If you’re planning to move to Antwerp and work, you’ll probably appreciate some advice on work permits, key industries and the city’s overall economic climate. Read on to find out all the information you need to successfully start working in Belgium.
Working in Antwerp
The service and industrial sectors employ the largest number of people. The port of Antwerp, one of the largest in Europe, provides many jobs, while the diamond and fashion industries also offer many employment opportunities.
There are different work permits, which depend on a number of factors such as country of origin, length of stay and type of work performed.
Income taxes depend on residency status, and Belgium has agreements that protect against double taxation. The social security system is contribution-based and divided into several sectors.
Antwerp is a key financial player, even beyond Belgium’s borders. The city generates more than one-sixth of the country’s GDP and employs more than one-eighth of Flanders’ population. Therefore, you will feel like you are in a big city, even though Antwerp itself is rather small.
Permission to work in Antwerp
After Brussels, Antwerp is one of the key cities for expats who choose to work in Belgium. Employers are therefore very experienced in arranging work permits for foreigners. Here is how to apply for a work permit in Antwerp. As with other EU countries, whether you are an EU citizen or not makes a big difference when it comes to working in Antwerp.
EU citizens can work in Antwerp without a work permit. All other foreigners need a work permit. The employer, not the employee, is responsible for obtaining it. However, you should be aware of the different types of work permits available.
An A permit is issued to foreigners, usually B permit holders, who have been employed in Antwerp (or Belgium in general) for at least four years (out of ten). If you qualify for an A permit, you have the right to change jobs and employers without changing your work permit.
Permit B is the most common type of permit and employers receive it when they start working in Antwerp; it is valid for one year. Unlike permit A, it is linked to the job for which you moved to Antwerp. A new permit is required each time you change employers. In the case of permit B, your employer must prove that no Belgian citizen is able to take your position in the company. All you need to do is fill out an application and provide a medical certificate from a doctor approved by the Belgian embassy (or consulate) in your country of residence. Of course, there are more processes involved in obtaining a visa once the work permit has been issued.
Permit C is for people with limited residence status, such as students or refugees, who want to find temporary work in Antwerp.
If you want to change a B permit into an A permit, you must obtain the relevant forms from the Antwerp employment office and submit them in person. Your employer is not directly involved in this process.