Work permit C - Definition

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)



If you have come to Belgium, not in the first place to come here to work, but for other reasons such as to study here, to join your family residing in Belgium, to request asylum here, etc., you will, if you meet certain conditions, obtain a residence document from the population department of your municipality giving you the right (initially usually temporarily) to reside in that municipality.

Depending on the reason for your stay in Belgium, you will also be able to work here in some cases and subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions. To do this you will need to request a work permit C in advance from the Department of Economic Migration in your province.

For which work

With a work permit C you will be eligible for any paid employment, whether it be under a contract of specific or indefinite duration, full-time or part-time, seasonal work, etc.

You can be engaged by an employer immediately in the same way as any other indigenous employee. The employer does not need to fulfil any special additional administrative obligations.

For example, you will also be able to register immediately with one or more public or private employment agencies, etc.


The work permit C is valid for the whole of Belgium, and can be used for any gainful employment in any Region of the country.

 So, with a work permit C that you have obtained from the Department of Economic Migration in the Flemish Region you can be recruited and employed without any problem by a Brussels or Walloon employer.


The period of validity of your work permit C will always be stated on your card.

 The duration can be a maximum of 12 months, but this partly depends on the length of your right to stay.

So, when you are staying in Belgium in order to study here, you will receive a residence document with a duration limited to the duration of your studies.

Versus the employer

An employer can immediately employ someone who is in possession of a valid work permit C and a valid residence document, in the same way as any other employee.

He need not fulfil any additional administrative obligations.

Nevertheless, the employer (at the appropriate time and in his own interest) will have to verify that his employee has requested the extension of his work permit C as well as his residence documents in good time and also actually obtained them.
Hence, it is recommended that the employer regularly asks his employee to present his residence documents and work permit C.
After all, if the employee is no longer in possession of a valid work permit C and a valid residence permit, the employment must immediately be stopped, otherwise the employer will expose himself to possible (very heavy) penalties listed in Article 12, 1° (a) and Article 13, first paragraph of the law of 30 April 1999 which inter alia stipulates that:

Article 12.

Without prejudice to Articles 269 to 274 of the Criminal Code the following will be penalised:

1. with imprisonment of one month to one year and a fine of between 6,000 to 30,000 Euros or with one of those sanctions:

  • the employer, his employees or agents who, in breach of the provisions of this law or of the decrees implementing them, work(s) or has/have work carried out by a foreign national who is not admitted or authorised for a stay of more than three months or for an establishment;
  • ….

If the employer in the case referred to under 1°, (a) is convicted, the court may order the temporary or definitive, partial or total closure of his company/business.

Article 13.

Anyone who is guilty of an offence referred to in Article 12 is jointly and severally liable for the payment of a lump-sum reimbursement for the costs of repatriation, as well as a lump-sum reimbursement for the cost of housing, accommodation and health care of the relevant foreign workers and members of their family who were residing unlawfully in Belgium.

Employees of foreign nationality

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