Doing Business In Belgium

Visa Information

There are no entry requirements or restrictions on EU nationals visiting Belgium and Luxembourg. Citizens of Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand and the USA do not need visas to visit the country as tourists for up to three months. Except for people from a few other European countries (such as Switzerland and Norway), everyone else must have a visa. Three-month tourist visas are issued by Belgian or Luxembourg embassies or consulates. They can take a while to be processed, so leave enough time before departure to apply. Fees vary depending on your nationality.
Visa information can be obtained from Belgium’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, For Luxembourg, check

Business Etiquette

Relationships & Communication

Although third-party introductions are not necessary, they often smooth the way.
Regardless of how you are introduced, you must always be polite and well mannered.
Belgians are careful and prudent so take time before they trust others, be they individuals or representatives of companies.
Business dealings tend to be bureaucratic. There are many procedures and a great deal of paperwork.
Belgians are excellent linguists and many are sufficiently fluent to conduct meetings in English.
Belgians prefer subtlety to directness, believing that subtlety is a reflection of intelligence.
Although they are more direct in their communication than many cultures, if a response is too direct it may be seen as simplistic.
They prefer communication to be logical and based on reason
Belgians often engage in long, critical discussions before reaching a decision so that they can be certain that they have considered all the alternatives.
They believe it is rude to be confrontational. 

Business Meeting Etiquette

Appointments are necessary
The person you are meeting will generally set the time for the meeting, usually mid morning or mid afternoon.
Avoid scheduling meetings during July and August, which are prime vacation times; the week before Easter; and the week between Christmas and New Year.
Everyone is expected to arrive on time
Arriving late may brand you as unreliable.
Meetings are formal
First appointments are more socially than business oriented, as Belgians prefer to do business with those they know.
Do not remove your jacket during a meeting. 

Dress Etiquette

Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits with white shirts and silk ties.
Women should wear business suits or conservative dresses.
Men should only wear laced shoes, never loafers or other slip-ons, as they are too casual.
Polished shoes are an integral part of a professional image. 

Business Cards

Business cards are exchanged without formal ritual.

Have one side of your business card translated into French or Dutch. This shows respect and understanding of the linguistic heritage of your colleagues.
If you have meetings in both areas, have two sets of business cards printed, and be careful to use the proper ones.
Present your business card so the recipient can read the side with their national language.  

General Business Hours

Restaurants generally open for lunch from 11.30am or noon until 2pm or 3pm. Dinner starts at about 6.30pm, and goes to 10pm or 11pm. Brasseries have more fluid hours, usually opening by 11am and staying open until midnight or 1am.
Defining business hours for bars and cafés is nigh on impossible. There are absolutely no regulations governing trading hours for these establishments – they open when they want and close when the last barfly drops. Most cafes are open by 10am or 11am, and some will still be going at 5am.
In general, shops in both countries are open from 9am until noon or 12.30pm, and again from 2pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. Many shops in major tourist destinations, such as Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Luxembourg City, don’t close for lunch, and many also open on Sunday. The occasional convenience shop opens 24 hours – look for signs indicating nachtwinkel or magasin de nuit.
Banks open from 8.30am or 9am and close between 3.30pm and 5pm Monday to Friday. Some close for an hour at lunch, and many also open Saturday mornings.
Post offices generally operate from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and until noon Saturday. Smaller branches close for lunch and larger ones stay open until 6pm.
Throughout this guide, we’ve provided opening hours for sights and activities. For other businesses, like restaurants and shops, we’ve listed hours only when they differ from the norm.