How To Move To Luxembourg - The Definitive Guide
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Apply For A Visa[back to top]
The small town of Schengen is located in the south east of Luxembourg. Less than 5,000 people live there, and its biggest industry is winemaking. However, thanks to a treaty signed there back in 1985, there are 26 countries which do not have internal borders between each other. This is known as the Schengen Area. Over 400 million people living in the more than four million square kilometres of the Schengen Area have been able to travel freely, without border control checks since 26 March 1995.
Luxembourg, as a member of the European Union and also of the Schengen Area, has embraced the freedoms offered. People, goods, services and capital may move freely across Luxembourg’s borders into other Schengen Area partners without checks or restriction. This is one of the reasons why such a significant proportion of Luxembourg’s workforce, priced out of the country’s expensive residential property market, commute from the neighbouring countries where they now live.
If you legally live in one of the 22 EU countries that are Schengen Area signatories, or in one of the four non-EU countries who were admitted to the Schengen Area, you are free to visit Luxembourg whenever you wish.
Citizens of EU countries who are not part of the Schengen Area may also visit Luxembourg without obtaining a visa. However, your stay is limited to a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period, regardless of whether you make one long trip or several shorter ones. Your passport must remain valid for the full length of your stay, so you are likely to have difficulty entering Luxembourg if your passport is valid for less than three months. The same freedoms and conditions apply to a large number of non-EU countries as well.
Everyone entering the Schengen Area, whether from a non-Schengen Area EU country or from further afield, are meant to have their identity documents checked against the security computer system, known as SIS. However, it is alleged that some countries do not perform this check on everyone entering the Schengen Area, with immigration staff merely looking at documents and only checking against SIS if they perceive a risk factor.
The UK voted in an EU referendum in 2016. Gibraltar, the only British Overseas Territory which is part of the EU, also took part in the referendum. With 52 percent voting to leave the EU and 48 percent to remain, the UK triggered Article 50 and is expected to formally leave the EU in March 2019. Negotiations are ongoing, but as the UK has never been part of the Schengen Area, it is anticipated that access to Luxembourg for visits of up to 90 days will remain on the same terms as at present.
EU citizens are free to work in Luxembourg without first obtaining a work permit. Anyone arriving from outside the EU and hoping to work in Luxembourg must have a temporary residence order to enter the country, known as an autorisation de séjour temporaire, and a separate work permit, or autorisation de séjour d’un ressortissant de pays tiers en vue d’une activité salariée. These must have been received before travelling to the country, and expire 90 days after issue. It is best to apply for these documents together.
Permission to work in Luxembourg on a self-employed basis may be granted to non-EU citizens who apply for the autorisation de séjour d’un ressortissant de pays tiers en vue d’une activité indépendante self-employment permit, and are accepted. As with those wishing to work as an employee, the autorisation de séjour temporaire temporary residence order must also be applied for and accepted in the same timeframe.
If you are over the age of 18, have a clean criminal record and have lived in Luxembourg for more than five years, you may wish to apply for citizenship of Luxembourg.
You must pass a Luxembourgish oral language test at level A2, and a comprehension test at level B1, taken at the Institut National des Langues (INLL). There are no statutory classes you have to take to prepare for this test, but exam slots fill up quickly. If you do very well in one exam and badly in the other, overall marks will be considered.
If you have lived in Luxembourg for more than 20 years and do not wish to take the language tests, you may instead attend 24 hours of accredited Luxembourgish lessons and receive language certification. Both oral and comprehension skills will form part of the curriculum, which is delivered by INLL or another programme provider approved by the ministry of education.
Everyone applying for Luxembourgish nationality must also attend an accredited course which sets out the customs, rights and responsibilities of life in Luxembourg. Three modules of six hours each will cover citizens’ rights, state institutions and Luxembourg’s history, including European integration. A multiple-choice test will complete the course.
If you are getting married to a Luxembourgish citizen, you can claim citizenship automatically if you have already lived legally in the country for three consecutive years.
All children born in Luxembourg, where at least one parent has Luxembourgish nationality, can claim citizenship. This also applies if you were adopted in Luxembourg.
If you were born in Luxembourg to two parents with citizenship elsewhere, you may apply for Luxembourgish citizenship from your 18th birthday. You must have been living in Luxembourg for at least five consecutive years, and at least one of your parents must have lived there for a full twelve months before you were born.
Any young person who has spent seven years attending a state school in Luxembourg and has lived in the county for a continuous twelve months before application may be accepted for citizenship.
Refugees must live legally in Luxembourg for at least five continuous years, attend language classes and complete the cultural and history course. These requirements also apply to anyone who moved to Luxembourg before they reached the age of 18.
Luxembourg permits dual citizenship, as long as the other country allows it too.
Find A Job[back to top]
A significant percentage of Luxembourg’s residents and workforce were born outside the country. Being an important centre for the financial services industry, home to a number of high skilled, global industries, as well as a key location for many functions of the European Union, there is a continual need for highly-skilled and qualified individuals, as well as workers for the customer services industries which support them.
Being a member of the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA), Luxembourg allows free access to all citizens from other member states, which includes the right to work without a permit.
From the accession of Croatia in 2013 until 1st July 2015, citizens of Croatia had to obtain a work permit in order to work in Luxembourg. These people still face restrictions in other EU countries, but Luxembourg now welcomes Croatian citizens on the same basis as other EU citizens, without additional restrictions.
If you intend to live in Luxembourg for more than 90 days, you must register your address with the local municipal office, or commune. You only have eight days to do this, so make it a priority, no matter how busy you are when getting settled. You will need to present your identity documents, including a passport. Within three months you should receive a déclaration d’enregistrement, which confirms and proves your registration is complete.
Anyone arriving from outside the EU and expecting to work in Luxembourg must have received their work permit before they arrive. Employers may not take on non-EU staff without first completing a lengthy process. To begin with, the vacancy must be widely advertised, including at the local employment office, or Administration de l’Emploi (ADEM). The employer must prove that no suitable applicants who were EU citizens applied for the post before it can be offered to a non-EU citizen. The individual must obtain an autorisation de séjour temporaire, the temporary residence permit, before they travel to Luxembourg, as well as the autorisation de séjour d’un ressortissant de pays tiers en vue d’une activité salariée work permit.
The autorisation de séjour temporaire must also be obtained by any non-EU citizen wishing to set up a business in Luxembourg before they arrive in the country. They must also be granted official permission to work on a self-employed basis, by applying for an autorisation de séjour d’un ressortissant de pays tiers en vue d’une activité indépendante.
Applications for the temporary residence permits and permission to work in the country follow a strictly applied process, set by Luxembourg’s legal and government orders. The process ensures the applicants are who they say they are, have the skills and qualifications claimed, and will not be a security or financial risk to Luxembourg’s population. Therefore, all applicants will be required to submit a number of official documents which must meet the official guidelines, with certified translations for documents not in French, German or English. A decision to approve or reject an application will normally be made within 90 days.
If your application to work in Luxembourg is successful, you must arrive in the country within 90 days, having separately received your permission to enter the country.
If you are a non-EU resident who has permission to stay and work in another EU country, but wish to move to Luxembourg and work there, you must apply for permission to do so. Your work permit in another EU country does not allow you to legally work in Luxembourg without permission.
In order to protect the pay and benefits promised to you during the recruitment process, you should sign a contract with your prospective employer. This will almost certainly be in French, so if you don’t have a good grasp of the language ask someone to translate it, even if you need to pay a professional translator to do so. Once you have signed the contract, you and the employer are bound to the terms and conditions in it.
However, a contract of employment will not be valid if it does not meet national and EU employment rules. For example, no employer may pay an hourly rate below the national minimum wage for any reason.
Some workers also have union representation. Annual salary increases and any changes to the terms and conditions of employment will be negotiated by the union representatives on behalf of the union members.
There is a continual need for experienced financial services staff to work in Luxembourg. Online jobs sites such as Jobs.lu and Monster list vacancies in English. They outline the role and employer, set out the experience, skills and qualifications required, and allow you to apply via the website. There are also a wide range of specialist recruitment agencies.
The government in Luxembourg runs a national jobs website, called agence pour le développement de lemploi (ADEM).
This lists vacancies and offers links to a range of recruitment agencies. It also links to many useful pages about CV writing, obtaining police record certificates, and other topics useful to those seeking employment.
Since a number of EU functions are located in Luxembourg, there are employment opportunities there for EU agencies and organisations such as the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. With more than 12,000 people working in this field, the EU is essentially the second biggest employer in the country. For highly skilled individuals who speak at least two European languages fluently, there will be an array of interesting job opportunities available.
However, some of these jobs are no longer as prestigious as in previous times. Luxembourg has become an expensive place to live, and the EU wages have not kept pace. On the contrary, there are allegations that a practice known as ‘social dumping’ is increasingly used within the EU employment arena. This is where temporary staff with high qualifications are employed at pay rates significantly below what the permanent workers would receive to do the same job. In 2014, a three-day strike was called to protest against the practice, but there has been no formal acceptance that this practice will be dropped. This is an issue to be aware of if you are offered a temporary contract.
The European personnel selection office shows a large number of job vacancies on its website. This is a good place to start, and can give you an idea of the salary grades attached to specific roles.
Since Luxembourg has a number of other important industries operating on the country, there is a constant need for highly skilled and experienced individuals to work in sectors such as the chemical industry or food processing, as well as supporting business roles such as international logistics and information technology.
For those with fewer qualifications, the high cost of living in Luxembourg means staff in the retail and customer services sector can be hard to find. Hotels, spas and restaurants all need friendly, motivated employees to make their customers happy. Cleaners are needed in homes and businesses, whilst high net worth individuals require housekeepers and nannies.
If you are looking to work in domestic setting with accommodation provided, agencies such as London-based Simply Private Staff and Household Staff Agency may be happy to accept your CV and discuss your employment plans.
Rent Property[back to top]
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world, and Luxembourg City is home to key business operations, including the banking sector. As a result, rents can be high, especially in Luxembourg City. There are many towns within an hour’s commute of Luxembourg City which offer the possibility of more affordable rents. Some people put up with the long commute from nearby France, Belgium or Germany to pay lower housing costs, either because they choose to or because their financial circumstances demand it.
Only about a quarter of Luxembourg’s properties are rented out to tenants, but there is a good range of properties available to suit your needs and budget. Properties can be rented as tiny studio apartments, flats with one or more bedroom, family homes and grand villas with outbuildings and land around them. Whilst Luxembourg City is particularly popular with expats, towns and villages across the country also are home to those who have relocated here.
All homes put on the market for rental will typically have a fitted bathroom and kitchen. Whether a property is furnished or not will depend on the landlord’s decision. You will generally pay more for a property which has been furnished, but this does allow you to move straight in and live comfortably without making a significant investment to purchase furniture. Curtains will rarely be included, as many properties include shutters to cover the windows at night.
Some newspapers do still run classified ads for housing rentals, but today these are more likely to be online, or even as Facebook posts. You should always exercise caution with any rental prospects, especially if you are seeking properties without agency help. If you are a young, single person, there is a small risk you receive unwelcome attention from the landlord when viewing a property. However, the main risk for property seekers is that criminals will be looking for ways to obtain your money. If you have any issues looking at a property or meeting the owner, or you are asked to pay a cash reserve fee, you should walk away. Never pay any deposit, security bond or rent in cash, so you can at least prove that you made the payment if you need to seek help from the police or courts.
If you find a rental property using the services of an estate agent, you will typically pay them a fee of one month’s rent plus 15 percent VAT. You will see estate agents advertised as agencies immobilieres, and they are easily located online. Properties available for rent through an agency will typically have an a louer (for rent) sign outside, with the agent’s contact details.
Luxembourg has clear and strong laws in place which protect tenants’ rights. As a result, most landlords are very careful about which tenants they will accept. It is normal, therefore, for the landlord or the agencies immobilieres to ask for your proof of ID and residency status, documented evidence of your income and a reference.
Tenancy agreements are usually for a fixed period, typically two or three years. As an expat, you may be offered a contract which allows you to leave earlier with a notice period, such as three months. This could be useful if you need to relocate again for work or family reasons.
In addition to the first month’s rent payable in advance, you will also be asked to deposit a security bond. The amount will vary; it is often the equivalent to one month’s rent, but can be up to the equivalent of three month’s rent. For good practice, your security deposit should be held in a client account, rather than deposited into the landlord’s bank account.
On the day you move in, check the property and contents against the etat des lieux (state of the premises) inventory and condition report. Discuss any listed items which are not physically present, and amend the listing accordingly. Similarly, annotate the list with any items which need fixing or replacement. You should take photographs of all rooms and contents, with close ups of any areas of wear and tear or signs of damage. Given the excellent quality of most camera phones today, this is easily done. On the day you move out, repeat the same process. This means you have proof should the landlord later try to claim repair costs for pre-existing damage.
The roads in Luxembourg can get congested during commuting hours, not least because of the number of workers driving in from nearby countries. Before you decide on your rental property, check the public transport and driving routes thoroughly, as an unexpectedly long commute may affect your enjoyment of your new home.
If the property does not have a garage or designated parking area and you own a car, you will need to obtain a vignette de stationnement (parking permit). The first for each household is free, and a further three can be purchased for an annual fee.
Apartment blocks mean you will have a number of communal rules to follow, the terms of which will be found in your tenancy agreement. They can apply to a number of areas, including disposal of refuse, storage of bicycles and guest parking.
The residents of apartment blocks also pay a monthly contribution to the maintenance of the premises. These will vary according to the type of property and the management arrangements. Some properties will employ a concierge or building manager, and maintain elevators and laundry rooms, whilst older basic properties may need to replace the roof. The charges can be quite substantial, and some will be the responsibility of the tenant to pay. Make sure you have received a schedule of charges for maintenance and additional services before you sign the tenancy agreement.
Tenants in an apartment block may also have all their utility costs covered for one monthly charge, although what is covered will vary, so it is important to receive all the information in writing. If you are renting a house, you will get connected via an energy company for electricity and natural gas, and receive regular bills to pay. This is the same for telephone, broadband and TV connections, which are again the responsibility of the tenant.