Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Belgium is a small but affluent and powerful European country. It is commonly considered one of the best places to live, with an advanced infrastructure, excellent living standards and a diverse expat population, with around 13 per cent of residents having relocated from overseas.
Known as the central hub for several European Union institutions and offices, Belgium has high employment levels and countless multinational businesses, attracting foreign nationals looking for career and business opportunities.
The cities and towns are safe and packed with history and architecture, characterised by canals, mediaeval gothic cathedrals and cobbled old towns that are family-friendly and often pedestrianised.
Expat residents can obtain a visa and work toward citizenship and a Belgian passport by setting up a company or moving as a professional or entrepreneur and maintaining their residency in the country for a minimum number of years.
Table of contents
- About Belgium
- Citizenship By Investment Options
- Cost Of Living
- Belgium Citizenship By Investment FAQ
- Related Information
The capital, Brussels, is also the unofficial capital of the European Council and European Commission.
Towns and cities
Around 23,000 UK nationals currently live in Belgium.
The Kingdom of Belgium has three official languages–Dutch, Flemish, French and German.
The climate in Belgium is similar to that in the UK, with year-round rainfall possible and the lowest average temperatures in January at 3°C (37.4°F). During the summer, the warmest weather is in July, with an average of 18°C (64.4°F), with the wettest months falling between February and April.
Belgium’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is $594.1 billion (£476.6 billion), the sixth-wealthiest EU country with consumer purchasing power 20 per cent above the European average. The primary industries in Belgium are pharmaceuticals, food and beverage production, chemicals and the manufacturing of metals.
Belgium is a landlocked Western European country. It has a small landmass of just under 12,000 square miles but forms an important part of the EU as a central hub, sharing borders with the Netherlands, France, Germany and Luxembourg.
Citizenship By Investment Options
The Belgian migration scheme allows entrepreneurs and investors from outside the EU to relocate. While there are no specific minimum investment values, the norm is to invest from €350,000 to €500,000 (£301,000 to £430,000) over an initial five-year period.
Applicants can apply for a relevant residence permit through the most applicable business or investor category, including a spouse and dependent children. The Belgian government decides whether to approve applications on a case-by-case basis but applies eligibility criteria such as:
- Being at least 18 as the lead applicant.
- Having a clean criminal record and no past instances of immigration law breaches.
- Providing evidence of good character and strong business experience.
- Proof of funds available to invest and the source of the funds.
- Attending immigration meetings in person.
Most investors receive a one-year renewable residence permit and provided they form a company within Belgium and continue to meet qualification criteria, they can apply for permanent residency status after three years of continuous residence.
After five years, residents can apply for full citizenship and receive an EU passport. Further conditions apply, such as fluency in French, Dutch or German, passing assessments of knowledge about Belgian society, having no debts or outstanding tax liabilities, having registered with the local population register, and proving integration into the economy.
Foreign national investors normally create a BVBA company, similar to a limited liability company in the UK, also called an SPRL company in French-speaking regions.
Immigration officials will typically look for liquid funds for business investment and running costs of at least €200,000 (£172,000) and forecasts of further investments of at least €100,000 to €200,000 (£86,000 to £172,000) to consider a business or investment proposition viable and beneficial to the economy.
Incorporation costs include initial fees of €10,000 to €20,000 (£8,600 to £17,200), an annual €5,000 (£4,300) renewal charge, plus salaries, property rental or acquisition costs. Applicants must set up a registered office for the company, act as an employer, and maintain the official address throughout the qualification period.
Citizenship by investment applicants who successfully apply for a Belgian passport can travel as dual nationals and are not expected to relinquish their British citizenship. EU passport holders can travel, relocate, study and work freely throughout the Schengen Zone and travel visa-free to 154 countries.
Initial residency permit applications normally take three to eight months to approve. Expats must maintain legal and continuous residence for three years after obtaining their temporary residence permit and five years of residence to become eligible for permanent residency and citizenship.
British passport holders can travel to Belgium for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, with the 90-day limit including all travel to any EU country. Longer stays require a visa, permit or work permit.
Foreign nationals living in Belgium for the majority of the year, and with their primary economic interests, such as employment or business ownership, in Belgium are normally considered tax residents. Most expats who register with a local commune as a resident are tax residents. Continuous residency in the country is a mandatory requirement for non-EU nationals who wish to apply for permanent residency or citizenship.
Need Help with your Finances?
Cost Of Living
Living costs in Belgium are similar to the averages in the UK, with everyday expenses around 3.2 per cent higher, but other costs, such as property rental, 28.3 per cent lower. A family of four typically needs a budget of €3,021 per month (£2,600), excluding accommodation, and an individual needs roughly €864 (£744).
After tax deductions, the average net monthly salary is €2,405 (£2,068) compared to £2,294 in the UK.
Foreign nationals can purchase a property in Belgium without any specific restrictions, and some domestic banks will consider mortgage lending for expats, provided they have proof of legal residency.
Purchasing or renting a commercial premise, such as an office, is compulsory for business investors and entrepreneurs. While buying a residential home can help evidence integration into Belgian society, it is not considered a financial investment towards citizenship by investment.
Expats can also choose to rent a property, with homes ranging from modern city centre apartments to family houses, villas, bungalows and rural cottages.
|One-bedroom city centre apartment||€812/ £698|
|One-bedroom apartment elsewhere||€672 / £578|
|Three-bedroom city centre apartment||€1,204 / £1,036|
|Three-bedroom apartment elsewhere||€1,000 / £860|
The healthcare system in Belgium is considered one of the best in the EU, funded through mandatory social security contributions and health insurance payments paid by employees and businesses. Coverage is almost universal, and 99 per cent of residents in Belgium access treatments and healthcare through the public system.
Residents normally register with one of the available government-sponsored schemes, which means they can both access local healthcare facilities and claim contributions towards the costs of private treatments or healthcare elsewhere in the EU.
Many also choose to take out private healthcare insurance to enable them to access private clinics and hospitals with shorter waiting times – most expats are expected to have comprehensive healthcare insurance to avoid reliance on the public healthcare system.
Belgium Citizenship By Investment FAQ
Can the Belgian government take away citizenship?
Foreign nationals must comply with varied requirements and conditions to become eligible for Belgian citizenship, such as living continuously in the country for at least five years, proving fluency in a national language, and integrating into Belgian society.
When is a citizenship application rejected?
The Belgian business and entrepreneurship system is varied, and there is no one defined visa route created for expat investors. Instead, the government and immigration department assess every application on its merits and have discretion about whether to grant temporary residency.
Most citizenship applications are rejected because they fail to comply with a compulsory requirement, such as meeting the minimum legal residency duration, being fluent in one of the national languages, or registering on a local population register.
How long is the flight from Belgium to the UK?
The flight time between a London airport and Belgium is just under one and a half hours.
What’s the currency in Belgium?
Belgium uses the Euro (EUR) as its currency as a full EU member.
Do British passport holders need a visa?
UK citizens can travel to any EU country without a visa, provided they comply with the rules for Schengen Area travel. Visits of up to 90 days in any 180-day period do not require a visa.
British travellers must have a passport within ten years of the date of issue and with at least three months of validity remaining after their planned departure date.
Below is a list of related articles you may find of interest.
- Official website of the Belgian Immigration Office: https://dofi.ibz.be/sites/dvzoe/EN/Pages/home.aspx
- Embassy of Belgium in the United Kingdom: https://unitedkingdom.diplomatie.belgium.be/
- European Commission – European Union: https://ec.europa.eu/info/index_en
- Official website of the Belgian Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs: https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en