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Belgium’s cultural history, beautiful scenery, and advanced medical care make it a desirable immigration destination for many doctors. If you are a medical professional considering making Belgium your new home, this article will walk you through the steps to help you immigrate to Belgium as a doctor, including qualifying requirements, visa applications, and relocation.

How to Immigrate to Belgium as a Doctor?

The first question that comes to mind is: “Can foreign dentists work in Belgium?” To Immigrate to Belgium as a doctor, you must go through these steps below:

Step 1. Recognition of Medical Degree

The Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) for Health, Food Chain Safety, and the Environment must recognize your medical credentials. To practice medicine in Belgium, foreign doctors typically need a degree that is recognized as equivalent to a Belgian medical degree.

Recognition For Qualifications from Outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland

  • Diploma Equivalence. To begin, apply for your medical degree to be recognized as equivalent to a Belgian one. The equivalence procedure determines if your educational background, work experience, academic performance, and internships are comparable to what is required in Belgium.
  • Supplementary Training or Examinations. The Belgian government may demand that you complete additional education or take a test to prove that you meet their standards.
  • Application Documentation. Medical degree, transcripts, proof of citizenship, resume, motivation letter, and sometimes evidence of previous work experience are all examples of required documentation.
  • Language Proficiency. You must show proof of proficiency in Dutch, French, or German as part of the recognition process.
  • Professional Registration. After having your degree validated, you’ll need to join the local branch of the Order of Physicians in Belgium.

Recognition For Qualifications from the EU/EEA/Switzerland

  • Automatic Recognition. Medical degrees from the European Union/European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss universities are recognized in Belgium under certain conditions. The requirements must meet the minimum Directive-specified training conditions.
  • Registration with the Order of Physicians. Despite automatic recognition, doctors must still be registered with the relevant Order of Physicians in the regions they’ll be practicing in (Flemish, French, or German-speaking regions).
  • Language Proficiency. Doctors from EU/EEA/Swiss must still pass a language exam in the local language.
  • Provision of Documentation. Your medical degree, proof of citizenship, and any certificates attesting to your conformity with EU standards will all be required.

Step 2. Language Proficiency

Belgium recognizes Dutch, French, and German as its official languages. Depending on your chosen place of employment, you may need to speak one of them to immigrate to Belgium as a doctor. You must know Dutch, French, and German in the East Cantons to find work in Flanders.

Dutch Language Proficiency (Flanders and parts of Brussels)

According to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, medical professionals practicing in Flemish-speaking Belgium must have Dutch language skills at the B2 level. The NT2-II test from the Nederlandse Taalunie is widely used. Independent use of Dutch in various contexts is the basis for the passing score; however, testing organizations can vary widely.

French Language Proficiency (Wallonia and parts of Brussels)

In French-speaking regions like Wallonia and parts of Brussels, B2 on the CEFR is the norm for doctors and other medical staff. Both the DELF and the DALF are widely taken. Candidates must earn a total score of 50 out of 100 and 5 or higher in each section to pass.

German language proficiency (East Cantons)

A CEFR level B2 is required for German speakers in Belgium. Two valid tests are the Goethe-Zertifikat B2 and the TestDaF. Passing requires meeting the threshold in reading, listening, speaking, and writing, depending on the test.

Step 3. Finding Employment

To immigrate to Belgium as a doctor, you must get a doctor’s job in Belgium. You can either approach a recruitment agency in Belgium that specializes in placing doctors, or you can look for openings in hospitals, clinics, and private practices. After receiving a job offer, your potential employer may be willing to help you navigate the immigration and paperwork processes.

You can search for these examples:

Hospitals

  • Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel (UZ Brussel)
  • Ghent University Hospital (UZ Gent)
  • Antwerp University Hospital (UZA)
  • Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc

Recruitment Agencies

  • Doctors Abroad
  • MediJobs
  • BKV Group
  • Brussels Medical Recruitment

Online Job Boards

  • Jobs in Healthcare Belgium
  • be
  • EuroScienceJobs
  • StepStone Belgium

Step 4. Professional Licensing

You might ask: “How do I register as a doctor in Belgium?” To immigrate to Belgium as a doctor, you must first register with the Order of Physicians (Order of Physicians/Order of Artsen) in the region where you are planning to practice. This is a legal requirement to obtain a professional license and practice medicine in Belgium.

Professional Licensing For EU/EEA/Swiss Doctors

The system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications allows doctors licensed in the EU, EEA, or Switzerland to practice anywhere in the EU or EEA. This simplifies the sign-up process:

  1. Documentation Submission. When applying for membership in the regional Order of Physicians, such as the “Ordre des Médecins” in French-speaking areas or the “Orde der Artsen” in Dutch-speaking areas, medical professionals must provide these documents:
    1. Credentials for medical degrees
    2. Home country license for professional practice
    3. Passport or identity document
    4. Your medical regulatory body’s certificate of good standing
    5. Certificates of specialization, if applicable
    6. If necessary, translations of documents
  2. Language Proficiency. It is necessary to provide evidence of fluency in the necessary regional language.
  3. Registration. When all paperwork is in order, the registration process moves more quickly, and doctors can start working in the Belgian healthcare system sooner.

Professional Licensing For Non-EU/EEA/Swiss Doctors

Doctors from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland have additional steps:

  1. Degree Recognition. As was previously mentioned, the FPS Health, Food Chain Safety, and Environment must first recognize non-EU qualifications as equivalent to Belgian qualifications.
  2. Professional Exam. Doctors may require them to pass a licensing exam before practicing.
  3. Language Proficiency. Doctors outside the EU are held to the same standards as their EU peers regarding language proficiency.
  4. Documentation Submission. In addition to credentials and language proficiency, the Order of Physicians often requires foreign medical professionals to show their visa or proof of legal residency.
  5. Registration and Approval. If all requirements are met, the Order of Physicians will approve the registration, and the doctor can begin practicing medicine in Belgium.

Step 5. Visa and Work Permit

The procedures for obtaining a visa and a residence permit for EU/EEA/Swiss doctors:

Citizens of EU/EEA/Swiss do not need a work visa to enter Belgium. EU law guarantees them the freedom to live and work wherever they choose in Belgium. However, they must:

  1. Register with the local municipality (commune/gemeente). Doctors from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland who plan to work in Belgium must register with the municipality where they intend to live within 8 days of arrival.
  2. Obtain a Resident Card. The process usually involves proof of employment, identification documents, and proof of health insurance before getting an E-card (residence card).

There is a stricter procedure for doctors from outside the EU/EEA/Switzerland:

  1. Apply for a Long-Stay Visa (Type D). For stays longer than 90 days, non-EU citizens must apply for this visa to work in Belgium. The doctor must apply at the Belgian consulate or embassy in their country.
    1. Documents needed include a valid passport, proof of professional qualifications, health insurance, and a letter from your future employer.
    2. A medical exam and proof of a clean criminal record may be required of some applicants.
  2. Work Permit. In most cases, physicians must obtain a work permit before applying for a visa. This is often made easier by the prospective Belgian employer, who must demonstrate that a citizen of another EU/EEA/Swiss country was not available for the position.
    1. Highly qualified professionals, such as medical doctors, may apply for a combined work and residency visa.
  3. Residence Permit Application. Non-EU/EEA/Swiss doctors arriving in Belgium with a Type D visa need to register with their local municipality.
    1. They need proof that they have somewhere to live, health insurance, and a work visa or contract.
    2. After completing registration, they will be given a residence card (A-card), which must be renewed after a set amount of time.

Step 6. Professional Indemnity Insurance

To immigrate to Belgium as a doctor, you are legally required to carry professional indemnity insurance. It safeguards you against lawsuits arising out of alleged negligence or professional wrongdoing. Many insurance companies in Belgium specialize in providing professional indemnity insurance for doctors and hospitals. The famous ones are:

  • Amlin Insurance
  • AXA Belgium
  • MediRisk
  • Amma Insurance

Step 7. Continuing Medical Education

Medical professionals in Belgium are expected to participate in CME programs to keep up with the ever-changing healthcare industry. Professional development in the form of conferences, workshops, online courses, and participation in or contribution to research are all examples of expected activities for doctors.

This dedication to continuous education is not only required by the Belgian Order of Physicians but is also typically a condition of maintaining professional liability insurance coverage. Doctors in Belgium can only practice to the highest standards and meet the rigorous requirements of the Belgian healthcare system if they regularly engage in continuing medical education.

How to Work and Immigrate to Belgium as a Doctor

List of Doctors in Belgium (Doctor Jobs in Belgium)

  • General Practitioner (GP)
  • Specialist Physician
  • Hospital Resident
  • Medical Consultant
  • Staff Specialist
  • Clinical Researcher
  • Surgeon
  • Emergency Medicine Doctor
  • Pediatrician
  • Psychiatrist
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Medical Officer
  • Pathologist
  • Radiologist
  • Oncologist

Belgium Medical License Exam

Belgium does not have a standardized national medical licensing examination. Instead, international medical graduates must register with the Order of Physicians in Belgium after having their degrees recognized by the Belgian Ministry of Public Health and taking any necessary language exams. To immigrate to Belgium as a doctor, you must complete a residency program and take the appropriate certification exams. Maintaining a medical license requires ongoing education and training. It is recommended that you check in with Federal Public Service (FPS) Health to ensure you have the most recent requirements.

Belgium Medical License Verification

A physician in Belgium can confirm their medical license by doing the following:

  1. Check out the website of the Belgian Order of Physicians that covers the area where your license was issued.
  2. Try the ‘License Verification’ or ‘Doctor Search’ tabs or something similar.
  3. Complete the form with the doctor’s full name, registration number, and other identifying data if prompted.
  4. Submit the query to check its verification status.

Verification can also be obtained from the appropriate authorities in the home country of doctors who earned their license in the EU/EEA/Swiss regions and are now working in Belgium.

How to Become a Doctor in Belgium?

To become a doctor in Belgium, you need to follow a structured educational path and take these steps:

  1. Language Proficiency. Make sure you’re proficient in the language taught at Belgian universities (Dutch or French, depending on the university).
  2. Admission. Apply to a Belgian university for a medical program. It depends on the institution, but you’ll generally need a high school diploma similar to the Belgian ‘Diploma van Secundair Onderwijs’ or ‘Certificat d’Enseignement Secondaire Supérieur .’You might also have to pass an entrance exam.
  3. Medical Degree Program
    1. Complete a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine (3 years).
    2. Proceed to a Master’s degree in Medicine (3 years).
  4. Medical Training. After you get your Master’s, you’ll train in your specialty in a residency program. Training takes 4 to 6 years, depending on the specialty.
  5. Register with the Order of Physicians. Registration with the Order of Physicians in Belgium is required after you finish your training.
  6. Continuing Medical Education (CME). Maintain your registration by participating in CME activities throughout your career.

How Much is the Doctor’s Salary in Belgium?

Doctors in Belgium earn different salaries depending on their specialization, experience, location (hospital or private practice), and region. General practitioners typically earn €6,000–€10,000 per month before taxes. Specialist salaries can reach €8,000 to €12,000 per month before taxes. Experienced doctors or those with a successful private practice may have higher figures.

Medical Residency in Belgium for Non-EU Citizens

Non-EU medical residents in Belgium must get their degree recognized, learn French, Dutch, or German, get a work permit and visa, and register with the Belgian Order of Physicians. Applying for residency positions is competitive, with EU nationals given preference. After getting a job, you need professional indemnity insurance. The process is complicated, so Belgian embassies and medical faculties can help.

Do Doctors Speak English in Belgium?

Yes, many Belgian doctors speak English, especially in urban, academic, and hospital settings. Belgium has a high English proficiency, and medical professionals must learn English to keep up with English-language medical research and practices.

Immigrate to Belgium as a Doctor: Let’s Recap

You will experience a rewarding career path if you immigrate to Belgium as a doctor and practice medicine in Belgium. However, getting there takes time and effort. Follow the steps outlined in this article, and you’ll be on your way to a successful medical career in my beautiful European country.

FAQs

Whether a doctor works in a hospital or a private practice, they get paid through salary or fees. Often, private practitioners bill the national health service or private insurers directly.

An individual who wants to become a doctor in Belgium typically needs to complete a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Medicine from a Belgian university, plus specialized training.

Foreign doctors can work in Belgium if their medical degree is recognized, they’re proficient in the local language, they have a work permit, and they’re registered with the Order of Physicians.

It’s possible to work as a doctor in Belgium if you have the right degree and language skills.

Regarding medical practice and research, Belgium has a high-quality healthcare system and medical education.

Belgium allows doctors from outside the EU to work, but they have to go through a more rigorous process to get their degrees recognized, get work permits, and learn the language.

Compared to other countries, Belgium has a relatively high doctor-to-population ratio, with several thousand doctors practicing across the country.

Yes, Belgium has private doctors. Private practitioners and public healthcare providers are both available to patients.

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