The banking system in Belgium is well organised and sophisticated. Expats will find that managing money in Belgium is usually a hassle-free process.
Numerous local and international banks have branches in the country, with the main banks being ING Belgium, KBC Bank, Belfius and BNP Paribas Fortis.
Money in Belgium
The country is part of the Eurozone and the currency in Belgium is the Euro. One euro is divided into 100 cents.
Notes: 5 EUR, 10 EUR, 20 EUR, 50 EUR, 100 EUR, 200 EUR and 500 EUR
Coins: 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents, 1 EUR and 2 EUR
Banking in Belgium
Banking in Belgium has evolved, with most people now completing transactions either at ATMs or via online and telephone banking. Some Belgian banks operate entirely online, where it's possible to do everything from opening an account to using the bank's investment services and more.
Belgian banks charge separately for individual services, such as debit and credit cards, internet banking facilities and regular transactions. Service and credit card charges vary depending on factors such as the customer’s spending limit and added services.
Banking hours in Belgium are normally 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Some banks are also open on Saturday mornings.
Opening a bank account
Opening a current account in Belgium is usually simple, regardless of the particular bank used. Expats are required to bring documents such as proof of identification, completed application forms and proof of address.
Some Belgian banks have the functionality for customers to open bank accounts online, with some allowing foreigners to do so before arriving in Belgium. In these cases, the expat will have to inform the bank once their residency permit has been issued.
ATMs and debit cards
ATMs are widely available in Belgium. Credit and debit cards can be used. The main type of debit card used in Belgium is known as the Bancontact card. This is a chip card that has a four-digit PIN. The Bancontact card can be used to draw cash at ATMs and to pay for everyday items, including groceries and petrol.
Taxes in Belgium
Taxes in Belgium are high, with income tax being paid on a progressive scale with tax rates of 25 to 50 percent, depending on the taxpayer's income.
Expats are considered Belgian tax residents if they primarily work or live in the country and have registered at their local municipal office. As a result, an expat may be subject to Belgian tax on their worldwide income. Luckily, the country has double-taxation avoidance agreements with many countries around the world, so most expats should not be taxed twice.
Given the relative complexity of taxation in Belgium, we recommend expats consult a specialist.