receives a document for a temporary stay of three months. After that a request for
settlement must be introduced. (this request can also be presented sooner).
If all the documents are in accordance with the standards and if there is no contrary opinion from the Office for Foreigners in Brussels, the interested party can already receive a residence permit for 5 years
after one month. For the formalities concerning vehicles : Internet site, the chapter
DIV can help you in your approach.
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Belgium suffers from a housing shortage which forces
up the selling prices of houses. For a lot of families
hiring has priority.
Posters, generally orange and black with the words « to let » and easily recognizable, are attached to available residences.
The majority of the Belgian daily newspapers as well as the regional newspapers also publish small advertisements of houses to let. The free weekly papers have specific headings concerning housing. The « Vlan
group » gathers the majority of them, the national edition is available on Saturdays in the bookshops (or
on Internet: - - ...). Many bookshops, associations, libraries or
multimedia libraries also display housing ads.
To rent a residence you will have to sign a tenancy agreement. Those agreements are usually concluded
for a period of 3, 6 or 9 years or for an unspecified period. A rental guarantee which is generally equivalent to three months of rent, is nearly always required by the owners. This sum can be locked up on a
bank account (bank guarantee) and will be refunded when you leave the house if you have not caused
any damage.
General remarks
An inventory of fixtures must be made by yourself and the owner, or by an indepe- ndent expert before you start furnishing. Do not neglect this, on no account, because
it may cause a conflict.
The tenancy agreement has an annual
indexation clause.
Maintenance charges are generally not
included in the rent.
A fire insurance is required.
16 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
Residences available for purchase are generally recognizable by attached ‘for sale’ posters. The lists
of the estate agencies can be consulted in the commercial directories like « The Golden Pages » or on the Internet, but the majority of the buildings or apartments for sale are presented in the newspapers, mainly the free weekly
You can consult a notary for free; this is advised to
get to know the procedures of purchase. Later on
his or her intervention will be necessary to finalize
the sale itself.
The purchase of a house always proceeds in two
steps, in front of a notary. Initially, a temporary
contract of sale is established. In general, the purchaser and the salesman agree on an advance of 10% of the selling price. Then, from six weeks to four
months later, the sale will really be carried out. The notary expenses depend on the property register
of the sold house and is charged to the purchaser. The list of notaries is available in the directory « The
Golden Pages » or on the site : . The majority of the banks offer mortgage loans.
Short period renting
Hotels are relatively expensive. Youth hostels and B&B accommodations charge lower prices. (ask some
information in the local tourist office). University towns offer rooms on the campus but only in summer. Local newspapers publish small advertisements for this type of renting.
Organizations such as « InforJeunes » also offer very useful information. These regional centres, located in
many cities, will be able to give you information on the legislation concerning housing. Their lists are pretty
comprehensive :
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Working in Belgium
The labour market in Belgium shows different situations between and within the Regions and the
Communities. The disparities are sometimes enormous : Flanders records an unemployment rate* of
8,5 % in 2005, while this rate is 20,2 % for Wallonia and 20,6 % for the region of Brussels-Capital.
This situation is the result of the socio-economic differences in the regions. The supply and demand
mechanisms of employment do not function in the same way everywhere.
In spite of the existence of an important supply of qualified workers, it is difficult to fill up the vacant
jobs, and in some regions the shortage of workers is sometimes very big. The economic growth was
vigorous in 2004 (2,6 %), and it slightly dropped in 2005. If we take the international economic
situation into consideration, it would in any case have been insufficient to reduce the unemployment
Finding employment
Like in the majority of the countries, it is useful to try every available possibility when it comes to the
search for employment : network of relations (family, friends,...), public services of employment, interim
employment agencies, outplacement agencies, recruitment and selection agencies, the press, information
centres, trade associations, student - or university associations and of course Internet.
* The unemployed, completely compensated and registered as job seekers, compared to the population assured against unemployment (calculations carried
out by the ONEM on the basis of INAMI data on June 30, 2004). Source :
18 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
There are 4 independent Public Services of Employment in Belgium, in accordance with the regions and
the communities :
for the Flemish region
for the Walloon region
for the region of Brussels-Capital
for the German-speaking Community
The first stop for the search for employment is at one of the specialized centres of the Public Services of
Employment. In the Walloon region it is Le FOREM that puts public areas at your disposal where you can
find an answer to all your questions concerning employment :
• Communication and consultation of job offers ;
• Searching techniques ;
• Training and coaching for the search for employment ;
• Information on the trades, professions and competences and on the various professional sectors ;
• Information on the fairs of employment and other annual events ;
• Legislation (in particular with regard to assistance in job and training) : you will have
access to multiple resources (library, newspapers, telephones, computers with free access to the employment site, in particular the site of Le FOREM).
Consulting the company directories such as Kompass can also be very useful :
Kompass ABC for trade and industry - Belgium
Top 100.000
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Other possibilities
Interim agencies
These agencies provide temporary work called missions
(contracts for variable periods : weekend, week...). They engage workers who are sent to companies. Those companies
will be charged for the services of those workers.
You will find their co-ordinates in the yellow pages of the telephone directories ( ). The UPEDI represents
a great part of them ( ).
The press
The national press, especially the weekend press, is a good source of job offers. The principal newspapers are : Le Soir ( ), La Libre Belgique ( ), La Meuse ( ), De
Standaard ( ), L’Echo ( ), Références ( ), as well as the
free newspapers, the Vlan group is the best known one ( ), le Vlan is distributed on Saturdays
in the bookshops.
Recruitment and selection agencies
Those agencies are accessible to any person wanting to work in Belgium.
Some of them are specialized in a field. To contact them, two possibilities
are offered to you :
Via the WEB
Various sites of job offers are also accessible
for you, for example :
Sending a spontaneous application (CV, letter of motivation) ;
Sending an application following an advertisement on the Internet or in the press. .
The lists of the principal cabinets can be consulted in the regional telephone
directories ( ).
Information centres
The network INFOR JEUNES has regional centres and open centres in many
Belgian towns. They will be able to give you information concerning work,
training, social assistance, housing, transport... (
20 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
To create your company
Belgium suffers like many other European countries from a lack
of dynamism regarding the creation of companies. This is why
nowadays many devices and advantages are introduced in order
to encourage applicants for work, foreign workers and investors
to create a company of their own. All the devices, resources and
advantages are joined together on these sites :
Did you know ?
Do you know the Eures Network ? This network, established
everywhere in Europe, directs you and informs you with regard to the steps you have to take in order to be able to
work abroad. They collect and put on line all job offers from
all over Europe. A search machine, which enables you to choose
a country and a sector, will give you all the job offers available
according to your criteria. The ideal partner for becoming
a successful expatriate.
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
The organisation of work and payment
Wages are fixed in collective agreements. Those
agreements have been concluded between the trade
unions and the representatives of the employers. The
collective agreements regulate the principal aspects
of payment and working conditions. To obtain information on the scales of wages, you can contact the
Inspection of social laws :
Service public fédéral (SPF), Emploi, Travail et Concertation sociale,
Rue Belliard, 51 - 1040 Bruxelles
Tél. 02 233 41 11
In Belgium, they speak of net income and gross income. The net income is the sum actually received by the
worker. It is equal to the gross income minus the social security contributions and the advances of the taxes
called professional deduction, directly taken by the employer. The wages for the workmen must be paid
every two weeks and for the employees every month. The dates and the terms of payment are fixed by
the collective agreements.
The holidays
In Belgium, there are 10 official holidays : January
1, Easter Monday, May 1, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, July 21 (Belgian national holiday), August 15,
November 1, November 11 and December 25.
The annual holidays
Employees are entitled to paid leaves ; they are
based on the work carried out the preceding calendar year. That means that one cannot take leave the first year of work. However, your employer can give
you some days off, but those are non-paid leaves.
Workmen obtain 20 free days for one whole year of work, to be taken the following year. They are en-
22 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
titled to a payment from a holiday fund instead of wages. This amount includes normal
wages plus a holiday pay. Employees are
entitled to 2 free days per month of employment, that is to say 4 weeks of paid leaves.
They are also entitled to a holiday pay of
92% of their monthly gross income.
Working time
The Belgian legislation imposes a double limit on the working hours. The working hours
cannot exceed 8 hours a day and 39 hours a
week. Following various modifications of the
legislation, the limits nowadays are actually
9 hours a day and 38 hours a week. The working-programmes as well as the work-schedules are put down in a document concerning
the policy and the procedures of the company. The employer must give this document to
all the members of his staff. Make sure that
you receive it and read it carefully.
More information :
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
The tax system
Belgium knows two main types of direct taxes : company tax
and income tax; as well as indirect taxes (the value added
tax -VAT- on consumer goods is the most important one). These
taxes are federal and are therefore collected in the same manner in the three regions of the country.
In addition to these three federal taxes, there is a series of
regional, provincial and municipal taxes (registration fees, various other taxes...). The way of collecting those taxes varies
from one place to another.
Income tax
People who live in Belgium are taxed on their entire salary.
Those who do not live in Belgium are taxed on their incomes
earned in Belgium. Every registered person is regarded as a
resident of the kingdom. The employer withdraws an amount
from your wages, this is an advance on the taxes called professional deduction.
Independent and self-employed persons must anticipate their
payments and carry out payments during the year in order to
avoid having to pay very much afterwards. The anticipated
payments, which, by the way, any taxpayer can make, give the
right to a tax refund.
The tax rates vary progressively according to income brackets
from 25 to 55 %. Various tax refunds and reductions are applicable, for example for dependent children. Moreover certain
expenditures like transport charges, the expenses for day-care,
etc. can be deductible. Every year in June everybody has the
obligation to fill in a declaration concerning the received income of the previous year.
24 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
If you get a salary, your employer - or his office – will send you
a pay slip (document 281.10) which enables you to fill in your
declaration form for the income tax return. The tax authorities
of your region or even your Belgian bank can help you to fill in
this important form.
You can get a fine if you do not present your declaration form
or if you present it too late, incomplete or inaccurate. Note that
Belgium has known a big tax reform for two years now, which
aims at decreasing the taxes for companies and individuals This
reform will be spread over several years. You will be able to
obtain information about these modifications on the Internet site
In Belgium there are 5 rates of VAT. The most current rates are
6 % (food, bookshop.....) and 21%.
The local taxes
In Belgium, each local authority has a certain tax autonomy. The
municipalities and the provinces receive taxes for various products and services, for example collecting refuse, the possession
of animals...
To know some more:
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Social security
General information concerning employed persons :
As soon as you start working in Belgium, you pay contribution for the social security system. Your employer
must carry out the necessary formalities for your participation, except for the health insurance act for
which you have to request supplementary private health insurance (known as mutuelles) or to register with
an auxiliary fund of health insurance.
The social security covers many sectors. The amount of the contributions for social security is 13,07 % of
your gross income. These contributions are withdrawn by the employer from your wages.
Examples of % of employer’s contributions and personal contributions for the occupation of manual and
intellectual workers in various sectors (Source : ONSS 2005) :
Sickness and disablement
Child benefit
Annual holidays
Contribution of wage moderation
Occupational disease
Accidents at work
Payed training leave
in % of gross income
in % of gross income
National Office
of Social Security
Ministry for Social Affairs,
Public health and Environment
Place Victor Horta, 11
Administration de la Sécurité Sociale
Rue de la Vierge Noire, 3C
26 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
Ministry for the Middle class
and Agriculture Information
Service for independent work
WTC 3 - Bd Simon Bolivar, 30
Tél. 02 208 45 35
Health insurance
As soon as you have an income (workers, unemployed or independent), you are legally held to register
with a Health Insurance Fund. Once registered, you will receive little labels and a ’’SIS’’ card (social identity card). These documents are very important within the framework of refunding expenses for health
Interventions of the health insurance :
Refund of health care
If you are ill, you can consult the doctor of your
choice. You receive a care certificate. This certificate has to be transmitted with a label to your
Health Insurance Fund. This Fund, called ‘‘mutuelle’’, refunds a part of the amount you paid to the
medical practitioner. The little part you pay yourself is called the ‘moderating ticket’.
A part of the cost of medication, prescribed by the doctor, is partially or completely paid by the health
insurance. You give your medical prescription and your SIS card to the pharmacist and you only pay the
part which is not covered by the Health insurance (moderating ticket).
You choose the hospital and the type of room yourself. The payment by the health insurance fund remains
identical for the various types of room. However, the hospital can make you pay a supplement if you
choose an individual or a double room. Your social security documents are required at your admission and
an advance can be required.
Replacement income
If in case of disease or an accident you are not able to work any more and the consequence is a loss of
income, you can request a substitutional income paid by the health insurance, called ‘daily allowances in
case of disease’. Those allowances are decreasing in time and vary according to the working status : worker or employee (see the following tables). The 1st day of disease is not paid by the employer, nor by the
insurance company (mutuelle). The replacement income only consists of part of your income.
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Payment of
the employer
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3+4
100 % of
the income
85,88% of the
25,88 % of the
of the health
60 % of the
From the 31st day
After 1 year
60 % of the income
for a head of the
household or for an
isolated person
55 % for a cohabiting person
60 % for a
head of the
45 % for
an isolated
60 % for a
From the 31st day
After 1 year
60 % of the income for a head
of the household
or for an isolated
55 % for a cohabiting person
60 % for a
head of the
45 % for an
isolated person
60 % for a
Payment of
the employer
Week 1
Week 2
100 % of
the income
100 % of the
of the health
Week 3+4
60 % of the
* This table is only applicable to employees who have completed their trial period. For employees who are still in their trial period the same regulations as
for the workmen apply.
Note : people who have the right to unemployment insurance and who come to find employment in Belgium must be in possession of the E 119 form. This document is according to the example of form E 303/3
concerning the unemployment insurance.
More information :
28 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
The unemployment insurance
The ONEM (National office of Employment) examines
and determines the right to the allowances. The payment of the allowances is carried out by an organization of payment. An unemployed person has to introduce a claim for allowances at the organization of his
choice : trade unions (FGTB, CGSLB or CSC) or CAPAC
(auxiliary organization of payment of the Unemployment allowances). This claim has to be introduced with a
C4 document which is delivered by the employer at the
time of a dismissal or a suspension of contract.
Admission requirements :
If you are ...
Less than 36 years old
Between 36 and 50 years old
More than 50 years old
You must prove ...
312 days of professional activity
468 days of professional activity
624 days of professional activity
During ...
18 months before the claim
27 months before the claim
36 months before the claim
How high are the unemployment allowances ?
First period
Second period
Third period
with dependents
60 %
60 %
60 %
60 %
44 %
44 %
55 %
35 %
Fixed allowances
Note : the 1st period is 1 year, the 2nd varies individually.
For all additional information, to know the exact amount of the allowances or to know the list of regional
offices :
Boulevard de l’Empereur, 7
Tél. 02 515 41 11
Pay attention ! The unemployment is not subjected any more to company checks (clocking in). It remains nevertheless subjected to the supervision of the public services of regional employment (Le FOREM, ORBEM,
VDAB and AADG). Those organizations will ask for proof of your wish to find new employment before
they claim the unemployment allowance for you.
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Retirement pension
There is no general system for pensions in Belgium. The arrangement makes provision for the pensions
of the paid workers, the self-employed workers and the workers of the public sector. Very often people
profit simultaneously by various benefits according to quite specific rules.
The legislation regarding the pensions of the workers is managed by the National office of the Pensions.
In addition to its central service whose office is qualified to deal with European regulation and bilateral
agreements, the ONP has a provincial network of regional offices.
The pension scheme for the workers includes :
• a pension for a household and a pension for an isolated person
• a pension for the surviving spouse
• a specific regulation for the separated couple
• a regulation for the trans-border workers and seasonal workers
For certain professions we are submitted to specific calculation rules : miners, sailors, pilots and journalists.
The age of retirement is actually the subject of negotiations.
Anyway, the years of activity practised in the Member States of the European Union are added up.
The rate of the retirement pension is calculated according to the duration of the career and the wages
received. Workers with a mixed career, can claim a pension in the different countries of employment
via the qualified services in the place of residence. For all additional information or to find the regional
offices :
ONP - Administration Centrale
Tour du Midi - Place Bara
Tél. 02 529 21 11
30 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Studying in Belgium
In Belgium, teaching (from the nursery school to higher education) is a part of the competence of
each community (the Flemish Community, the French Community or the German-speaking Community) whereas the vocational training belongs to competence of the Regions (Flemish Area, Walloon
Region, Region of Brussels). The organization of the education depends on the place of the schools.
Everywhere in Belgium, schooling is compulsory from 6 to 18. Before nursery school, it is possible to register your children in a crèche but take care because the demand is bigger than the supply. The demand
is so big that certain crèches have waiting lists for several months and even years.
To familiarize with the ways of enrolment for primary, secondary, or specialized education, for higher
education or universities, do not hesitate to take a look at the sites mentioned above.
To know more about the possibilities to get your diplomas approved by another country, we advise you
to inquire at the Naric centre of your country of origin :
32 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
The organization of schooling
Nursery school
1 year
Primary education
Secondary education
General and technological education Professional and technical education
Section of Transition
Section of Qualification
3 TTr
4 TTr
5 TTr
6 TTr
3 ATr
4 ATr
5 ATr
6 ATr
1 Pr
3 AQ
4 AQ
5 AQ
6 AQ
3 TQ
4 TQ
5 TQ
6 TQ
7è Prép. Sup.
3 Pr
4 Pr
5 Pr
6 Pr
7è-4è degré
G : General
TTr : Technical transition
ATr : Artistic transition
TQ : Technical Qualification
Pr : Professionnal
AQ : Artistic Qualification
Higher education has been adapted since the decree of Bologna :
Higher education
1 year
First cycle
Short type
Long type
Second cycle
Thrid cycle
There are of course other schooling possibilities, such as for example :
• Special education
• IFAPME - Training Institute for Independent workers and small or medium-sized business ( )
Training in alternation (SYSFAL)
EAD – Distance learning
Jury of the French Community
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
For your information ...
Some useful addresses :
Phonebook general practitioners
Phonebook of Belgium
Golden Pages
Free activities in Brussels
Your guide to living and thriving in Brussel
The navigator of culture in the French Community
For families with children in the age of 0 to 14
Brussels Airport
34 - © Le FOREM 2006 - Living and working in Belgium
Belgian railroads
DE LIJN : Public Transport in the Flemish Region
STIB - MIVB : Public Transport in Brussels
TEC: Public Transport in the Walloon Region
Written press
Le Soir
La Libre Belgique
La dernière heure
De staandard
Het laatste nieuws
Het Nieuwsblad
Press Radio-Tv
Foreign Affairs, Foreign trade and Development Social Security
New in town : help with integration
Living and working in Belgium - © Le FOREM 2006 -
Conception Contents - Drafting - DTP : AC Media - - August 2006
This publication is financially supported by the European Community. The information that this booklet contains
commits only its author. The European Commission is not responsible for the way this booklet is used. -

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