Moving to Belgium is reasonably straightforward, provided you obey the regulations described in this article about first steps after moving from UK to Belgium.
Before the Move
A little preparation before the move will make things a lot easier for you when you arrive. Learning at least the rudiments of the local language will be enormously helpful. It is important to assemble all the documents you might need, and it’s quite difficult to find out where to find things in England.
First Stop – your ID card
First stop is the Town Hall, to get your identity card. For this you need:
- Three good quality passport size photos
- Proof of identity – passport
- Proof of residence – even if only temporary
- Proof of financial viability – letter from your employer or, if on a pension, the last three months bank statements
- Cash for the fee – about EUR 15
You will be given a document confirming your registration and payment, but not your card. Before you get that, you will be visited by the police to verify your address. Then you may be given a temporary permit for three months, and then an ID card valid for 5 years. Unlike in the UK you must carry this at all times, and the police can fine you if you do not have it with you.
There are other places to visit, for you driving licence, insurances and will. You will also need to register with a doctor and dentist, find a hairdresser you like, join a club or two and get socialising.
Again, the Town Hall is the place to get your driving licence. Although your UK licence is recognised in Belgium, it is a good idea to get a Belgium/European one. The age 70 UK cut off is no problem and your licence will be renewed for 10 years. You will need:
- Two good quality photographs – passport size
- You UK driving licence
- Your new ID card
- Cash – about EUR 25
You will need medical insurance, car insurance, and house and contents insurance.
Car insurance is vital, as Belgium is has over twice the number of deaths per 100,000 population as in the UK – 8.1 as opposed to 3.7. Some of the roads are extremely busy; some are narrow, twisting and hilly, and adverse weather conditions can add to the risks. It is also expensive, but so are repairs.
You will need to find a bank and set up your new account, with credit cards if required. Online banking is easy, but be sure you have the necessary language to negotiate the site, or a trusted friend to help you at first.
Belgium law may differ from UK law in the matter of inheritance, and, if you want to control who has what when you die, it would be wise to invest in proper advice.
You need to register with a local GP just as in England, and find a dentist.
Now comes the fun part – learning the language, by classes if you wish, and by meeting people. Joining the local library may give you ideas for entertainment, some people find watching films in the local language a great way to understand it. Joining a club can be helpful, and the Belgium people are used to foreigners and usually helpful.
Guide books and tourist information centres have a wealth of information for you, and searching the web will often give you up to date information and advice.
You may wish to join an expatriate club or even just a web site for further ideas, but integrating into the local culture is not only fun, but also can be very useful. Living in Belgium is a fine place to live with a good and living standard, and lots to offer in social life, culture and interest, at the cross roads of western Europe.
You can also book cheap removals to Belgium right here on this website.