A guide for your move to Belgium from the UK

Moving to Belgium from the UK offers a blend of European culture, delicious food, and historic charm, with easy access to the rest of Europe. With efficient public transportation and a very high standard of living, Belgium is an attractive destination for expats seeking new experiences on the continent.

Moving to Belgium means you will be joining around 1.5 million foreign-born residents alongside around 30,000 UK citizens, in a central European location. With iconic cities and regions including, Antwerp, Gent, Brussels, and Bruges. Belgium offers proximity to historic sites and great routes into other European countries with France, Germany and The Netherlands amongst its neighbours. Belgium boasts several official languages, including Dutch, French and German; well worth considering if you’re interested in learning a new language.

Following Brexit, moving to Belgium from the UK has become a little more complex. Today you’ll need to consider a visa and permits for longer stays. Rules do vary depending on your own status and the purpose of your stay so it’s crucial to do your research before making any move.

Understanding finance when moving to Belgium

When deciding to move to a new country, it’s important to consider your finances and what might change after your move. You might want to protect the lifestyle you enjoy, whilst continuing to save and invest too. Depending on your long-term plans you might also need to consider the future, and whether your financial plans need to flex to accommodate your goals. A realistic budget which includes your moving costs, and likely spending whilst living in Belgium, is a great place to start.

Understanding taxes in Belgium

With some of the highest taxes in Europe, understanding your tax situation whilst living or working in Belgium is incredibly important, especially if you have multiple sources of income or income arising outside the country. This is because Belgium, unlike some other countries, taxes residents on worldwide income, no matter their nationality. However, non-residents are only taxable on their Belgian income. With this in mind if you do have split incomes across different regions, Belgium tax can become quite complicated and it’s vital to work with an expert.

There is a saving grace – the UK has a double taxation agreement with Belgium so you shouldn’t have to pay tax on the same income in both countries. However, bear in mind that Belgian Income Tax rates sit between 25% and 50% so you may face an increased tax bill.

Capital Gains Tax in Belgium

In Belgium, profits from selling shares are not taxed if they’re part of a person’s regular management of their private estate. Nonetheless, gains from selling shares by private individuals to a non-EEA or foreign company with significant holdings in a Belgian company remain subject to taxation.

This link offers more details, but in essence, investments not within Branch 23 incur taxation. For this reason, we suggest Belgian clients to consider investing in Branch 23 portfolios.

  • What is a Branch 23 investment? In short in Belgium a Branch 23 investment refers to an insurance policy used for long-term savings, offering potential tax advantages on capital gains and dividends.

It’s important to seek advice from a specialist adviser or the relevant government authority if this is likely to be an area of concern.

Money transfers

When planning your move, it’s sensible to consider the best way of moving money to and from Belgium. One option might be an international money transfer – which can be a practical and cost-effective method of moving money between bank accounts in different countries.

These types of transactions are particularly useful if you are purchasing property, moving overseas, transferring a salary or pension, or sending funds to someone abroad. For more information on international money transfers click here.

Other considerations for moving from the UK to Belgium:

Pensions and investments

Saving for your retirement is an important consideration wherever you live in the world. Although you can keep hold of your UK pension, you may also want to explore overseas options to make the most of your expat status. Speaking to an adviser with experience of expat pensions can be a good place to start.

Buying and renting property in Belgium

Property and accommodation in Belgium can be expensive – especially if you’re looking at living in one of the more popular areas, so it’s best to consider a range of locations to find something which best fits your budget. If you are looking to buy, house prices are comparable to the UK but there is a tax of around 20% depending on the region that is paid on top of the house price, hence making it more expensive than other countries to purchase property. In terms of commuting there’s a well-organised public transport network and the country’s small size also means getting around is easy.

Plan your UK property situation before relocating

Do you plan on keeping hold of a UK property whilst you live or work overseas? If you’re considering renting your property out while you’re living abroad, you may need to consider the Non-Resident Landlord Scheme to ensure that any UK taxes are properly calculated and paid. You should advise HMRC, the UK tax authority, if you’re moving overseas. A P85 form notifies HMRC that you’re leaving the UK and helps ensure that you’ll be taxed appropriately.

Education in Belgium

Numerous reputable English language schools are situated in Brussels and its surrounding region, although they are less common in other cities. These institutions are privately financed, necessitating consideration of school fees. Belgium presents excellent local choices that foster robust bilingual abilities. However, given Belgium’s status as a nation with three languages, conducting your own research into the available options and the predominant language of each school is highly recommend.

Belgium healthcare

Belgium offers a top-tier healthcare service accessible to residents and people living and working in the country. However, health insurance isn’t free, requiring additional ‘top up’ insurance either acquired via your employer or a private policy.

Require financial advice before moving to Belgium from the UK?

Working with an experienced financial planner before moving to Belgium can help you make the most of your new expat status. Our offices in both the UK and Belgium and can support you with all aspects of financial planning in both countries including UK tax planning and keeping your pension plans and investments on track. Many of our team also have first-hand experience of making an overseas move themselves. You can contact us today for further information and support.

This article is distributed for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily the Firm and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.

Past performance is not indicative of future results and the value of investments can fall as well as rise. No representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.