My family and I are moving to Maastricht before Brexit happens. My job is in Maastricht but for various reasons we are considering living on the Belgium side of the border where my partner would register his business (which is just my partner). Does this sound feasible even though we are British citizens, or will whatever we end up with post-Brexit make such an arrangement impossible?

Anyone have any direct experience living in Belgium but working in the Netherlands, regarding health care, childcare, schools, etc?

2 Answers 2


I do something very similar. I live in Germany and work in Switzerland (I stay in Switzerland during the week). I am classified in German as a Grenzgänger which is sometimes translated into English as "cross-border commuter" (it is not a term that is often needed in the UK of course). It is quite common in Europe (I have a Dutch friend whose sister does the reverse).

Provided you are resident in Belgium and working in the Netherlands before Brexit day (in the event of no-deal), or the end of 2020 (in the event of a deal), you should be fine. The Withdrawal Agreement does contain language to the effect that the rights of established cross-border commuters will be preserved. In the event of no-deal you will be relying on the good-will of both Belgium and the Netherlands; I believe all the EU countries have said they will continue to allow citizens who are already in place to stay. (However there is a small risk that the UK government being unpleasant to EU nationals will force EU countries to retaliate.)

In my case, I already have a cross-border permit in Switzerland, and am registered with the Foreigners Office in Germany. I expect that to continue.


Resident permits and corresponding work permits are based on national laws.

So for 3rd country nationals, assume that persons living/working in both Belgium and the Netherlands must deal with both countries.

The best advice that can be given, is to go and ask them if a 'practical solution' exists for this scenario (one never knows...)

  • especially for peaple living in the Border area
    • German term for this is Grenzgänger

Grenzgänger: (frontier worker)

There is no English version of the Wikipedia artical about this topic, and deals more on the topic of taxation than on residence or work permit requirements

  • Grenzgänger
    • is more extensive imn the area of European Union Law and Switzerland
  • Grensarbeider
    • the Dutch version is more extensive in the area of Belgium and Germany
  • Frontalier
    • the French version is more extensive in the area of Switzerland

Legal situation in the European Union

Under EU law, the worker is a "frontier worker" employed in the territory of a Member State (State of employment) residing in the territory of another Member State (State of residence - political criterion), to which he usually returns daily, but at least once a week (temporal Criteria). However, this definition, which requires daily or weekly returns to the place of residence in addition to driving from residence to work across a border, only applies to the social protection of the workers concerned in the European Union.


According to the double taxation treaty between Belgium and the Netherlands, frontier workers paid income tax in the country of residence until 1 January 2003 , but as a result of other treaties they were subject to the social insurance laws of the country of employment. In the new treaty between Belgium and the Netherlands, the principle applies that frontier workers also pay income tax in the country of employment. Because the Netherlands and Belgium use different systems, there are many disadvantages associated with cross-border work, which means that the principle of free movement of people in the European Communityis hindered. To compensate for any tax disadvantage, a so-called compensation scheme has been introduced for employees who live in the Netherlands and work in Belgium. By applying this compensation scheme you get a tax refund from the Dutch tax authorities if you incur a tax disadvantage by working in Belgium.

Digging up old residence (pre Schengen) laws, there was no such thing as a

  • Benelux Residence Permit

Convention between the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the transfer of control of persons to the external frontiers of Benelux territory

of 20.06.1960, last amended 18.08.1982

forsaw a common

  • transit and travel visa (<= 3 months)

but not a common permission for temporary residence (> 3 months).

  • There ought to be provisions for third-country cross-border commuters currently, but I haven't found them.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 17:10
  • @phoog Yes, probably. The problem is the that most of the former rules are defunct because they are rarely needed any more (the amount of peaple actually needed them having been reduced to a minimum). That is why I was looking for the very old rules Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 17:16
  • There was a question in the last year or two implicating cross-border commuting between the two countries, which is when I could not find them. I suspect the number of third-country nationals interested in doing it is not so small.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 17:22
  • @phoog I suspect you are remembering my question: expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/15498/… Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 10:01
  • @MartinBonner I think I remember a question involving Belgium and the Netherlands specifically, and at least one partner in the couple was a third-country national. But it's also possible that I was searching for information there in response to your question because my Dutch is better than my German.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 15:06

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