BELGIUM BACKGROUND CHECK

To save companies from reputational risk there are companies related to background screening. Belgium is no exception to that.  There are many companies who are doing background screening in Belgium. Verification is the most important process of hiring for any company. This will result in overall productivity of the company because it has hired the authentic and talented after passing them through screening process.

Healthy environment is very much vital for any company as well as for workers and try to avoid the circumstances which will create disturbances in the working areas. The bad environment will damage the output of the company in the end.

So, the main aim of any background screening company is to provide a smooth a stress-free environment where a company should be free from all inconveniences.  The background screening services in Belgium has benefited the firms all over and maintained a good working state so that no mistake or blunder could be carried out in near future.

These services have been exercised in all parts of Belgium including neighboring states like Antwerp, Aalst, Brussels, Bruges, Charleroi, Gent, Hasselt, Liege, Leuven, La Louviere, Kortrijk, Mons, Mechelen, Namur and Ostend. For any further question please visit our website info@backcheckgroup.com to resolve issues accordingly.

General Information

GDP USD524.8bn (World ranking 24, World Bank 2013)
Population 11.2 million (World ranking 77, World Bank 2013)
Form of state Federal Parliamentary Democracy under a Constitutional Monarchy
Head of government Charles Michel (MR)
Next elections 2019, legislative

CURRENT LOCAL TIME

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PRODUCTS IN BELGIUM

Data Protection

Belgium

Contribution Details

Patrick Van eecke

Partner

Law

Belgium implemented the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC with the Data Protection Act dated 8 December 1992 (“Act”). Enforcement is ensured by the Data Protection Authority (“DPA”).

Definition of Personal Data

Personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person. A person is considered to be an identifiable person when he or she can be identified, directly
or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors
specific to his or her physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity.

Definition of sensitive Personal Data

The Belgian Data Protection Act distinguishes between three categories of sensitive personal data, for which distinct rules apply:

  • personal data revealing a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or
    philosophical beliefs, sex life or trade union membership;
  • health related data personal data; and
  • personal data relating to disputes which have been submitted to courts and tribunals as well as to administrative judicial bodies, regarding suspicions, prosecutions or convictions in matters of crime, administrative sanctions or security measures.

National Data Protection Authority

Commission for the Protection of Privacy

Drukperssstraat 35
1000 brussels

Registration

Unless an exemption applies, data controllers who process personal data by automatic means must notify the DPA so that their processing of personal data may be registered and made public. Changes to the processing of personal data will require the notification to be amended.
The notification shall inter alia include the following information (as outlined in the DPA
standard notification form):

  • the purpose(s) of the processing;
  • the controller’s contact details and if relevant the contact details of the controller’s
    representative;
  • the types of personal data being processed;
  • whether categories of sensitive personal data are processed and if so, which categories;
  • the categories of recipients of the data and the guarantees which must be applied to the communication to third parties;
  • the way in which data subjects will be informed of the processing and the department which data subjects may contact to use their right to access;
  • the data retention terms;
  • a general description of security measures; and
  • in cases where the data will be transferred outside the European Economic Area categories
    of data to be transferred and for each category of data, the country of destination.

Data Protection Officers

There is no legal requirement in Belgium for organisations to appoint a data protection officer. It is, however, recommended to do so.

The Act requires controllers and processors to take adequate technical and organisational
security measures.

As part of this obligation the DPA has issued “Security Guidelines”, which reflect what is to be considered as constituting ‘adequate technical and organisation security measures’. Although the Security Guidelines are not part of the Act itself and are not binding, they do have an important moral value.
The Security Guidelines recommend controllers to appoint a so called “information security officer”. This security officer is responsible for the implementation of the personal data security policy.

Collections and Processing

Data controllers may collect and process personal data when any of the following
conditions are met:

  • the data subject consents;
  • the processing is necessary to fulfill a contract to which the data subject is party, or to take
    steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into such a contract;
  • the processing is necessary to enable the controller to fulfill a legal obligation;
  • the processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the data subject;
  • the processing is necessary to perform a task in the public interest;
  • the processing is necessary to exercise official authority; or
  • the processing is necessary to enable the controller or third parties to whom the data is disclosed to protect a legitimate interest, except where such interest is overridden by the interests of the data subject.
    Where sensitive personal data is processed, a different list of specific conditions applies. Whichever of the above conditions is relied upon, the controller must first provide the data
    subject with certain information, unless an exemption applies. The notification shall include
    information on the identity of the controller, the purposes of the processing, the existence of
    the right to object in the case of personal data processing for direct marketing purposes, as well as the right to access and rectification, the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data, and whether or not it is obligatory to respond to the data controller’s request to submit personal data and any possible consequences of not responding.

Transfer

Transfer of a data subject’s personal data to non EU/European Economic Area countries is allowed if the countries provide “adequate protection”.

For the transfer of data to the United States, companies which adhere to the US/EU Safe Harbor principles are deemed to offer adequate protection.

Data controllers may transfer personal data out of the European Economic Area to countries which are not deemed to offer adequate protection if any of the following exceptions apply:

  • the data subject has consented to the transfer;
  • the transfer is necessary for the performance of a contract between the data subject and the data controller, or for the performance of tasks at the request of the data subject prior to entering into such a contract;
  • the transfer is necessary for the conclusion or performance of a contract with a third party in
    the interest of the data subject;
  • the transfer is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject;
  • the transfer is necessary in order to establish, exercise or defend a legal claim;
  • the transfer is necessary or legally required in order to protect an important public interest; or
  • there is statutory authority for demanding data from a public register.

The DPA may allow transfers even if the above conditions are not fulfilled if the controller adduces additional safeguards with respect to the protection of the rights of the data subject. Such safeguards may inter alia result from contractual clauses, e.g. by standard contractual clauses approved by the European Commission, or via an organisation’s Binding Corporate Rules.

Currently, in the context of a notification procedure, the DPA usually requests a copy of data transfer agreements, in particular to verify whether any changes were made to the EU model clauses. No formal approval of EU model clauses based data transfer agreements is required.

However, the DPA recently indicated that in the near future, this could change and an authorization decree may be required for each contract based international transfer of personal data – regardless of whether the international transfer is based on the EU Model Clauses.

Security

Data controllers and processors must implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to protect personal data against accidental or unlawful destruction or accidental loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure or access, in particular where the processing involves the transmission of data over a network, and against all other unlawful forms of processing.

The DPA has issued (non binding) guidelines in respect of such security measures.

Breach Notification

The Act does not provide for a data security breach notification duty.

Enforcement

The DPA is authorized to investigate complaints, and to act as a mediator in case of complaints. The DPA may also appoint experts, may require the provision of documents, and may require access to certain places. In the case of criminal actions, the DPA must notify the public prosecutor.

Failure to comply with the Act may be criminally sanctioned with imprisonment or fines up to
EUR 600,000.

Electronic Marketing

The Act will apply to most electronic marketing activities, as there is likely to be processing and use of personal data involved (e.g. an email address is likely to be “personal data” for the purposes of the Act). The Act does not prohibit the use of personal data for the purposes of electronic marketing but provides individuals with the right to object to the processing of their personal data (i.e. a right to “opt out”) for direct marketing purposes.

Additionally, specific rules are set out in Belgian E-Commerce Act (Act of 11 March 2003)
regarding opt-in requirements:

  • These rules apply to all “electronic messages”, i.e. traditional emails, text messages (Short Message Systems or SMS), etc. Other types such as instant messaging and chat may also fall within the scope of these rules depending on the specific context. This covers not only clear promotional messages, but also newsletters and similar communications. Indeed, ‘any form of communication intended for the direct or indirect promotion of goods, services, the
    image of a company, organization or person which/who exercises a commercial, industrial or workmanship activity or regulated profession’ falls within the scope of these rules.
  • As a general principle, the prior, free, specific and informed consent of the recipient of the message must been obtained (‘opt-in principle’).
  • Two exceptions apply to the opt-in principle. No prior, free, specific and informed consent is
    to be obtained if:
  • the electronic marketing message is sent to existing customers of the service provider; or
  • the electronic message is sent to legal persons (e.g. to a general email address such as info@company.com).
  • These exceptions are, however, subject to compliance with strict conditions. The exception applicable to existing customers for instance requires that the electronic marketing message sent to such existing customer relates to goods or services similar to those goods or services purchased by the customer.
  • All electronic messages must contain a clear reference to the recipient’s right to opt out, including means to exercise this right electronically.

On Line Privacy (Including Cookies and Location Data)

cookies

Article 5 (3) of the E-Privacy Directive has been implemented into Belgian Law by means of amendment of article 129 of the Belgian Electronic Communication Act.

The use and storage of cookies and similar technologies requires: a) clear and comprehensive
information; and b) consent of the website user.

Consent is not required for cookies that are:

  • used for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an
    electronic communications network; or
  • strictly necessary for the provision of a service requested by the user.
  • Regulatory guidance on the informed consent requirement is expected to be issued in the near future.

Location Data

Article 123 of the Belgian Electronic Communication Act stipulates that mobile network operators may process location data of a subscriber or an end user only to the extent the location data has been anonymised or if the processing is carried out in the framework of the provision
of a service regarding traffic or location data.

The processing of location data in the framework of a service regarding traffic or location data is subject to strict conditions set forth in article 123.

Processing of location data must in addition also comply with the general rules stipulated by the
Data Protection Act.

Traffic Data

In accordance with article 122 of the Belgian Electronic Communication Act, mobile network operators are required to delete or anonymise traffic data of their users and subscribers as
soon as such data is no longer necessary for the transmission of the communication (subject to compliance with cooperation obligations with certain authorities).

Subject to compliance with specific information obligations and subject to specific restrictions, operators may process certain location data for the purposes of:

  • invoicing and interconnection payments;
  • marketing of the operator’s own electronic communication services or services with traffic or location data (subject to the subscriber’s or end user’s prior consent); and
  • fraud detection.

Abstract:The penal code was published on June 9,1867 and its effective date was Oct.15th,1867.)

(CHAPITRE IV. – (DE LA CORRUPTION DE PERSONNES QUI EXERCENT UNE FONCTION PUBLIQUE). )

Art. 246. § 1er. Est constitutif de corruption passive le fait pour une personne qui exerce une fonction publique de solliciter ou d’accepter, directement ou par interposition de personnes, une offre, une promesse ou un avantage de toute nature, pour elle-même ou pour un tiers, pour adopter un des comportements visés à l’article 247.
§ 2. Est constitutif de corruption active le fait de proposer, directement ou par interposition de personnes, à une personne exerçant une fonction publique une offre, une promesse ou un avantage de toute nature, pour elle-même ou pour un tiers, afin qu’elle adopte un des comportements visés à l’article 247.
§ 3. Est assimilée à une personne qui exerce une fonction publique au sens du présent article toute personne qui s’est portée candidate à une telle fonction, qui fait croire qu’elle exercera une telle fonction, ou qui, en usant de fausses qualités, fait croire qu’elle exerce une telle fonction.

Art. 247. § 1er. Lorsque la corruption a pour objet l’accomplissement par la personne qui exerce une fonction publique d’un acte de sa fonction, juste mais non sujet à salaire, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à un an et une amende de 100 [euros] à 10 000 [euros] ou une de ces peines.
Lorsque, dans le cas prévu à l’alinéa précédent, la sollicitation visée à l’article 246, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, de même que dans le cas ou la proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à deux ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 25 000 [euros] ou une de ces peines.
§ 2. Lorsque la corruption a pour objet l’accomplissement par la personne qui exerce une fonction publique d’un acte injuste à l’occasion de l’exercice de sa fonction ou l’abstention de faire un acte qui rentrait dans l’ordre de ses devoirs, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à deux ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 25 000 [euros].
Lorsque, dans le cas prévu à l’alinéa précédent, la sollicitation visée à l’article 246, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, de même que dans le cas où la proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à trois ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 50 000 [euros].
Dans le cas où la personne corrompue a accompli l’acte injuste ou s’est abstenue de faire un acte qui rentrait dans l’ordre de ses devoirs, elle sera punie d’un emprisonnement de six mois à cinq ans et d’une amende de 100 [euros] à 75 000 [euros].
§ 3. Lorsque la corruption a pour objet l’accomplissement par la personne qui exerce une fonction publique d’un crime ou d’un délit à l’occasion de l’exercice de sa fonction, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à trois ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 50 000 [euros].
Lorsque, dans le cas prévu à l’alinéa précédent, la sollicitation visée à l’article 246, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, de même que dans le cas où la proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera un emprisonnement de deux ans à cinq ans et une amende de 500 [euros] à 100 000 [euros].
§ 4. Lorsque la corruption a pour objet l’usage par la personne qui exerce une fonction publique de l’influence réelle ou supposée dont elle dispose du fait de sa fonction, afin d’obtenir un acte d’une autorité ou d’une administration publiques ou l’abstention d’un tel acte, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à un an et une amende de 100 [euros] à 10 000 [euros].
Lorsque, dans le cas prévu à l’alinéa précédent, la sollicitation visée à l’article 246, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, de même que dans le cas où la proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à deux ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 25 000 [euros].
Si la personne corrompue a effectivement usé de l’influence dont elle disposait du fait de sa fonction, elle sera punie d’un emprisonnement de six mois à trois ans et d’une amende de 100 [euros] à 50 000 [euros].

Art. 248. Lorsque les faits prévus aux articles 246 et 247, §§ 1er à 3, visent un fonctionnaire de police, une personne revêtue de la qualité d’officier de police judiciaire ou un membre du ministère public, le maximum de la peine est porté au double du maximum de la peine prévue par l’article 247 pour les faits.

Art. 249. § 1er. Lorsque la corruption prévue à l’article 246 concerne un arbitre et a pour objet un acte relevant de sa fonction juridictionnelle, la peine sera un emprisonnement d’un an à trois ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 50 000 [euros].
Lorsque, dans le cas prévu à l’alinéa précédent, la sollicitation visée à l’article 246, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, de même que dans le cas où la proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera un emprisonnement de deux ans à cinq ans et une amende de 500 [euros] à 10 000 [euros].
§ 2. Lorsque la corruption prévue à l’article 246 concerne un juge assesseur ou un juré et a pour objet un acte relevant de sa fonction juridictionnelle, la peine sera un emprisonnement de deux ans à cinq ans et une amende de 500 [euros] à 100 000 [euros].
Lorsque, dans le cas prévu à l’alinéa précédent, la sollicitation visée à l’article 246, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, de même que dans le cas où la proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera la réclusion de cinq ans à dix ans et une amende de 500 [euros] à 100 000 [euros].
§ 3. Lorsque la corruption prévue à l’article 246 concerne un juge et a pour objet un acte relevant de sa fonction juridictionnelle, la peine sera la réclusion de cinq ans à dix ans et une amende de 500 [euros] à 100 000 [euros].
Lorsque, dans le cas prévu à l’alinéa précédent, la sollicitation visée à l’article 246, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, de même que dans le cas où la proposition visée à l’article 246, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera la réclusion de dix ans à quinze ans et une amende de 500 [euros] à 100 000 [euros].

Art. 250. Lorsque la corruption prévue par les articles 246 à 249 concerne une personne qui exerce une fonction publique dans un Etat étranger ou dans une organisation de droit international public, les peines seront celles prévues par ces dispositions.

Art. 251. (Abrogé)

Art. 252. Sans préjudice de l’application des articles 31 et 32, les personnes punies en vertu des dispositions du présent chapitre pourront également être condamnées à l’interdiction, conformément à l’article 33.

Art. 253. (Abrogé)

SECTION IIIBIS. – <Insérée par L 1999-02-10/39, art. 5; En vigueur : 02-04-1999> De la corruption privée.

Art. 504bis. <Inséré par L 1999-02-10/39, art. 5; En vigueur : 02-04-1999> § 1er. Est constitutif de corruption privée passive le fait pour une personne qui a la qualité d’administrateur ou de gérant d’une personne morale, de mandataire ou de préposé d’une personne morale ou physique, de solliciter ou d’accepter, directement ou par interposition de personnes, une offre, une promesse ou un avantage de toute nature, pour elle-même ou pour un tiers, pour faire ou s’abstenir de faire un acte de sa fonction ou facilité par sa fonction, à l’insu et sans l’autorisation, selon le cas, du Conseil d’administration ou de l’Assemblée générale, du mandant ou de l’employeur.
§ 2. Est constitutif de corruption privée active la fait de proposer, directement ou par interposition de personnes, à une personne qui a la qualité d’administrateur ou de gérant d’une personne morale, de mandataire ou de préposé d’une personne morale ou physique, une offre, une promesse ou un avantage de toute nature, pour elle-même ou pour un tiers, pour faire ou s’abstenir de faire un acte de sa fonction ou facilité par sa fonction, à l’insu et sans l’autorisation, selon le cas, du Conseil d’administration ou de l’Assemblée générale, du mandant ou de l’employeur.

Art. 504ter. <Inséré par L 1999-02-10/39, art. 5; ED : 02-04-1999> § 1er. En cas de corruption privée, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à deux ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 10 000 [euros] ou une de ces peines.
§ 2. Dans le cas où la sollicitation visée à l’article 504bis, § 1er, est suivie d’une proposition visée à l’article 504bis, § 2, de même, que dans le cas où la proposition visée à l’article 504bis, § 2, est acceptée, la peine sera un emprisonnement de six mois à trois ans et une amende de 100 [euros] à 50 000 [euros] ou une de ces peines.

Belgium – Know Your Customer (KYC) Rules

Belgium‘s banking industry is medium size, with assets of over $2 trillion dollars in 2010. Illicit funds primarily derive from serious forms of financial crime, including tax crime, and drug trafficking proceeds. Authorities note that criminals are increasing their use of remittance transactions and shell companies, and are relying primarily upon non-financial sectors, in particular lawyers, real estate entities and nonprofit organizations, to launder money. In 2010, the Cellule de Traitement des Informations Financieres (CTIF), Belgium‘s financial intelligence unit (FIU), also noted an increase in money laundering via ―money mules‖ and internet scams as well as an increase in the number of cases involving fraud through the European carbon market. The Belgian diamond industry also has been used to launder money.

According to CTIF, most of the criminal proceeds laundered in Belgium are derived from foreign criminal activity. Belgium generally has very little public corruption that contributes to money laundering and none known related to terrorist financing. According to the 2010 CTIF annual report, contraband smuggling represents 7.3% of all cases while terrorist financing represents only 1.5%.

KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER (KYC) RULES:

 

Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs:

 

A PEP is an abbreviation for Politically Exposed Person, a term that describes a person who has been entrusted with a prominent public function, or an individual who is closely related to such a person. The terms PEP, Politically Exposed Person and Senior Foreign Political Figure are often used interchangeably

    • Foreign PEP: NO
    • Domestic PEP: NO

Belgium – KYC covered entities

 

The following is a list of Know Your Customer entities covered by Belgium Law:

    • Banks
    • Estate agents
    • Private security firms
    • Funds transporters
    • Diamond merchants
    • Notaries
    • Bailiffs
    • Auditors
    • Chartered accountants
    • Tax advisors
    • Certified accountants
    • Surveyors
    • Lawyers
    • Casinos

Belgium – Suspicious Transaction Reporting (STR) Requirements:

 

Number of STRs received and time frame: 18,673 in 2010

Number of CTRs received and time frame: 9,973 in 2010

The following is a list of STR covered entities covered by Belgium Law:

    • Banks
    • Estate agents
    • Private security firms
    • Funds transporters
    • Diamond merchants
    • Notaries
    • Bailiffs
    • Auditors
    • Chartered accountants
    • Tax advisors
    • Certified accountants
    • Surveyors
    • Lawyers
    • Casinos

MONEY LAUNDERING CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS/CONVICTIONS:

 

Prosecutions: 11 in 2010
Convictions: One in 2010

ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES AND COMMENTS:

Belgium permits bearer shares for individuals as well as for banks and companies.

In 2011, Belgian authorities became more efficient and timely in freezing suspicious transactions due to improved cooperation among the different operational levels of the law enforcement authorities. They are scrutinizing more closely the purchase of properties by non-profit religious organizations with religious goals, since most of these transactions occur through cash deposited into the accounts of these non-profit organizations.

Belgian authorities are continuing to address implementation issues in two sectors, phone shops and the diamond industry. Phone shops allow customers to make inexpensive phone calls and access the internet. Only a quarter of the approximately 3,000 phone shops are formally licensed, and raids on these shops have uncovered evidence of money laundering operations. Authorities report challenges for officials trying to collect tax revenues and detect money laundering operations because phone shops often declare bankruptcy and later reopen under new management. Belgian authorities recognize the particular importance and special challenges for law enforcement of the diamond industry, as well as the potential vulnerabilities it presents to the financial sector, as 80% of the world‘s rough diamonds and 50% of polished diamonds pass through Belgium. Authorities have transmitted a number of cases relating to diamonds to the public prosecutor.

Police Background Check Procedures

Who can apply?

•  Individual and any third party, including employers, can apply with written permission from the individual.

Where?

•  Applications can be made by post, fax, and email or in person.

What must the applicant supply?

Post/Email/Fax: theapplicant must write a letter containing:
•  Full name
•  Place and date of birth
•  Address
•  Reason for request
•  Signature of applicant
•  Photocopy of Belgian ID card

In person:

•  ID cardFor third parties:
•  Authorised copies of applicant’s and their own ID card, and written permission, including all the information above.

What arethe costs / turnaround times?

•  There is no fee for this service.
•  Turnaround is a few days, plus postage time.
•  Certificates are issued immediately when in person.

Contact Details

Contact details for the Casier Judiciaire Central/Dienst Centraal Strafregister:

French speaking:

SPF Justice
DG Organisation judiciaire
Casier Judiciaire Central
115 boulevard de Waterloo
1000 Bruxelles
Tel: 0032 2 552 27 47
Fax: 0032 2 552 27 82
Email:cjc-csr@just.fgov.be
Website:www.just.fgov.be/index_fr.htm

 Flemish speaking:

FOD Justitie
DG Rechterlijke Organisatie
Dienst Centraal Strafregister
Waterloolaan 115
1000 Brussel
Tel: 0032 2 552 27 48
Fax: 0032 2 552 27 82
Email:cjc-csr@just.fgov.be
Website:www.just.fgov.be/index_nl.htm

Risk

Sovereign risk

The BBB rating is unchanged, with a score of 36, owing to a slightly troubled macroeconomic picture and exchange-rate volatility. A stubbornly high public debt load is still a risk, but funding markets remain sanguine, thanks to low interest rates and the decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) in January to launch a sovereign quantitative easing programme.

Banking sector risk

After a sustained improvement in the sector’s health since the immediate aftermath of the 2008-09 global financial crisis, a one-point improvement in the score in February took the rating up to A. This is mainly attributable to a slowdown in private-sector credit growth relative to GDP. Reform still has some way to go, but capital increases since end-2013 earned the ECB’s approval.

Political risk

The government faces strains arising from tensions between the Flemish and francophone communities, and between the federal and regional governments, largely resulting from resistance to its fiscal consolidation and structural reform agenda. However, Belgium’s economy and sovereign market dynamics have proved largely resilient to past episodes of political instability.

Economic structure risk

Labour costs have been rising faster than in neighbouring countries, but the new government has reaffirmed its predecessor’s pause in the wage-indexation system, and aims to tackle low competitiveness. The main economic structure risks concern Belgium’s close integration with neighbouring euro zone economies.

Travel Risk

Security

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Violent crime is uncommon. However, petty crimes (pickpocketing, purse snatching and mugging) occur at major transportation hubs and tourist sites. Small groups of criminals have been known to target areas near the Grand Place, as well as public transportation, airports, and the main railway stations in Brussels and Antwerp. Pickpockets often target passengers boarding or disembarking from public transportation. Do not leave luggage unattended for even a moment.

Be particularly cautious when approached by anyone asking odd questions, spilling food or drink, or telling you someone else has spilled something on your clothes. Carry only a minimal amount of cash and never leave your bags unattended.

Terrorism

The Government of Belgium maintains a public alert system on terrorism. On January 15, 2015, the level was increased from 2 to 3 (on a scale of 1 to 4).] Visit the website of the Belgium Federal Interior Ministry’s crisis centre (in French) for more information. Continue to exercise caution and vigilance.

Transportation

The train stations Gare du Midi and Gare du Nord in Brussels are major targets for organized gangs. Pickpockets operate on international train lines, such as Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam and Brussels-London.

Organized gangs target people travelling by train or by subway after office hours.

Ensure that valuables in vehicles are kept out of sight at all times. Thieves, often on motorbikes, have been known to break a car window while the car is stopped at a traffic light and snatch valuables from the front or back seat. Carjackings occur in Brussels and the Brabant area.

Always be suspicious if someone offers to help you with a flat tire. These individuals may have punctured the tire themselves and seize the opportunity to steal a bag or other valuable objects while you are distracted.

See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Demonstrations

As the capital of the European Union and location of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters, Brussels frequently experiences large-scale protests and widespread demonstrations by various interest groups. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings as they have the potential to suddenly turn violent, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.

General safety measures

Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times, especially on public transportation.

Emergency services

Dial the toll free number 112 (also valid for mobiles).

Address Format

RECIPIENT

[FLOOR] [APARTMENT]
[BUILDING] [URBANISATION]
STREET_TYPE STREET_NAME HOUSE_NUMBER
POSTAL_CODE LOCALITY
BELGIUM

Sample

Jasmin Merckx
rue Léon Theodor 184
1090 JETTE
BELGIUM

Annual Cases

Calendar GMT Reference Actual Previous Consensus Forecast
2015-01-30 02:00 PM Q4 0.9% 1.0% (R) 1.2%
2015-03-02 02:00 PM Q4 1.0% 1.0% 0.9% 0.9%
2015-04-29 02:00 PM Q1 0.9% 1.0% 1.06%
2015-07-15 02:00 PM Q1 1.0%
2015-07-31 02:00 PM Q2 0.9% 1.06%
2015-08-31 02:00 PM Q2

 

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