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Welkom, bienvenu and willkommen to Belgium!

INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 – 6

If you have just moved here, it’s likely you are feeling somewhat overwhelmed. Apart from a new culture and languages to cope with, you will have to sort out a host of practical things within the first few weeks: somewhere to live, your finances, permits and papers, and maybe a school for your children and a job for your partner. Even if you’ve been here a number of years, you may need the services of a housing agent, currency trader, immigration consultant, or more.

FINANCE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 – 32 Banking; Taxation; Insurance.

RELOCATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7-15 Your first few days; Relocation and moving service providers; Residence permits; Social security system; Marriage, partnerships and divorce. HOUSING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 – 27 The housing market; Renting a home; Buying a home; Accommodation agencies; Where to live.

EDUCATION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33-45 Education system; How to choose a school; School listings; Higher education. JOBS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 – 49 How to find a job; Recruitment agencies. HEALTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 – 53 Healthcare system; Hospitals; Fitness clubs.

The Expat Survival Guide will give you the basic information you need and direct you to the people, companies, organisations, and institutions that can help you.

SHOPPING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54 – 55 Shopping guide; Food from home.

This guide is published by Expatica Communications. We help internationals in Europe navigate their way through all steps of the expat journey, from planning, to moving, to getting settled in, and daily living. Check out www.expatica.com to access daily news, features and resources such as housing and job searches, free classifieds, A-Z listings, and our online community.

SETTLING IN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 – 65 Utilities and telephoning; Television and internet; Libraries and post offices; Embassies.

We wish you a wonderful stay in Belgium!

ADVERTISERS’ INDEX. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Published November 2012 © Expatica Communications BV Gedempte Oude Gracht 31 - 2011 GL Haarlem - Netherlands info@expatica.com - www.expatica.com Editor: Marina Peneva Advertising sales: Veronica Guguian, veronica.guguian@expatica.com Publisher: Antoine van Veldhuizen Layout & design: Benjamin Langman (BNL Concept sprl) Marketing, communications and distribution: Albina de Wolf

OUT AND ABOUT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 – 60 Bars; Cinemas; Weekends away.

TRANSPORT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 – 69 Public transport; Driving and parking. LISTINGS AND INDEX. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 – 72 Expat groups and clubs; Religious services, Phone book decoder; Emergency numbers.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronically or mechanically, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior written permission from the publisher. Requests for permission should be addressed to Expatica Communications BV, Gedempte Oude Gracht 31, 2011 GL Haarlem, The Netherlands. Expatica makes great effort to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this guide. However, we will not be responsible for errors, omissions or any damages, however caused, which results from its use, and make no warranty of claims as to the quality or competence of businesses or professionals mentioned. Users are advised to take care when selecting professional services and to use common sense when adjusting to new life in a new country.

WWW.EXPATICA.COM | BELGIUM EXPAT SURVIVAL GUIDE

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•• INTRODUCTION ••

Introduction People often think that life as an expat is a glamorous, or at least adventurous, existence . It’s imagined we flit from cultural experiences to language classes, from making friends with interesting locals to eating exotic foods. And, on the surface, Belgium sounds like it could offer these attractions in spades. It’s the home of the EU, a short trip to a number of international capitals, and has three official languages (French, Dutch and German) and a sizeable international community. Beyond that, it’s also famous for fries, Tintin, chocolate, and beer. How could living in such a place NOT be a fantastic experience? Well, as you well know, life as an international is a little more challenging than what is often assumed. As expats, we’re more likely to be at the supermarket than an art gallery, commuting rather than philosophizing or enrolling kids in school rather than enrolling in language lessons. And these challenges are multiplied as we strive to do all these things across cultural, legal and, in Belgium, sometimes multiple language barriers. With our Belgium Survival Guide, Expatica has taken its years of experience helping internationals set up their lives in a new country and applied it to helping expats in Belgium. Here are some of the highlights of living in the country as well as things to consider as you begin, or continue, your Belgian adventure. BELGIUM IS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO LIVE FOR EXPATS Belgium consistently scores well in all the main indicators of good living. For those coming to Belgium for a limited period, there is no shortage of furnished apartments, or so-called ‘aparthotels’. There is 4

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a wide choice of rented and owner-occupied housing, both within the city’s 19 communes and in the suburbs, ranging from studio apartments to villas. Further afield, there’s an equally wide choice of property in more rural residential areas. Belgium has an excellent standard of healthcare, with approximately 40,000 doctors serving the needs of just over 10 million inhabitants, and there are almost 400 hospitals with 80,000 beds. And finally, the country boasts a good public transport system with a smooth-running integrated network of busses, metros and trams. It’s also relatively affordable. Brussels, where many expats choose to base themselves, is cheaper that other Western European capitals such as Paris, London, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Prague, according to Mercer’s Cost of Living rankings for 2012. BELGIUM IS A GREAT COUNTRy TO EAT, DRINk AND BE MERRy When it comes to eating establishments, the country is proud of the choice and quality of its restaurants. In fact, Brussels claims to have more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris. But it’s not just highbrow dining that the Belgians excel in. According to a survey this year by VirtualTourist.com, Brussels is the only Western European city in the top ten destinations in the world for street food. Belgium is unlikely to disappoint on the cultural and entertainment front. From impressive museums, to a lively theatre scene, to some of the most picturesque historical towns in Europe, there is always something to see or explore. And if you’re a beer drinker, you’ve landed in the global capital of great beer. All major cities and towns have bars of all types, from trendy lounges to old Flemish hostelries serving an array of the best-tasting and most interesting beers in the world. In fact, in Belgium, beer is even a ‘religious’ affair, with Trappist monks having brewed and sold their own beer for centuries.

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•• INTRODUCTION ••

Belgium is a terrific place to raise children Expats with young families will be reassured to know that the country has one of Europe’s most extensive childcare networks, with over 50 percent of all young children attending organised daycare. The Belgian educational system generally offers parents a huge choice, including a range of international and language

Second, due to a complex system of government, relationships between the different language groups and a talent for overcomplicating things, the country’s bureaucracy can be very challenging.

schools. Check our Education channel on expatica.com for a comprehensive guide to schooling. Another useful group to know is the not-for-profit Brussels Childbirth Trust (02 215 3377), an organisation for expats that arranges meeting groups aimed at parents with babies and/or pre-school children.

a few years ago the soon-to-be prime minister of Belgium sung the first line of the French national anthem – after being asked to sing the first line of the national anthem in French. Oops.

But what’s the downside? By all key indicators, Belgium is a great place to live. However, every place has its downsides and Belgium is no exception. The first is the weather. An old Belgium joke says that the country has great weather – about 20 times a day. There is a significant amount of rain all year round and that can be frustrating. But it can also be overstated – if you are from the UK you’ll be happy to hear that Belgium does actually have less average annual rainfall. 6

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But if you find the challenge of understanding the differences between region, language and ethnicity complicated, you’re not alone. In fact,

Conclusion A combination of a high standard of living, a great international community, schools and other organisations, and an excellent array of choices for dining, entertainment and travel means that Belgium more than holds its own against other major expat destinations. And with your Expatica Survival Guide in hand, you are equipped to take full advantage of the opportunities this amazing country has to offer. Enjoy!

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• • R E L O C AT I O N • •

Relocation service providers Relocation companies can take the hassle out of moving country

ABC Relocation | 02 767 2996 Sterrebeeklaan 81 - 3080 Tervuren www.abcrelocation.com Brussels Relocation | 02 353 2101 Clos du Vieux Moulin 34 - 1410 Waterloo

RELOCATION COMPANIES Interdean | 02 757 9285 Jan Baptist Vinkstraat 9 - 3070 Kortenberg www.interdean.com

Storage Services | 0800 91 100 www.brussels-relocation.com

Belgian Relocation Center bvba | 02 3605 0650 Louis Kieboomsstraat 2/42 2610 Wilrijk www.brc-relocation.com NOVA Group | 02 2785 0985 Bosdellestraat 120, Box 8 - 1933 Zaventem (Sterrebeek) info@novagrp.eu | www.novagrp.eu Be Welcome | 02 3449 5698 Eurocam Media Center Fabriekstraat 38 2547 Lint Belgium info@bewelcome.be (Contact: Tine Soers & Marc Van Hoof) www.bewelcome.be | www.culturaltraining.be Do It 4 Me SPRL | 02 2513 4513 / 02 477 321 923 info@doit4me.be | www.doit4me.be Art of Living | 02 653 0037 Avenue Ernest Solvay 59 - 1310 La Hulpe www.artofliving.be

G.M.C. sprl | 0476 28 7966 Rue de Nivelles 143 - 1440 Braine-Le-Château www.gmc-relocation.com

am&pm | 016 58 9490 Naamsesteenweg 25 - 3001 Leuven www.am-pm.be

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EZ-Relocation | 03 385 4672 Hazendreef 9 - 2900 Schoten www.ez-relocation.com MOVING COMPANIES Ziegler Corporate HQ / Siege | 02 422 2299 rue Dieudonné Lefèvre 160 - 1020 Brussels www.ziegler.be Capital Worldwide | 02 535 7430 Avenue Louise 149/24 - 1050 Brussels www.capital-worldwide.com

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Gosselin World Wide Moving NV | 03 360 5500 Belcrownlaan 23 - 2100 Deurne www.moving.gosselingroup.eu

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Property Hunter | 02 344 6147 Rue Alphonse Renard 1 - 1050 Brussels www.propertyhunter.be

Caroline Driessen | 0474 27 0966 Avenue Victor Rousseau 33 - 1190 Brussels www.carolinedriesen.com

MAP Relocations | 02 658 8080 Brusselsesteenweg 321 - 3090 Overijse www.map-relocations.com

FRS – Foreign Relocation Service | 02 253 2005 Av Herrmann Debroux 15B - 1160 Brussels www.frs-relocation.com

STORAGE SERVICES Shurgard Belgium | 02 229 56 11 Quai du Commerce 48 - 1000 Brussels www.shurgard.be Expat & Community Centres Brussels – Europe Liaison Office | 02 2280 0080 Avenue d’Auderghem 63 blbe@blbe.be | www.blbe.be De Rand | 02 2456 9780 Kaasmarkt 75 - 1780 Wemmel Belgium info@derand.be | www.derand.be

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• • R E L O C AT I O N • •

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• • R E L O C AT I O N • •

Social Security in Belgium Joining the Belgian Social Security system is bureaucratic, but not difficult The first thing to do is visit www.socialsecurity. fgov.be for an 84-page brochure detailing everything you have always wanted to know about social security. This brochure tells you about the structure of the system and your entitlements. There are separate rules and separate institutions for the salaried, the self-employed and civil servants. If you are employed, your employer will likely take care of the formalities and deduct contributions from your wages. The salaried are covered for seven sectors (medical care, unemployment, pension, family, accident, workrelated injury, vacation). For the employed, typically your employer will pay between 30 percent and 40 percent on top of your salary into a social security fund and you will also pay a sum of your salary. Self-employed individuals can also claim social security, although you will pay a lower percentage than those paid by employers and employees. It does, however, mean that only five sectors are covered by the fund, although self-employed individuals may pay more to cover themselves further. You will need to sign up with one of a number of specialised organisations or a health insurance company (mutuelle/mutualiteits), which act as collection agencies for the national social security offices. Once you are registered, they will send you a Social Security Identity Card (SIS), which is needed to get prescription drugs and other medical services. From January 2008, the law changed to cover the self-employed for petits risques/kleine risico’s. This means that claims can be made for doctor appointments, dentists and prescriptions in the same way as for the salaried. Naturally, this doesn’t come without financial implications and 10

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contributions generally range from 14.16 to 22 percent of income. With regards to civil servants, the rules differ as social security is claimed through the relevant governmental department. Additional support systems available in certain circumstances are financed from government funds. These include income support and income and allowances for families and the elderly. INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION There are EU rules designed to maintain entitlement to national benefits for EU citizens working in other EU countries. For a short-stay it is often best to take advantage of these, especially if you plan to return to your home country directly after your current stay. There are specialised offices in each EU country for further advice. Visit www.coming2belgium.be for information in several languages. CONTACTS The social security offices are semi-autonomous parts of the Ministry of Social Affairs and are known as parastatal institutions. The salaried should contact ONSS/RSZ, the national social security office, and the self-employed can get more information from RSVZ-INASTI, the national institute for social insurance of the self-employed. National Office of Social Security - ONSS/RSZ 02 509 3111 Place Victor Horta 11 - 1060 Brussels www.onssrszlss.fgov.be National Institute of Social Security for the self-employed - INASTI/RSVZ | 02 546 4211 Place Jan Jacobs 6 - 1000 Brussels inasti.be Overseas Social Security Office DOSZ/OSSOM | 02 642 0511 Avenue Louise 194 - 1050 Brussels www.dosz.be

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• • R E L O C AT I O N • •

Belgian Residence Permits

• Belgian residence address • Medical certificate from an approved doctor • Copy of birth certificate • Copy of marriage certificate • Employment contract (applicable for Romanian and Bulgarian nationals in some communes)

INTRO Belgium is run on a local level by the communes, through which most administrative functions are carried out. The country currently has 589 communes, a sizeable number but one that was the result of an amalgamation exercise in 1975. When the Belgian State was created in 1831 there were a full 2,739 communes. Since 1975, immigration into Belgium has been heavily weighted towards professional workers and those with higher levels of education, as well as students and professional sports players. RESIDENCE PERMITS Swiss and EEA citizens All Swiss and EEA nationals (EU plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) may live freely in Belgium but, if staying for longer than 3 months, must obtain both a ‘Declaration of Presence’ and a ‘Declaration of Registration’. Both of these can be obtained at the local town hall or maison communale where a person is staying, by producing a passport or identity card. Although citizens from EEA countries have free movement within EEA members states, they are still considered foreign nationals and must register with the foreign population register. Long term visa requests are dealt with by the Belgian Immigration Office of the Interior Federal Public Service - the sole authority with final jurisdiction. Documents required: • Identity card or passport • Three passport photos • Confirmation of good conduct or lack of a criminal record covering the previous five years, from the applicant’s national police force • Proof of means of support, usually in the form of an employment contract or letter from your employer (attestation patronale/verklaring van de werkgever) 12

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Once registered on the foreign population register, the municipality will provide nationals with a Certificate of Residence (proof of registration B, with the note “posted in the context of EU service provision”), which shall be valid for the length of the service provision. EEA nationals receive an E-card (identity card), proving that the person has been included in the national register. These are normally valid for five years. It is not just foreigners who are issued identity cards - everyone living in Belgium over the age of 12 is required to have an electronic identity card. Non-EEA nationals All non-Swiss/EEA nationals staying for longer than 90 days must apply for a longer stay visa (type D) with the Belgian consular authority for their country before coming to Belgium. It has recently become possible for non-EEA nationals of some countries to enter Belgium just using their passport, if they have a family member who is an EEA citizen. This specifically applies to nationals of the USA, Japan, Argentina, Australia, and Brazil. Upon entering the country, the person must register at the local town hall in Belgium, where they will obtain a temporary residence card. This is valid for 6 months but can then be extended for an additional 6 months. You can later apply to extend your visa in Belgium by applying to the Foreigners Department. Once they have approved your request you must also submit your passport to the FPS Foreign Affairs (Rue des Petits Carmes 27, 1000 Brussels – Monday to Friday, 9:30 – 11:30). A fee may be payable (usually EUR 30). Residence visas for non-Swiss/EEA nationals are restricted to purposes such as study, work (if a work permit is in hand) and family reunification.

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• • R E L O C AT I O N • •

All nationals are obliged to register at their local municipality within eight days of arriving in Belgium. Upon doing this you will receive a Certificate of Enrolment in Registry of Foreigners, a certificate that is renewable annually. You and your family must also register on the foreign population register at the municipality town hall and obtain a foreigner identity card, within two weeks of moving into a permanent residence. The foreigner identity card is associated with your residence so if you move to a new permanent residence, you must also apply for a new card. In addition to the requirements for EEA nationals, you may also need the following, depending on the commune: • Identity card or passport • Up to four passport photographs • Medical certificate signed by a doctor recognised by the Belgian Embassy • Certificate of good conduct (criminal history record) covering the last 5 years, issued by the police authorities of your last country of residence • Work permit • Proof of means of support, usually in the form of an employment contract or letter from your employer (attestation patronale/verklaring van de werkgever) • Belgian residential address • Visa • Copy of the rental agreement • Legalised marriage license (if relevant) • Copy of your birth certificate • Copies of your children’s birth certificates (if applicable) • Copy of marriage certificate

When you visit, it is preferable to be able to speak the local language so, if you don’t, it is best to go with someone who does. After the first visit, you will get a receipt but not a card at this time. There is a small fee, which varies from commune to commune, but it is usually no more than EUR 20, payable in cash. A certificate of registration in the foreigners register (E-card A) will then be delivered to you. It is valid for up to one year, although it depends on the duration of the work permit. This can later be renewed for up to one year. wHAT HAPPENS NEXT The municipality contacts the police, who visit to check that your name is on the door of the address you gave. If their report checks out, EU citizens get an invitation to collect a temporary three-month card. This is renewed for a further three months if proof of employment or selfemployment and registration with the relevant social security scheme has been or is later produced, and then in due course you get a permanent five-year card (carte de sejour/ verblijfskaart). Non-EU citizens eventually get an annually renewable proof of registration for foreigners (Certification d’Inscription dans le Registre des Etrangers/Bewijs van Inschrijving in het Vreemdelingen Register).

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• • R E L O C AT I O N • •

Marriage and divorce MARRIAGE If you are looking to get married in Belgium then at least one of the prospective spouses should reside in the country. Generally they should have been a resident in the country for at least three months and this must be demonstrated through the presentation of plane tickets, bills or rental agreements and anything else that helps to establish that they have been residing in the country. However, a Registrar cannot refuse to perform a marriage on the grounds that a foreigner is in the country illegally. You will need to contact the local Officer for Civil Status at least fourteen days before you

intend to be married and each partner will have to provide a number of documents, including copies of birth certificates and proof of identity. In addition, anyone not registered will also have to provide proof of citizenship, dated proof of the annulment or dissolution of any previous marriages and proof of residency. Obviously, if these are in a foreign language, they will need to be officially translated. It is commonplace in Belgium for marriage contracts to be used, but this is not strictly necessary and may not be of benefit to every couple.

A marriage to a Belgian national does not immediately provide citizenship. Certain conditions have to be met, such as a requirement for the couple to have lived together for a certain period – minimum of six months and up to three years, depending on circumstances. In order to apply for Belgian nationality, the foreign spouse must make a declaration before the Municipal Registrar for Births, Marriages and Deaths. DIVORCE Divorce can be sought through either mutual agreement or irreconcilable disunity, where one or both spouses decide to divorce after a de facto separation. One of the spouses may apply for divorce after a twelve-month separation period, but if both are in agreement about the divorce this can be reduced to just six months. In cases of mutual agreement, the spouses must decide on the division of property, maintenance

payments and child custody before the petition is filed. Usually both parties are jointly accountable for the welfare of any children, unless the courts decide otherwise. If you wish to petition for divorce you should contact the judge for the most recent conjugal residence or the defendant’s domicile. Once a divorce judgement has been granted one of the parties may appeal, but they must do so almost immediately. As the divorce becomes final after one month.

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•• HOUSING ••

Knowing the basics

Antwerp still look cheap and you tend to get a lot more for your money. However, prices in the Brussels region are considerably higher than in other areas or regions of Belgium. The conclusion? If Belgium will be your home for a while, take the plunge and buy.

Most expats rent a home when they first arrive in Belgium. Perhaps they’re on a short-term work contract, need accommodation immediately, or simply don’t want to commit to anything more longterm as they embark on a new life in a new country. Renting or Buying As with living in any country in the world, the simple question is whether to rent a property or buy it outright? It is obviously quicker to find somewhere to rent than to go through the formalities of a purchase, particularly if you need housing immediately. Renting is more flexible and gives you time to settle into your new life. If you don’t like the property or the area, you have the option of looking elsewhere. Unless you’re lucky, finding a suitable home to buy can take years, as you may have experienced in other countries. Be aware if you rent that early termination of a short-term contract incurs a penalty. A standard nine-year contract, commonly known as a 3-69 due to the three-year period at which the standard base level of rent can be increased, is actually more flexible. Up-front payments on property or land purchase are high. There is a purchase tax on homes (typically 12.5 percent) as well as legal and mortgage fees of around 4.5 percent. So if you’re only staying for the short-term or are uncertain about the future of your job, renting is the best idea. Property prices, stable for years, have been rising steadily; despite the downturn in the economy, price rises continued in 2011 before leveling off. But compared to Amsterdam, London and Paris, properties in Brussels and

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How to find a home Apartments are normally rented unfurnished, sometimes without essentials like fridges and cookers. Furnished flats are available but are either expensive and targeted at upmarket short-stay tenants or shabby and downmarket. Regardless of your needs, there are several ways to find somewhere to live. Once you see an area you like, take time to walk the streets armed with a notepad and mobile phone. Many properties display a standard orange poster reading ‘A Louer/Te Huur’ (For Rent) or ‘A Vendre/Te Koop’ (For Sale). Estate agents (agences immobilières/makelaar) also put up signs. Also be sure to look at the free weekly paper ‘Vlan’ (www.vlan.be) or English language publications such as The Bulletin. The website www.immoweb.be is also excellent, is in English, and allows you to search all of Belgium for a place to rent or buy. Also see Expatica’s property pages on www.expatica.com. Bear in mind that some of the best properties never get advertised. If a particular area appeals to you, ask colleagues and even local shop owners if they know of any properties available. Belgium has a large choice of estate agents but you’ll have to do much of the footwork yourself, particularly if buying. After an initial flurry of activity, you may soon drop off their radar. Rental agencies are happy to drive you around town to visit various properties. Agents’ fees are typically paid by the landlord or seller of the property. There are pitfalls in setting up home, of course, so check our special features before you rent or buy.

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•• HOUSING ••

Renting a home in Belgium Once you have found the property you want to rent, you need a lease (bail/kontract), an inventory (état des lieux/plaatsbeschrijving),

a security deposit, and to get the phone, electricity and gas reconnected. Plus you need to take out an insurance policy for fire and water damages. There is an element of Catch 22 here - there is a certain order in which to get things done that at times seems to be mutually exclusive. Lease Belgium has an odd system of a standard nineyear flexible lease, and an inflexible three-year lease where base rent prices can be increased at each three-year term of the contract. At first sight the three-year lease seems the more

attractive to a newcomer whose time in the country is uncertain, but this is not necessarily the case. A three-year lease can be for any agreed period up to a maximum of three years. It fixes the rent for the period of the lease and commits the tenant to pay for the entire period of the lease. It can include a diplomatic clause (designed to indemnify the tenant if he wants to break the lease because he is leaving the country) but

these have been nullified by the Belgian Courts in the past. So, it is actually better to opt for a nine-year lease, which can in fact be broken by giving three months’ notice. However, if you leave in the first, second or third year, you will pay an indemnity of three, two or one month’s rent respectively. From year four, there is no penalty for leaving. The monthly rent is fixed for nine years subject to the normal state-controlled annual indexation. The landlord can only give you notice if they intend to occupy the property

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•• HOUSING ••

personally, need to carry out major work (‘major’ has a legal definition), or at the end of year three or year six, for no reason but subject to compensation to the tenant of nine or six months’ rent respectively. All leases in Belgium have to be registered with the Receiver of Registrations, Ministry of Finance (Enregistrement, Ministere des Finances/Registratie, Ministerie van Financien) within two months of being signed. For an apartment, the monthly outgoing may include an element of rent and a fixed amount of service charge. Usually the service charge is just a prepayment (provision pour charges/ vooruitbetaling) and there will later be an annual assessment of common charges for the property for which you will be part-responsible. If you are seeking a better deal, negotiate down the rental and not the service charges! If there are things you want the landlord to correct before you move in, either specify them in the lease contract, therefore legally binding the landlord, or if you can wait, don’t sign the lease until they have been completed. Inventory The inventory (état des lieux/plaatsbeschrijving) is the source of more misery for tenants than almost any other legal document. Typically, the landlord’s agent or a designated expert prepares a detailed list of the condition of the property complete with photographs, which the tenant signs. At the end of the lease, the landlord’s agent checks the property against this inventory.

Some agents insist you sign a document agreeing to the fee and to accept his expertise before he starts. However don’t do this. The way to avoid all such problems is simple. Refuse to accept the landlord’s agent and select your own agent (expert immobilier) to do the checkin and the check-out. That way both parties get a truly independent and fair assessment. It is the obligation of the property owner to pay for the inventory and not you. Security Deposit You will be asked to put up a one or two month’s rent as a security deposit (garantie locative/ huurwaarborg) against tenant-caused damages. The best way to do this is to ask your bank for a guarantee. This is basically a low-cost insurance policy sold to you by the bank, which uses your salary as its means of security. Alternatively, you can open a blocked deposit account, which needs the signatures of both tenant and landlord for any withdrawal. Never pay the security deposit in cash - it is actually against the law. The deposit is typically returned following an inspection of the property. If it is deemed that the property was left in its original state then the deposit will be returned. Other responsibilities It is the tenant’s responsibility to insure the property not only for contents, but also for fire and water damage. In addition, you should arrange to have any chimneys cleaned and boilers serviced annually. If the property has a private garden it is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain it (communal garden costs are usually included in the service charge).

Be aware that tenants can be charged for minor damage, such as scratches in the bath that were there before they arrived, simply because they didn’t notice the damage when signing the original inventory. It is bad enough to have someone who seems to be less than independent assessing costs against you, and even more irritating that you have to pay 50 percent of his bill.

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Offices in The Netherlands The Hague Eindhoven Belgium Brussels Antwerp Ghent Mechelen Diest NATO Staff Centre Brussels France Paris Luxembourg Luxembourg United Kingdom Preston

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Buying a home in Belgium Buying a house in Belgium is a relatively simple process, with you (the buyer) first signing a commitment to purchase (Offre d’achat/ Koopintenties or Aankoopaanbod) once you have found a desired property. This gives the buyer the option to buy without a financial commitment, and will become a confirmed deal with the signing of an agreement to purchase (compromis de vente/verkoopcompromis). Once the legal paperwork and mortgage agreement have been secured and approved - a process taking up to a maximum of four months - you will sign a final contract of purchase (acte authentique/authentieke), and the purchase of your house is complete. The purchase happens via a notarised deed of sale (acte notarié/notariële akte); one each for the buyer and seller. Typically, you will pay a deposit at this stage of the purchase. This is usually between 5 and 10 percent, although rules differ over the purchase of new build houses and apartments. The price of the property agreed with the seller and the sum of money you finally hand over are often alarmingly different. Firstly, for most properties you will pay a 12.5 percent registration tax to the state. For down market properties with a revenu cadastral/kadastral inkomen below EUR 740 this can be reduced to 6 percent, but there are not many of those to be had! Buyers in Flanders benefit from a slight reduction in the basic rate of 12.5 percent, with the current figure standing at 10 percent. There are fixed state-agreed costs for the legal services of a notaire, which vary according to the property value. So, with the registration fee of 12.5 percent, a mortgage registration fee of 1.1 percent plus the notary fees, it all adds around 15 percent to the nominal price. However, on

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the plus side, the VAT of 21 percent may not be due if it is a new build house. It is worth checking out extra benefits for firsttime buyers, which vary depending on the location. The roles of the notaire As all notaires are obliged to charge the same fees, it is best to select one on recommendation and preferably one who is conveniently located and also speaks a common language. Failing that, have a look at www.notaire.be. Find one before you find the house, as they will need to spring into action the moment you are ready to act. The seller’s notaire typically drafts the compromis de vente and sends it to your notaire, who should amend any unfavourable clauses. Once the text is agreed upon, you all visit the offices of the seller’s notaire to sign and hand over the deposit. You now have the period agreed in the compromis to find a mortgage; your notaire will do the legal checks and, all going well, four months later you will all meet in the offices of your notaire to sign the acte authentique and hand over the remaining money (usually a cheque from the mortgage lender) in return for the keys. Strangely, structural surveys are not a legal part of securing a mortgage. It is typically an independent activity for your own peace of mind and should be done before signing the compromis de vente. You will need to show serious hidden defects in order to escape penalty-free once you have signed. Another oddity of the Belgian system of conveyance is that once you have signed the compromis de vente, you become liable for the property insurance. Even if the property burns down whilst you don’t legally own it, you are still liable. Mortgages There is a full set of mortgage (hypotheeklening/ prêt hypothécaire) options available in Belgium from many sources including the major banks.

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Mortgages can be fixed for the term of the loan, variable annually, or reviewed every three or five years, with different options on the type of interest payment.

arrangement. Also bear in mind that mortgage offers have a time limit. Lastly, single market mortgages are available from, say, Germany but these can only be obtained via a broker.

Ask your lender for a printed tabular estimate covering the loan period, usually between 15 and 30 years, and discuss the options available to you. The loan can include the 15 percent additional costs if your lender agrees. Another option is to opt for a guaranteed collateral agreement (hypothecaire volmacht/ mandat hypothécaire). It is not an actual loan and instead the bank puts the mortgage on the house, but it means you avoid the mortgage fees and only pay those charged by solicitors.

Some lenders will try to link the loan to their own property and life insurance products. Therefore, you should ensure that the insurance and mortgage costs are clearly separated on your documentation so that you can make an accurate comparison with insurance quotes from other companies. Additionally, the cost of insurance in Belgium is quite high.

Some lenders will charge you for the mortgage offer itself, even if you do not subsequently draw down the loan. Check this in advance and walk away if you are uncomfortable with the

If you have existing life insurance, there should be no need to duplicate the cover at a higher cost. Lenders are no longer able to insist that you buy insurance from a specific company.

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Accommodation services The following agencies (agence immobiliers/ makelaar) typically deal in both sales and rentals. Also visit the Immoweb site for a full

list of agents in each region, or look in Yellow Pages (www.goldenpages.be).

NATIONwIDE Century 21 | 02 513 1996 Kasteelstraat 58 - 2000 Antwerpen www.century21.be

Marriott Executive Apartments Quarter | 02 2505 29 00 Rue du Parnasse 15 - 1050 Brussels quinten.veerman@marriott.com (Contact: Quinten Veerman)

Immoweb | 02 333 2525 Avenue Général Dumonceau, 56 - 1190 Brussels www.immoweb.be ANTwERP Belimmo | 03 238 0357 Leopold de Waelstraat 37- 2000 Antwerpen www.belimmo.be Carl Martens | 03 226 8500 Britselei 24 - 2000 Antwerpen www.carlmartens.be

European

Renaissance Hotel Brussels | 02 2505 29 00 Rue du Parnasse 19 - 1050 Brussels quinten.veerman@marriott.com (Contact: Quinten Veerman) Eurorent | 02 646 2686 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 177 - 1050 Brussels www.eurorent.com Eurohouse | 02 672 0555 Bld. du Souverain, 254 - 1160 Brussels www.eurohouse.be

Engetrim – Trevi | 03 218 6304 Jan van Rijswijcklaan 162, bus 11 - 2020 Antwerpen www.engetrim.be Sidimex | 03 203 0202 Frankrijklei 94 - 2000 Antwerpen www.sidimex.be BRUSSELS Brussels Business Flats | 02 539 2614 Avenue de Roodebeek 78 box 9 - 1030 Brussels info@bbf.be | www.bbf.be Brussels Business Flats - Airflats | 03 705 0521 50, H. Dunantlaan, b1 - 1140 Brussels airflats@bbf.be Brussels Business Flats - Cityflats | 02 539 2614 38, Rue du Pélican - 1000 Brussels cityflats@bbf.be

Immo Living | 0478 209 552 Rue de la Digue 37 - 1050 Brussels - Flagey www.immoliving.com Housing Service | 02 732 9920 Avenue de Tervuren 155 (square Montgomery) 1150 Brussels www.housing-service.be Macnash Associates | 02 514 11 47 Boulevard Anspach 123 - 1000 Brussels www.macnash.com Toby | 02 219 2333 Rue Royale, 55 - 1000 Brussels www.bureau-toby.com Trevi | 02 343 2240 Rue Joseph Hazard 35 - 1180 Brussel www.trevi.be

Brussels Business Flats - Schumanflats | 02 733 4945 105, Rue Stevinstraat - 1000 Brussel schumanflats@bbf.be

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AARTSELAAR ERA | 0800 20 227 Antwerpsesteerweg 68 - 2 2630 Aartselaar www.era.be OVERIJSE Immo2002 | 02 687 2779 Ringelberglaan 21 - 3090 Overijse www.immo2002.be HOEILAART Immo Desco | 02 304 6267 Frans Verbeekstraat 180 - 3090 Overijse www.immo-desco.be LIèGE Optimum – Trevi | 04 221 4875 Rue Louvrex, 98 4000 Liège Av. Franklin Roosevelt, 108 - 1050 Brussels www.optimum.be OFFICES VIPOFFICES | 02 400 0000 Bd Saint-Michel, 47 - 1040 Brussels www.vipoffices.com

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Where to live in Belgium

Many families also make the decision to live outside the city limits in the surrounding villages, where they can enjoy a rural lifestyle with space for the children alongside easy access to the city.

Beyond Brussels there are plenty of cities and communes that make great homes for expatriates. Here are some of the best from across Belgium. Antwerp There is a well-sized population of British and American families living here; plus there are several international schools and a good choice of English-speaking clubs and societies. Add to that the fact that the majority of Flemish speakers speak English, and Antwerp becomes an attractive place to settle down. As well as the English-speaking communities, there are established groups of Spanish and Moroccan immigrants in the city, as well as a sizable number of Israelis. These cultures combine to make Antwerp a truly multicultural environment. Most families tend to live in the north of the city with its residential flavour and gardened houses. Single expats tend to live in the midst of it all in beautiful, albeit expensive, apartments. Up and coming areas include the redeveloped museum area (‘t Zuid) and parts of Berchem with its grand Art Nouveau houses and slightly bohemian feel. The urban set favour apartments in the area known as St Andries, which has the feel of a village within the city, between the river and Nationalestraat. Gent Often called Belgium’s most beautiful city, Gent is a location that is growing in popularity. The most popular locations for expats in the centre of town are Muinparkwijk, with its affordable houses and gardens, and Coupure, full of old houses set off by a delightful river running through its midst. Gent is a prominent student town, but there is a good mix of locals, students and expats who call the city home. The mixture makes for a very tolerant city and a special place to live.

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Genval This commune outside the Brussels region is a village in its own right and a French-speaking enclave in the Flemish belt. The most expensive part to live in is down by the lake with its Geneva-style waterspout, water sports facilities and five-star hotel. Genval is just a 20-minute train journey away from Brussels Centre, so it is an ideal commuting location. Liège The centre has a good stock of apartment buildings, and expats tend to gather around a cluster of streets including boulevards Frère Oban and Piercot, Le Mont St-Martin, Botanique, and Les Terrasses. The city is renowned for its busy folk festivals and varied nightlife. Suburban living includes the university area of Le Sart Tilman and also Cointe and Embourg. Tervuren This is real country living at the edge of Brussels, with its great park surrounding the Africa Museum and The British School at its heart. As Tervuren is known for being one of the richer areas of Belgium, houses are expensive but big, with acres of land and a real sense of owning your own patch. You’d need a car to live here, but it’s at the end of one of the world’s most beautiful tramlines. Tervuren is best suited to families as life here is rather quiet. Waterloo Waterloo is a small municipality popular for its selfcontainment, meaning there is no need to drive in and out of Brussels whenever you need anything. There is a whole raft of international schools here, a good high street of shops and clusters of big outof-town shopping centres. It has become particularly popular with Americans and Scandinavians. Housing tends to be big with ample land.

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Where to live in Brussels If living in the thick of it all is irresistible then downtown is the place for you. In recent years, previously run-down parts of the centre have

become a magnet for the young professional, with major renovations and industrial spaces coming up for rent or sale. Much sought-after areas are St Géry, Ste Catherine and the rue Antoine Dansaert area leading up to the canal, where old warehouses have been converted into popular loft apartments. The traditionally cheaper, working-class Marolles is becoming increasingly popular with a young urban set. The Sablon and Louise are fabulously upmarket but that is, naturally, reflected in price. What you get in return is a raft of art galleries, antique shops and stylish cafes. Up and coming are the streets around the main boulevard leading down to Gare du Midi, with

many old properties ripe for development and still at attractive prices. Etterbeek Best known for the area at the top end of the Parc du Cinquantenaire, Etterbeek is filled with attractive streets lined with early 20th century townhouses. Home to many European institutions, it has fantastic public

transport facilities. The relatively cheap housing prices and good availability of houses and apartments, mostly in conversions, make Etterbeek particularly attractive. There are two international schools here, as well as cultural venues at l’Espace Senghor, Théâtre St-Michel, Théâtre Yvan Baudouin-Lesly Bunton, and l’Espace Entrée Libre. Ixelles/Elsene Wildly popular with the expatriate community, Ixelles is a massive commune with character and style. It falls into distinct areas: trendy Châtelain with its café culture, the leafy ponds and abbey area leading down to the Bois de la Cambre; buzzy Chaussée d’Ixelles, which

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takes in the Matongé, the African quarter, and the cemetery with its late-night bars and student population. Through it all runs Avenue Louise, which is technically a part of the Brussels City district, with its upmarket shops and restaurants. The housing stock tends to be large townhouses and desirable apartment conversions, but you’ll certainly pay for them. If you’re looking for green space there is the huge Bois de la Cambre to the south. ST-GILLES/SINT-GILLIS St Gilles is a favourite among those expats who like to live like the locals. From the top end, with its grand Art Nouveau houses, down to the earthy Gare du Midi, St Gilles is packed with quirky restaurants, shops and a buzzing nightlife. There is the beautiful art deco Victor Boin swimming pool and Turkish baths for when you want to relax, together with a number of theatres, cinemas and galleries that are there to be explored. You are most likely to find a bargain place to live here too, especially if you buy. It is one of Brussels’ most dynamic areas with a definite future, attracting both expats and locals to its enigmatic character. UCCLE/UkkEL This is a beautiful and calm commune with huge houses and upmarket apartment blocks. Popular with expat families, it has a village feel and is well situated for shops and international schools. It is probably Brussels’ most leafy commune due to its close proximity to the Forest of Soignes and housing that is surrounded by large gardens. There is a substantial international community here and in summer you will find free jazz and classical concerts in Parc de Wolvendae.

wOLUwE-SAINT-LAMBERT/ SINT-LAMBRECHTS-wOLUwE Saint-Pierre’s next-door neighbour shares much the same attractions, including the huge Woluwe Shopping Centre. As it is a step further out from the centre, it begins to get even more suburban and green and is within good striking distance of the airport and major international motorways. You will find varied shopping and plenty to do, including a swimming pool and ice-skating rink. BRUSSELS COMMUNES Anderlecht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 558 0800 Auderghem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 676 4811 Brussels City . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 279 2211 Etterbeek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 627 2111 Forest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 370 2211 Hoeilaart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 658 2840 Ixelles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 515 6111 Kraainem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 719 2040 Overijse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 687 6040 Rhode-Saint-Genèse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 609 8600 Rixensart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 634 2121 Saint-Gilles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 536 0211 Saint-Josse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 220 2611 Schaerbeek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 244 7511 Tervuren . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 766 5201 Uccle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 348 6511 Waterloo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 352 9811 Watermael-Boitsfort . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 674 7411 Wezembeek-Oppem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 783 1211 Woluwe-Saint-Lambert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 761 2711 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 773 0511

Y

T F

Whe hea 125 your feel

wOLUwE-SAINT-PIERRE/ SINT-PIETERS-wOLUwE This is often the choice of folk working at the European institutions, both for its proximity and its affordable housing. It is popular with expats for its large, gardened houses. It’s almost selfcontained with its massive park, sports centre and public amenities. It’s also on the metro line 1B, giving easy public transport access.

To

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YOUR HOME

TWO STEPS FROM WORK When working abroad, one needs a place to stay. Here in the heart of Europe, Brussels Business Flats offers you more than 1250 furnished apartments. The additional services make your stay as agreeable as possible. BBF aims to make you feel at home while working abroad.

To receive more info: www.bbf.be Avenue de Roodebeek 78 box 9 - B-1030 Brussels | BELGIUM EXPAT SURVIVAL GUIDE +32WWW.EXPATICA.COM (0)2 705 05 21 - info@bbf.be

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Finance Currency Belgium is in the Euro zone, sharing a common currency with Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, and The Netherlands, as well as a collection of microstates. Of the older EU countries, Sweden, Denmark and the UK remain the outsiders. Euros from any of the 17 countries may be used anywhere in the EU. The Eurozone is currently at the centre of the European sovereign-debt crisis, which has led to reforms to stabilise the currency. Coins: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 EUR, 2 EUR Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR, 500 EUR On one side of the coins is a map of Europe. On the other side is a design specific to the country where it was minted. There is talk of abolishing the one and two cent coins to improve the trouser line; in the Netherlands and Finland they already tend to round prices to the nearest five cents when paying by cash. Belgium has pledged to make similar moves in the past, though nothing has come into force. All Euro notes are the same, regardless of which country they come from, and feature symbols representing co-operation, openness, dynamism, and harmony. Paying for Goods and Services Cash Cash dispensers are usually found wherever there is a bank, and they all take the Bancontact/Mister Cash cards issued by local banks, as well as credit cards. Dispenser lobbies within banks are open after hours, are usually only for customers of that specific bank and most don’t issue cash on credit cards. You’ll need to swipe your bank card to get in. There is an irritating lack of machines in central Brussels, which means queues at peak times. Machines can often be drained dry on a Saturday night, thereby frustrating Sunday morning customers. Debit and Credit Cards The most common card in Belgium is the 28

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Bancontact/Mister Cash card. It is linked to your current account and is accepted in department stores, supermarkets, gas stations, and high street shops. It’s a good idea to have one of these, as there are still many places in Belgium that don’t accept alternatives. A Bancontact/Mister Cash card with a PIN number will be issued when you open a Belgian bank account. Most types of credit card are widely accepted. If you get a Visa or MasterCard from a local bank, the standard option in Belgium is for this to operate like a debit card, with the full balance taken from your account each month. Some of the major banks do offer credit cards (Visa Pinto for example, from KBC bank) but these can be expensive. Diners, American Express and other major international credit cards can also be obtained and used in Belgium. Proton Belgium is a pioneer of the cashless society. The Proton card is actually a chip integrated into your Bancontact/Mister Cash card and is like a rechargeable electronic purse. It is designed to pay for everyday items such as newspapers and sandwiches, as well as for paying the butcher and the baker. This is how it works: using your usual fourdigit PIN code, you load the card at a cash dispenser and then go shopping. The shopkeeper enters the amount to be paid into the Proton terminal and you put your Proton card into the terminal. When the amount to be paid appears on the screen, you simply press the OK button and the payment is made. A word of caution: a lost card is like lost cash so don’t overload it. Many large supermarkets no longer offer the Proton option. Banking Internet and phone banking Most major banks offer both a telephone banking and an Internet banking service. Internet banking, based on free proprietary secure software, allows complete account management and easy payment of regular and non-standard bills throughout the eurozone. There are reduced fees for standardised euro transfers below a threshold limit if you agree to share fees. Cheque Cheques, while still available when you open an account, are more or less obsolete and can attract

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penal banking charges. They are not recommended, nor are they encouraged by the banks. The transfer slip If you do not bank online the most common means of payment is via a bank transfer (virement/ overschrijving). This is an orange and white payment slip found at the bottom of almost all Belgian bills. This has to be filled in, signed and handed in at your bank or paid via an ATM machine. Direct Debit This practice, known as domiciliation/domiciliering, is the most efficient way to pay bills to people you trust, as it precludes the problem of forgetting to pay them. Since late payment incurs a small penalty charge added to the next bill, this form of payment is common for utility companies. Standing Order This is called ordre permanent/bestendige opdracht and can be set up for regular payments of a fixed amount, like rent or mortgage repayments. You can also use it as a way of saving a fixed amount regularly, by automatic transfer from your current account to your savings accounts.

Opening a Bank Account To open a current or checking account (compte à vue/zichtrekening), you need either a passport or a Belgian ID Card as proof of identity, together with proof of residence. Once the account is opened the bank will send you a Bancontact/Mister Cash debit card. A PIN number will be sent to you separately. If you want to open a savings account (compte d’épargne/spaarrekening), the bank can advise you on the different accounts on offer. Major Belgian Banks Most websites include a branch finder. All the major banks offer their services in French, Dutch and English. Taxation Expatriates and Belgian citizens alike suffer from one of the highest taxation rates in the EU. It amounts to an effective tax rate (including social security) of 54.5 percent for the highest earners. This compares to an average 44.5 percent in Europe. An expatriate working in Belgium will typically be liable for Belgian income tax. Additionally, property tax, gift and inheritance tax may be relevant. In most circumstances there are no capital gains taxes or

BANKS ING | 02 464 6664 www.ing.be/expats

Expat & Co | 02 463 0404 Lange Haagstraat, 72 - 1700 Dilbeek www.expatinsurance.eu

KBC | 02 429 5812 www.kbc.be/expats

Vivium/Vivium Life | 02 406 3511 rue Royale, 153 - 1210 Brussels expat@vivium.be | contact@vivium.be www.vivium.be

BNP Paribas Fortis | 02 261 1111 www.bnpparibasfortis.be Belfius | 02 2221202 www.belfius.be

Vanbreda International NV | 03 217 6529 Plantin en Moretuslei 299 - 2140 Antwerpen www.vanbreda-international.be

INSURANCE COMPANIES Euromut | 02 444 4700 Louis Mettewielaan 74/76 - 1080 Brussels www.euromut.be

TAXATION Taxpatria (Antwerp) | 03 337 3520​/ 3521 Sint-Paulusplaats 2​- 2000 Antwerpen info@taxpatria.be

Bupa | +44 1273322066 www.bupa-intl.com/belgium

Taxpatria (Brussels) | 02 403 1207 Culliganlaan 1B - B-1831 Diegem info@taxpatria.be | www.taxpatria.be

Partenamut Business and Expats | 054 97 554 Coupure Links 103 - 9000 Gent business@partena-expats.be | www.bepartena.be

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wealth tax for individuals in Belgium, thus pushing the tax burden firmly onto the employee.

annual deemed rental income, while in the Walloon and Brussels region it is approximately 1.25 percent.

Residents of Belgium pay personal income tax on their total income from all worldwide sources on a sliding scale. The basic exemption for fiscal year 2013 (revenue of 2012) is EUR 6,800 regardless of marital status, with further exemptions for dependent children and a spouse. For 2012, marginal income tax starts at 25 percent, rising to 30 percent over EUR 8,350, 40 percent over EUR 11,890, 45 percent over 19,810 EUR, with a top limit of 50 percent for incomes above EUR 35,300.

SPECIAL EXPATRIATE STATUS Expatriates who satisfy specific conditions come under a special taxation regime and pay Belgian tax only on income related to professional duties carried out in Belgium. A foreign executive assigned temporarily to Belgium may qualify, but the conditions are tough. Employment must be by an international group or in a scientific research centre, and must be temporary. Also, the expatriate’s centre of personal and economic interest must not be Belgium. In determining the latter, the authorities take the following into account: the ownership of real estate, personal property or securities abroad; a life assurance contract written abroad; the inclusion of a diplomatic clause in the Belgian rental agreement for accommodation; continued affiliation to a group pension scheme abroad; renewal of credit cards issued by banks abroad; continued affiliation to a social security scheme abroad; continuing to act as an officer of a foreign company. If you qualify for the above, there are specific benefits and deductions available.

Residents also pay municipal and regional taxes and municipal taxes typically range between 0 and 9 percent. For non-residents, an average 7 percent municipal tax is taken into account, irrespective of whether the municipal taxes are levied in the commune. Income tax is paid on the taxable base, which is determined from salary less compulsory social security contributions (paid either in Belgium or abroad). Professional expenses can be deducted either directly with supporting documentation or more usually on a lump sum basis depending on salary. The Belgian tax year for personal income tax begins on 1 January and ends on 31 December. You will typically receive a tax return (déclaration/aangifte) during May relating to the previous year’s income. This must normally be returned by the end of June (you will find the exact date on your tax return). Employers are responsible for withholding tax on a monthly basis – this is known as the Précompte Professionnel/Bedrijfsvoorheffing. Similarly, the selfemployed or paid company directors have to pay tax monthly in advance via a collecting agency or bank. OTHER TAXES Homeowners pay a local property tax (précompte immobilier/onroerende voor heffing), which is calculated on the presumed annual rental value attributed by the authorities to the property (revenue cadastral/kadastral inkomen). The tax paid varies according to the commune and the region. In the Flemish region it is generally 2.5 percent of the 30

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VAT Most goods and services have VAT levied on them. The standard rate is 21 percent while there are lower rates for certain categories of goods and services. Daily and weekly publications and some recycled goods attract a zero rate, while a 6 percent rate applies to most basic goods, such as food, water supply and medicines. Another rate of 12 percent is applied to social housing and restaurants. Contact Ministère des Finances/Ministerie van Financien 02 210 2211 www.minfin.fgov.be Information office (from anywhere in Belgium): 02 572 5757 Available during office hours from 8.00 to 17.00 Service Public Fédéral Finances/Federale 02 572 5757 (Contact centre)

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•• MONEY ••

Insurance HEALTH Healthcare insurance is a part of the Belgian Social Security system and to benefit you must join a health insurance fund mutuelle (mutualité)/ ziekenfonds (mutualiteit). Once you are employed by a Belgian company your contributions and those of your employer will be automatically deducted from your salary by the ONSS (National Office of Social Security). Then you sign up with a health insurance fund, which will reimburse your medical costs. To take you on they will need written certification of employment signed by your employer. Although most funds are affiliated to a religious or political institution, there is no real difference because reimbursement rates are fixed by the government. These funds do not, however, cover 100 percent of your bills; you may get around half to three-quarters of a typical doctor’s or specialist’s visit. Check also with your doctor that what he prescribes is refundable. Pharmacies maintain a state-advised list. Consequently, many people opt for additional private insurance (complémentaire). Once insured you get a standardised credit card style SIS card, which you will need in pharmacies and hospitals. You also get a sheet of ‘Dickensian’ stickers (vignettes), which you need to attach to a doctor’s bill to get a refund. CAR Belgian car insurance is expensive, and it is the car not the driver that is insured. This means that anyone can drive your car, but if you want cover for injury sustained by the driver you need to ask for additional coverage. The minimum insurance required by Belgian law is ThirdParty Liability (Responsabilité Civile/wetteligjke aansprakelijkheids verzekering), which covers death, bodily injury or physical damage that you cause to another person. You can opt for Fully Comprehensive coverage, which provides for most eventualities including vandalism, fire, theft, or damage resulting from a collision. There is also a Part Comprehensive cover, which includes Third Party along with fire cover. Like insurance in other European nations, a no-claims bonus scheme is the norm. 32

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The insurance company will issue you with a Green Card and an accident report form, both of which you must keep in your car at all times. Ask for additional copies of the report in French, Dutch and your language, so you can complete it more easily. If an accident happens, do the following: • Ask for the other driver’s Green Card as proof of insurance • Get the names and addresses of any witnesses before they leave the scene • Fill in the accident report form (and get both parties to sign) • State the facts but nothing else regarding liability. HOME Whether you own or rent your property, you need to get home insurance. Almost all rental agreements in Belgium require the tenant to take out insurance on the rented property within 30 days of signing a lease. This insurance is required by the Belgian Civil Code, which holds the tenant responsible for any damage to the building unless proof can be given that it was not his/her fault. If you are renting, take your lease with you when you arrange your insurance. You are also responsible for providing coverage against third-party liability, but the owner is required to have a policy covering the property against earthquakes, lightning, fire, etc. If you are in furnished accommodation you are required to take out insurance against damage to the landlord’s furniture. Homeowners may have a policy linked to their mortgage, but there is no obligation to do this. Additionally, if you employ a part-time or full-time cleaner or nanny you need to take out special low-cost liability insurance in case they injure themselves on the job; for instance, slipping on the stairs. Homebuyers are responsible for the insurance after signing the compromis de vente - around four months before they get the keys. Contents insurance is not compulsory but advisable. Remember that theft is not covered automatically in contents insurance, but is available as an option. Valuable personal items, such as jewellery or cameras, may require an All Risks policy, which will cover you for damage or loss in or out of the home. Premiums on desirables such as laptop computers tend to be high.

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

Education system In keeping with the myriad levels of national and local bureaucracy in Belgium, the state school system can seem a minefield to newcomers trying to make a choice for their children.

The first decision is whether to integrate your children into the local system or to take advantage of the many international schools in the country. This naturally depends on whether you are on a short-term contract or plan to stay in Belgium. The international option would allow your children to continue in the same education system once they return to their home country. BELGIAN SCHOOLS Whilst the state sets the laws regarding education, responsibility for schools lies with the language communities; Dutch in Flanders, French in Wallonia and both languages in

Brussels and some surrounding communes. As well as state schools, there are subsidised ‘free’ and independent schools, often run on religious lines though their curricula, with certification recognised equally within the system. Religion plays a part in state education and students can opt for Catholic, Protestant or Jewish studies, or a more general secular

approach. The compulsory school age in Belgium is six to 18 years, though there is an opportunity for pupils aged 16 years and older to study part-time. Education is free, though at secondary level parents may be expected to contribute to the cost of textbooks, school supplies or field trips. All schools are coeducational. Children start school at the age of six, though they may be accepted at five if they are deemed ready. Prior to formal education, nurseries are available for babies and children up to twoand-half years, with priority given to mothers in full-time work. Kindergartens (kleuteronderwijs/

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

enseignement maternelle) then take over, providing daycare facilities for children until they reach school age. Approximately 90 per cent of children attend pre-schools during their formative years. The kindergartens are often attached to local primary schools, which allows for an easy transition into formal education. Children stay at primary school for six years during which time they study a whole range of subjects with an emphasis on languages and mathematics. In the French Community, learning a second language in primary school is compulsory, with Dutch, English and German as the usual choices. In Flemish-speaking areas, French is compulsory. Homework is also part of the educational structure from early on. In Belgian schools there is a strong tradition of parental participation. The culmination of primary education is the attainment of a “certificate of basic education” (CEB) for the French community, the “getuigschrift basisonderwijs” for the Flemish Community and the “Abschlusszeugnis der Grundschule” for the German Community. The certificate is important when moving to secondary education. Belgian secondary schools fall into Type I and Type II categories. The former is freer and more informal whilst the latter is more traditional, with a greater degree of specialisation chosen at 12 years of age. Both types offer a general studies curriculum in the early years, but then start to channel students into general, vocational, technical, or artistic streams depending on individual choice and ability. Assessment is ongoing and rigidly enforced. There is a number of educational certificates awarded, including the Certificate of Lower Secondary Education and the Certificate of Higher Education. When students begin to specialise, their courses of study focus on one of four areas: General education: prepares students for the transition to higher education and is mainly focused on training theory and general knowledge.

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Technical education: similar to General education but has more of a focus on practice and technical teaching and also provides elective general humanities courses. Vocational: provides direct access to a profession at the end of the course of study and is heavily focused on practice. Students also receive one or more additional years, called 4th degree. Art education: organized in exactly the same way as technical education, but the elective options are within arts and non-technical subjects. All these courses provide access to higher education, except vocational education, which must be completed by the seventh year for the certificate of secondary education (CESS). Most schools have a half-day on Wednesday, though the afternoon is sometimes given over to sporting or cultural activities. These can also happen on a Saturday morning. Childcare facilities are available before or after school for working parents, though there is usually a charge. Similarly, your children can often be cared for on Wednesday afternoons. METHOD SCHOOLS A wide range of schools adopts the methodology of an educational philosophy. In these, children often learn through discovery and the liberal arts, with subjects such as grammar, mathematics and science being taught from direct experience rather than in a formal setting. The Celstin Freinet system follows this approach, whilst the Decroly schools separate the academic from the creative skills in a vertically streamed organisation, with younger children benefiting from the experience of older pupils. The Steiner schools place greater emphasis on the arts. The world-famous Montessori schools are wellrepresented in Belgium and teach children in small, focused groups according to the relaxed self-developmental Montessori method. These schools tend to offer a bilingual French-English education.

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

International schools These are the choice for parents who wish their children to remain in a familiar system, with a language they know, and with the option of continuing the system back in their home country. With its burgeoning international community, Belgium – and Brussels in particular – has a raft of international schools following British, American, French, and Dutch education systems, among many others. These schools offer the whole range of education from nursery to school-leaving age. They are all private and therefore fee-paying, though many employers offer education support as part of an overseas benefits package. The International School of Brussels (ISB) is the largest American curriculum international school and teaches students from pre-school, aged two and a half, right up to high school grade 13, for students aged 19 years. It also offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme. The British School of Brussels (BSB) is the largest British curriculum school, set on a large campus in Tervuren. BSB can accommodate children from one right through to 18 and is the only school in Belgium to offer both A Levels and the IB programme. Both ISB and BSB place great emphasis on sport and the arts, and run highly successful summer schools open to all. St John’s International School emphasizes Christian values, encourages academic excellence and stimulates social development within a culturally diverse environment. Similarly in Antwerp, the small Antwerp British School offers an international curriculum for children aged three to 18 years, leading to the Cambridge International Examinations (IGCSE). The Antwerp International School can accommodate children from the age of two and a half to 18 years of age and also offers the IGCSE as well as the IB. Both schools offer Dutch and French as part of the standard curriculum.

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EUROPEAN SCHOOLS The European schools are notoriously difficult to get into unless at least one parent works for an EU institution. Education is in the mother tongue, with a second language being introduced at primary level. A third language is then obligatory from the second year of secondary school, with optional additional languages on offer in later years. Courses lead to the European Baccalaureate, which is recognised for university entrance throughout the EU. MONTESSORI SCHOOLS Dr Maria Montessori, born 1870, was the first woman in Italy to obtain a medical degree. Working in education and psychiatry, she developed her notion that each child is born with a unique potential to be revealed rather than as an empty vessel to be filled by others. Out of this came a method of learning and self-development that has become recognised around the globe. At the heart of the Montessori method of education is the child. Montessori children learn in a supportive and non-competitive environment and the focus is on the child’s individuality and specific needs. Children are encouraged to work at their own pace and independently, meaning the teachers can work with other individuals or small groups. This places a certain amount of responsibility upon children to develop their own learning, whilst teachers act as an encouraging guide and facilitator. An essential concept of Montessori is that the teacher must pay attention to the child rather than the other way round. Teachers are, of course, an important part of the Montessori process. It is the teacher who creates the environment where learning can take place. The teacher and the children share the whole space between them – there is no teacher’s area or desk – and the total environment comes into play. The Montessori schools in Brussels operate bilingually with two teachers, one who speaks only in English and the other in French. Extra languages, such as Dutch and Spanish, can be introduced as the children become older, though these tend to be taught more traditionally.

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

School listings ANTWERP Antwerp International School | 03 543 9300 Veltwijcklaan 180 - 2180 Ekeren www.ais-antwerp.be | admissions@ais-antwerp.be International School Breda Mozartlaan 27 - 4837 EH Breda, The Netherlands www.isbreda.nl | info@isbreda.nl D Y Patil ABS (Antwerp British School) 03 271 0943 Kontichsesteenweg 40 - 2630 Aartselaar www.dypisbelgium.be/ Da Vinci International School | 03 216 1232 Verbondstraat 67 - 2000 Antwerp www.da-vinci.be Lycée Français d’Anvers | 03 239 1889 Lamorinièrestraat 168 A - 2018 Antwerp www.lfanvers.org BIERGES Ecole Internationale Le Verseau Primary section 010 231 717 Secondary section 010 231 727 Rue du Wavre 60 - 1301 Bièrges www.eiverseau.be

BRUSSELS AND SURROUNDINGS British Junior Academy of Brussels 02 732 5376 Boulevard Saint Michel 83 - 1040 Brussels www.bjab.org | info@bjab.org BEPS International School | 02 648 4311 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 23 - 1050 Brussels www.beps.com | info@beps.com Brussels International Catholic School 02 230 0218 Chaussée de Wavre 457 - 1040 Brussels www.bicschool.be | admissions@bicschool.be British School of Brussels | 02 766 0430 Leuvensesteenweg 19 - 3080 Tervuren www.britishschool.be | reception@britishschool.be Primary schools AC Montessori Kids | 02 633 6652 Boulevard de la Cense 41 - 1410 Waterloo www.acmontessorikids.com World International School | 02 358 5606 Chaussée de Waterloo 280 - 1640 Rhode Saint Genèse www.wis.be British International School of Brussels 02 736 8981 Avenue Emile Max 163 - 1030 Brussels www.bisb.org St Paul’s British Primary School | 02 767 3098 Stationsstraat 3 - Vossem - 3080 Tervuren www.stpaulsbps.com Montessori House | 02 385 1503 Rue Pergere 117 - 1420 Braine L’Alleud www.montessorihouse.net European Montessori School | 02 354 0033 Avenue Beau Séjour 12 - 1410 Waterloo www.europeanmontessorischool.be

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PRIMARy AND SECONDARy SCHOOLS BEPS International School | 02 648 4311 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 23 - 1050 Brussels www.beps.com | info@beps.com

St John’s International School | 02 352 0610 Drève Richelle 146 - 1410 Waterloo www.stjohns.be

British School of Brussels | 02 766 0430 Leuvensesteenweg 19 - 3080 Tervuren www.britishschool.be | reception@britishschool.be

world International School | 02 358 5606 Chaussée de Waterloo 280 1640 Rhode-Saint-Genèse www.wis.be

Brussels International Catholic School 02 2300218 Chaussée de Wavre 457 - 1040 Brussels www.bicschool.be | admissions@bicschool.be

MOL European School of Mol | 014 563 111 Europawijk 100 - 2400 Mol www.esmol.net

Brussels American School | 02 717 9552 John F Kennedylaan 12 - 1933 Sterrebeek www.brus-ehs.eu.dodea.edu

MONS Shape International School | 065 44 57 26 / 065 44 57 44 Avenue de Sofia, 717 www.nato.int/shape/community/school.htm www.aco.nato.int/page137012059.aspx

European School of Brussels I | 02 373 8611 Avenue du Vert Chasseur 46 - 1180 Brussels www.eeb1.org European School of Brussels II | 02 774 2211 Avenue Oscar Jespers 75 - 1200 Brussels www.eeb2.be

LANGUAGE SCHOOLS De Rand | 02 456 97 80 Kaasmaarkt 75 - 1780 Wemmel www.derand.be

European School of Brussels III | 02 627 4700 Boulevard du Triomphe 135 - 1050 Brussels www.eeb3.eu

Fondation 9 | 02 627 5252 Avenue Louizalaan 485 - 1050 Brussels www.fondation9.be

International Montessori Schools | 02 767 6360 Rotselaerlaan 1, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium www.international-montessori.org International School of Brussels | 02 661 4211 Kattenberg 19 - 1170 Brussels www.isb.be Japanese School of Brussels | 02 672 1038 Avenue des Meuniers 133 - 1160 Brussels www.japanese-school-brussels.be Lycée Français de Belgique Jean Monnet 02 374 5878 Avenue du Lycée Français 9 - 1180 Brussels www.lyceefrancais-jmonnet.be Scandinavian School of Brussels | 02 357 0670 Square d’Argenteuil 5 - 1410 Waterloo www.ssb.be

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

TO LEAD

in everything we do

T

he Antwerp International School has been developing young people

with vision and a strong sense of leadership for over 45 years. We are recognised as one of the world’s leading international schools. Accredited by the rigorous CIS inspection process, AIS is the first school in the world to have been accredited five times consecutively. We offer an international English education to students from the age of two and a half up to the age of eighteen. AIS students achieve exceptional academic results. They are welcomed and successful at leading universities throughout the world.

See what YOUR child can achieve with the advantage of an AIS education.

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

The university system in Belgium is fairly vast with a significant number of foreign students studying international courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. With Brussels being the hub of European business, economy and politics, it is no surprise that many courses offered by both Belgian and international universities centre around business. The governance of the universities falls to the Flemish and French-speaking regions. However, many courses are taught in English, including those at international universities and schools. BELGIAN UNIVERSITIES The K U Katholieke Universiteit Leuven located near Brussels, in the city of Leuven, is the oldest existing Catholic university in the world, having been founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V. It is the oldest in the Low Countries, the biggest university in Belgium and remains an important centre of higher learning and scientific research catering for more than 40,000 students, of which around 12 per cent are international students from approximately 120 different countries. The university’s world-famous library (with its 30 subsidiaries) has more than four million books and about 15,000 periodicals. The UCL Université Catholique de Louvain was formed as a result of changes in the education system. Originally part of K U Leuven, it was moved to a French-speaking area of Belgium (Brussels) in 1970 and now combines the traditional with the modern, attracting some of the most qualified students, researchers and teachers from Belgium, Europe and beyond. The ULB Université Libre de Bruxelles is now the Belgian University with the highest rate of foreign students, constituting one third of the student population. It was founded in 1834 and is a university with seven faculties and institutes,

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including several university hospitals. It also manages industrial zones devoted to research and contributed to the education of three Nobel Prize winners (Jules Bordet for Medicine in 1919, Albert Claude for Medicine in 1974, and Ilya Prigogine for Chemistry in 1977). The university is also a founding member of the International Forum of Public Universities (IFPU) and works in partnership with both the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge amongst other worldwide schools. The first Dutch-speaking university in Belgium when formed in 1930, the University of Ghent is attended by 36,000 students. It offers advanced degree programmes, many of them in English. The programmes offered are: arts and philosophy, law, sciences, engineering, economics and business administration, agricultural and applied biological sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, and veterinary medicine. The University of Liège, founded in 1817, is the public university of the Walloon Brussels Community and is part of the Wallonia-Europe University Academy. There are 20,000 students across nine different faculties, around 20 percent of whom are foreign students. Honorary degrees have been awarded to individuals such as Nelson Mandela, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres, and Salman Rushdie. The Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, which was founded in 1949, is the only Belgian school to hold triple accreditation: from Equis, AMBA and the American AACSB label. The school has alliances with more than 40 international business schools and every year around 6,450 attend postgraduate management and executive development programmes. Some 53 years ago, Professor André Vlerick laid the foundations of what today is the Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School. The school now has three main sites: the Leuven Campus and Ghent Campus in Belgium and a third campus in St Petersburg, Russia. The VUB Vrije Universiteit Brussel is the Dutch Language University in Brussels, initially formed as a part of the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) before becoming a university

photo: ©Jndemi

Belgian Universities Overview

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I love the fact that BSB has given me the opportunity to take part in a range of activities outside the academic programme, such as debating at the Model United Nations, speaking in the national finals of the Telenet BBC Public Speaking Awards and playing in the school orchestra.” Sam (School President, BSB)

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• 120 0 students fro m ages 1 - 18 years • Between 6 0 and 70 n ati ona lities • British-based curri culum up to age 16 • French/En glish bilin gua ava ilable across 6 Year l education Group s • Only sc hool in Belg ium to offer A Levels and IB Diploma • Outstand ing academi c results • Extraordin ary choic e o f extra-curricula r activit ies

For more information visit

www.britishschool.be

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

in its own right in 1970 when significant legislative changes heralded in a new educational era. Many courses are available in English, including Masters and PhD degrees in management, international and legal cooperation, industrial location and development, medical and pharmaceutical research, and fundamental applied marine ecology.

The College of Europe is a unique and innovative postgraduate institute of European studies. Founded in 1948 and located in Bruges and in Natolin (Poland), it is financed by the EU governments and offers a one-year Masters Degree. Graduate studies are in law, political and administrative sciences, economics, and human resources development.

International Universities in Belgium Several international institutions have been established as part of Belgian universities and colleges or simply set up to offer their own graduate and postgraduate programmes. One of them is Boston University in Brussels, which has seen more than 1200 students graduating from the Belgian business school of Boston University, the first school to offer graduate business management degrees in Europe. All degrees are awarded by Boston University and are widely recognised throughout the world. Boston University in Brussels offers graduate programs in international relations and business, following the American style of education in practice on US campuses.

The Open University, which incorporates the Open University Business School, is Britain’s largest state-funded higher education institution with more than 150,000 students across Europe. The Open University specialises in supported distance learning designed for part-time adult study. In Brussels, the Business School offers management courses at all levels including an MBA program accredited by AMBA.

The Brussels School of International Studies is an integral part of the University of Kent’s Graduate School of Politics and International Relations. Located on the VUB campus with Vesalius College, the School offers MA, M.Phil. and PhD programmes in international relations in association with Vesalius College and ULB. The College of Advertising and Design is a higher education college of art specialising in advertising, graphic and web design, interior architecture, and design. It is the only college of art in Belgium and France to provide an English/ American-style education and is attended by some 155 students. CERIS offers a one-year Masters course in international politics and a Masters in development policy, while the City College of Chicago, situated in the Education Centre of Shape, offers a two-year undergraduate associate degree in arts and an associate degree in general studies.

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For several years, the United Business Institutes, in collaboration with Mercer University (Atlanta), have been offering a quality MBA programme in the heart of Brussels. The school has also been able to offer European validation by the University of Wales. In addition to its International Business Management program, UBI now offers one other option – Global IT Telecommunication Management. The University of Maryland offers undergraduate four-year Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees, two-year Associate in Arts and Science diplomas, Certificate in Science diplomas, and Masters of Art in Public Administration and Management Information Systems. And the University of Oklahoma offers two Masters Degrees – Human Relations and Business Administration (MBA through Cameron University). Situated in Brussels, the Vesalius College is an American-style college taught in English. The College offers a three-year European Bachelor’s Degree in business (economics, European studies, international management, and technology management), communications and international affairs (economics, European studies, history, and politics). Vesalius and its degree programmes are registered and accredited with the Flemish government in Belgium.

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BBA /MBA

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• • E D U C AT I O N • •

Postgraduate Programmes Several of the colleges and universities offer postgraduate and masters degree programmes. The international universities of Brussels School of International Studies (University of Kent), CERIS, College of Europe, Open University, and United Business Institute all offer postgraduate programmes as detailed above. Another institute is the Antwerp International Business School, an established private institution of higher education providing a high-level business education. It is part of the International University of Belgium and offers Masters programmes in business studies, business management, human resources, marketing, finance, and operations management. The European Institute for Public Affairs, established in 1994, provides courses in European affairs oriented towards the practice of lobbying. Bilingual courses are held at IHECS twice weekly. The ICHEC Business School, meanwhile, awards a Masters degree in international business management in English over a oneyear programme and in business enterprise and commercial over two years. The Solvay Business School offers an intensive one-year programme covering the Master of Business Engineering and Masters in Economics courses, which provide training in international management skills. Students may customise their program and specialise in European Management.

HIGHER EDUCATION Rotterdam School of Management +31 10 408 2222 J-building, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50 3062 PA Rotterdam mba.info@rsm.nl | www.rsm.nl/mba SOLVAY BRUSSELS SCHOOLS OF ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT | 02 650 6565/6517 Avenue F.D. Roosevelt 42 - 1050 Brussels mba.admissions@solvay.edu | www.solvay.edu/mba Vlerick Business School Ghent Campus | 09 210 97 11 (Reception) 9000 Gent Leuven Campus | 016 24 88 11 (Reception) Vlamingenstraat 83 - 3000 Leuven St Petersburg Campus | +7 (812) 331-75-44 Birzhevaya Linia 16 St. Petersburg, 199034 - Russia European University EU Geneva | +41 22 7792671 Quai du Sujet 30 - 1201 Geneva, Switzerland info.gva@euruni.edu | www.euruni.edu EU Munich | +498955029595 Theresienhöhe 28 - 80339 Munich, Germany info.muc@euruni.edu www.euruni.edu EU Barcelona | +34 9 32018171 Ganduxer 70 - 08021 Barcelona, Spain info.bcn@euruni.edu | www.euruni.edu

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Vesalius College | 02 614 8170 Pleinlaan 5 - 1050 Brussels vesalius@vub.ac.be | www.vesalius.edu Mailing address: Pleinlaan 2 - 1050 Brussels

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SAE Institute Brussels | 02 647 9220 Rue Gachard 10 - 1050 Brussels brussels.sae.edu

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110309-MBA

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•• JOBS ••

Finding a job LANGUAGES If you are competing in the national job market, you will likely need an excellent command of French or Dutch, depending on where the job is based – or both if in Brussels. A third

language such as English is either a bonus or a job requirement. In the international arena you are certainly going to need English with French or Dutch as a working language. Any additional language is a bonus. WHERE TO LOOK As you can imagine, finding work in this multilingual country depends very much on your linguistic abilities. If you can communicate comfortably in French or Dutch, then the weekend editions of national newspapers Le Soir and Het Laatste Nieuws are excellent places to start. For English speakers, Expatica (jobs.expatica. com) and the weekly newspapers The European 46

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Voice and The Bulletin advertise international secretarial and managerial positions, typically in public affairs and teaching. You’ll also find several recruitment agencies focused on expatriates, offering jobs at various levels. Headhunting agencies are reasonably common in Belgium, but tend to specialise in executive positions.

WORK PERMITS FOR NON-EU NATIONALS Type A: Valid for up to ten years. To apply for this you must either have resided legally in Belgium for a continuous period of five years, or you must have lived and worked in Belgium for at least four years and already hold a Type B. However, in cases where Belgium has signed an international agreement with another country, there may be scope to apply after three years. Type B: This type is the more usual work permit and is valid for a single, specified employer for up to 12 months. It is renewable but a decision to renew will be based on the state of the local labour market, your nationality and compliance with work and residence rules. If you change

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EXPATICA.JOBS Find a job with Expatica.com. Check out our LISTINGS at: jobs.expatica.com/belgium

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•• JOBS ••

jobs your permit is invalidated. To obtain this type of work permit your potential employer must apply for authorisation from the regional employment office. Once this is issued you are automatically eligible for the Type B permit. Note that a medical certificate may be required. Type C: Temporary work permit – valid for up to 12 months and renewable. This permit is usually given to students, asylum seekers and so on. It is dependant on the person retaining their residence permit. Generally, in order for a type B work permit to be approved, the area of work has to have a skills shortage or be in a special category (e.g. highly qualified or executive staff, researchers, technical experts, professional sportspeople, temporary staff, au pairs, performing artists, or nationals of an OECD country). Otherwise an employer has to show that the role cannot be filled with an EEA national. If you have a permanent residence permit for an unlimited period of time you will not need to obtain a work permit.

In Belgium, you must work for one year before any holiday entitlement is paid. That is then calculated on the basis of how many months you were in the job for the preceding year (the “service year”). However, if you worked a full calendar year, you are then entitled to a minimum of 20 days. In addition there are 10 legal holidays in Belgium, many of them religious days. If a legal day falls at the weekend, you are entitled to a day off in lieu. You are also entitled to a holiday allowance, which varies according to the type of job. Deductions from your salary will take the form of social contributions and withholding tax. Social contributions are collected by the National Social Security (NSS) and cover replacement income (pensions, unemployment assistance etc.) and supplementary income (health care, family allowances etc.). These equate to 13.07 percent of gross salary for private sector employees. Withholding tax is based on gross taxable income (gross salary minus social security contributions). The rate varies according to family composition and other quite complex rules.

STARTING wORk Once you have found a job, there is usually a probationary period of two weeks for bluecollar workers and anything between a month and twelve months for white-collar employees, depending on salary. Typically, those earning less than EUR 37,721 will have a trial period of one to six months, while those earning more can be on trial for as long as 12 months. During this period, either side can terminate the employment with seven days’ notice. The average working week is 38 hours, although longer working hours are common, particularly in international institutions. Although Belgian labour law contains a general prohibition against overtime, there are exceptions where overtime regulations do not apply; so be prepared not to receive time off in lieu or compensation for working overtime.

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•• JOBS ••

Recruitment agencies NATIONAL Actiris www.actiris.be

BRUSSELS Advice and Executive Search www.imb.be Daoust Interim | 070 22 1140 www.daoust.be Excel Careers | 02 646 5050 www.excel-careers.com

Adecco www.adecco.be

Excel Interim | 02 641 1740 www.excel-interim.com

Axis be.axis.jobs

MCP International Executive Search www.mcpint.com

Hays Inter Office Select www.hays.be

Prolink Europe www.prolink-europe.co.uk

kelly Services www.kellyservices.com

Rainbow Careers www.rainbow-careers.be

Manpower www.manpower.be

Russell Reynolds Associates www.russellreynolds.com

Randstad www.randstad.be

Spencer Stuart www.spencerstuart.com

Robert Half Management Resources www.roberthalf.be

ONLINE AGENCIES Jobs Career www.jobscareer.be

ANTwERP Bakker and Partners www.bakker.be Consultants in Personnel Management www.cpm-hrm.be

Jobs in Brussels www.jobsinbrussels.com Monster www.monster.be StepStone www.stepstone.be ELM | +31 10 477 6816 www.labourmobility.com | info@labourmobility.com

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• • H E A LT H • •

Healthcare You can be assured of the highest-quality medical care in Belgium, regarded on a par with the best healthcare systems in Europe. As in most countries, the system divides itself into state and private, though fees are payable

in both, so you need to ensure that you are adequately covered through state insurance and/or private insurance. The advantages of the state mutuelle/mutualiteit scheme is that you can choose any doctor, clinic or hospital you like, in any location and without referral, according to your needs, in much the same way as you can with private insurance. DOCTORS General practitioners can be found in private practices or attached to clinics and hospitals and you have the freedom to consult or register with whom ever you choose, as with specialist consultants. The decision is often based on location, language or recommendation. It’s

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always worth speaking to your neighbours or colleagues when you first arrive; everyone knows of a doctor, or has heard of one with a good reputation. Also try asking on community. expatica.com. Embassies usually keep lists of doctors who can work in your language, though it is worth noting that most doctors have a good understanding of English. It’s always worth checking whether a doctor

is registered in the national health service (conventionné/geconventioneerd) or private. The state mutuelle/mutualiteit scheme allows patients to choose their healthcare provider as long as they confirm the provider is registered with one of the insurance companies. Check the golden pages directory for an entire list of doctors in your area. Some doctors are both public and private, possibly working at a hospital and also in their own private practice. One thing to remember is to take cash with you. Consultations usually end with a cash payment, as very few doctors offer payment by card of any type. If you have state social security, reimbursement rates are calculated but only after you’ve paid up front. If you are

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• • H E A LT H • •

on a private scheme, or are uninsured, you will pay the whole lot there and then. Therefore it’s always worth checking fees before you book an appointment. DENTISTS The majority of dentists in Belgium are private, though there are those who accept partpayment on state insurance. Dentists in Belgium have an agreed fee scale agreement (known as the convention) with the social security, which sets the level of reimbursement for patients for basic treatment. Make it a priority to check when registering, as the fee differentials can be huge. For any specialist work, such as crowns and bridges, the dentist may well ask how you will pay and offer you different quotations. To qualify for health insurance reimbursement you’ll need to visit the dentist at least once a year. In the big cities, Brussels in particular, there are international dentistry practices, though they can be considerably more expensive. HOSPITALS As with general practitioners, you can arrange to see a specialist of your choice at any hospital. You can also walk into ‘emergency outpatients’ for immediate treatment; though as in other countries, do not use this as a GP replacement. You should remember to have your insurance card or other identifiable means of payment with you, though emergency treatment will not be refused if you don’t. If you’re going into hospital for a stay, take everything you need – towel and soap included – as nothing is provided. In Brussels, the eleven big public hospitals are organized under the Iris association (www.iris-hopitaux.be). EMERGENCY TREATMENT In the event of an emergency you can call 100 or 112 and an ambulance will arrive quickly and take you to the nearest emergency centre. When you call they will need to know the type of emergency, address (municipality, street, house number, locality etc.) and the number of people in danger. Sometimes, a decision may be made to admit you to the best centre suited for your needs, e.g. a specialist burns unit.

PHARMACIES Chemists are ubiquitous in Belgium – look for outlets with the green cross sign. There is a rota system for chemists to open outside of usual hours and throughout the night. Lists are available from any pharmacy, or check newspapers in your area for chemists that are open at night.

Hospitals Visit www.iris-hopitaux.be for a full listing of hospitals in Belgium. ANTWERP Algemeen Centrum Ziekenhuis Antwerpen – Campus St-Elisabeth | 03 234 4111 Leopoldstraat 26 - 2000 Antwerp www.zna.be Algemeen Centrum Ziekenhuis Antwerpen – Campus St-Erasmus | 03 270 8011 Luitenant Lippenslaan - 2140 Antwerp (Borgerhout) www.zna.be Algemeen Ziekenhuis Middelheim 03 280 3111 Lindendreef 1- 2020 Antwerp www.zna.be Algemeen Ziekenhuis St. Augustinus St. Bavo - St. Augustinus | 03 443 3011 Sint-Augustinuslaan - 2610 Wilrijk - Antwerp www.gvagroup.be Koningin Paola KinderZiekenhuis Antwerpen (Children’s Hospital) | 03 280 3111 Lindendreef 1- 2020 Antwerp www.zna.be BRUSSELS Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Brugmann Site Victor Horta (there are three different sites for Brugmann, this is the main one) 02 477 2111 place Van Gehuchten 4 - 1020 Brussels www.chu-brugmann.be

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• • H E A LT H • •

Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Saint-Pierre 02 535 3111 rue Haute 322 - 1000 Brussels www.stpierre-bru.be

Institute Jules Bordet | 02 541 3111 boulevard de Waterloo 121 - 1000 Brussels www.bordet.be

Centre Hospitalier Etterbeek-Ixelles 02 641 4111 rue Jean Paquot 63 - 1050 Brussels www.iris-hopitaux.be

GENT Algemeen Ziekenhuis Maria Middelares 09 260 6060 Kliniekstraat 27 - 9000 Gent www.azmmsj.be

Clinique du Parc Leopold CHIREC | 02 287 50 45 rue Froissart 38 - 1040 Brussels www.chirec.be

Algemeen Ziekenhuis Sint-Lucas | 09 224 6111 Groenebriel 1 - 9000 Gent www.azstlucas.be

Institut Médical Edith Cavell CHIREC | 02 340 4040 rue Edith Cavell 32 - 1180 Brussels www.edith-cavell.chirec.be

AZ Jan Palfijn | 09 224 7111 Henri Dunantlaan 5 - 9000 Gent www.janpalfijn.be University Hospital of Gent | 09 332 2111 De Pintelaan 185 - 9000 Gent www.uzgent.be

Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel 02 477 4111 Laarbeeklaan 101 - 1090 Brussels www.uzbrussel.be Cliniques Universitaires St Luc UCL 02 764 1111 avenue Hippocrate 10 - 1200 Brussels www.saintluc.be

Liège Centre Hospitalier Régional de la Citadelle 04 225 6111 boulevard du Douzième de Ligne, 1 - 4000 Liège www.chrcitadelle.be

Cliniques de l’Europe - St Elisabeth 02 614 2000 avenue De Fré 206 - 1180 Brussels www.cliniquesdeleurope.be

Groupe Hospitalier Saint-Joseph-Espérance 04 224 8111 rue de Hesbaye 75 - 4000 Liège www.chc.be

Cliniques de l’Europe - St Michel 02 614 3000 rue de Linthoutstraat 150 - 1040 Brussels www.cliniquesdeleurope.be

Centre Hospitalière Universitaire de Liège 04 366 7111 Domaine du Sart-Tilman, Bat B 35 - 4000 Liège www.chuliege.be

Hôpital Erasme ULB | 02 555 3111 route de Lennik 808 - 1070 Brussels www.erasme.ulb.ac.be Hôpital Universitaire Des Enfants Reine Fabiola (Children’s Hospital) 02 477 3311 rue J.J. Crocq 15 - 1020 Brussels www.huderf.be

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• • H E A LT H • •

Fitness clubs

Corpus Studios Flagey | 02 513 0766 33 rue Borrens - 1050 Brussels

New health clubs continue to open in Brussels at an impressive rate.

Corpus Studios Caroly | 02 513 0766 33 rue Caroly - 1050 Brussels Kelly McKinnon started Corpus in 2000 and offers Pilates, Gyrotonics and yoga in collective, private and semi-private tuition. Classes are offered in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Greek.

Many are allied to hotels and are at the top end of the market. Before parting with a stash of cash though, check out what your local commune offers as well as the smaller independent gyms and fitness centres in your neighbourhood. Ashtanga Yoga Institute of Brussels 02 340 6781 610, chaussée d’Alsemberg - 1180 Brussels Ashtanga gives a good work-out as well as increasing suppleness. This centre offers courses at all levels – mainly in French, but in English on request. Aspria | 02 508 0800 26 rue de l’Industrie - 1040 Brussels Aspria’s centre-piece is a 21-metre swimming pool and it offers a gym, health spa and beauty treatments next door. Its location means it is clearly aimed at the EU and executive crowd. Aspria Avenue Louise | 02 610 4066 71B avenue Louise - 1050 Brussels If you’ve got deep pockets, then your money will be well spent at this ultimate pampering spot in the posh Conrad Hotel. Everything here is fivestar; the pool, the gym, the fitness rooms, and the beauty treatments. Aspria Royal La Rasante | 02 609 1902 56 rue Sombre - 1200 Brussels Aspria Royal La Rasante is recognized for its sporting history and is a family-oriented club where members can take advantage of the landscaped gardens and outdoor activities.

David Lloyd Uccle | 02 379 3200 41 Drève de Lorraine - 1180 Brussels This complex has 11 tennis courts, squash courts, two swimming pools, and fitness rooms. Physical Golden Club | 0489 59 19 69 33 Place du Châtelain - 1050 Brussels This is a serious gym for those interested in serious workouts, so don’t expect the luxury of some of capital’s more pampering health clubs. Sportcity | 02 773 1820 2 avenue Salomé - Woluwe-St-Pierre For EUR 3.50 admission, you can enjoy an Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis and squash, as well as saunas, baths and steam rooms. Winners | 02 280 0270 13 rue Bonneels - 1210 Brussels Popular with the EU crowd, this friendly no nonsense club has nine glass-fronted squash courts, aerobic rooms and a climbing wall. World Class Health Academy | 02 505 2929 Renaissance Hotel 19 rue du Parnasse - 1050 Brussels Also in Diegem, Antwerp and Berchem. Caters largely to expense-account executives and EU civil servants. Wellness Paladins | 02 400 0096 47 Bvd St-Michel - 1040 Brussels This company provides wellness services to individuals and companies, offering turnkey or tailor-made solutions in terms of incentives, gifts, rewards, team building, or corporate wellness.

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•• SHOPPING ••

Shopping in Belgium you will most likely find shopping in Belgium to be a fulfilling experience with reasonable prices and a wide range of goods . Unfortunately, it can also be a very frustrating exercise, especially if you’re trying to find an item that was abundant back home. Generally, your day-to-day grocery shopping will be straightforward, with plenty of large superand hypermarkets to choose from. These tend to be closed on Sundays, but will usually be open for at least twelve hours every other day of the week, between eight o’clock in the morning and eight at night. There is also a lot of choice between mainstream and discount supermarkets so there will usually be something nearby to suit any budget. As well as the usual supermarkets, you’ll find a number of home and garden stores easily accessible. Brico is Belgium’s largest DIY and gardening chain. You can find anything for the house here. Delhaize has the distinct edge on Internet shopping and home delivery. Caddyhome stocks most of what you would find in the supermarket whilst Wineworld specialises in just that with an impressive selection of world wine delivered to your door.

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When it comes to household goods, things can become more frustrating and confusing. Needless to say, there are plenty of similar options out there and it pays to shop around for the cheapest prices. Most of the larger stores offer lowest price guarantees and they also tend to have decent websites. Some of these will be available in English, but many will not. It’s a good idea to use a web browser with an automatic translation service, although these are far from perfect and it is advisable to exercise caution when there isn’t an English language option. Department stores tend to be rather soulless. One of the best options is to get out and about to see which local and independent stores you can find. There are some exceptionally pretty towns around Belgium and having a wander to see what you can find can be very rewarding, both in terms of the locale and the calibre of the boutiques you may find. There is a number of expat and international shops around, particularly in Brussels. For those outside of Brussels, most will take orders online or by phone. Almost every nationality is catered for and it may make things easier when trying to find that little slice of home, wherever that may be. Shops are generally open Monday-Saturday, with many inner-city shops preferring a 10:00 opening. They are exceptionally open the two Sundays before Christmas (16 and 23 December, 2012) and also on the first Sunday of the New Year (6 January). Sales take place in January and July - dates are strictly government controlled.

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•• SHOPPING ••

Food from home A small selection of American, British, Spanish, Italian and kosher products can be found in the larger Delhaize, Carrefour or GB supermarkets. It’s also worth checking Chinese supermarkets for specific British or American brands. ANTwERP Chinese Sun wah Supermarket | 03 232 1012 Van Wesenbekestraat 16-18 American Graré | 03 449 4118 Prins Boudewijnlaan 175 Wilrijk Jewish Hoffy’s | 03 234 3535 Lange Kievitstraat 52 Mediterranean Foreigner’s Market Oude Vaartplaats Saturday 8.00 to 16.00 BRUSSELS British Stonemanor | 02 759 4979 Steenhofstraat 28 - Everberg rue Theophille Delbar 8a 1410 Waterloo 02 351 63 53 www.stonemanor.uk.com Chinese kam yuen | 02 512 5833 rue de la Vierge Noire 2-4

Irish Jack O’Shea’s | 02 732 5351 rue le Titien 30 Italian Casa Italia | 02 733 4070 rue Archimède 37-39 Piola libri | 02 736 9391 rue Franklin 66-68 Japanese Tagawa | 02 648 5911 chaussée de Vleurgat 119 Mediterranean Midi Market Around Gare du Midi Sunday 8.00 to 13.00 Scandinavian/Nordic Branches of IkEA www.ikea.be Gourmet Food & Gifts Brussels | 02 735 1138 Rue Archimède 59 Gourmet Food & Gifts | 02 353 0430 Allé Petit Paris 5 1410 Waterloo Spanish ABC Poissonnerie | 02 512 7547 rue Ste. Catherine 46 Economato Mariso | 02 521 4736 place de la Constitution 23 España Calidade | 02 537 2387 avenue de la Porte de Hal 63

French Oliviers & Co | 02 502 7511 rue au Beurre 28 Rob | 02 771 2060 boulevard de la Woluwe 28

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•• OUT AND ABOUT ••

Cinemas in Belgium

mostly European films, including British, and is a great supporter of the Belgian and French contemporary directors. The Ecran Total festival shows over 90 films with 900 screenings every summer.

Brussels There are in excess of 30 cinemas in the Brussels region and the mega UGC (www.ugc. be) and Kinepolis (www.kinepolis.be) chains dominate the cinema scene. Their multi-screen complexes show mainstream films mostly in the original language, although subtitled movies and those specifically broadcast in a particular language are clearly labelled by a coded system. The Cinenews website (www.cinenews. be) is a great resource for up-to-date listings. Brussels also has an important art house circuit showing Belgian and world cinema. UGC | 0900 10 440 De Brouckèreplein 38, Brussels, and Avenue de la Toison d’Or 8 - 1000 Brussels Among the busiest UGC cinemas are those located on De Broukere and Toison d’Or in the city centre, both of which show the latest blockbuster movies from Hollywood and Europe. Kinepolis | 0900 00555 Bruparck, Boulevard du Centenaire, 20 Head to Kinepolis if you’re looking to watch a blockbuster movie. You will find that the latest releases top the bill. Actors Studio | 02 512 1696 16 petite rue des Bouchers - 1000 Brussels The Actors Studio is one of Brussels’ best-loved cinemas. Hidden by the lobby of a hotel, you’ll need to seek it out, but just follow the posters. Typical fare here is schlock horror from around the world together with independent European films, often in the original language with French and Dutch subtitles, so do check if your only language is English. Arenberg Galeries | 02 512 8063 26 galarie de la Reine - 1000 Brussels Located in the glamorous covered galleries, this equally stylish cinema showed Belgium’s first public film in 1895. It’s still going strong despite cyclical threats of closure. It shows

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Cinema Vendome | 02 502 37 00 Chaussée de Wavre 18 - 1050 Brussels Don’t let first impressions put you off Cinema Vendome as you are unlikely to be impressed when walking into the somewhat dark and ageing entrance. But there is a certain charm and intimacy in watching movies here, located in the Porte de Namur area. Cinemathèque Royal de Belgique | 02 551 1919 3 rue Ravenstein - 1000 Brussels Tied into the Film Museum at the Palais des Beaux Arts, Cinematheque restores and archives old films (it has been around since 1938) and gives regular public showings. The museum is housed in the BOZAR (Palais des Beaux-Arts). Flagey | 02 641 1020 Place Flagey - 1050 Brussels A tiny but stylish cinema in the wonderful Art Deco Flagey arts complex. In its short life it has gained a reputation for being a true world cinema. It also has a penchant for Film Noir and other classic Hollywood films such as Sunset Boulevard and Casablanca. Movy Club | 02 537 6954 21 rue des Moines - 1060 Brussels A rarity – a truly local cinema for local people, but well worth a trip if you want to experience a lovely old Art Deco cinema. It’s big and draughty and shows a range of world cinema, mostly the type of film with a message attached. Nova | 02 511 2477 3 rue d’Arenberg - 1000 Brussels The Nova has been run for many years as a co-operative, prospering against all financial and bureaucratic odds. Movies usually have a social context and an edgy underground feel. Sometimes short seasons are themed and there are always the monthly Open Screens when wannabe directors can showcase their attempts.

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•• OUT AND ABOUT ••

Styx | 02 512 2102 72 rue de l’Arbre Bénit - 1050 Brussels The tiny Styx is now 35 years old, but its fleapit look and feel belie the quality of its programmes, from themed seasons to modern Belgian films. It also runs impressive retrospective seasons showing classic European films.

Bars Beer and bar life are an ingrained part of Belgian culture. Here is our guide to Belgium’s best and most traditional bars, perfect for discovering a slice of life and impressing your visitors over a pint of Witbier. ANTwERP Den Engel Grote Markt 3 The Angel is as much a part of Antwerp life as Rubens and fashion. Situated in the middle of town, this historic bar has no pretensions, no grand style, but the locals give it a buzzy, gossipy edge. kulminator Vleminckveld 32 A classic bar renowned for its range of beers – more than 500 in bottles, plus a huge choice on draught. Try the ‘Beer of the Month’ and scribble notes about your favourite in the visitors’ book. Tiny and cosy, it isn’t the easiest to find, tucked away in a side street, but it’s a beer destination for locals and visitors alike. De Pelikaan Melmarkt 14 The Pelikaan makes no effort to dress up or flaunt itself; it’s cosy, dark, and attracts artsy types and fulsome philosophers. This is a serious talking shop where you can put the world to rights as the beers slip down almost unnoticed.

De Vagant Reyndersstraat 25 This is where to come for a good glass of Genever (or Jenever), the fiery gin-like spirit. Unsurprisingly the place is famed for it along with topfergiest. There are 200 types on offer, with a restaurant upstairs serving food. Take lessons from the locals – they sip rather than down it in one. BRUGES Brugs Beertje Kemelstraat 5 Beertje is like a Dutch brown cafe – dark, moody and atmospheric. The beer menu is a ray of light with 300 beers on offer. Although there is a vast choice to be had, make sure you sample the beer of the month – the Hairy Bikers did when visiting Bruges’ “Little Bear”. Cafe Vlissinghe Blekersstraat 2 The oldest pub in Bruges, Cafe Vlissinghe has been helping quench thirsts since 1515. Tucked down a side street, the decor and interior retain a sense of history. Try a game of boules in the garden during the summer. BRUSSELS A la Mort Subite 7 rue des Montagnes aux Herbes Potageres The cavernous, loud and slightly louche bar is a slice of Brussels life. Long rows of tables (perfect for head-to-head nattering), yellowing walls and its own Mannekin Pis, it is the perfect place for a Kriek on draught. The food isn’t bad either. Le Bier Circus 89 rue de l’Enseignement As the name implies, this basic emporium of beer stocks around 200 varieties, all bound in

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•• OUT AND ABOUT ••

a special beer menu. The place itself is nothing spectacular, but it’s the exquisite and rare range of brews that brings people back time and again. Moeder Lambic Original 68 rue de la Savoie Sitting in the shadow of the St Gillie town hall, this tiny wooden tavern with benches and scrubbed tables stocks over 1,000 beers. Some of the rarer bottles cost as much as a vintage wine. Its sister bar, Moeder Lambic Fontainas, is situated at 8 place Fontainas. Cirio 18 – 20 rue de la Bourse A minute from the Grand Place and you take a step back into the 19th century in this bar (after all, it first opened in 1886) with its original art nouveau wallpaper, lights and toilets. A thorough selection of mostly bottled beer is supplemented by the famous half-en-half, a mixed glass of still and sparkling wine. La Clef d’Or 1 place du Jeu de Balle Opening daily at 4:30, this cafe-bar serves up beer and basic food to market traders and punters. Sunday morning finds it at its maddest with the Maitre D. barking his orders to the staff and an accordionist vying for dominance.

A La Becasse Rue de Tabora 11 Opened in 1877 and situated close to the Grand Place, this is a typical Belgian bar with wooden decor and long benches to accommodate drinkers. GHENT De Dulle Griet Vrijdagsmarkt 50 The Griet took a leap of faith many years ago and became the first bar to specialise in Flemish beers. Because of that it gets its fair share of tourists but is also used by locals. You may be asked to exchange a beer for a shoe, which then gets hauled into the air in a basket where it hangs until the drinker has paid up and returned their glass. (This quaint tradition evidently stops you walking out with one of the specialised beer glasses.) Patrick Foley’s Recollettenlei 10 Every town or city has an Irish bar and Ghent is no different. Patrick Foley’s, which was opened in 1997, has developed into one of the most popular venues with both tourists and locals who are searching for a pint of Guinness.

Le Fleur en Papier Dore 55 rue des Alexiens This old bar, on a steep hill just below the Sablon, was the hangout of the Brussels Surrealists, and their scribblings and drawing can still be seen on the walls. It was under threat of closure until a group of die-hards clubbed together to save it for posterity. Monk 42 rue Ste-Catherine Monk looks like it has been there forever. Well, the house dates from the 17th century, and the interior is impressively authentic despite managing to attain a contempory style. A great range of beers, including hard-to-find artisinales, makes this place popular with a whole range of youngish locals and tourists.

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Weekend breaks Nowhere in Belgium is too far, so here are some ideas for getting away from it all and breaking free of the city.

TAKING THE PLUNGE Let the original Spa take away the stress of modern life. The eponymous town of Spa is located in the heart of the Ardennes. Its sulphurous waters were originally discovered by the Romans, although it was to be another half century before it became famous as a resort. After falling into 19th century disrepair and disregard, Spa has since 2003 been transformed into a magnificent therapy and relaxation centre, worthy of a new millennium. The water temperature is around 32 degrees Celsius, just urging you to jump in. It is a safe

bet that you will come away from this lovely town both relaxed and refreshed. www.thermesdespa.com Diping your Toes The Belgian coastline is only 65 kilometers long, but it embraces the best of kiss-me-quick seaside activities, sophisticated living and wildlife sanctuaries. Ostend is a great place to head for if you want a taste of royal Belgium, for good reason known as the Queen of Belgian Resorts. The Fort Napoleon, built in 1812,

is the only intact Napoleonic fortress left in Europe, while Leopold’s 390-meter gallery can be found at the western end of the promenade. Without doubt the crowning glory of the postwar period is the Ostend Casino; built in 1953, the fourth casino to stand on the same spot. You can enjoy Ostend’s attractions during a tour of the city on the miniature train or by horse-drawn carriage. www.visitoostende.be/en Knokke-Heist is a much more upmarket resort, where wealthy Belgians keep swanky seaside

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homes and where the shops, restaurants and beach clubs are all designer. A short way north, close to the Dutch border, is Zwin, a protected area of natural beauty.

saint of hunters, which explains why this is the centre of hunt land and why its restaurants specialise in game. www.dinant-tourisme.be

A great way to explore the enchanting Belgian coastline is by the Kusttram, a coastal tram that runs its entire length from De Panne on the French border to Knokke-Heist close to the Dutch border. Trams run through Ostende every 10 minutes during the summer and make 70 stops along the entire stretch of the North Sea coastline, calling in at all 16 towns en route. Think of it as a coastal hop-on hop-off tour. Many beautiful sights await you during the 65-kilometre journey. www.dekusttram.be

Carnival Time Carnival is an important part of Belgian cultural heritage and happens every year at Lent, mostly in smaller towns and villages in Wallonia. The most famous carnival is in Binche, not far from Charleroi. The Carnaval de Binche dates back to the 14th century and has been listed by UNESCO because of its cultural significance and longevity. There are strict rules for taking part; only men born in Binche can don the Gilles costume. The costumes are wonderfully outrageous and carry strange, secret symbols. The festivities last three days (the best day is Shrove Tuesday), culminating in a parade where boys throw blood oranges into the crowd (these are not meant as missiles but gifts, and should never be thrown back). The Malmédy carnival involves men in black hats decorated with ostrich feathers grabbing at onlookers with their long wooden pincers hape-tchâr (flesh snatchers). They won’t let go until you say sorry. While in nearby Stavelot, the Carnaval de la Laetare des Blancs-Moussis is renowned for its Lenten parade of some 200 local men clad in white monks’ robes and hoods with long red noses, making their way through the town throwing confetti and swinging at bystanders with dried pig bladders. In Geraardsbergen on the first Sunday of Lent is the Tonnekensbrand. The oldest citizen, followed by the mayor, is presented with a glass of white wine with a gudgeon (small live fish) inside. Both drink a mouthful and swallow a fish. www.carnavaldebinche.be

Rambling in the ArdeNnes The Ardennes, in the south of the country, covers the three provinces of Namur, Luxembourg and Liège and is an area of outstanding beauty. The gentle but rugged countryside of the Ardennes is full of heritage, history and charm, but it equally serves as an ideal location for truly experiencing the natural environment whether it be by rambling, walking, climbing, cycling, horse riding, fishing, canoeing, or even kayaking. It can get quite touristy in the summer, but there is always somewhere to escape to, especially if you have a car. In the winter months the Ardennes becomes a haven for skiing enthusiasts, with the natural contours of the land creating three alpine pistes – the highest point, the Baraque de Fraiture, stands at 652 metres, making it ideal for downhill and cross country skiing. www.wallonie-tourisme.be Dinant is a good place for a day trip from Brussels. Overlooked by its hilltop citadel on a 100-foot cliff and dating back to 1051, it’s a pretty location (though there’s not much to do over a longer period of time). The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame and The Grotto of Dinant with its rock formations are other popular attractions in Dinant, making it a perfect place for a day out for couples or groups with a love of history. St-Hubert also has a railway station and is a perfect base for setting out on cycling or walking activities. It’s named after the patron 60

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Television and Internet

of your Internet connection, something worth bearing in mind before subscribing. If you aren’t particularly interested in live television and just want to get some shows from home, this may be the best route to go down.

Belgium is one of the most cabled countries in the world with almost all households subscribing to some form of pay-TV. Analogue broadcasts are currently being phased out and replaced by digital services. Both Belgian public TV networks, the Flemish VRT and French RTBF, are already broadcasting their channels digitally with analogue becoming increasingly obsolete in many regions.

Major Cable Television and Internet Providers Most of these companies will offer a combination of Internet, television and landline provision, but some will be specialist providers. See their websites for details and for special offers, or to see whether their services are available where you are.

When this process began there were over thirty different cable operators, most of them regionspecific. This number has fallen drastically over the past few years with consolidation in the industry arising from larger companies buying out many of the smaller ones. Now there are around half a dozen different options, with the choice of channels varying by provider. Telenet is one of the largest and a fairly safe bet, but it has a number of competitors and it is a good idea to check what is available before settling on a provider. There is heavy competition among companies trying to offer combined services - telephone, internet and television all in one package - and most of the Internet providers will offer all three. Telenet can offer the whole lot, but again there is a number of smaller companies also worth checking out. Belgacom TV has been around for a while now but they do not carry the BBC channels. Most of the TV cable companies also offer Internet connection via the cable, so it’s worth shopping around, although you may find that one company dominates in your area and your choice is limited. Satellite television is available from a few different companies and some providers also offer Sky from the UK. There is a fairly hefty set-up charge as Sky is not allowed to market its product on the continent because of licensing agreements, but there is also a growing number of online platforms for viewing foreign television programmes. Availability is heavily dependent on the quality

Voo | 0800 800 25 | www.voo.be Numéricable | 02 226 52 00 | www.numericable.be Telenet | 0800 66 046 | www.telenet.be Digital TV providers Telenet | www.telenet.be Belgacom | 0800 55 800 | www.belgacom.be Cybernet | 070 32 47 00 | www.cybernet.be Scarlet | www.scarlet.be Skynet | 0800 23 451 | www.skynet.be EDP Net | www.edpnet.be Dommel | lianka.schedom-europe.net Billi | www.billi.be/?lang=fr Mobistar | www.mobistar.be Tv From Home | 0485 38 74 02 | tvfromhome.be Sky TV in Belgium | + 44 207 100 91 65 storesatellite.com/sky-tv-belgium.php

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Utilities in Belgium

Many of the electricity suppliers also offer gas supply services and dual fuel tariffs. Silbelga is the biggest gas provider with Electrabel the second biggest. Electricity is relatively expensive in Belgium compared to many other EU countries.

How to set up electricity, telephone, TV, and Internet in Belgium. UTILITIES There is a wide choice of providers – some national and others regional – covering the Belgian energy market, with plenty of choice when it comes to setting up your electricity, gas, telephone, and water supply. You will need to set up your utility suppliers when purchasing a house and can call 02 549 4111 to find out about suppliers in your region. If you have just arrived, you will need a Belgian ID card or a passport for connecting all utilities. The energy supply for rental properties is likely to already be set up but utility bills are usually due in addition to your monthly rent, so expect additional outgoings on top. There are three options when it comes to billing – monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly, depending on your preferred choice. Payment is usually made by bank transfer or direct debit, although it can also be made by cheque in certain circumstances. The energy market is regulated by the national regulator CREG (Commission de Régulation de l’Electricité et du Gaz). In the Flanders region, the regulation is overseen by VREG, the Flemish regulator. Standard electricity in Belgium is 230 volts and the electrical plugs use two round prongs. Therefore adapters may be needed to convert any electrical appliances you have brought from abroad. Electrabel is the major electricity supplier in Belgium. The company held a monopoly prior to the privatisation of the sector in 2003. It is still used by the majority of households and businesses, but there are also other providers, such as SPE, Nuon, Luminus, and Essent.

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MAIN SUPPLIERS: Electrabel Silbelga SPE Luminus Nuon Essent TELEPHONE AND INTERNET Landlines in Belgium must be taken out with Belgacom, the national provider of telephone lines. A subscription activates the line and you are then free to sign up for telephone and internet services from any company. Belgacom are the leading provider of domestic telephone lines and internet, although many other companies offer services. Internet and WiFi services are also offered by Scarlet, Brutele and Numericable, including unlimited broadband or deals offering fixed data usage per month. To activate your telephone or internet connection, you will first need to sign up with Belgacom, providing proof of age (you must be over 18) and identity. Typically you will be required to make a part payment when you activate the service. However, you can then sign up with your preferred provider. Billing is usually bi-monthly and most companies and standard terms require payment to be made within 15 days. MAIN TELEPHONE SUPPLIERS Belgacom Belgian Telecom Toleda Telecom Mondial Telecom Sun Telecome Telenet MAIN INTERNET PROVIDERS Belgacom Scarlet Brutele Numericable

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When it comes to mobile phones, there are three providers to choose from – Base, Mobistar and Proximus. All three offer fixed contract deals and rechargeable or pay as you go. TELEVISION Television licences have been scrapped in both the Flemish-speaking region and the Brussels region, but you will need to pay a fee if you are living in the Wallonia region – currently EUR 100. This is paid per household and not per television set. A tax also needs to be paid to use car radios – one per car. Belgium operates an unusual system for the annual payment of licences, determined by a person’s surname. Those with surnames beginning with A – J must pay in April while those with surnames beginning with K – Z must pay in October.

Numericable, one of the providers of cable television, offers a TV Premium English service for a standard monthly charge, targeted at expats living in the Brussels region and offering over 30 channels, including sports, news and entertainment channels. TELEVISION PROVIDERS Tele Bruxelles VTM Telenet BeTV Numericable UTILITIES SERVICE PROVIDER Do It 4 Me SPRL | 02 513 4513 | 0477 321 923 www.doit4me.be | info@doit4me.be

The majority of households is served by cable television – over 90 per cent. It is broadcast by two separate organisations, one French and one Dutch, with some overseas channels also provided.

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Libraries From the Royal Library of Belgium to Gent’s central library, there are plenty to choose from in Belgium. Some have small English language sections and stock English language newspapers; others provide free internet access to registered users, large print books for the visually impaired and DVDs in original languages. Most libraries are open Monday-Saturday with varying opening times, but are closed on Sundays.

Internet access is available from most Belgian libraries and usually free for those with a library card. Some libraries have restrictions on the amount of time one person can spend on a computer during each visit, and the youngest age permitted tends to be 14. Those under 18 need parental consent to be able to use the Internet. Brussels can point to a large number of libraries that offer a range of services to the public. The Central Library houses the famous Fetis archives and, remarkably, every single book published in the country or written by a Belgian citizen. It is also where you will find a selection of English language books, together with best-selling novels in various other languages. The Royal Library of

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Belgium presents concerts, holds storytelling for children during summer holidays and runs guided tours. Meanwhile, the Children’s Library contains a large selection of books and comics in English for children and teenagers, with titles that are constantly being renewed. Also of interest for children is the Centre Crousse, which offers a Toy Library. Away from libraries, Pêle Mêle is a store selling second-hand English books, video games, CDs, and DVDs, and the Reading Room also offer a similar exchange service.

In Antwerp the Permeke library runs a Twitter book club where readers can contribute via the social network using the hashtag #welezen. In fact, using the libraries in Antwerp can benefit you further as you can collect points on your “A Card”, a loyalty card for use at leisure facilities in the town. The Permeke library also offers computers and Internet access for children under the age of 12. In Gent’s libraries, reading clubs are held weekly and special children’s clubs take place during school holiday periods, while Liège’s central library may have a slight lack in modern English language books but has an excellent choice of CDs and DVDs.

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ANTWERP Antwerpen-Stedelijke Openbare Bibliotheken 0800 99 293 (free number) Lange Nieuwstraat 105 - 2000 Antwerp BRUSSELS Royal Library of Belgium | 02 519 53 11 Boulevard de l’Empereur 2 - 1000 Brussels www.kbr.be Brussels Main Library (French and Dutch) 02 548 2610 Rue des Riches-Claires 24 - 1000 Brussels French Community libraries (Information and locations) | 0800 20 000 www.cfwb.be

Muntpunt Bib (Flemish Community) | 02 2291840 Muntplein (Prisenstratt 8) - 1000 Brussels www.muntpunt.be/bib Children’s English Library | 02 770 9812 Centre Comminautaire Crousse Rue aux Bois, 11 - 1150 Brussels Library of the British Council Rue de la Charité 15 - 1050 Brussels GENT Centrale Openbare Bibliotheek | 09 266 7000 Graaf Zan Vlaanderenplein 40 - 9000 Gent LIèGE Bibliotheque Centrale Chiroux-Croisiers 04 232 8686 Rue des Croisiers 15 - 4000 Liège

Embassies and consulates Argentina | 02 647 7812 Australia | 02 286 0500 Austria (trade) | 02 645 1650 Bosnia Herzegovina | 02 502 0188 Brazil | 02 640 2015 Bulgaria | 02 374 5963 Canada | 02 741 0611 Chile | 02 280 1620 China | 02 775 0888 Croatia | 02 639 2036 Cyprus | 02 650 0610 Czech Republic | 02 641 8930 Denmark | 02 233 0900 Egypt | 02 663 5800 Estonia | 02 779 0755 Finland | 02 287 1212 France | 02 229 8500 Germany | 02 787 1800 Greece | 02 545 5500 Hungary | 02 348 1800 Ireland | 02 282 3400 India | 02 640 9140 Indonesia | 02 771 2014 Israel | 02 373 5511 Italy | 02 643 3850 Japan | 02 513 2340

Latvia | 02 344 1682 Lithuania | 02 772 2750 Grand Duchy of Luxembourg | 02 737 5700 Malta | 02 343 0195 Mexico | 02 644 1300 Morocco | 02 736 1100 The Netherlands | 02 679 1711 New Zealand | 02 512 1040 Norway | 02 238 7400 Poland | 02 739 0100 Portugal | 02 533 0700 Romania | 02 343 2680 Russia | 02 374 6886 Slovakia | 02 346 4260 Slovenia | 02 213 6327 South Africa | 02 285 4400 Spain | 02 230 0340 Sweden | 02 510 1111 Switzerland | 02 285 4350 Turkey | 02 513 4095 Ukraine | 02 379 2100 United Kingdom | 02 287 6211 United States of America | 02 811 4000 For the latest information on any subject in this guide visit www.expatica.com

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Transport in Belgium

GENT De Lijn (Oost-Vlaandaren) | 070 22 0200 www.delijn.be

Belgium has an excellent public transport network, which is both cheap and efficient. One of its strengths is its integrated train, tram, metro, and bus system, which makes it easy to make connections between the different forms of transport. Three regional operators manage the network: De Lijn (Flanders), TEC (Wallonia) and STIB (Brussels). On the coast, a tram route runs the entire length of the coast from the French and Dutch borders. ANTWERP The public transport system in Antwerp is managed by De Lijn and is based on trams and buses, with an underground tramline running through the city and under the river Schelde. Multiple-ride or season tickets can be bought at De Lijn booths, in some kiosks and banks, and at railway stations. Single tickets can also be bought from the driver, though this is the most expensive way of travelling. De Lijn Antwerpen | 070 22 0200 | www.delijn.be BRUSSELS The Brussels city public transport is run by STIB/ MIVB, whilst bus transport outside the centre is run by De Lijn in Flanders and TEC in Wallonia. It is worth noting that tickets are not interchangeable between the companies. In Brussels centre, you can buy multiple-ride or season tickets from STIB/ MIVB tickets offices at metro stations or from special booths around the city. Single tickets can only be bought from bus or tram drivers. Multipleride tickets cover five or ten journeys and, like single-journey tickets, must be time stamped in the orange boxes. Once stamped, you can travel anywhere within an hour, on bus, tram, or metro, but you must stamp your ticket at each change. STIB/MVIB | 070 23 2000 | www.stib.irisnet.be De Lijn | 070 22 0200 | www.delijn.be TEC | 04 361 9444 | www.infotec.be

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LIège TEC Liège | 04 361 9444 www.infotec.be

Trains DOMESTIC TRAINS The dense train network in Belgium is stateowned and operated by SNCB/NMBS. For the most part it is efficient and inexpensive. Booking is best done before boarding; it is possible to buy a ticket from the guard, but these are sold at full price and it may be possible to find a cheaper ticket. Be aware that ticket offices are often busy so allow yourself plenty of time. You can also print your own ticket from the company’s website. Make sure you get all the details correct as tickets are not transferable and must be supported by showing your ID to the guard. There are various ways of reducing costs such as with a B-rail pass. Additionally, return travel at the weekend is much cheaper. Children under the age of six travel for free on SNCB trains when accompanied by an adult, while youngsters up to the age of 12 can also travel without charge on weekdays after 9:00. Interestingly, if you are a journalist you can also travel free of charge in second class carriages. SNCB/NMBS Domestic | 02 528 2828 www.b-rail.be INTERNATIONAL TRAINS Belgium is truly the railway crossroads of Europe, with trains entering Brussels from all over the continent. Brussels Gare du Midi is the terminus for several international trains, including Eurostar coming from London and Lille, TGV trains from France and the joint Belgian-Dutch-owned Thalys, connecting France, the Netherlands and Germany. Alternatively, you can take the conventional EuroCity trains to most European cities. Bookings for the high-speed train services can be made online at the Belgian railway website.

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If you want to drive to England, it’s just a short journey to Calais for the Eurostar shuttle service. SNCB/NMBS International Local | 02 528 2851 www.b-rail.be Eurostar | 02 528 2828 | www.eurostar.com TGV | 02 528 2828 | www.tgv.com Thalys | 02 528 2828 | www.thalys.com

Airports The country’s main international airport is Brussels Airport, Zavertem. Charleroi, also known as Brussels South, is used mainly by Ryanair. There are also smaller provincial airports in Antwerp and Liège, used mostly by city-hopper planes. ANTWERP Antwerp airport is just two kilometres from the city centre and is close to the Antwerp Berchem rail station. There are daily flights to London, Manchester, Rotterdam, Jersey, and Milan. Antwerp International Airport 03 285 6500 www.antwerpairport.be BRUSSELS Public transport from Brussels Airport is either by train or bus. The Airport Express runs four times an hour at peak times, dropping to twice hourly on Sundays and bank holidays. Train links to Antwerp and Mechelen were opened in 2012 and there is also a direct train to Paris each day, run by Thalys. A taxi ride into town is reasonably quick, but expensive at around EUR 40. A cheaper option is the No. 12 express bus, which runs every 30 minutes between the airport and Rond Point Schuman. From Brussels South Charleroi, Ryanair has a bus for each flight, which takes around an hour to get to Brussels. The drop-off point is Gare du Midi. Alternatively, you can travel to Charleroi by train and use the shuttle bus service to the airport. Taxis are available but, again, this is an expensive option costing around EUR 80.

Brussels Airport, Zaventem | 02 753 7753 Flight Information | 0900 70 000 www.brusselsairport.be Brussels South Charleroi Airport | 071 25 1211 www.charleroi-airport.com Liège Liège Airport mainly offers holiday destination flights. By public transport you can reach the airport by train (Liège Guillemins) and then taxi, or by TEC bus No. 53 or No. 85. Liège Airport | 04 234 8411 www.liegeairport.com

Taxis In general, you cannot hail a taxi on the street. They wait at special ranks or can be called by phone to come and collect you. All taxis are metered and have different tariffs according to whether you are in the city centre or the outskirts. All information, including the driver number, should be clearly displayed inside the taxi, often hanging on the back of the front passenger seat. Tips are included in the meter price. BRUSSELS Brussels Region Taxi Information | 02 204 1404 Taxi Verts and Taxi Orange | 02 349 4949 www.taxisverts.be Taxis Bleus | 02 268 0000 www.taxisbleus.be ANTWERP Antwerp Taxi | 03 238 3838 GENT V-Tax N.V. | 09 222 2222 LIèGE Noveltax | 04 252 5252

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Driving and Parking in Belgium

REGISTRATION TAX The registration tax is for your number plate, which stays with you and not with the car. You will get the rear number plate in the post and have to go to a Mister Minit store to have the front one made up.

Driving in Belgium is the same as in many other continental European nations – on the right hand side of the road. All car owners are required by law to carry a warning triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and a hi-visibility jacket or vest in their vehicle at all times, along with relevant licence and insurance documentation. There are specific requirements in registering your car and paying the relevant taxes, all of which are specified below. DRIVING LICENCE If you are a citizen of an EU member country, you do not need to obtain a separate Belgian licence if you already have a licence for your home country. Other foreigners permanently residing in Belgium may use an international driving licence initially, but are advised to apply for a valid Belgian driving licence when issued with an identity card. An application must be made at the local town hall, usually at the same time as residence registration. It is required that you provide an existing driver’s licence, two passport-type photographs and a residence permit. Expect to wait for several weeks before receiving the Belgian licence. A Belgian driving licence will be given automatically to nationals from some countries, among them Switzerland and Norway. However, other nationals may need to take a Belgian driving test to qualify. Non-EU nationals can check the government website for licence validity: www.mobilit.fgov.be If you are a younger driver please bear in mind that the minimum driving age in Belgium is 18. If you are 17 or younger you will be unable to drive, even if you have previously been issued with a licence in your home country.

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If you have taken you car with you when moving to Belgium, you will need the registration to be permanently moved. This may mean making modifications to the car to meet Belgian laws. There is a six-month period in which the registration must be made with the DIV (Direction des Immatriculations des Véhicules/ Dienst voor Inschrijving van de Voertuigen). CIRCULATION TAX Circulation tax (taxe de mise en circulation/ belasting op inverkeerstelling) is a one-off payment made upon the purchase of a new or used car, based on the power of the engine. This is designed to curb the use of fuel-heavy cars, so make sure you check the tax bracket you fall into. ROAD TAX Your road tax is also based on the power of your engine and whether your car is used to transport passengers or merchandise. It is payable annually and is higher on a second car. SPEED LIMITS Speed limits are 30/50kph in built-up areas, 70/90kph out of town and 120kph on motorways and four-lane roads. On entering any town or village, the speed limit comes into effect at the white background signboard bearing the community’s name. Radar speed traps are common, particularly on the highway, where drivers are more tempted to speed. TRAFFIC INFORMATION The telephone number for all of Belgium is 0900 1 0280, seven days a week from 6.00 to 23.00. It carries information on traffic conditions throughout Belgium and also abroad.

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PARkING Parking in town centres is controlled by parking meters, or in so-called blue zones by using a special disc (showing the time of arrival), which can be bought from garages or tobacconists. If using meters, a ticket must be bought from a machine and should be placed clearly on the dashboard, showing the hours of validity. Sometimes a system of parking on alternate sides of the road is used. Watch out for temporary signs left by the commune to indicate that the road needs to be kept clear for road works or the like. Ignore these at your peril as your car will be towed away. Also, park at least 15 meters from tram and bus stops. Certain very busy streets are marked with a red triangle stating Axe Rouge/Ax Rode, meaning that no parking is permitted from 7.00 to 9.30 and from 16.00 to 18.00. Additionally, a yellow line on the curb indicates no parking.

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Club listings

EXPAT ASSOCIATIONS: BRITISH Antwerp British Community Association members.multimania.co.uk/ABCA

want to meet likeminded expats? Here is a selection of just some of the groups and clubs in Belgium .

Antwerp British and International women www.abiw.org British & Commonwealth women’s Club of Brussels bcwcb.weebly.com

ARTS AND THEATRE Antwerp Decorative & Fine Arts Society www.adfas.org

Royal British Legion www.britishlegion.be (Brussels)

British American Theatrical Society (BATS) www.batsantwerp.be

Brussels British Community Association www.britishinbrussels.com

American Theatre Company www.atc.theaterinbrussels.com

welsh Society of Brussels cymdeithas.blogspot.com

Brussels Shakespeare Society www.shaksoc.com

EXPAT ASSOCIATIONS: OTHER Antwerp Indian Association www.antwerpindians.be

English Theatre Brussels (Comedy Club) ecc.theatreinbrussels.com

Irish Club of Belgium www.irishclub.be

Irish Theatre Group www.irishtheatregroup.com

Jewish Community of Antwerp www.shomre-hadas.be

Viewfinders English-Speaking Photography Club www.viewfinders.be EXPAT ASSOCIATIONS: AMERICAN American Club of Brussels www.americanclubbrussels.org American women’s Club of Antwerp www.awcantwerp.org American women’s Club of Brussels www.awcb.org/

Australia Society www.aussieworld.com Professional women International www.pwi.be women’s International Club Brussels www.wicbrussels.com MUSIC, SONG AND DANCE Brussels Choral Society www.brusselschoralsociety.com Brussels Light Opera Company www.bloc-brussels.be Brussels Madrigal Singers www.brusselsmadrigals.be International Chorale of Brussels www.internationalchorale.com

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•• LISTING AND INDEX ••

CHARITABLE AND SOCIAL A Club Brussels aclubbrussels.hostrocket.com Brussels Hash House Harriers www.bmph3.com Caledonian Society of Brussels www.calsoc.be Lions Club of Belgium www.lions.be www.lionsheraldic.net Rotary International www.rotary.belux.org RELIGIOUS SERVICES Antwerp Antwerp International Protestant Church 03 644 2046 www.aipchurch.org

St Andrew’s Church of Scotland | 02 672 4056 www.churchofscotland.be St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Parish 02 720 1970 www.saint-anthony.be St Nicholas Roman Catholic Church 02 511 8178 St Paul’s Tervuren Anglican Church 02 767 3435 www.stpaulstervuren.be Synagogue de Bruxelles | 02 512 4334 Gent St John’s Anglican Church users.telenet.be/stjohns

St Boniface Anglican Church | 03 239 3339 www.boniface.be

Liège English Speaking Church of Liège 085 84 4482 netministries.org/see/churches/ch00654

International Baptist Church of Antwerp 03 290 5262 www.ministryserver.com/ibcofantwerp.htm

Oostende The English Church 02 771 7969

Brussels and surrounds Beth Hillel Synagogue (non orthodox) 02 332 2528 www.beth-hillel.org Cornerstone International Church 02 304 3466 www.cornerstone.be Holy Trinity Anglican Church | 02 511 7183 www.holytrinity.be International Baptist Church | 02 731 9900 www.ibcbrussels.org International Protestant Church | 02 673 0581 www.ipcbrussels.org Our Lady of Mercy Parish | 02 354 5343 www.olm.be

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Emergency numbers and helplines

Oogarts FURNITURE Meubles Meubelen

EU common emergency line all services . . 112 Fire or Ambulance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Red Cross Ambulance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 Police. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Anti-poison centre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 070 24 5245 Pharmacists (on duty) 0900 10 500 (e0,45/Min). . www.pharmacie.be Doctors (on duty) Brussels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 479 1818 Rest of Belgium. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 Dentists (on duty) Brussels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 426 1026 Rest of Belgium. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100

GARDEN CENTRE Centre de Jardinage Tuincentrum HAIRDRESSER Salon de Coiffure Kapper HEALTH CLUB Centre de Fitnesse Fitness Centrum HOUSEWARES Articles de Ménage et de Cuisine, Bazars Huishoud Artikelen INSURANCE Assurance Verzekering

Vets (on duty) Brussels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 479 9990 Bank card lost or stolen . . . . . . . . . . 070 34 4344 English-speaking Community Help Service in Brussels. A volunteer counselling service for emotional problems and a day-time advice service. Help Line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 02 648 4014 www.chsbelgium.org

LANGUAGE SCHOOL École de Langues Talenonderwijs LAWYER Avocat/Notaire Advocaat MOVING COMPANIES Déménagement Verhuizingen

PHONEBOOK DECODER Yellow Pages subject headings an expat might come across:

REALTOR Agences Immobilières Makelaar

EMPLOYMENT OFFICES Bureau de Placement Arbeidsbureau (government) Intérimaire Uitzendbureau (private)

TAX CONSULTANT Conseils fiscaux Belastingadviseur

EYE DOCTOR Optometriste 72

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TRAVEL AGENT Agence de Voyage Reisburo

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•• LISTING AND INDEX ••

Advertisers index

N Nova Relocation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8/19

A

R

Antwerp International Schoo. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38/39

Rotterdam School of Management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44/ inside back cover

B Belgian Relocation Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/8 BEPS International School. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35/38 Be Welcome. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Brussels-Europe Liaison Office. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Brussels Business Flats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22/27 Brussels International Catholic School . . . . . . 35/38 British Junior Academy of Brussels. . . . . . . . . . . 35/38 British School of Brussels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38/41

D De Rand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8/11 Do It 4 Me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8/63

E European University . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

I ING Bank. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29/back cover Interdean. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8/9 International School Breda. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38/41

Renaissance Hotel Brussels. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

S Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 SAE Institute Brussels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

T Taxpatria. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29/31

V Vesalius College. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Vlerick Business School. . . . . . 44/inside front cover

NEED MORE GUIDES? The Expat Survival Guide will be distributed this year to over 20,000 expats in Belgium, through embassies, international companies, expat housing and relocation companies and international schools. If you are involved in managing expats, or run a bookshop, café, bar or restaurant frequented by expats, and would like to distribute the Expat Survival Guide, then

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