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3 Mar 2020 11:35 AM | Tim Reynolds

The Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has established a website on the #COVID19 virus that is available in English as well as Flemish, French and German.

Contact us if you want the BBCA to post a News Story or an Event that is strongly linked to the British Community in Brussels.  We reserve the right to select items for publication and to edit items as required for style and space.

Email    BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com

News and Events -----------

  • 19 Feb 2021 4:24 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) is now underway and the vast majority of British citizens resident in Europe on or before 31 December 2020 will be able to obtain their new residence documentation under the WA without difficulty. However, our friends in the British in Europe campaign group are hearing of some issues across different EU countries and have compiled a summary of what you can do if you hit a bump in the road.

    The new British in Europe summary

    • Explains the circumstances under which you may be refused a right of residence under the WA
    • Outlines what the WA and the EU Commission’s Guidance Note say about refusal of, or restrictions to, your right of residence, and
    • Provides you with some resources which may help if you are encountering difficulties or you think you may do so.

    You can find the full summary here

  • 19 Feb 2021 2:46 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    On Tuesday 9 February the Expat Welcome Desk (EWD) of the Brussels Commissioner’s office held a midday webinar on residence formalities and work/single permit procedures for UK citizens already residing and working in or intending to relocate to Belgium.

    Speakers at the event were from Fragomen’s Benelux Immigration Practice based in Brussels: Jo Antoons, Managing Partner, Natali Afsar, Associate, and Andreia Ghimis, Senior Consultant.

    The webinar was moderated by Amélie BOVY, Legal Advisor at the Expat Welcome Desk. Presentations from the event were made available to registered participants, but can now be accessed by everyone via this ‘gated’ link.

    A large number of questions were raised during the webinar including:

    • Are we protected during the process of obtaining a M card (if we lose our job, change status…)
    • Communes do not have much information regarding the M card, how long the process takes , can I already apply now ?
    • Is there a return right linked to the M card?
    • Freelancers in UK with Belgian clients do need or not a work permit ?
    • Can we introduce a request of nationality on the ground of a M card, or an annexe 56 or 58?
    • For holders of a special ID (SIC) card for EU civil servants within the EU institutions:
      • when they cancel the SIC before applying to the M card how do we prove work, residency and travel rights waiting for the appointment and M Card?
      • a recent ruling of the Belgian Supreme Court (Court de Cassation). A special ID card can constitute proof of lawful residence for EU nationals applying for BE nationality by declaration. Does this include British citizens?
      • what is the need/point to change from a Special ID to an M Card if the time on Special ID Card counts towards the 5yr residency requirement? Does the M Card give anything else which the Special ID does not?

    Did you know?

    The EWD organises seminars on specific themes for target audiences. These seminars are conducted by specialists selected by the EWD to provide in-depth knowledge of the topics covered.

    If you would like to be informed about these seminars, you can subscribe by sending an e-mail mentioning “Registration for future seminars” to seminars@commissioner.brussels.

  • 19 Feb 2021 2:09 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Earlier this week (16 Feb) our friends in Brexit and the Belgian Brits (BAABS) held an interesting webinar with Anthony Valcke on M Cards, residency and routes to becoming Belgian. Presentations from the webinar should be posted via a link on their Facebook page soon.

    However, in the meantime there were a few very clear takeaways from the event that apply to many ex-pat Brits in this group and have sparked a lively discussion over on the BABBS facebook page.

    The main points from the webinar are:

    • If you need legal support or have a really specific question for a lawyer about your residency rights or application to become Belgian, then Your Europe Advice offers free legal advice. NB/ Anthony Valcke works as a lawyer here.
    • The annexes you receive while waiting for your M Cards are not travel documents. *There is a risk that you may* not be able to re-enter Belgium with them as a resident *(particularly if you are travelling through other Schengen countries)*.
    • If you want to apply for Belgian nationality this year, you should not apply for an M-Card *until you have signed the nationality declaration* as an M-card is not valid as **proof of lawful residence towards* your nationality application. If you have already applied for or made an appointment to apply for one then cancel it, *if you intend on applying to become Belgian later in 2021.*
    • When you submit an application for the M Card, do not* give in your E (E+, F, F+) cards until you actually have the M Card handed to you. If the commune asks for you tell them to refer to the Royal Decree, or ask Your Europe Advice/a lawyer to write you a letter to take to the Commune.
    • All UK nationals who have no prospect of applying for Belgian nationality before the end of this year must apply for an M-card well before 31.12.2021.
    • *Finally, M Cards are not currently listed in the Royal decree as proof of lawful residence for the purposes of applying for Belgian nationality. However, we will work with Anthony in the future to lobby to change this, I would like this to be something we can help to change together and I'm sure we will be calling on you for help in due course.

    BABBs – The Movie

    Don’t forget BABBS is raising funds for a documentary project that aims to tell the world about how how Brexit is affecting us all! BABBs webinars and events are free (like BBCA Brexit events) to be as open, democratic and inclusive as possible, but if you could help BABBS to create the new film, the BABBS team would be very grateful! Find out more and how to donate here

  • 5 Feb 2021 6:23 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Today (5 February) the Belgian governments met to discuss the coronavirus situation and decided to allow hairdressing salons to reopen under strict conditions from 13 February  and also that outdoor activities in animal parks and zoos will also be authorized from that date.

    Currently, the coronavirus situation in Belgium remains mixed. The number of infections has remained stable since December, while the number of hospitalisations and deaths is decreasing slightly. However, there is a need to prevent the spread of more contagious variants of the virus and therefore extreme caution is still required.

    However, the government recognises that care of the person undeniably contributes to better social and mental well-being. For this reason the gradual reopening of non-medical contact professions will be allowed. Hairdressers will be able to resume their activities from Saturday 13 February. Other non-medical contact trades, such as beauty, massage and nail salons, may restart from 1 March.

    Strict conditions

    However, the reopening of non-medical contact professions will be subject to very strict conditions and reinforced protocols. These include:

    • A waiting time of 10 minutes between two treatments, for cleaning and disinfection of the treatment area
    • Strictly by appointment only
    • Customers must wait outside not within premises
    • Thee must be sufficient ventilation, for example by opening windows and doors
    • The ban on at home services continues

    Animal parks, holiday homes and real estate

    From 13 February, animal parks will be able to open their doors according to the same rules as natural parks. This means, among other things, that only outdoor activities are allowed and that strict access control must be provided.

    From 8 February, following the ruling of the Council of State of 2 February, holiday homes in holiday parks, bungalow parks and campsites will be able to resume their activities under the same restrictive conditions as other types of holiday accommodation. This means, among other things, that their restaurants, bars and other communal facilities will have to remain closed.

    It was confirmed that visits to properties from 13 February in the context of real estate activities of professional real estate agents will be authorised.

    The next meeting of the Consultation Committee is scheduled for Friday 26 February.

  • 5 Feb 2021 9:02 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    If you’re a British expatriate, or spend a lot of time overseas, UK tax may be a topic you’re keen to keep an eye on. To help, The Fry Group is holding a webinar on Wednesday 10 February covering the subject of 'How much time can I spend in the UK, without becoming UK tax resident?'

    The pandemic may have forced you to spend more time in the UK than you originally planned. Any unexpected or extended period of time in the UK could now accidently trigger UK tax residency, which could have a serious effect on your finances.

    In the webinar Peter Webb,  Fry's Head of Tax Advisory, will explain how the UK tax rules might affect you in a range of situations, and what you need to be aware of. There will also be opportunity for Q&A.

    What will you learn?

    The webinar will cover the following topics:

    • How many days can I spend in the UK without becoming a UK tax resident?
    • Is there any extra allowance for the time I can spend in the UK if I am trapped there due to Covid-19?
    • When do 'exceptional circumstances' apply?
    • What happens if I've spent longer in the UK than I'm allowed to for tax reasons?
    • Will my worldwide income and gains be affected?

    Two sessions are available to suit your time zone. Please choose the most suitable and register online to receive the webinar link.

    How to register

    The webinar will be held on Wednesday 10 February in two sessions in order to cover Fry's global client base. To register just pick the time below that suits you best (in Belgium the webinar will be from 06h00 or 11h00) and follow the link to book your place.

    Session 1: UK 5am, Europe 6am, Dubai 9am, Singapore/Hong Kong 1pm

    Session 2: UK 10am, Europe 11am, Dubai 2pm, Singapore/Hong Kong 6pm

    Please feel free to forward this invitation to friends, colleagues or family members if you feel it would be of interest to them. We look forward to you joining the webinar.

  • 3 Feb 2021 2:56 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Tomorrow (4 February 2021), will be the one-year anniversary of the confirmation of the COVID-19 virus having spread to Belgium. Healthcare workers have constantly been on the frontline of the COVID-19 battle for 12 months now. They have worked tirelessly throughout the first and second waves and many are exhausted.

    To support and thank our healthcare workers for their dedication, the ‘Meals 4 healthcare‘ campaign delivers ready to eat meals to several hospitals in Brussel for staff to eat in or take home. The participating hospitals are Ixelles, Moliere, Bracops, Hopital Brugman, and St Pierre.

    All meals are supplied by the Hearth Project ASBL - the brainchild of Gourmet chef Elliott Van de Velde.


    And you can help support the campaign by donating and buying a meal (or more) for a health worker.

    All funds raised are used to pay for the meals for healthcare workers, through the participating hospitals and institutions listed above. The campaign is a very lean machine run via the Full Circle organisation and no overheads are charged to the campaign, so 100% of your money goes to providing the meals.

    You can donate by bank transfer to:

    Account name: Meals4healthcare (Full Circle asbl)

    IBAN/Account number: BE86 7350 5644 0850

    BIC code: KREDBEBB

    Reference: (Your organisation or your name)

    Or you can donate via credit card using this link.

    For more information on the campaign you can contact the campaign by email to: info@fullcircle.eu.

  • 25 Jan 2021 5:26 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    On Tuesday 9 February the Expat Welcome Desk of the Brussels Commissioner’s office will be holding a webinar (in English) focusing on residence formalities and work/single permit procedures for UK citizens already residing and working in or intending to relocate to Belgium. The webinar will commence at 12 noon and will end at 13h00.

    The speakers are all experts from Fragomen Brussels: Jo Antoons, Managing Partner, Natali Afsar, Associate, and Andreia Ghimis, Senior Consultant. They will cover key issues including:

    • The type of residence permit and application process for UK citizens residing and working in Belgium prior to 31 December 2020
    • Options for family members to join them
    • The requirements for applying for permanent residence and Belgian nationality (for regular and special ID holders)
    • Entry requirements for new UK arrivals in Belgium (from 1 January 2021): workers, trainees and self-employed
    • The application process for work/single permits
    • The applicable rules for frontier workers

    The webinar will be moderated by Amélie BOVY, Legal Advisor at Expat Welcome Desk

    To register for the event, which has a limited number of places, send an email to inscription@commissioner.brussels. Practical information including the link to access the meeting will then be sent to you.

    About the Expat Welcome Desk

    The Expat Welcome Desk (EWD) organises seminars on specific themes for target audiences. These seminars are conducted by specialists selected by the EWD to provide in-depth knowledge of the topics covered.

    If you would like to be informed about these seminars, you can subscribe by sending an e-mail mentioning “Registration for future seminars” to seminars@commissioner.brussels.

  • 22 Jan 2021 9:30 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Today, 22 January 2021, the Belgian authorities discussed the coronavirus situation and decided, despite a stabilising health situation in Belgium, to temporarily ban recreational and tourist travel to and from Belgium. The aim of these measures are to prevent or at least limit the importation of the more virulent ‘mutant’ strains of COVID emerging in some parts of the world.

    The announced limitations on international travel are:

    A. Ban on non-essential travel

    Travel for recreational or tourist purposes to and from Belgium is prohibited from Wednesday 27 January to Monday 1 March 2021. This ban will be controlled for road, air, sea and rail traffic.

    Any persons traveling to and from Belgium must be in possession of a declaration of honour relating to the nature of their journey. A model form will be provided by the Minister of the Interior. The declaration of honour must be linked to the passenger's Passenger Location Form and be supported by any necessary documentation.

    During the ban, only essential travel is allowed. The following categories may fall under essential travel:

    A compelling family reason such as Family reunion; Visits to a spouse or partner who does not live under the same roof, as long as plausible evidence of a stable and lasting relationship can be provided; or Travel related to co-parenting, civil and religious weddings, funerals or cremations (of allies or relatives).

    Humanitarian reasons such as Travel for medical reasons and the pursuit of medical treatment; Assistance to an older, minor, disabled or vulnerable person; or Visiting relatives in palliative care.

    For studying such as Travel for pupils, students and interns participating in an exchange as part of their studies; or Researchers with a hosting contract.

    Border workers were Travel related to daily life for activities which are also authorized in Belgium; or Professional reason for carrying out a professional activity

    In addition, Animal care, travel due to legal obligations (if this cannot be accomplished digitally), and urgent vehicle safety repairs are also considered essential.

    B. Travellers from UK, South Africa and South America

    From Monday 25 January, all travellers entering Belgium from the United Kingdom, South Africa or South America will be required to respect a ten-day quarantine and carry out a PCR test on the first and the seventh day of their quarantine.

    C. Double entry test

    The authorities would also like all non-residents traveling to Belgium to be tested again on arrival in Belgium, in addition to the mandatory negative test prior to their departure to the country. This could be a PCR test or a rapid antigen test.

    Anybody who tests positive for COVID-19 will now have to self-isolate for ten days.

    After high-risk contact or travel to Belgium, the quarantine period remains at ten days. This period may be reduced to a minimum of seven days on condition of presenting a negative test that has been carried out no earlier than seven days after exposure to COVID.

    Prospects for getting your hair cut

    Due to the current state of the epidemic, it is not yet recommended to reopen the non-medical contact professions, such as beauty salons, non-medical pedicure stores, nail salons, massage parlours, hairdressers, barbers, and tattoo salons, however reopening from 13 February may be considered provided that the epidemiological situation continues to develop positively. The situation will be reassessed on 5 February.

    In addition, the reopening of non-medical contact professions will only be possible in strict compliance with existing protocols, supplemented by a series of additional measures, such as the obligation to open by appointment only, the compulsory registration of appointments, the obligation for customers to wait outside and the obligation to leave doors and windows open at all times.

    The press release following the Concertation Committee (in French) can be found here

  • 22 Jan 2021 3:38 PM | Anonymous

    The Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine has been administered to the first member of the Wednesday Club

    On Wednesday 20 January, Muguette aged 92 received her first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.  This was done at her residential home in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert.   Her second dose will be administered on 3 February.

    I visited Muguette the day after her vaccination and she was delighted.  I know some people might be a little bit nervous, but Muguette reassured me that it was very easy and painless.   Wonderful news!

    Ron Aston, who heads the Wednesday Club said: "We've not been able to hold our normal meetings since the virus arrived.  Losing social contact has a big impact on our members, so this is great news.  It's a major step towards us returning back to normal".

    Best wishes to all.  Chris Dalton x

  • 22 Jan 2021 1:08 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    BBCA has been contacted by the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC), a London based think-tank, that is looking at how the UK Government engages (or not) with British citizens living in Brussels. It is also asking Brits in Washington DC. If you would like to contribute your perspective, a link to their survey can be found below.

    The FPC project emerged from discussions with long-standing Brussels based colleagues who talked about their limited interaction with UK government representatives in Brussels and parallel conversations with the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) about its approach to soft-power and building on different networks.

    The survey

    The survey is part of FPC’s project entitled Understanding the British Diaspora that aims to help broaden understanding of the British Diaspora in both Washington DC and Brussels, especially on how they interact with the UK Government. The survey seeks to capture a snapshot of respondents’ views about their current engagement with UK Government institutions, what they might want from the Government, and what their issues or concerns might be.

    All responses to the survey will be collected anonymously using the Alchemer (formerly SurveyGizmo) secure survey platform and comprises two sections: Background information and your Engagement with the UK Government or British institutions

    The majority of questions are tick box based, with some space to add detail if needed. In addition, there is space at the end of the survey to add extra information and views if you wish.

    The survey should take only 5-10 mins to complete. You can access the survey here.

    Please feel free to share the link to the survey to other Brits in Brussels.

    Who are FPC

    The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) is a non-partisan international affairs think tank based in the UK. Their mission is to provide an open and accessible space for the ideas, knowledge and experience of experts, academics and activists from across the world, so that their voices can be heard by a global audience of citizens and decision makers in order to find solutions to today’s international challenges.

    A recent policy publication of note is ‘Partnerships for the future of UK Foreign Policy’ that sets out the many different ways in which a ‘Global Britain’ can reinvigorate its relationships with allies, alliances and institutions.

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