A Guide To Securing Residence in Belgium
For entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals and investors who are not EU citizens, Belgium offers a relatively easy path to resident status and eventually to acquiring Belgian citizenship after five years of residence.
Leaving aside reasons for obtaining residency and/or citizenship based on family ties with Belgium (e.g. marriage to a Belgian national, being born in Belgium or to Belgian parents), most residence applications concern persons who wish to establish business ties with the country. In these cases, applications for work permits and/or professional cards must be considered before it is possible to apply for a residence permit. In most cases, residence and citizenship can easily be extended to a spouse and children.
Non-EU citizens normally submit a long-stay visa application. All applications for residence permits are subject to case-by-case approval by the government. It is therefore of the utmost importance that an application is thoroughly prepared.
In principle, for the first three years, residence permits are issued on an annually renewable basis. Subsequently, an indefinite permit can be obtained.
The BRP Belgium Residence Program (BRP) is a fixed-fee service package offered by Haskew Law to non-EU citizens who are interested in obtaining a residence permit quickly and with minimal effort. By drawing on an extensive network of advisors and high-level contacts, we can offer you assistance in all administrative and procedural matters regarding your residence permit application, personal and corporate taxation as well as business opportunities. We specialise in providing a tailor-made service package in which every aspect of your personal situation is taken into account, and also offer an all-round service.
Depending on your individual circumstances, citizenship may be obtained after five years of legal residence in Belgium. This is your legal right, by means of a declaration, if fulfilling certain criteria. After 10 years of legal residence, a resident acquires the same right to become a Belgian citizen with even fewer conditions to comply with. Family reunion procedures are relatively straightforward.
As Belgium is one of the founding members of the European Union with a sound financial and legal climate, Belgian nationals are generally welcomed all over the world. Belgian/EU citizenship gives you the right of establishment in all EU member states as well as in Switzerland.
As the country is within the EU and the Schengen zone, a Belgian residence permit allows citizens whose passport normally requires a visa to enter this zone to travel anywhere within it without the need for a visa.
Once citizenship has been granted, a Belgian passport will allow visa-free travel to a large number of countries, including the United States. Indeed, a Belgium passport is one of the best travel documents in the world.
Corporate Taxation in Belgium
Belgium's corporate taxation system has been revised in recent years and is very much in line with the country's reputation as one of Europe's favourite holding company jurisdictions. Belgium has an extensive network of treaties with over 80 countries designed to avoid double taxation.
Notional Interest Deduction - a Unique Innovation
All companies subject to Belgian corporate tax are allowed to deduct a percentage of the interest on their adjusted equity from their taxable income, in order to mitigate the imbalance between equity and debt financing (notional interest deduction, or NID). NID does not discriminate between companies, is fully compliant with existing Belgian and EU laws, and assures legal certainty for investors.
The Belgium Hong-Kong Tax Treaty
The Belgium Hong-Kong tax treaty is the first OECD tax treaty entered into by Hong Kong, as well as the first Double Tax Treaty entered into with Hong Kong by any EU state. It creates unique opportunities for both Asia-EU and EU-Asia investments, with Belgium acting as a key financial portal.
Key Advantages of Belgium's Corporate Tax Environment
- One of Europe's favourite jurisdictions for holdings and headquarters
- Attractive corporate tax and tax ruling system
- Notional Interest Deduction for companies
- Tax treaties with over 80 countries, including Hong Kong
- Interest payments are 100% tax-deductible
- No taxation on capital gains on shares
Our are a resource and complement to other consulting and law firms. Our Antwerp office is at your disposal to assist your company in obtaining specialist advice on how to apply the unique Belgian tax advantages and select a company structure adapted to your business sector and international interests.
Personal Taxation in Belgium
According to Belgian law and regulations, your worldwide private income is only taxable if you actually reside in Belgium. In most cases, your income can be structured in a favourable way. On top of that, some important exceptions apply, such as no tax on capital gains.
Appropriate tax planning gives you a number of important tax advantages. In some cases, income earned outside Belgium is not taxable at all. There are an extensive number of treaties with over 80 countries designed to avoid double taxation.
Main Tax Benefits for a Private Person resident in Belgium
The following are the key benefits of tax residence in Belgium:
- No tax on capital gains
- No wealth or net worth withholding taxes
- Maximum tax on dividends of 15% to 25%, depending on type of shares
- No tax on surplus value of (private) real estate, when owned for a minimum of five years
- 0-3% taxation on gifts (achievable with appropriate tax planning)
- The possibility of paying no inheritance tax (with appropriate tax planning)
- Extensive treaties to avoid double taxation
- In some cases, income earned outside Belgium not taxable at all
Special Regulations for Key Managers
Special regulations apply to key managers and directors, who are treated as foreigners resident in Belgium and are only taxed on income actually earned within the country.
Personal Tax Advice essential
To benefit fully from the favourable opportunities offered by Belgium to affluent residents, especially in the case of an international income base, it is essential to have access to highly specialised advice in order to optimise your tax planning.
More about Belgium
Rich History and Culture
Belgium is steeped in history, and almost every town and city has Gothic and Baroque churches overshadowing historic market squares. Museums abound, showing the glory of the past. But Belgium is also home to modern art, avant-garde design, internationally renowned opera, theater and dance groups.
On the lighter side of life, it fully deserves its reputation as the home of "Burgundian" living. Food and drink are taken seriously in Belgium, and go far beyond the famous chocolates, waffles, and over 600 kinds of beer. A wide range of cafés and restaurants serving excellent cuisine is available to suit every mood.
The major cities, especially Brussels and Antwerp, have superb shopping areas where luxury goods from all over the world are available.
Wide Choice of Housing
Despite the high population density and high degree of urbanization, there is a wide choice of housing, ranging from opulent town houses and apartments to stylish villas in affluent rural and suburban communities. Real estate prices are more than reasonable in an international comparison.
High standard of Education and Healthcare
Families having their principal residence in Belgium can rely on a high standard of education, including a wide choice of international schools. Belgian universities are easily accessible and participate in European and international student-exchange programs. Healthcare is also among the best in the world.
Thanks to these high educational standards, most Belgians are multilingual, thus facilitating both business and personal contacts.
International Business Environment
Brussels, home to a multitude of international businesses, EU institutions and NATO; and Antwerp, which hosts many port-related businesses as well as over 1,500 international diamond firms; have a particular tradition of welcoming a high proportion of foreign nationals in key positions, a fact which is reflected in their cultural and social life.
We offer assistance in this area and provide personalised tax planning by drawing on an extensive network of Belgian and international specialists.
For more information contact us