Single Permit

The annexes referred to in the text are annexes to the Royal Decree of 8 October 1981.

The worker must submit an application for a work permit, through the employer, to the competent Region: Brussels-Capital Region, Flemish Region, Walloon Region or German-speaking Community.

The application for a work permit is equivalent to an application for a residence permit (single application). This application must be accompanied by documents relating to residence and work.

The documents related to the stay are:

  • proof of payment of the fee;
  • a copy of the applicant's valid passport or travel document in lieu thereof;
  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence, the duration of the applicant's employment as a worker and, where applicable, the VAT number of the employer;
  • an extract from the criminal record or an equivalent document, if the applicant is over 18 years of age;
  • a medical certificate;
  • proof that the applicant has health insurance covering all risks in Belgium for themselves and their family members.

The Immigration Office may request additional information and documents from the applicant during the examination.

The Region will confirm receipt of the application and check that the file is complete.

If the file is not complete, the Region gives the applicant 15 days to complete it. If the applicant does not complete the application within this period, the Region will declare the application inadmissible.

If the file is complete when the application is submitted, or if it is completed within the 15-day period mentioned above, the Region will declare the application admissible.

The date on which the Region declares the application admissible is the starting point of a dual deadline.

An initial period of 15 days within which the Region must send a copy of the file to the Immigration Office.

A second period of 4 months within which the Region and the Immigration Office must take a decision on the single application. This second deadline may be extended by the Region, or by the Immigration Office, in exceptional circumstances related to the complexity of the application.

If the Region and the Immigration Office do not make any negative decision within the 4-month deadline, potentially extended, the residence and work authorisations will be considered as being granted.

The Immigration Office will inform the applicant with an Annex 47. The Immigration Office will also inform the employer and the municipal administration, or the Belgian diplomatic or consular post indicated in the single application.

The Region will examine whether the worker can be authorised to work and the Immigration Office will examine whether the worker can be authorised to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days.

 There are 4 possible cases:

  1. The Region refuses the work permit → it will notify the worker of its decision and inform the employer and the Immigration Office. The procedure is complete.
  2. The Region grants the work permit → it transmits its decision to the Immigration Office. The procedure continues.
  3. The Immigration Office refuses the residence permit → it communicates its decision to the worker with an Annex 48 and informs the employer and the Region. The procedure is complete.
  4. The Immigration Office grants the residence permit → the work permit and the residence permit are incorporated in a single administrative act in accordance with Annex 46 and the decision is communicated to the worker, the employer and the municipal administration, or the Belgian diplomatic and consular post, informed in the application.

A worker who has indicated a foreign address in their application for a work permit must apply for a D visa (national long-stay visa) at the Belgian diplomatic or consular post competent for the place where they reside.

The post will issue the visa on presentation of a valid passport and the decision granting a single permit (Annex 46 or 47), provided that the decision presented by the worker corresponds in every respect to the decision notified to the post by the Immigration Office.

The national indication B34 on the D visa means that the worker has received a single permit. The indication B29 means that the worker is a highly qualified worker (EU Blue Card).

The worker must apply for registration in the register of foreign nationals of the place of residence and for the issue of a single permit within 8 working days of entering Belgium. They must present their passport, the decision granting a single permit (Annex 46 or 47), the decision granting the work permit and the decision granting the residence permit.

The municipal administration gives the worker an Annex 49 which covers their stay temporarily for 45 days, pending the outcome of the residence check. The Annex 49 may be extended twice for 45 days (2 X 45 days).

If the residence check is positive, the municipal administration will issue the worker with an A card. This residence permit bears a reference to access to the labour market (single permit).

Useful to know:

A worker who is exempt from a visa requirement for a stay of up to 90 days is not required to apply for a D visa. However, not applying for this visa could be a risk.

A worker applying for a single permit must provide an address on the application form. If a foreign national provides an address abroad, the Immigration Office will communicate the decision to grant a single permit to the competent Belgian diplomatic or consular post. However, if the worker provides an address in Belgium, the Immigration Office will notify the decision to the municipality of residence.

The posts and municipalities are responsible for verifying that the decision presented by the worker corresponds in all respects to the decision communicated by the Immigration Office before issuing a visa or residence permit. If a worker who is exempted from a short-stay visa provides an address abroad, but does not apply for a D visa, neither the post nor the municipality can check the authenticity of the decision.

A D visa indicating B34 or B29 is therefore a guarantee that the post office has carried out the authenticity check. A municipality will likely refuse to consider the application for registration of a worker who appears without a D visa.

The Immigration Office therefore strongly advises workers who are exempt from a short stay visa to apply for a D visa upon receipt of the decision to grant a single permit (Annex 46 or 47). If the domicile in Belgium is already known, another option is to include this address in the application, even if the worker is still abroad when their employer submits this application. In this case, the Immigration Office communicates the decision to the municipality, which will check the authenticity of the decision presented by the worker.

The Immigration Office will send the decision to grant a single permit (Annex 46 or 47) to the worker and a copy to the municipal administration of the place of residence indicated in the single application.

The worker must apply for registration in the register of foreign nationals and for the issue of a single permit within 8 working days following receipt of Annex 46 or 47. They must present their passport, the Annex 46 or 47, the decision granting the work permit and the decision granting the residence permit.

The municipal administration gives the worker an annex 49 which covers their stay temporarily for 45 days, pending the outcome of the residence check. The Annex 49 may be extended twice for 45 days (2 X 45 days).

If the residence check is positive, the municipal administration will issue the worker with an A card. This residence permit bears a reference to access to the labour market (single permit).

a) Residence and work permits granted for a limited period

A worker authorised to work and reside for a limited period of time must apply for the renewal of the work permit from the Region at the latest 2 months before the expiry of the A card (single permit), through their employer. This application is equivalent to an application for renewal of the residence permit.

If the Region and the Immigration Office do not take a decision before the expiry of the A card, the municipal administration will issue an annex 49 to the worker, provided that they present a document issued by the Region attesting to the admissibility and completeness of their application for renewal. Annex 49 covers their stay temporarily for 30 days and can be extended twice, for 30 days (2 X 30 days). However, Annex 49 does not entitle the holder to work (indication "Labour Market: No").

b) Residence permit granted for a limited period of time and work permit granted for an unlimited duration.

The residence permit granted by the Immigration Office remains limited for 5 years. As such, when the Region grants a work permit for an unlimited period of time within this 5-year period, the worker only has to apply for the renewal of the residence permit to the municipal administration, at the latest 2 months before the expiry date of the A card (single permit).

The municipal administration will provide the worker with an Annex 50, provided that they present the following documents:

  • a copy of their valid passport or travel document in lieu thereof;
  • proof of sufficient means of subsistence, the duration of the applicant's employment as a worker and, where applicable, the VAT number of their employer;
  • proof that they have health insurance covering all risks in Belgium for themselves and their family members;
  • the decision of the Region authorising them to work for an unlimited period.

Annex 50 is valid for 30 days and can be extended twice for 30 days (2 X 30 days).

The municipal administration sends the application for renewal of the residence permit and the documents to the Immigration Office, which makes its decision within 4 months, which may be extended.

If the worker does not present the documents, the municipal administration will not consider the application (Annex 41) and will send a copy of its decision to the Immigration Office.

If the Immigration Office renews the residence permit, it will forward its decision to the municipal administration (Annex 46). The administration then issues the worker with an A card (limited stay) or a B card (unlimited stay), depending on the case, with the indication "Labour market: unlimited".

If the Immigration Office refuses to renew the residence permit, it will notify the worker of its decision (Annex 48).

If the Immigration Office does not take a negative decision within the 4-month period, which may be extended, it will send an Annex 47 to the municipal administration. The administration then issues the worker with an A card (limited stay) or a B card (unlimited stay), depending on the case, with the indication "Labour market: unlimited".

c) Residence permits granted for an unlimited period

The residence permit granted by the Immigration Office remains limited for 5 years. The residence permit is then renewed for an unlimited period, provided that the worker meets the following conditions:

  • they are not in one of the cases stated in Article 3, 5° to 10° of the law;
  • they are not dependent on the Belgian welfare system;
  • they are not staying for purposes other than those for which they have been authorised to stay.

The worker authorised to stay for an unlimited period of time is issued with a B card, with the indication "Labour market: unlimited".

The Immigration Office may terminate the stay of a worker for the following reasons:

  • they are in one of the cases stated in Article 3, 5° to 10° of the law;
  • they are dependent on the Belgian welfare system;
  • they are staying for purposes other than those for which they have been authorised to stay.

When the Immigration Office terminates the stay (Annex 52), the work permit automatically expires. In effect, the work permit is only valid if the residence permit is granted.

If the Region terminates the work permit, the residence permit is automatically terminated 90 days after the end of the work permit, unless the Immigration Office decides to terminate it earlier. In effect, the residence permit is only valid if a work permit is granted.

If the A card expires during the 90-day period, the municipal administration will issue an Annex 51 to the worker. This document does not give access to the labour market.

The family members receive the same document, with the same validity period.

  • Directive 2011/98/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State;
  • Cooperation agreement between the Federal State, the Walloon Region, the Flemish Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the German-speaking Community on the coordination of policies for granting work permits and residence permits, and on standards relating to the employment and residence of foreign workers;
  • Law of 22/7/2018 amending the law of 15/12/1980 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals;
  • Royal Decree of 12/11/2018 amending the Royal Decree of 8/10/1981 on access to the territory, residence, settlement and removal of foreign nationals.
  • Walloon Region: http://emploi.wallonie.be
  • Flemish Region: http://www.werk.be
  • Brussels-Capital Region: http://werk-economie-emploi.brussels
  • German-speaking Community: http://www.dglive.be
  • List of Belgian diplomatic and consular posts (www.diplomatie.fed.be)