Belgian pensions abroad

INTRODUCTION

Are you on retirement or are you bount to be? In that case, you will probably have some questions and concerns about what impact living abroad may have on this. Let us start by easing your mind: Belgian pensions can be paid out anywhere in the world. Off course, there is more to it, but arranging the pay-out of your pension abroad should not be a difficult if you have the right information. In this section, we will try to provide you with answers to some of the questions you might have.

REQUESTING YOUR PENSION

If you worked across different countries of the EU, then you will have accumulated rights across these countries. Fortunately, you do not need to file a request in every (EU) country you've worked. It suffices to file a request at the administration of the country you are currently staying or the country where your last assignment was. This country will be responsible for processing your request.

In some countries the request form will be sent to you automatically. If you did not receive one, we would advice you to reach out to request information. Make sure that you have the correct information 6 months  before you want to retire. The procedure of requesting your pension across multiple countries may take up some time.

CALCULATING YOUR PENSION

If you have spent your entire life working in Belgium, you can easily calculate your pension by using the “my pension” tool of the Belgian government. More information on this method of calculation can be found on this website . 

Again, if your career spans multiple countries, it becomes a bit more challenging. Every pension administration of the EU countries you worked at, will look at the period that you were active in that particular country. To calculate the amount, the following steps will be followed:

  1. First, a theoretical amount is calculated. To calculate this amount, the entire period you were active across all countries will be considered. Based on this period, they calculate the pension (theoretical amount) you would get for each country if you worked in this country during the entire period.
  2. Next they calculate the pension pro rata. Meaning they consider the proportion of this period you worked in their country. (Check out the formula below)
  3. If you are eligible for pension in accordance with the requirements of the country where you are filing the request, an independent pension will be calculated as well. This independent pension represents the national pension you would receive in that country.
  4. The pension administration will then compare the independent and total pension pro rata. You will receive the highest of these two amounts.
Formula to calculate pension pro rata

Take into account that it might be possible that you will not receive your pension immediatly for each country, since the legal age for retirement can differ between these countries.

YOU ALREADY RECEIVE YOUR PENSION?

If you already went through the process of requesting your pension and already receive your well-earned pension, you just simply need to inform the administration responsible for your pension (check socialsecurity.be or Federale Pensioendienst). Belgian pensions can be paid out anywhere in the world, so no need to worry!

DEDUCTIONS

If you are entitled to a Belgian pension while staying abroad, a few rules with regards to deductions differ. If you live in a EU country or Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein, you won't have to pay for RIZIV, on the condition that you are subject to the local social security system. The same applies for the solidarity contributions. If you are staying in one of the countries above, these contributions are not due in Belgium.

Your pension will remain subject to Belgian withholding tax, unless a double taxation treaty between Belgium and the country of your destination makes an exception.

YOUR RIGHTS

Pension funds sometimes make abuse of people who live or work abroad. This might have a negative impact on your total pension package. Some funds have charged additional costs or even refused to pay out pensions abroad.

This is illegal. If this happens to you, do not hesitate to contact the European centre for Consumers.

In some cases, a government might ask you to repay a tax benefit you got due to your additional pension savings. This is illegal just as well. You should get the same treatment as any other resident of that (EU) country. If you are confronted with this type of request or demand, you can file a complaint on this website.