One of the very first things you need to do when you move to Belgium, is to get your social security card. You must register with a Mutuelle (French) or Ziekenfonds (Dutch) to think about getting social insurance in Belgium.
The Belgian health insurance and social security system is administered by the mutuelles/ziekenfonds. They will issue your SIS (Social Information System) card, a microchip card which carries all your details.
You will need this SIS card every time you visit the doctor or pharmacist. You pay a proportion of the fee and the society the rest. The amount will be decided by your society, and you can contribute more to get extra benefits.
Both you and your employer must make contributions to your social security and health insurance through the mutuelle/ziekenfonds. This amount is set by the Belgian government.
The UK basic state pension is payable in Belgium. If you live but have not worked in Belgium, claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre by telephone: +44 (0)191 218 7777. However, if you live and have worked at some point in Belgium you must apply for your UK state pension via the RVP-ONP or Belgian National Pension Office (IPC). The application form will be in French, Dutch or German. Your claim will then be passed to the International Pension Centre (IPC), and they are likely to reject your claim if you apply directly.
You may find this web site helpful – europa. It explains the system in English!
Moving to Belgium after you receive a UK state pension
If you are a pensioner, relocating to Belgium from the UK, you should inform the IPC of the changes to your circumstances. This will prevent problems with your pension payments, and help you access healthcare in Belgium. UK pension credit is not payable in Belgium.
Belgian retirement pension
Everyone in Belgium is entitled to a state pension provided that they have worked at least 30 years out of a standard 45-year career period. The calculation takes into account time spent in different countries. Note: It is possible to retire at age 60, if you can prove you have completed 35 or more years of work.
Voluntary contributions & life certificates
If you want to top up your pension entitlement, contact the company who is providing your social security/health cover. If you have a life certificate from the UK, inform them quickly, otherwise your benefit may be stopped.
UK Benefits in Belgium – Apply before leaving the UK
UK Benefits – you can apply after leaving the UK
UK only benefits
Remember to tell the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) you are going to live or are currently living in Belgium.
If you work and pay your contributions in Belgium, then you are entitled to certain benefits, including unemployment and incapacity benefit. Make sure your UK contributions are included in their calculations. You will need to complete a CA3916. You may be entitled to receive a Non-contributory invalidity pension and your local social Assistance Centre will be able to help.
Britain has a double taxation agreement with Belgium. This means you should not have to pay tax twice, but you must declare assets held outside Belgium. These include bank accounts, insurance, annuities, property etc. This is separate exercise to the annual tax return. There are severe penalties for incorrect or late information, and you would be wise to take professional advice about your taxation.
You need not be daunted by the bureaucracy – when you move to Belgium you will find people available and willing to help you. Just don’t keep putting off getting your SIS card, you never know when you will need medical or other care.
For more information about Belgium read our The Comprehensive Guide to Belgium for Immigrants. You will find there more detailed information about Belgian customs, employment market, social and medical care, pensions, housing, public infrastructure and social life.
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