Professional Card: Working in Belgium as a Freelancer

On this page you will find some of the basic information you need to know as a freelancer wanting to work in Flanders, Belgium. The professional Card is what allows you to work as a self-employed international in Belgium.

International House Leuven
17 January 2024

What is a Professional Card?

First the obligatory disclaimer: this is a general introduction to the system of professional cards for the Flemish region only. This information is not exhaustive and doesn't cover every possible scenario. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on the information provided.

A Professional Card gives internationals the permission to do their freelancing work in Belgium, either full time or part time. This card isn't necessary for everybody: if you are an EEA citizen (+Switzerland), then you do not need to apply for a Professional Card to freelance in Belgium.

There are other exemptions, see the full list with description, in English, here.

Your Professional Card is valid for maximum 3 years but can be renewed.

You choose which region to apply for the Professional Card depending on which region in Belgium you establish your professional activity. Please note that if you receive a Professional Card for the Flemish Region, for example, you may also provide services in the Walloon Region, the Brussels Capital Region, and the German-speaking Community.

Professional Card vs Single Permit?

Those who've read up on working in Belgium will have noticed there's a difference between the paperwork required to work as an employee (salaried worker in a subordinate working relationship to an employer) and working as a self-employed person. While somebody may well be exempt from getting a Single Permit as an employee, that same person may still need a Professional Card to freelance.

How do I apply for a Professional Card?

First things first, before following the procedure steps below, read about the categories, conditions, and documents required for the application. You can find all of this information, in English, on the Vlaanderen website, here.

Apply for your first Professional Card? Here is an extensive description of the application process in Flanders.

Step #1: Collect all of the necessary documents (see full list of documents here, in English). You may need to get translations of your documents, because all documents must be in Dutch, French, German, or English.

Step #2: Submit your application depending on your region of residence or where your self-employed activity is established. For residents of Flanders you will use the WSE portal, here at phase 3.

Are you still abroad and don't have an official address in Belgium yet? Then you can submit the application at the Belgian embassy in your current country.

Step #3: Pay the application fee = 140€ (de dato this article - the amount is indexed)

Step #4: Wait to hear back, the legal decision time for standard files is 120 days.

If your file is incomplete you will have 30 days to submit the missing documents

Step #5: All that is left is to pay 90€ per year that your card is valid. Then, you need to go to the city hall of your residence to change your status. Here they will get you an updated residence permit.

Do you need to renew your Professional Card?

If you would like to renew your Professional Card, then you must apply for renewal no later than 60 days before your card's expiry date (for cards issued after 2022). Considering that the allowed processing time still is 120 days, it's highly recommended to file earlier.

Where can I go for more information or questions?

Need basic information? Stop by the International House Leuven on Tuesdays from 10:00-16:00 for a consultation, no appointment required. We can point you in the right direction.

This information is provided in good faith, and does not constitute legal or financial advice. The information has been designed to provide a simple overview rather than to be exhaustive.

Tiensevest 60
3000 Leuven

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This page was last updated on: 14 March 2024