Quick Reference for Residency and Citizenship by Investment for Belgium
|4||Minimum Investment Required||€ 200,000|
|5||Name Of The Program||Belgium Business Residence Program (BBRB)|
|6||Processing Time||3-4 months|
|7||Residency By Investment||Yes|
|8||Real Estate investment Allowed||No|
|10||Minimum Stay Requirements||No requirement|
|11||Permanent Residency (PR)/Business Immigration||5 years|
|12||Naturalization Time for Citizenship||5 years|
|13||EU Schengen Member||Yes|
|14||UK Visa Needed||NO|
|15||USA Visa Needed||NO|
|17||Visa Free Travel Countries*||170|
|18||Passport Reputation (out of 10)||9.5|
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|Belgium – The economic heart of Europe|
|Belgium is a highly developed, prosperous country in Western Europe bordered by The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France. Its location in the heart of Western Europe has made it the economic and urban nerve centre of Europe.
Belgium is a small country, with a population of only 11 million. Geographically and culturally it has played a very important role in the history of Europe. During the past 2,000 years, the country has witnessed a constant ebb and flow of different races and cultures. Consequently, Belgium is one of Europe’s true melting pots with Celtic, Roman, Germanic, French, Dutch, Spanish, and Austrian cultures having made an imprint.
Belgium is a federal state, organized into three Regions (Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region) and three Communities (French, Dutch and German speaking population), each with their own legislative and executive power. French and Dutch and German are the main national languages. In addition, the first language of about one percent of Belgium’s population is German. Many people speak English too. The capital city of Brussels is bilingual (French and Dutch).
Belgium is a founding member of the European Union and NATO, both of which are headquartered in Brussels, the capital of the country. Despite being a small country, Belgium is a hub for international contacts. More than 1,000 public and private international organisations (international institutions, diplomatic missions, lobby groups, think tanks and multinationals) have set up headquarters or have a permanent secretariat in Belgium.
Belgium has the advantage of a central location within Europe, an extraordinarily well-developed infrastructure and highly developed transport network. The country’s communications network is second to none. Belgium’s open trading policies and efficient communications have helped make the Belgian market one of the toughest and most competitive in Europe, if not the world. To prosper in this demanding environment requires a high level of resourcefulness, creativity and craftsmanship for which Belgian companies have become known the world over.
The Belgian economy is modern, open, and private-enterprise-based. It is heavily service-oriented and the services sector is of vital importance to the national economy. One of the founding members of the European Union, Belgium strongly supports an open economy and its location at the heart of a highly industrialized region has helped make it one of the world’s largest trading nation. The economy is characterized by a highly productive work force, high GNP and high exports per capita (three out of every four people in Belgium work in the export business). More than 80 % of Belgium’s GDP is derived from foreign sales, which is one of the highest percentages among industrialized nations.
With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to volatility in world markets, yet also able to benefit from them. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium’s trade is with other EU countries. Belgium’s main exports are machinery and equipment, chemicals, finished diamonds, metals and metal products and foodstuffs. Its main imports are raw materials, machinery and equipment, chemicals, raw diamonds, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs, transportation equipment and oil products.
In addition to its dominance in the export sector, Belgium also fulfils an important role as a transit and distribution centre for other European Union member countries. Thanks to high Belgian productivity, the favourable terms governing the setting up of companies in Belgium and the hospitality of its people, the country has attracted a large number of foreign businesses, which make a significant contribution to the country’s economic prosperity.
Belgian Business Immigration Investor Program
As aforementioned, Belgium is an investor-friendly country. Its taxation laws are very favourable to businesses and its strategic location in Europe, along with a highly developed infrastructure and communication network, offers tremendous advantage to non EU and foreign businesspersons wishing to invest in Belgium.
Unlike many countries that offer citizenship by investment programs, Belgium offers residence permit to investors for a period of 3 years. This residence permit has to be renewed annually after which the businessperson is eligible to obtain a permanent residence permit. Belgium is the only country in Europe where one can apply for citizenship after holding a permanent residence permit for 3 years. After 7 years of permanent residence, one becomes automatically eligible for Belgian citizenship.
In order to qualify for a residence permit, investors must invest in an existing Belgian company or they may establish a new company with an office in Belgium.
The investor is required to make a detailed application to the Department of FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy’s Foreign Investment Department via a regional investment agency detailing the amount of investment to be made, either in starting a new business or acquiring an existing business, relevancy of the project to the Belgium economy, number of jobs that can be created and long term impact of the business on the Belgium economy.
In addition to the regional investment agency application, the following details are required to create the file:
- Information about the applicant
- Details of the company
- Details of the investment file
If business project is approved, a certificate is issued by the Department of FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy qualifying the investor as “Major Investor”. After obtaining this certificate, the applicant is required to make an application to the Belgium Embassy or Consulate in his native country for a residence permit.
When applying for a visa, the applicant needs to present the following documents in person at the Embassy or Consulate responsible for the applicant’s country of residence:
- A travel document (e.g. national passport) valid for at least 12 months, in which a visa can be affixed.
- Two visa applications forms, duly completed, signed and accompanied by two recent passport photos bearing a true likeness to the applicant.
- Template I/II ‘Major investor’, issued by FPS Economy’s Foreign Investment Department.
- An extract from the applicant’s judicial record dating from no more than six months prior to the date of application and covering the past year.
- A medical certificate filled out by a doctor approved by the Belgian embassy or consulate and dated no more than six months prior to the date of application.
The documents listed above are merely the basic documents required in all cases. Additional documents may be requested by the embassy or consulate.
Official documents issued abroad must be legalized or bear an apostille, depending on the country whence they originated, unless a treaty provides for exemption from this process.
Documents issued abroad in a language other than Dutch, English, French or German must be translated by a sworn translator.
The visa issued is valid for up to eight months and is intended to enable the applicants to prepare and launch their investment. Depending on how the business develops, before this residence permit expires, applicants will need to apply for a change to their residency status at the municipal authority in which they are resident, to either ‘self-employed person’ (executive) or ‘employee’ (manager).
Benefits of investing in Belgium:
- Visa free travel to other EU and Schengen countries.
- Favourable corporate and private taxation laws especially for holding companies.
- No restrictions on dual citizenship.
- Strong European presence.
- High standard of living.
- Citizenship can be obtained after 3 to 7 years of legal residence.