Since 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union. After a transition period that ended on 31 December 2020, British nationals wishing to come and work in Belgium as employees or self-employed professionals from 1 January 2021 are subject to the same rules as any worker of a nationality other than one from the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
By default, and unless they can benefit from an exemption applying to all foreign nationals*, from 1 January 2021, British nationals will have to be in possession of an employment authorisation (for employees) or a business card (for self-employed) to continue their activities.
Employees must obtain an employment authorisation in the form of a single permit or a type B employment authorisation. Self-employed persons must obtain an authorisation in the form of a professional card.
* as provided for in the Royal Decree of 2 September 2018 or the Walloon Government Decree of 16 May 2019 (for employees), or the Royal Decree of 3 February 2003 (for self-employed professionals)
Beneficiaries of the "Brexit" withdrawal agreement
British nationals and their restricted family members who have a residence permit valid until 31 December 2020, will receive a residence card ('M card') (Royal Decree of 24 December 2020). This card will be issued to them by the municipal administration of their place of residence during 2021.
These people have the right to work in Belgium without having to apply for an employment authorisation from the Regional authorities. Therefore, in the same way as EU nationals, they continue to be exempt from employment authorisations, both as employees (Royal Decree on Employment of 19 February 2021) and as self-employed professionals.
A similar measure concerns cross-border workers who were employed in Belgium up until 31 December 2020 (they receive a "type N residence card").
Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of 24 December 2020
This agreement is effective as of 1 January 2021.
In addition to the employment authorisation exemptions presented above, from which British nationals can benefit in the same way as any other foreign worker, the agreement provides for more favourable provisions specifically for British workers. This includes "business visitors for 'establishment purposes'" (Article 141 of the Agreement, formerly Article SERVIN.4.2), and "short-term business visitors" (Article 142 of the Agreement, formerly Article SERVIN.4.3).
The provisions of this agreement are directly applicable, and the administration fully applies the most favourable provisions of the agreement.
Click here to consult the EU-UK agreement (French version)