Assessing travel and visa obligations in Belgium

When traveling to Belgium, your nationality and the types of activities you will conduct during your trip will determine whether you may travel lawfully as a business visitor or if you require a work permit. Please seek advice from your immigration counsel if you are uncertain about the specific types of activities that constitute business or work.

Traveling for business

What types of activities may I engage in as a business visitor?

As a business visitor to Belgium, you may engage in the activities below. While this list is not exhaustive and other activities could qualify as business, you may:

  • Negotiate contracts with customers
  • Attend strategic meetings
  • Attend an academic or scientific conference

Please note that permissible business activities have specific restrictions depending on the activity performed. Please consult your immigration counsel for an individual assessment prior to travel.


If I qualify as a business visitor, do I need a visa for Belgium?

Nationals of the European Union, the United States and many other select countries are eligible for a visa waiver and are not required to obtain a visa in order to enter and conduct business activities in Belgium.

Belgium is a member of the Schengen Area, a free-travel zone comprised of 29 European countries. If your nationality is not eligible for a visa waiver in the Schengen Area, you will be required to obtain a Schengen C Visa prior to travel. Visa-waivered nationals, as well as those who are required to obtain a visa, are authorized to travel to Belgium and throughout the Schengen Area. Please note that travelers may not spend more than 90 days within any 180-day period inside the Schengen Area.

Working in Belgium

What types of activities require a work permit?

The activities below, whether paid or unpaid, generally constitute work under Belgian law. This list is not exhaustive, and many other professional activities are considered work in Belgium, even if conducted for a short duration.

  • Software installation
  • After-sales service (urgent maintenance or repair)
  • Initial system or product installation/assembly

In limited circumstances, foreign nationals may engage in specialized professional activities under various exemptions for a limited period without obtaining work authorization, although strict preconditions must be met. An individual assessment is required before deciding whether an exemption is applicable.


If I am traveling to Belgium for work, what type of work permit do I need?

The requirements for a work permit depend on your qualifications, on the nature and duration of your work and on whether your employer has an entity in Belgium. The most common Belgian work permits are:

  • Type B Work Permit – Specialized Technician (Technicien Specialisé) (short-term work authorization for assignees of foreign manufacturers or suppliers of goods performing maintenance, repairs or installation)
  • Single Permit for Specialized Technician (combined work and residence permit for assignees of foreign manufacturers or suppliers of goods performing maintenance, repairs or installation)
  • Single Permit for Highly Skilled Workers and Executives (combined work and residence permit for highly qualified personnel and executives)
  • EU Blue Card (combined high-skilled work and residence permit)
  • ICT Permits (Directive 2014/66/EU):
    • Intra-Company Transfer Residence Permit (work authorization for temporary transfers of managers, specialists or trainees)
    • Mobile Intra-Company Transfer Permit (work authorization for EU ICT Card holders)


Is it possible to be exempted from work permit requirements?

Nationals from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are not required to obtain a work permit in order to work in Belgium. However, registrations or other formalities may be required prior to working or residing in Belgium.

Additional work permit exemptions are available in Belgium under Vander Elst rules. In these cases, a legal assessment to determine the possibilities for work permit exemptions should be obtained prior to traveling.

What else should I know?

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which governs post-Brexit relations between the EU and the U.K., has altered immigration regulations in the affected countries. Please be sure to contact your immigration representative for full details regarding the TCA’s impact in Belgium.

Inevitably, the legal and strategic considerations impacting visa selection, as well as visa waiver and work authorization eligibility, entail the careful consideration of many factors. We recommend that you consult with your immigration counsel before taking any course of action.


Copyright ©2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. Government immigration agencies often change their policies and practices without notice; please consult an immigration professional for up-to-date information. This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. BAL maintains comprehensive immigration information and processing specifics for our clients.