Workers of foreign nationality - Exemptions

The following information, conditions and legislation were applicable for applies until December 31st, 2018 and thus is everything unusable from January 1st, 2019!
The new legislation, and the associated new conditions and documents, you can find it here: Naar werknemers buitenlandse nationaliteit (vanaf 2019)



As an employer you do not need an employment permit

  • If your employee has a work permit A;
  • If your employee has a work permit C;
  • If your employee is exempt from the obligation to obtain a work permit.

In these three cases you may engage the employee immediately and employ him/her. In all other cases you must as an employer obtain an employment permit in advance before the employment may commence.


As foreign worker you do not need a work permit

  • If you belong to one of the categories of foreign nationals (pdf / 0.2 MB) (which are listed in Article 2 of the Royal Decree of 9 June 1999) who are exempt from the obligation to obtain a work permit;
  • and on condition that you legally reside in Belgium (unless expressly specified otherwise)

Important in this regard: an exemption applies automatically. This means that in practice there is no prior additional administrative formality to be completed, either by the employer or by the employee: it was after all precisely the intention of the legislature to reduce administrative obligations to a minimum by introducing exempted categories.

In the case of an exemption, the parties involved therefore no longer need submit application files and the Department of Economic Migration will not issue certificates of exemption.

It is the responsibility of the employer to check whether the proposed employment meets the conditions that apply for one of the exempted categories. If this is the case, then he can immediately engage the foreign employee in the same way as any Belgian worker.


Legal residence

All the exemptions apply in principle only to the extent that the workers concerned have legal residence. In Article 1, 6° of RD of 9 June 1999 the legislature states what 'legal residence' shall be taken to mean for the purposes of this decision:

"The residence situation of the foreigner who was permitted or authorised to stay in the Kingdom or who is authorised to settle here under the law of 15 December 1980 or the law of 22 December 1999 on the legalisation of the residence of certain categories of foreigners residing on the territory of the Kingdom, excluding the residence situation of the foreigner who was authorised to reside in the Kingdom for a maximum period of three months."

However, given that for a large number of exempted categories it is by definition impossible to fulfil this requirement of legal residence, the legislature added a second and third paragraph to Article 2 in 2003 (after the enumeration of all exempted categories), stating the following:

"Except in the cases intended in the first paragraph, 1°, 2°, 19° and 22°, (a) the exemptions from the obligation to obtain a work permit mentioned under this Article apply only if the beneficiaries thereof meet the requirement of legal residence, as defined in Article 1, 6°."

"By way of derogation from the provisions of the preceding paragraph the residence situation of the foreign national who was authorised to stay in the Kingdom for a maximum period of three months will be considered as legal residence for the purposes of the first paragraph of Article 2, 4°, 6°, 7°, 8°, 9°, 10°, 11°, 13°, 14°, 15°, 16°, 17°, 20°, 26°, 27°, 28°, 29°, 30°, 31°, 32° and 33°."

For most of the categories therefore, an Authorisation for temporary residence of a maximum three months equates with legal residence.

Employees of foreign nationality

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