Business matters for expats in Belgium

serviced apartments bruges

Things you wish you’d known before moving to Belgium

Using the expat community web sites is a good solution for finding the starting points for a move to Belgium.
Several scenarios exist for expat businessmen working in Belgium: expats working for themselves, working for other expats, working for Belgian companies and expats working for British companies with offices and/or operations in Belgium.

All of them have one thing in common – a wealth of information the prospective businessman can take advantage of on visas, transport, accommodation, government permissions and licenses and last but definitely not least office and industrial etiquette for workers managers, and administrative staff.

The expats on various internet sites can provide the answers you need on just about any query you have and especially on best working practises. They have ‘been there, done that and got the t-shirt’ applies. Using the expat community web sites is a good solution to finding the starting points for a move to Belgium.

Going to Belgium under your own steam? Then extensive research and contacting people in the expat networks via the internet will definitely pay off and having the right visa is essential. Going to Belgium as a tourist or holiday visit is quite different to the visa for a final permanent move.

With UK membership of the EU up for a referendum in the UK in the not too distant future knowledge of the visa system and where your nearest Belgian embassy or consulate is will help if changes occur.

If your company is sending you then they will be able to advise you and make the necessary arrangements. They should be able to organise visas, airfares, hotel, guest house, help you meet business associates and so on. Certainty about your move outcome and knowing you have the right accommodations when you first arrive is paramount.

The job may well be one that you have desired for a long time and the change an exciting one, however, ensure you go to Belgium on a visit and have a look round before you make that irrevocable permanent move for yourself and family overseas if you have not already done so.

With UK membership of the EU up for a referendum in the UK in the not too distant future knowledge of the visa system and where your nearest Belgian embassy or consulate is will help if changes occur.

Vital tips:

1) Use the expat networks to make contact with other expat businessmen in Belgium and ‘pick their brains’. Make notes and bookmark  internet sites you know you will revisit again.

2) Visa requirements is the correct place to hat up on visas. Instructions given on this site are very specific and it is advisable to read it thoroughly.

3) ‘Know before you go’ by visiting lots of different places in Belgium on a short or not so short break holiday to be sure the city or town you choose to live in is right for you with your workplace easy to reach on public transport. Bruges is an excellent city to use as a base as it has great transport facilities to the other larger cities and towns like Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels. For accommodation go here: http://goo.gl/am8o7m

Languages and the Ways of Government.

One will need to understand, whether you are English or American, is the complete absence of a nationwide cultural infrastructure. Belgium is made up of language divisions as opposed to political ones. French, Dutch, German and Flemish are spoken in specific areas and regions in Belgium and each pretty much run their own administrations.

Brussels is officially bi-lingual, (whilst other cities are not), and it also holds the administrative seat for both French and Flemish speaking communities. It is not always easy to follow through on business with the Government as a result. You must persevere and learn who deals with what where and in what language.

If you do not yet speak French, Dutch or German it’s a good idea to start learning as soon as you can. Wikipedia has a really useful map of the language divisions in Belgium, showing the major language spoken in each one.

Brussels has an advantage for the English speaking expat. English is becoming established in Brussels as the common language for all thanks to NATO, the European Union and the huge numbers of foreign students living in this city.

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Www.white-rooms.be offers serviced apartments in Bruges for B to B rentals for expats in Brussels, Ghent or Antwerp. We are a member of ASAPS (Association of Serviced Apartment Providers) and we will go for full accreditation this year.

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