After-Brexit Briefing:
Belgium Business Travel and Trade

After-Brexit Briefing: Belgium Business Travel and Trade

Today we’re beginning a journey across Europe that focuses on the post-Brexit response and travel impact within specific EU countries. The first country up is Belgium. We sat down with Huib van Heumen, CIBTvisas’ Director of Account Management Benelux, to discuss the current state of business travel in Belgium and the challenges that employers are experiencing in this post-Brexit travel landscape.

Q: What are the current post-Brexit challenges you are seeing out of our CIBTvisas Brussels office?

Huib: Similar to other countries impacted by Brexit, many employers are looking for information on how to manage the thin line between business travel and work authorisation. Many Belgian companies are using the Post-Brexit Travel Assessment for their business travellers.

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Q: Belgium is well known for its strong trade ties to the UK and was in the news a few weeks ago for offering the opportunity for ‘VIP’ status with authorised economic operator (AEO) accreditation to UK businesses seeking access to post-Brexit Europe. Can you tell us about AEO and the reasons why traders should consider it?

Huib: New rules govern international trade post-Brexit. Companies with AEO accreditation benefit exponentially from those without it, including:

  • Reduced Costs – fewer duties to cover, lower administrative overhead, faster communication
  • Faster to Market – expedited clearance times, fewer border delays, move your goods more rapidly than competitors
  • Access to New Geographies – AEO accreditation provides access to over 70 countries with Mutually Recognition Agreements (MRAs) throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and the Americas

CIBTvisas is offering companies a complimentary AEO evaluation and recommendations. Complete this form to speak with one of our AEO experts.

Q: If work authorisation is required for a UK national travelling to Belgium, what is the most common Intra-Company Transfer route? What does that process look like?

Huib: The most common Intra-Company Transfer route in Belgium is the Single Permit for Highly Qualified Employees or Directors. Generally speaking, the process is as follows:

  1. Assemble Personal and Corporate Supporting Documents
  2. Obtain Medical and Police Clearance Certificates – these documents (as well as birth and marriage certificates for dependents) must be translated into English, French, or Dutch (if applicable) and authenticated for use in Belgium either via legalisation or Apostille process
  3. Pay Residence Administrative Fee – submitted by host entity/authorised representative in Belgium and receipt of payment required for the visa application
  4. Pay Residence Administrative Fee – submitted by host entity/authorised representative in Belgium and receipt of payment required for the visa application
  5. Single Permit application – slight variations in requirements will depend on specific region (Brussels, Flanders, Wallonia)
  6. Visa Type D Application and Collection – filed at Belgian Consulate General with jurisdiction over the applicant’s current place of residence
  7. Entry into Belgium
  8. Posted Worker Notification – if applicable
  9. Social Security Registration – if applicable depending on payroll location and nationality of employee
  10. First Commune Visit (Residence Registration) – within eight days of arriving in Belgium
  11. Registration Processing – including a visit to the applicant’s home by the Belgian police to ensure they live there
  12. Second Commune Visit – to file Residence Card application
  13. Third Commune Visit – to collect Residence Card once ID and Security Codes (PIN and PUK numbers) are issued

Overall processing times are 5-7 months until the applicant can begin work activities and 7-10 months until the entire immigration process is completed.

Q: What are the current business travel requirements and timelines?

Huib: Travel from Belgium to the UK is still possible, although there are few restrictions imposed by the UK authorities:

  • Effective 17 May, Belgium was been placed in the orange ('amber') zone by the British authorities. All measures that are already in force will therefore remain unchanged.
  • Arrivals in the UK from amber countries must complete the following to enter:
    • Present a negative COVID-19 test taken a maximum 72 hours before departure
    • Self-quarantine for 10 days and make reservations and payment for testing in the UK on days 2 and 8. Both tests must be pre-booked online before departure.
    • Complete a Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours prior to arrival in the UK.
Q: Are there any post-Brexit recommendations for Belgium that you’d like to share?

Huib: Right now, due to COVID-19 and the travel restrictions, many employers have not felt the full effects of traveling after Brexit. I predict that once the travel restrictions are removed, employers and business travelers will only then realize that what was once a typical “business trip” to the UK will now actually require work authorisation.

With the complex, fast-changing nature of Brexit and its considerable impact on employers, it is critical to have a trusted advisor by your side. CIBTvisas stands ready to support you and your travel programme. Contact your dedicated CIBTvisas Account Manager today for more information. Don’t have an Account Manager? Contact us.

This publication is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Readers are reminded that immigration laws are subject to change. We are not responsible for any loss arising from reliance on this publication. Please contact CIBTvisas or Newland Chase should you require any additional clarification or case specific advice.

CIBTvisas is part of CIBT, the leading global provider of immigration and visa services for corporations and individuals with expert immigration and visa professionals, attorneys and qualified migration consultants located in over 70 offices in 25 countries.

With thirty years of experience, CIBT is the primary service provider to 75% of Fortune 500 companies. CIBT offers a comprehensive suite of services under two primary brands: Newland Chase, a wholly owned subsidiary focused on global immigration strategy and advisory services for corporations worldwide and CIBTvisas, the market leader for business and other travel visa services for corporate and individual clients.

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