Upon retiring, many Flemish decide to move to a sunny place, often in the south of Europe. Other countries are also on the rise. There are relatively few obstacles to enjoying your retirement abroad. What about your retirement rights, the payout, etc.?
How and where to apply for a pension
How and where you can claim your Belgian or foreign pension depends on your place of residence. If you live in Belgium, you can apply:
- at the municipal administration of your main residence
- at a Pension Point of the Federal Pension Service
- online via the website http://www.pensioenaanvraag.be
You can apply for your pension at the pension authority in the country where you live or last worked. If you have never worked in your country of residence, your country of residence will automatically forward your application to the country where you last worked. The country concerned will process the application and bring together all the information about your pension rights.
Please note: in some countries you should have worked for a certain minimum period before you have pension rights. If you have worked for less than a year in a particular country, there may be a exception, as some EU countries do not provide pensions for short periods. Your pension accrual for those months will not be lost, because the final pension authority that checks whether you are entitled to a pension must take into account all periods worked in all EU countries concerned.
Cumulation of a Belgian pension with a foreign pension
The pension authorities in all countries where you have worked look at your pension accrual in those countries, and how long you have worked in each country. Your pension is calculated on that basis.
The Belgian FPD calculates your national pension and your proportionate pension based on a theoretical amount. Both amounts are compared, after which the highest amount is awarded.
- National pension = pension calculated on the basis of Belgian legislation.
- Theoretical amount = the result of the sum of all periods worked in all relevant EU countries and the corresponding pension to which you would be entitled if these valid foreign periods were completed in the Belgian scheme.
Tip: Doubts about your pension situation? Contact the FPD.
Any country that grants you a pension can deposit it in a bank account throughout the EEA. You can also be paid by bank transfer to an account in your country of residence. A condition is that in both cases you inform the FPD two months in advance. If you stay abroad, the Belgian pension service asks you to return a life certificate at least once a year. If you live in Germany, France or the Netherlands, you will no longer receive a life certificate and you do not have to return it.
Please note: the Belgian pension service urges you to notify any change of address or marital status in writing of as soon as possible.
Deductions from your pension if you live abroad
- Illness and invalidity contribution: you can be exempted if you live in one of the EEA countries and you are subject to the local social security system
- solidarity contribution: an exemption within the EEA will apply as from January 2013
- withholding tax on wages: your paid pensions remain subject to withholding tax, unless your country of residence has a bilateral agreement with Belgium to avoid double taxation
Tip: View the list of countries with an exemption on withholding tax on income from professional services.
If you receive a pension from your country of residence, the health insurance of that country covers the medical costs, regardless of whether you also receive a pension from another country. If you do not receive a pension from your country of residence, you will be covered by the health insurance of the country where you have been insured the longest. Apply for an S1 form from your health insurance company and give it to the health insurer in the host country upon arrival. The form entitles you to healthcare cover in the country where you are staying.
If you live abroad as a pensioner, there is no right to reimbursement of your medical expenses for healthcare at the expense of Belgium. However, there is an exception if you as a pensioner meet the same conditions:
- live in a country that applies the European regulations or in a country with which Belgium has concluded an agreement that includes healthcare (Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey)
- do not receive a pension from your country of residence.
Tip: Contact your Belgian health insurance company before you leave!