UK nationals who have been legally living in the country before December 31, 2020 when the UK withdraws from the EU, may continue to live, study, and work in Belgium through rights established through the Withdrawal Agreement. UK nationals who are residents of Belgium by the end of the Brexit transition will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and their rights will be protected if they remain a resident of Belgium. UK nationals should make sure they are registered as residents.
Entry and Residency Requirements
Individuals who hold a British Citizen passport do not require a visa to enter Belgium through December 31, 2020.
UK nationals must register at their local town hall within eight days of arriving in the country. They must bring four passport-sized photos; an original passport and copies; the lease for an apartment or house; documents proving financial support while in Belgium, such as proof of pension or an employment contract, and proof of health insurance. UK nationals and their employers may be required to provide more documents.
UK nationals must make an in-person appointment at the local police station to verify their address. Upon address verification, they will receive a statement of registration and be able to apply for an electronic residence card that is valid for five years. Individuals must notify their commune of changes in personal circumstances.
The following residency cards are the most common for UK nationals:
- E Card: EU residents in Belgium less than five years
- E+ Card: EU residents in Belgium over five years
- F Card: Non-EU family members (spouses) of EU citizens; residents in Belgium more than five years
All UK nationals must update their residency card before the Brexit transition. Residents will receive a letter from their commune before December 31, 2020 with information and instructions on obtaining a new residency card. Residency rules and registration procedures will stay the same in 2021 for individuals who arrived in Belgium before January 1, 2021.
UK nationals in Belgium may apply for a new residency permit between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021. Applicants will be invited to apply for a residency permit. They must have a prescheduled in-person appointment to apply at the town hall of their residency, or at the town hall where they work if they are cross-border workers. Applicants must submit proof of their EU residence registration to demonstrate that they were residents before December 31, 2020. Alternatively, they can provide proof of self-employment, education, or independent means to demonstrate residency rights before the Brexit transition. Applicants will receive an Article 50 permit application confirmation with a three-month validity to verify that they have applied for residency. The certificate may be extended if necessary. UK nationals who have lived in the country for at least five years may apply for a 10-year residence card (M-Card) if eligible. Otherwise, they can continue accruing time towards permanent residency in 2021.
Non-EU family members of UK nationals who have a current Belgian residence permit will also be invited to apply for a new residence permit by December 31, 2021.
Rules will change for UK nationals who are traveling or working in Belgium starting on January 1, 2021. Travel is permitted in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa to visit family or friends; attend business meetings, sports events, or cultural events; for tourism, and for short-term study or training.
Travelers should note that visits to other Schengen countries within the previous 180 days also count towards the 90-day maximum stay. Any days spent in Belgium before January 1, 2021 will not count towards the 90-day limit.
Working in Belgium
UK nationals who are registered as residents in Belgium have the right to continue working in Belgium following the Brexit transition if they remain residents in Belgium.
Certain documents may be required to apply for a job, including:
- UK police certificate
- Belgian criminal records certificate
The Belgian criminal records certificate may be requested at the local town hall.
Starting in January 2021, individuals who live in Belgium and commute to work in another EU/EFTA country may need to have a permit showing that they are a frontier worker.
Cross-border workers with established status before December 31, 2020 may continue to perform the same activities in 2021, but they should apply for a five-year renewable N-Card instead. Cross-border workers who do not have an Annex 15 must demonstrate their eligibility to work in the country under the Withdrawal Agreement before the Brexit transition. Posted workers who qualified for residency or held posted worker status before December 31, 2020 must apply for either an M-Card or an N-Card when available.
UK nationals must have at least six months’ validity on their passports to travel to most countries in Europe, excluding Ireland. Additional months may be added on to passport’s validity if the current passport was renewed before the old one expired.