Feb 11 2021

UK National Business Visitors Granted Broader Business Activity Rights

Belgium

At a Glance 

  • Belgium now allows UK national business visitors to conduct activities based on the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement, which includes more activities than those generally permitted for business visitors 
  • UK nationals can therefore now perform activities such as technical, scientific and statistical research; receiving training in techniques and work practicesand attending a trade fair, among other activities under business visitor status, which means they do not require a work permit. 

The situation 

According to policy statements by the three Belgian regionsBelgium now allows UK national business visitors to conduct activities directly based on the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement, which includes more activities than those generally permitted for business visitors in 90 days in a 180-day period. 

A closer look 

Brussels and Wallonia follow Flanders in permitting UK nationals to conduct the following activities as a business visitor, beyond the typical business visitor activities:  

UK national business visitors 

Other non-EU national business visitors 

Attending meetings and engaging in consultations with business associates 

Typically limited to 20 consecutive days up to 60 business days per calendar year of business meetings in a limited group 

Independent research by technical, scientific and statistical researchers 

Work permit required 

Research or analysis by market researchers and analysts 

Work permit required 

Business visit for establishment purposes (senior employee setting up an enterprise) 

Work permit required 

Receiving training in techniques and work practices 

Work permit may be required 

Attending a trade fair for the purpose of promoting their company or its products or services 

Work permit may be required 

Receiving orders, negotiating sale, or concluding sales agreements of services or goods as a representative of a supplier of services or goods (this does not include delivering goods or supplying services themselves) 

Typically limited to sales representatives (who hold a legitimation card) 

Purchasing services for an enterprise 

Work permit may be required 

Providing after-sales or after-lease service: installers, repair and maintenance personnel and supervisors with specialized knowledge essential to a seller's contractual obligation, supplying services or training workers to supply services pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale or lease of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software 

Typically limited to eight days’ stay for installation and assembly, or five days per month for urgent repair or maintenance; training not permitted.  

Engaging in a commercial transaction (limited to management and supervisory personnel and financial services personnel (e.g., insurers, bankers and investment brokers) 

Work permit required 

Engaging in tourism services: tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators attending or participating in conventions or accompanying a tour 

Work permit required 

Supplying services as a translator or interpreter 

Work permit required 

Impact 

  • Expanded business activities. Affected UK national business visitors should benefit from this clarification, as it allows them to participate in more activities than previously allowed, without requiring a work permit in Belgium. 

  • Stay limit. UK national business visitors should still limit their duration of stay in Belgium to 90 days in a 180-day period.  

  • Notification requirements applyEmployers must complete posted worker (Limosa) notifications for UK national business visitors as needed. For example, a notification is required for meetings that take longer than 20 consecutive days. Exemptions to the posted worker notification requirement are unchanged for UK nationals. 

Background 

  • Policy expansion. This country-wide confirmation of the rules set out in the EU-UK Free Trade Agreement follows the Flanders region confirming application of this broader group of business visitor activities in January 2021.  

  • EU-UK Free Trade Agreement background. The EU-UK Free Trade Agreement permits entry and temporary stay for business purposes for short-term business visitors, business visitors for establishment purposes, contractual service suppliers, independent professionals and intra-corporate transferees. Other provisions of the Free Trade Agreement do not facilitate regional immigration policies for UK nationals.  

Looking ahead 

These policy statements show that the Belgian regions are willing to ease the negative impacts of Brexit as much as possible to continue facilitated access for UK nationals. It is expected that further clarifications on the rights of UK nationals will follow. Fragomen will report on related developments. 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].