It takes time to settle into a new city. But Brussels has created organisations and websites to guide you through the process of integration and help you to become part of the city as quickly as possible. EXPAT WELCOME DESK
Confused about the paperwork? You’re not alone. But one thing you can do in Brussels is turn to the Expat Welcome Desk for independent help and advice. Set up in 1991 in a town house near the European institutions, the Welcome Desk has advised more than 90,000 new arrivals and residents every year. Most are EU officials, but the office also deals with interns, NGO staff and international executives.
Over the years, the Expat Welcome Desk has developed some useful tools that can save newcomers from a huge amount of hassle. They know how rental leases work, so can advise you on the right contract to sign before you commit yourself. They also know their way around the baffling range of regulations in force in nineteen different communes, and can save you a lot of time in putting together the inevitable paperwork you need to register as a resident.
The best way to get an answer to your problem is to send an email or call to make an appointment. The service is free and staff speak fluent English as well as the official languages French and Dutch.
The free guide Expats in Brussels is packed with useful information on settling in Brussels. It includes advice on signing a lease, obtaining a work permit and even on how to import a dog into Belgium. It also covers practical issues such as finding a doctor, choosing a school, registering a car and getting around by bicycle. Free copies of the guide can be picked up at the Expat Welcome office at Avenue d’Auderghem 63 or ordered online.
Visit Brussels sends out an email newsletter aimed at the international community. It contains information on new urban initiatives, expat events, competitions and workshops. Sign up online to learn about new regulations, rubbish collection rules and to keep in touch with the cultural life of the city.
This smart concept started out in New York and has now arrived in Brussels. Sign up online for a weekly newsletter that lists interesting activities in the city over the coming week. The listings include language classes, walks, culture trips, meals and beer tastings.