As a result of the Brexit, British citizens who wish to work in the Brussels Capital Region (as an employee or self-employed) after 31 December 2020 must undertake certain steps, according to one of the two following cases.
A) The British citizen has a residence permit that is still valid on 31 December 2020
A British citizen who has a residence permit that is valid on 31 December 2020 will have to apply for a specific residence document as soon as possible after receiving a letter from the Immigration Office.
A British citizen working and residing in Belgium will have to apply to their municipality of residence for an M card.
A British citizen working in Belgium but residing in another country (cross-border worker) will have to apply to the municipality where they work for an N card. Howeve, persons who only work in Belgium under the free movement of services (posting of workers) cannot invoke this right.
Holders of an M or N card will be authorized to work in Belgium, as an employee or self-employed.
B) The British citizen wishes to work in the Brussels Capital Region starting from a date after 31 December 2020.
In that case, it is a "new immigration".
A British citizen who wishes to work in the Brussels Capital Region after 31 December 2020 (and who did not work there legally before 31 December 2020, uninterruptedly) must follow the procedures applicable to non-European citizens, outlined on this website.
- In general, an employee must apply for an employment authorization through their future employer in the Brussels Capital Region.
To know what to apply for, select the employee's situation and the planned duration of the employment in Belgium.
Employers wishing to employ a British citizen in the Brussels Capital Region after 31 December 2020 can send us their application for an employment authorisation as of 1 November 2020.
- A self-employed worker must apply for a professional card.
Consult the steps to undertake to apply for a professional card.
A British citizen wishing to work in the Brussels Capital Region as a self-employed worker after 31 December 2020 can submit their application for a professional card as of 1 October 2020.
C) Trade agreement EU - UK
On 31 December 2020, the "TRADE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE EUROPEAN ATOMIC ENERGY COMMUNITY, OF THE ONE PART, AND THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, OF THE OTHER PART" was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. So far, the agreement has only been approved by the European Council on 29 December 2020. Therefore, it has only conditional validity for the time being. The agreement includes provisions on economic migration in "Chapter 4: Entry and temporary stay of natural persons for business purposes".
With regard to "business visitors for establishment purposes" as defined in article SERVIN.4.2 and "short-term business visitors" as defined in article SERVIN.4.3, most of the preferential conditions provided for in the agreement already apply under the exemptions established by the royal decree of 9 June 1999 implementing the act of 30 April 1999 on the employment of foreign nationals and the royal decree of 3 February 2003 regarding the professional card exemptions for certain categories of foreign nationals who engage in self-employed activities.
In matters where the current agreement establishes more favourable conditions for British nationals, Brussels Economy and Employment will fully apply these provisions. It should be noted that the trade agreement has no impact on the exemptions provided for in, notably, the Limosa legislation. The ensuing obligations for third country nationals thus remain applicable to British nationals, in spite of any exemption from the employment authorisation or professional card requirement they might enjoy.
For “contractual service suppliers” and “independent professionals” as defined in article SERVIN.4.4, the procedure to follow will not be impacted. As a general rule, British nationals will therefore need an employment authorisation or a professional card to be admitted to a stay of more than three months on the territory as a salaried worker or as a self-employed. If the trade agreement establishes more favourable conditions for British nationals in exceptional cases, Brussels Economy and Employment will apply those conditions within the framework of the existing procedures.
If you have specific questions, please contact us.