Professional card for non-European nationals

Non-European nationals need a "professional card" in order to exercise an independent activity in Belgium.
  • Would you like to work as a self-employed professional in the Brussels-Capital Region?
  • Would you like to set up your business as a natural person or as the agent of a company or association (paid or gratuitous)?
  • You are not a Belgian national?
  • You are not a national of a European member state, nor of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, as a rule you need a professional card to register with the Enterprise Crossroads Bank. You will then be allowed to exercise activities in all of Belgium.

Nationals of the European Economic Area (European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland do not need a professional card work permit to be able to to work as a self-employed professional in Belgium, be it as a natural person or an agent of a company or an association.
 
Certain categories of foreign nationals are also exempt from the requirement of a professional card due to the nature of their activity, their residency status or in accordance with international treaties :
  • foreign nationals holding a valid identity card for foreign nationals or a valid and permanent CIRE (certificat d'inscription au registre des étrangers, or proof of registration at the Register of foreign nationals);
     
  • provided that they settle with him/her, family members of national of the European Economic Area :
    1. his/her spouse;
    2. his/her descendants or his/her spouse's descendants, under age 21 or who are in their care;
    3. his/her parents or his/her spouse's parents, who are in their care, with the exception of the parents of a student or a student's spouse;
    4. the spouse of the persons mentioned under 2 and 3;
  • spouses of Belgian citizens, and, provided that they settle with one of them:
    1. the descendants of the Belgian or of his/her spouse, under age 21 or who are in their care ;
    2. the parents of the Belgian or his/her spouse, who are in their care ;
    3. the spouse of the persons mentioned under 1 and 2;
  • refugees recognised by the Belgian authorities;
     
  • partners who assist or replace their husbands or wives in the exercise of their self-employed professional activities;
     
  • foreign nationals on business trips, provided their stay (required by the trip) does not exceed three consecutive months. Are considered as business trips: trips within Belgium by a foreigner whose main residence is not in Belgium and who travels on his own behalf or on behalf of his company in order to:
    • visit professional partners;
    • seek and develop professional contacts;
    • negotiate and sign contracts;
    • participate in trade fairs and exhibitions to present and sell his/her products or those of the company;
    • participate in board of directors' or shareholders' meetings.
  • foreign nationals whose main residence is not in Belgium and who come to Belgium to hold lectures, provided the duration of their stay (required by their activities) does not exceed three consecutive months;
     
  • foreign journalists whose main residence is not in Belgium and who come to Belgium for professional reasons, provided the duration of their stay (required by their activities) does not exceed three consecutive months;
     
  • foreign athletes as well as their self-employed assistants whose main residence is not in Belgium and who come to Belgium as part of their respective professional activities, provided the duration of their stay (required by their activities) does not exceed three consecutive months;
     
  • foreign artists as well as their self-employed assistants whose main residence is not in Belgium and who come to Belgium as part of their respective professional activities, provided the duration of their stay (required by their activities) does not exceed three consecutive months;
     
  • foreign students who have the right to stay in Belgium, on an internship required by their studies, for the duration of that internship;
     
  • foreign nationals who come to Belgium to follow an internship approved by the competent authorities within the framework of development cooperation or exchange programmes based on reciprocity, for the duration of that internship;
     
  • foreign nationals registered on the roll of lawyers of the Bar Association or the list of trainee lawyers, pursuant to the Royal Decree of 24 August 1970;
     
  • independent executives and researchers working for coordination centres falling under the Royal Decree n° 187 of 30 December 1982 regarding the creation of coordination centers.

  1. The right of residence:
    If you have not gained the right of residence, you must apply for it at the consular or diplomatic representation at the same time as you apply for your professional card;
  2. Compliance with regulatory obligations, in particular those regarding the professional activity:
  3. The relevance of your project to the prosperity of the Brussels-Capital Region.

Applications should be made:
  • at the Belgian consular or diplomatic representation in your country of residence, if you live abroad;
  • at a recognized enterprise counter of your choice, if you have a valid "model A registration certificate" or a valid certificate of registration with the Register of foreign nationals, if you live in Belgium.
You must apply using one of the two request forms, duly completed, dated and signed.
The application must include :
  • the form,
  • the proof of payment of the tax due when submitting an application,
  • all required documents as well as any other documents that you deem necessary regarding the screening of your application.

Contacts

According to your choice, any further contact will be made by post, fax or e-mail. You must however specify your preference using the application form or by written mail.
You may communicate with administrative services through an authorised person, lawyer or third party specifically designated by you.
Upon prior written request, you have the right to access your file at Brussels Economy and Employment and receive a copy of it. You may also entrust your representative with doing so.

Cost

A professional card (first card or renewal) costs
  • 140 € at the moment you submit your application at an enterprise counter or at a diplomatic representation or consulate;
  • 90 € per year of validity when the enterprise counter issues the card.

  1. The consular or diplomatic representation or the enterprise counter which receives your application will forward it to the competent regional administration. If the intended place of establishment is located in the Brussels Capital Region, your application will be forwarded to Brussels Economy and Employment.

  2. Brussels Economy and Employment verifies whether your application complies with the rules set out above.
    • If not, your application will be rejected and you will be notified via the consular or diplomatic representation or the enterprise counter which received your application.
    • If these rules are met, Brussels Economy and Employment will then assess your application.
  3. Assessment will take place according to the three criteria that must be met to obtain a professional card :
    • The right of residence :
    Brussels Economy and Employment verifies whether you have a valid right of residence in Belgium or in the country where you applied for your professional card.
    • Compliance with regulatory obligations :
    Brussels Economy and Employment verifies whether you and/or your company possess basic management knowledge and in certain cases the necessary professional knowledge to meet the access requirements for the intended professional activities and whether all other obligations linked to your status are fulfilled.
    To that end, you must enclose with your application for a professional card the certificates you have received at the enterprise counter.
    • The relevance of the project :
    Brussels Economy and Employment collects all necessary information in order to assess this criterion: description of the project, skills and experience of the applicant, financial standing; market study, financial analysis, contact with business partners, contract opportunities; company statutes or draft statutes, etc. In short, all evidence that allows to determine your project's relevance for the Brussels Capital Region.
  1. The decision
    If your application meets the required criteria, Brussels Economy and Employment will issue the professional card. Otherwise, Brussels Economy and Employment will notify the refusal and the reasons therefore.
The professional card will be delivered through an enterprise counter.
You will be informed of any decision of rejection through, according to the case at hand, the consular or diplomatic representation or the enterprise counter.

If you are self-employed, you must go to an enterprise counter once you have received your professional card, in order to:
  • obtain your enterprise number;
  • register with the Enterprise Crossroads Bank.
According to your business activity, you must also:
  • register for VAT;
  • register with a social insurance fund for self-employed workers.
If you are responsible for the daily management of a company as an agent, you must:
  • register your professional card with the Enterprise Crossroads Bank via an enterprise counter;
  • register with a social insurance fund for self-employed workers.
If you are an executive director or a partner, you are only required to register with a social insurance fund.
To set up a business in Belgium, you must register your company statutes with the Registry of the commercial court of the location where the headquarters of your company are established. In this process, the company will be registered with the Enterprise Crossroads Bank and will receive its enterprise number.
In addition, if the company engages in business activities, it must:
Finally, if it employs any personnel, it must register with the National Social Security Office.

  • You must obtain a new permit:
    • before changing your activity or adding new activities,
    • for any change made to particulars mentioned on the permit.
  • If you lose your card or if your card is destroyed, you must request a replacement card. Your application for a replacement card must be accompanied by a sworn statement of loss or destruction.
Your application for a new professional card must be filed with the recognised enterprise counter of your choice :

Cost

Changing or replacing a card costs 140 euros at the moment you submit the application.
The enterprise counter does not charge any price when issuing a modified card or card in replacement.

The professional card is attributed for a maximum period of five years.
Generally, an initial card is granted for a probation period of two years.
The permit is issued for one or more specific activities as mentioned on the card.

The validity of the card is linked to the cardholder's right of residence. If this right is revoked, the card can no longer be used and must be returned to an enterprise counter.

Once it expires, it may be renewed as long as you have met all your regulatory, tax and social security obligations as well as the criterion of economic utility on the basis of which the professional card was granted.

You must apply for renewal at least three months before the card's expiry date via the enterprise counter you have chosen.

The application form to be used and the fee to be paid for renewing the professional card are the same as those for a first request of a professional card.

A new application

If your application has been rejected, you can reapply
  • after two years, starting on the date of submission of your previous application ;
  • immediately, if :
    • the refusal resulted from a decision of inadmissibility,
    • you can claim new evidence or
    • your application is related to a different professional activity.

An appeal

If your application for a professional card is rejected, you may appeal against this decision to the minister of Employment of the Brussels Capital Region. Your letter must specify the motivation for the application and must be written in French or in Dutch. It must be signed and sent by registered mail within the thirty days following the notification of the administration's decision to refuse you the card.
 
You will be notified of the minister's decision. Should the decision confirm the rejection or the withdrawal of the card, you can appeal before the Council of State within the sixty days following the notification of the minister's decision.
 

Contact Contact

Brussels Economy and Employment
Direction de la Migration économique
E Contact form
T +32 (0)2 204 13 99
F +32 (0)2 204 15 28

or on site, upon appointment

More useful contacts

Regulations Regulations

  • Loi du 19 février 1965 relative à l'exercice, par les étrangers, des activités professionnelles indépendantes
  • Arrêté royal du 2 août 1985 portant exécution de la loi du 19 février 1965 relative à l'exercice, par les étrangers, des activités professionnelles indépendantes
  • Arrêté royal du 3 février 2003 dispensant certaines catégories d'étrangers de l'obligation d'être titulaires d'une carte professionnelle pour l'exercice d'une activité professionnelle indépendante