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BELGIUM: Volunteer Work by Foreign Nationals Legally Residing in Belgium

Until June 28, 2014, volunteer work was covered by the Belgian Work Permit Act and was only possible for foreign nationals eligible for work permit exemptions.  Other foreign nationals required a work permit, which, in practice, was not possible for unpaid work.

As of June 28, 2014, foreign nationals legally residing in Belgium (valid residence permit/title required) can work as volunteers.  However, the work must be volunteer work under the law and cannot be a basis for obtaining authorization to reside in Belgium.

Volunteer work is legally defined as follows:

  • The work must be unpaid and voluntary work for (i) one or more people, other than the volunteer, (ii) a group or organization (nonprofit), or (iii) the society as a whole;
  • The work must be organized by someone outside of the family or private circle of the volunteer; and
  • The volunteer cannot do the same work for the same organization on the basis of an employment contract, a service contract, or an appointment as a civil servant.

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