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Belgium – COVID-19 and Impact on Frontier Workers

Belgium – COVID-19 and Impact on Frontier Workers

This alert describes the measures taken by the Belgian government to allow frontier workers to cross the Dutch, German, French and Luxembourg borders as well as guidance for employees working in critical sectors to cross the border without being delayed by border checks.

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nele-godefroid

Director, Global Mobility Services

KPMG in Belgium

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Flash Alert 2020-155

The Belgian government has ordered the closure of its borders and has put a ban on all non-essential travel.1 The Belgian police have closed borders and are stopping cars crossing the borders to verify that the trip can be classified as essential.  (See GMS Flash Alert 2020-066 (17 March 2020).)

As reported in GMS Flash Alert 2020-084 (20 March 2020), the European Union has asked the member states to implement fast lanes for emergency transport service and to guarantee the supply chain of essential products such as medicines, medical equipment, essential and perishable food products and livestock. The European Union has also published practical guidance to help ensure the free movement of frontier workers, as reported in GMS Flash Alert 2020-132 (30 March 2020)

This GMS Flash Alert describes the measures taken by the Belgian government to allow frontier workers to cross the borders as well as measures taken for employees working in critical sectors to cross the border without being delayed by border checks. 

WHY THIS MATTERS

The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the challenge of protecting the health of the population while mitigating disruptions to the free movement of persons and the delivery of goods and essential services across Europe.

The Belgian government has put in place a system for frontier workers traveling to and from Belgium to allow fast and uninterrupted travel for persons crossing the border.

In light of the ban on all non-essential travel, it is important for frontier workers working in crucial sectors to take the necessary steps in order to cross the border without being delayed. It is also important for all other frontier workers to obtain the necessary documentation.

Belgian-Dutch Border

The Belgian police are actively monitoring the border with the Netherlands, including the smaller roads and have closed some border crossings to enforce the ban on all non-essential travel into and out of Belgium.

Crossing the border to work is considered an essential reason to travel, and frontier workers who need to cross the border must have an employer statement and a valid ID with them.  Crossing the border to deliver goods is also considered essential travel provided that the person can prove it.  However, crossing the border to buy groceries is not considered an essential reason to travel and is consequently no longer allowed.

If a person is working in a vital sector and/or an “essential” profession as described above, a special vignette (certificate) can be obtained online.2 This vignette has to be printed in colour, stamped by the employer and fixed on the windscreen of the car on the side of the driver.

The Belgian government has published a list3 of vital sectors and crucial professions as an annex to the ministerial decision of 18 March 2020 (for prior coverage see GMS Flash Alert 2020-124, 27 March 2020). This list ranges from journalists to the practitioners of the medical profession. 

Belgian-Luxembourg Border

Employers of frontier workers who need to cross the Belgian-Luxembourg border need to complete, sign and stamp a certificate provided by the Luxemburg authorities.4

No fast lane is currently in place.

Belgian-French Border

Frontier workers living in France and working in Belgium need three documents in order to cross the border:

  • The French employer’s attestation5 to allow the employee to leave the house in order to commute
  • The French personal attestation6 completed and signed by the employee (first box needs to be checked)
  • The Belgian attestation7 to allow the employee to cross the border.

The first and the last attestations need to be completed, signed and stamped by the employer.

No fast lane is currently in place.

Belgian-German Border

Frontier workers living in Germany and working in Belgium can cross the border into Belgium with an attestation signed and stamped by their employer.

No fast lane is currently in place.

FOOTNOTES

1  For more information (in French, German, and Dutch) on the situation with Belgium’s borders, see the website of the Service public federal Intérieur. 

2  See the Belgian COVID-19 crisis page and links to the vignette at the bottom of the page.

3  See (in Dutch and French) this webpage of the Belgisch Staatsblad/Moniteur Belge N. 60 (the country’s official gazette), page 16040.

4  See (in French), Certificate proving the need to cross the border for frontier workers residing in Belgium (Certificat prouvant la nécessité de traverser la frontière pour les travailleurs frontaliers résidant en Belgique).    

5 See (in French), Justification of professional displacement (Justificat de  déplacement professionnel).  

6  See (in French),  Certificate of derogatory movement (Attestation de déplacement dérogatoire).

7  See (in French), Certificate proving the need to cross the border for border workers residing in France (Certificat prouvant la nécessité de traverser la frontière pour les travailleurs frontaliers résidant en France).

Please note that KPMG LLP (U.S.) does not provide any immigration services.  However, KPMG Law LLP in Canada can assist clients with U.S. immigration matters.  

The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in Belgium.

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© 2020 KPMG Tax and Legal Advisers, a Belgian Civil Cooperative Company with Limited Liability (burg. CVBA/SCRL civile) and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”) is a Swiss entity.  Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

Flash Alert is an Global Mobility Services publication of KPMG LLPs Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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