Professional cards

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Professional cards for self-employed workers who are not Belgian nationals

Professional cards for foreign nationals entail authorisation for these foreigners to work as a self-employed person in Belgium.

Persons of foreign origin wanting to set up as a self-employed person must receive prior authorisation.

This legislation aims to create a balance between the aspirations of foreign residents wanting self-employed status in the Walloon Region and the Region's economic, social and cultural interests.

Persons who meet the following criteria must be in possession of a professional card:

  • persons wanting to carry out a professional activity as a self-employed worker in the Walloon Region either as:
    • a private individual:
    • a representative of a company or association (paid or unpaid representative)
    • a managing partner of a company or association (paid or unpaid partner)
  • the person is not a Belgian national;
  • the person is not a national of one of the Member States of the European Economic Area (European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) or of Switzerland

There are, however, a few exemptions.

What are the criteria for the issuing of a professional card?

Three conditions must be met:

  1. the right of residency. If the person does not have this right, they must apply for it with the diplomatic or consular post at the same time as they request their professional card. Decisions on this issue are made by the Immigration Office, which is consulted if the person in question is not authorised to stay in Belgium.
  2. compliance with regulatory obligations
    • relating to access to the profession (basic management knowledge and professional skills)
    • relating to specific authorisations (approvals, licences, etc.) required to carry out this activity. The Directorate of Employment and Work Permits checks whether the person and/or their company have the necessary means to access the planned profession and whether the person in question meets the other obligations that apply to their status. Please contact a business counter for any questions relating to access to a profession.
  3. the importance of the project for the Walloon Region. This importance can be analysed from different aspects:
  • in terms of economic usefulness, i.e. it meets a need relating to the economy, job-creation, useful investments, economic impact on businesses located in Wallonia, openness to exports, innovative activity or specialisation
  • in terms of social, cultural, artistic or sporting importance.

 

 

Where to apply for a professional card

Persons wanting to obtain a professional card must submit their application:

  • to the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in their country of residence if they live abroad.
  • to the recognised business counter of their choice, if they have a valid:

- "registration certificate model A"

- or "certificate of registration in the aliens' register"

There is one exception to this rule: if persons wanting to obtain a professional card cannot submit their application in their country of residence for reasons of safety, they may perform this process:

  • either at a Belgian diplomatic or consular post in a different country,
  • or at a business counter.

An application for this last option must be submitted to the Walloon Minister of Employment, be justified and be accompanied by documentary proof of the situation.

How to apply for a professional card

Persons wanting to obtain a professional card must submit their application:

  • to the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in their country of residence if they live abroad.
  • to the recognised business counter of their choice, if they have a valid:

- "registration certificate model A"

- or "certificate of registration in the aliens' register"

There is one exception to this rule: if persons wanting to obtain a professional card cannot submit their application in their country of residence for reasons of safety, they may perform this process:

  • either at a Belgian diplomatic or consular post in a different country,
  • or at a business counter.

An application for this last option must be submitted to the Walloon Minister of Employment, be justified and be accompanied by documentary proof of the situation.

The admissibility of the application:

1. The application must be submitted using one of the two application forms, which is duly completed, dated and signed.

  • If the applicant lives abroad, the completed and signed form must be submitted to the diplomatic or consular post in their country of residence;
  • If the applicant has a valid "registration certificate model A" or a "certification of registration in the aliens' register", the completed and signed form should be submitted to the business counter of their choice.

2. The application must be accompanied by an extract of the police record or equivalent document issued by the country in question.

3. A fee of €140 must be paid on the submission of each application.

  • either at a Belgian diplomatic or consular post in a different country,
  • or at a business counter.

4. If the application is refused, applicants may only submit a new application after a period of two years from the date on which the previous application was submitted. This principle does not apply:

  • if the refusal is the result of a decision on inadmissibility;
  • if the applicant can supply new information;
  • if the application concerns a new activity.

The examination of the application

The application must include documents that allow a decision to be made on the usefulness of the project as well as any information required for examining the dossier. Below is a non-exhaustive list of documents that may be attached to the dossier:

  • a detailed description of the project
  • a CV
  • a copy of diplomas
  • the applicant's financial capabilities
  • a market study
  • a financial plan
  • a financial analysis
  • contacts with commercial partners
  • draft contracts
  • company statutes or draft statutes
  • etc.

The procedure for examining an application for a professional card

  1. The diplomatic or consular post or the business counter that receives the application sends it to the Directorate of Employment and Work Permits. If the application is sent by a business counter, it must be sent within five days.
  2. The Directorate of Employment and Work Permits checks whether the application has been submitted in accordance with the rules.
    • If this is not the case, the application is judged inadmissible and the applicant is notified of this fact through the diplomatic or consular post or the business counter that received the application.
    • If the rules have been respected, the Directorate of Employment and Work Permits examines the application.
  3. If the application meets the required criteria, the Directorate of Employment and Work Permits issues the applicant with a professional card. This is sent to them via a business counter. If the criteria are not met, the Directorate of Employment and Work Permits notifies the applicant of the reasoned refusal and sends this decision via the diplomatic post or business counter.

Validity of a professional card

Professional cards are allocated for a maximum period of five years.

A first card is usually issued on a probationary basis for two years.

It may be renewed at the end of this period provided that self-employed foreign workers satisfy the regulatory, tax and social obligations as well as the criterion of usefulness that justified the granting of the authorisation.

Employed workers must submit their renewal application at least three months before the expiry date of their card, via the chosen business counter.

The validity of the card is linked to the right of residence. If this right is withdrawn, the card can no longer be used and must be returned to the business counter.

A change of data or the loss of the professional card

The card is issued for one or more specific activities, as stated on the authorisation. Any change or addition to this activity therefore requires a new authorisation to be issued in advance. Similarly, any change to the information stated on the authorisation requires its modification.

Self-employed workers may request these changes via the chosen business counter. The same applies to replacements if the professional card is lost or destroyed. In this event, the application must be accompanied by a sworn declaration of loss or destruction.

The cost of a professional card

  • €140 to submit an application for a first professional card and for its modification, replacement or renewal;
  • €90 per year of validity for issuing or renewal, via a business counter;
  • However, no fee is payable for the replacement of a lost card.

The procedures for appealing against a decision to refuse a professional card

Applicants may introduce an appeal in the event of a refusal.

Such an appeal must be introduced within a period of 30 days from the day after the date on which the applicants learned of the decision.

The appeal must be submitted to the Directorate of Employment and Work Permits of the Wallonia Public Service.

The Minister immediately refers the matter to the Walloon Economic Enquiry Council for Aliens to request their opinion. This opinion must be provided within four months of the introduction of the appeal.

The Council is independent of the Administration. It is presided by a magistrate or lawyer and composed of civil servants representing the different departments involved in the issue. It may request any information it considers useful for examining the dossier.

The Council invites applicants to defend their interests at a hearing. Applicants may be assisted by the person of their choice. However, applicants who cannot be present may only be represented by a lawyer. The hearing may be postponed in the event of a duly justified inability to reply to the summons.

The Minister will make the decision alone if the Council does not issue an opinion.

The Minister has two months to make a decision from the issuing of the Council opinion or four months if the Council has not issued an opinion by this time.

If the Minister does not make a decision within these two months, the Council opinion shall be considered the final decision.