Living in Belgium
Belgium, the seat of both NATO and the European Union, receives a lot of expatriate traffic all year. The two main languages spoken in Belgium is Dutch and French, however many of the citizens speak English quite well, so getting around and communication is generally not a problem. Here is some useful information to help you get sorted in you first days in the country.
22nd March 2016: Several people have been killed and injured in bomb blasts across Belgium's Capital city in a series of attacks at Brussels Airport and at a local metro station close the the European Union buildings in Maalbeek.
Members of the public are being warned not to travel close to these areas of the city, with live Tweets and updates coming directly from the Capital.
As a result, the entire airport is being evacuated and has been closed and the entire Metro system in Brussels has been shut down. There are reports that the city's museums are also being closed.
For anyone in Brussels, whether visiting, expat or local the emergency services number is 112
Authorities have also released the following emergency number for anyone seeking information about relatives in the area: (+32) 02 506 47 11
Please stay at home, and if you are required to travel, be vigilant around the city today and report any worrying or unusual sights to the emergency services.
Features on Belgium
Just TRUST in People and the World
Elke and Louka are a mother-daughter gymnastics duo who are living in Dubai. We got the chance to talk to Elke about appearing on TV and about their lives in Dubai. It was only two years ago that mother and daughter, Elke and Louka took to doing aerial silk gymnastics. It was only one year ago that they both decided to combine their talent and perform duets together.
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American Women's Club of Brussels
The objective of the AWCB is to organize a center for philanthropic, social and cultural activities for its members; to engage in welfare and cultural activities which will contribute to closer Belgo-American understanding; and to foster fellowship for the American women resident in Brussels and environs.
Address: 1640 Rhode St Genèse
Tel: +32 23584753
Fax: +32 23584744
American Women's Club Antwerp
The American Women's Club of Antwerp was set up to create a center for social, cultural and philanthropic activities for American women in the Antwerp area.
Antwerp British and International Women
The Antwerp British and International Women was founded to provide a centre for expatriates to participate in social, cultural and charitable activities. Our aim is to provide a friendly meeting place for English-speaking women. In addition, members are able to learn something about Antwerp and assist others who have recently arrived.
Belgian Expatriates Webring
This Webring's goal is to link together the Belgian expatriates' sites.
British and Commonwealth Women's Club of Brussels
The BCWCB was founded in 1963 and has over 450 members. It provides opportunities for its members to meet each other, to pursue hobbies and interests or, to take up new ones and to help newcomers settle into their new community
Address: Bosstraat/Rue au Bois 509, 1150 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 772 53 13
International Women's Contact Antwerp
IWCA is an international club which was founded by ladies who had lived abroad and knew from experience the importance of friendship. The "club language" is English. The club is non-political, non-religious and non-commercial. IWCA provides activities for its members such as art classes, book discussion, bridge, cinema visits, coffee mornings, conversation, craft, cuisine, excursions, gardening, mah-jong, needlework, swimming, walking/cycling and yoga.
Address: Postbus 72, 2930 Brasschaat
Mobile: +32 483 02 02 50
Irish Club of Belgium
To promote Ireland in Belgium and to serve the Belgo-Irish Community.
Address: 67, Rue Archimède, Brussels 1000, Belgium
Tel: +32 487 736 195
The Women's International Club of Brussels
Founded in 1981 in Brussels, the Women's International Club seeks to foster goodwill, friendship and understanding amongst members of all countries through cultural and recreational activities and to welcome and assist newcomers to Belgium.
Antwerp International School
The Antwerp International School (AIS), founded in 1967, is located in the leafy, residential suburb of Ekeren, only ten kilometers north of the center of Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium. AIS is a non-profit association (vzw) that offers a student-centered, comprehensive English language education (IPC, IGCSE, IB Diploma Programme) to children from 2½ to 18 years old, where the development of critical thinking skills is emphasized. Enrichment at AIS includes a wide variety of extra-curricular activities in the arts, theater and sports. Modern languages are introduced in Pre-School with Dutch language and culture classes, and a choice of either French or Dutch is offered from the beginning of Grade 5. Their student body is made of up 400 students from over 40 countries.
Curriculum: IPC, IGCSE, International Baccalaureate
Address: Veltwijcklaan 180, 2180 Ekeren-Antwerp, Belgium
Tel: +32 3 543 9300
Fax: +32 3 541 8201
Brussels English Primary Schools (BEPS)
The BEPS International School is situated in the heart of Brussels. An average class size of 18 allows for a high level of individual attention in a caring and supportive environment. The school is conveniently located and caters for children aged 2, 5 to 11.
Curriculum: International Primary Curriculum (IPC)
Address: 23 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 648 4311
Fax: +32 2 646 1653
Brussels International Catholic School
Bilingual school English – French. Pre-primary, primary and secondary. The Brussels International Catholic School is an independent school in the heart of Brussels situated just behind the European Institutions. Benefiting from newly renovated buildings, it seeks to combine academic excellence with a caring family environment.
Curriculum: Cambridge Primary Program (CPP), Communaute Francaise, IGCSE
Pre-Primary and Primary: Rue Général Leman, 86, Brussels, Belgium
Pre-Primary: Rue de Theux, 32, Brussels, Belgium
Secondary: Chaussée de Wavre, 457, Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 230 0218
Fax: +32 2 640 6423
British Junior Academy of Brussels
The British Junior Academy of Brussels is an independent British school in Brussels for international children aged three to eleven, from Kindergarten to the 6th year of primary school. The British school was established in 1992 and is a fully accredited member of the Council of British Independent Schools (COBIS). They combine the best features of British education from the UK National Curriculum with a European and international dimension. The school provides high standards of education in small classes; because of this we are able to give pupils individual attention to a degree not often available in larger schools.
Address: Boulevard Saint-Michel 83, 1040 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 732 5376
British School of Brussels
All BSB students follow a British-based curriculum up to age 16 (I)GCSE, adapted to our European context and international cohort. BSB is the only school in Belgium to offer three pre-university routes: A Levels, the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma and BTEC vocational courses in Business, Hospitality and Sport. We have 1,300 students from approximately 70 nationalities.
Curriculum: British, IGCSE
Address: Leuvensesteenweg 19, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 766 0430
Fax: +32 2 767 8070
DaVinci International School – Antwerp
More than ever, the right choice of school is vital to ensure children are well prepared for an international career and a life of constant and unpredictable change. At Da Vinci, strong academic performance goes hand in hand with a sharp focus on a broad individual development. Small class sizes and highly dedicated teachers create a caring environment in which students can flourish.
Curriculum: Cambridge International Examinations Board (CIE), IGCSE, Cambridge Primary Program, Cambridge Secondary,
Address: Verbondstraat 67, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
Tel: +32 3 216 1232
European School (Ecole Européenne) Brussels I
The mission of the European School of Brussels I: To provide a quality education in a safe and nurturing multilingual and multicultural learning environment. Based on trust and respect, the school celebrates diversity and recognizes the value of effort and cooperation to achieve excellence.
Address: 46, avenue du Vert Chasseur, 1180 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 373 8611
Fax: +32 2 375 4716
Email (Directress): firstname.lastname@example.org
European School Brussels II
This school offers admission to nursery, primary and secondary.
Address: Avenue Oscar Jespers 75, B - 1200 Brussels, Belgium
International Montessori School –Brussels
The Montessori approach is based on a profound respect for the child. Its originator, Dr. Maria Montessori believed in the necessity to treat children with dignity, trust and patience. The Montessori classrooms are constructed specifically to meet the child’s needs at the different stages of development. The child`s natural love of learning is respected and emphasis is placed on the importance of learning at one`s own pace. The combination of all aspects of the approach ensures that children can develop both sides of the brain, thus having the opportunity to become divergent thinkers. Children are given guidance to become independent thinkers, who are able to choose, reflect and make decisions.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Tel: +32 2 767 6360, +32 2 721 2111
Lycée Français Jean Monnet
Address: 9 av du Lycée Français, 1180 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 374 5878
St. John's International School – Brussels
More than 800 students from over 50 countries come to St. John’s for an exceptional education. Students from Pre-K through grade 12 engage enthusiastically with teachers on a curriculum based on our own St. John’s Paradigm. More than 75% of our graduates achieve the International Baccalaureate diploma with excellent results.
Curriculum: International Baccalaureate
Address: 146 Dreve Richelle, 1410 Waterloo, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 352 0610
Fax: +32 2 352 0630
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
St Paul's British Primary School
St Paul’s British Primary school is an excellent school. It provides a high quality of education and outstanding care for its pupils. It is an integral part of the local community: the parents support and are supported by the school, in a mutually dependent relationship that is deeply felt and appreciated. The students, parents and staff are passionate supporters of the school.
Curriculum: UK National Curriculum
Address: Stationsstraat 3, Vossem, 3080 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 767 3098
The British International School of Brussels
The British International School of Brussels is a member of the European Council of International Schools (ECIS) and the Council of British International Schools (COBIS). The school is accredited by COBIS and offers a high quality, British National Curriculum education to English speaking children aged 2½ to 11.
Curriculum: National Curriculum for England and Wales
Infant Department: 163 Av. Emile Max, 1030 Brussels, Belgium
Junior Department: 59 Avenue Emeraude, 1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 736 8981
Fax: +32 2 736 8983
The International School of Brussels
The school brings together over 1500 students from 70 countries. They are accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and by the Council of International Schools. ISB is a member of the Council of International Schools (CIS), European Council of International Schools (ECIS), the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
Address: Avenue de la Foresterie, Watermael Boitsfort, 1170 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 661 4211, +32 2 661 4200
Local News in English
This news website provides news stories, from life, sports, politics and culture in Belgium.
This is a digital newspaper in English covering current affairs, business and local news stories.
Expatica provides daily news, features and practical information on living abroad in English for the international communities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the UK. Our goal is to provide high quality content and services to all countries across Europe and beyond.
Capital City: Brussels
Other Important Cities: Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent
Currency: Euro €
Calling Code: +32
Internet TLD: .be
Electricity: Consumers can freely choose which power company they would want as electricity and gas have been deregulated. A significant percentage of Belgium’s power is generated by nuclear reactors. The main electric company is Electrabel.
Medical and Fire: 100 Police: 101
EU citizens may enter Belgium visa-free, other nationalities are subject to visa regulations. Visa applications can be done through the Belgian Embassy or consulate in your home or host country. Schengen visa is valid for up to 90 days. For long-term stay in the country, you must visit the Belgian embassy or consulate in your area to apply.
In order to get a work permit to Belgium you must meet three requirements that depend on the following:
There are three types of work permit:
your nationality and country of residence;
the length of your stay in Belgium;
your professional status (employee or self-employed) in Belgium.
a) Work permit A:
This permit is valid for all salaried professions and has an unlimited duration. It is granted to a foreign worker who can prove, over a maximum period of 10 years of legal, uninterrupted residence immediately prior to the application, 4 years of work covered by a work permit B.
b) Work permit B:
This permit is limited to employment with a single employer and is valid for a maximum of 12 months. It is granted only if the employer first obtains the authorisation to employ the foreign worker.
c) Work permit C:
This permit is valid for all salaried professions and has a limited duration. It is granted to certain categories of foreign nationals authorised to remain in Belgium for a limited duration or on an insecure basis (e.g. students, asylum seekers, etc.).
Several categories of workers are exempt from the obligation to hold a work permit, either because of their nationality, or because of their status, or because of the nature and/or the duration of the services. These categories of exempted workers are listed in Article 2 of the royal decree of 9 June 1999.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Visa Office
Ministry of Home Affairs - Aliens' Office
Please visit the Belgian Foreign Affairs website for more information on visas.
The influx of diplomats and other foreign officials in the country can make finding a rental apartment a challenge. You may hunt for apartments in the city by looking out for orange window signs saying ‘For Rent’ in French. Housing openings are also advertised in newspapers, shop windows, notice boards in commercial landmarks. Alternative you may go to real estate agents. Most rentals are unfurnished though; ensure that your budget can cover fittings, fixtures, cupboards and appliances.
Renting is a preferred option for expats as it is relatively cheaper to rent in Belgium, than it is in neighboring countries. The cost and overheads that come with buying property make it quite undesirable.
When renting property in Belgium, be prepared to furnish it, some flats don’t come with fridges or cookers. Furnished accommodation is available but is targeted at two extremes of the population, either the upmarket, short stay expats or the down-market tenants. It is recommended to spend a couple of weeks in short stay accommodation checking out the various areas and prices before you make your decision to rent. Word of mouth is quite popular in Belgium, so if a certain area appeals to you, ask around to find out if anyone is renting. This way you’ll be able to find the landlord and deal with him directly.
The best neighborhoods in the Brussels Region are generally considered to be in Uccle and the Woluwe communes although excellent housing can be found in most communes of Brussels Region. The most popular communes for expatriates outside Brussels are Waterloo, Overijse and Kraainem near Brussels and Schilde and Brasschaat outside of Antwerp.
Most expatriates chose to rent rather than purchase their home or apartment. Monthly rent can run from €500 for a basic studio apartment to €8 - €10.000 for a 4 or 5 bedroom executive home. The best way to get a feel for the type of housing available and the cost is to visit a housing site such as www.immoscan.be and search for properties where you think you would like to live. Many of the descriptions are in English. It should not be difficult to find suitable accommodation.
There are numerous temporary accommodation facilities or flat hotels located primarily in the Brussels Region.
There are two types of rental leases in Belgium, a three year lease and a nine year lease (which is more common). The three year lease may sound more appealing to the expat who only has a short term contract; however, this lease is very strict and it is not easily broken. A 9 year lease can be broken by giving three months’ notice. The catch is that if you leave in the first three years you will have to pay 1-3 month’s rent indemnity (depending on the length of your stay).
Expats from the EU or EEA can drive in Belgium using their respective driving licenses. Expats from other countries will have to obtain an International driving permit in their home country and carry it with their original driving license when driving in Belgium. It is important to note that foreigners are only permitted to drive with an international driving permit for a period of one year. Once they obtain their residency they will have to pass a Belgium driving theory and practical test in order to obtain a Belgium license. These are the conditions you will have to fulfill in order to get a Belgium driving license.
Pass a theory examination
Pass a practical examination
Declare that they have not been banned from driving or that they have passed a reintegration test
Declare that they have no physical disabilities or afflictions. This declaration may be replaced by a compulsory medical examination
Medical services in Belgium are high standard; healthcare facilities are readily available and the emergency services are reliable. It is mandatory for residents to register with the social security organization to avail of the medical services in Belgium. After registration, a social identity card or Carte SIS will be given to you. This card must be presented when seeing a doctor or obtaining medication.
There are a number of private hospitals. Doctors must be paid fully and then this cost should be reimbursed with your insurance company.
In Belgium, Allianz is a main market player in P&C and Life business (Investment and Protection). Through the distribution channel of the insurance brokers, Allianz offers a wide range of services to private individuals, the self-employed, SMEs and large companies.
Address: Rue de Laeken 35, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 2146111
Fax: +32 2 2146274
AG Insurance Belgium
Ageas is an international insurance group with a heritage spanning 190 years. Ranked among the top 20 insurance companies in Europe, Ageas has chosen to concentrate its business activities in Europe and Asia, which together make up the largest share of the global insurance market.
Address: Boulevard Emile Jacqmain 53 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 664 81 11
Fax: +32 2 664 81 50
Website: www.ageas.com/en, http://www.aginsurance.be/Retail/fr/Pages/Homepage.aspx (French)
It originally opened its doors in 1977 and currently employs around 3 000 staff, who provide treatment for about 260 000 outpatients and 26 000 inpatients in 858 beds each year.
Address: 2008 - Route de Lennik 808 1070 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 555 3111
Healthcare Belgium is a non-profit organisation established in 2007 by the most prominent Belgian hospital groups. The organisation receives substantial support from the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (VBO-FEB) and leaders of the medical technology industry in Belgium.
Address: Place Marcel Broodthaers 8/5, B-1060 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 892 39 48
Antwerp University Hospital
The Antwerp University Hospital guarantees top quality healthcare and a wide range of specialized treatments.
Address: Wilrijkstraat 10, 2650 Edegem, Belgium
Tel: +32 3 821 30 00
Universitair Zeikenhuis Brussel
This hospital offers a vast range of services that include cardiology, general surgery, gynaecology, intensive care, oncology and emergency medicine among others.
Address: Campus Jette, Laarbeeklaan 101, B-1090 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 477 41 11
Clinic Universitaires Saint-Luc
Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc is the academic hospital of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). French is the spoken language. Nevertheless, our teams seek to provide help and support to everyone, without consideration for his or her origin and culture.
Address: Hippokrateslaan 10, Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 764 11 11