How to move to
Find A Job
If you are a European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen, you will be able to freely live and work in Luxembourg without needing to apply for a permit. Usually, your new employer will arrange any necessary tax administration and social security registration on your behalf. As an employee in Luxembourg, you will also be entitled to the same maternity leave and sickness benefits as nationals.
If you are from outside the EU or EEA and intend to stay in Luxembourg for more than three months, you will need to apply for a residence permit prior to your arrival into the country. The permit you need will be based on your individual circumstances; for example, if you are planning to work in Luxembourg, you will need to apply for an employment permit, while if you are intending primarily to study in the country, you should apply for a study permit. Other options include self-employment, research and joining a family member who is already resident in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg has three official languages – French, German and Luxembourgish – and being able to speak (or at least understand) one of these is a requirement for many jobs. Job sectors that are most often recruiting include financial services, health, transport, social services and construction.
Wages are typically determined between an individual and their employer and vary depending on your age and experience though must not be less than the minimum wage, which is adjusted biannually.
While there are no set guidelines for creating CVs in Luxembourg, you can maximise your CV’s effectiveness by ensuring you tailor it to the company you’re applying to and the job in question. Most job applications in Luxembourg are written in French, though some are in English or German, and it is expected that you respond in the same language, unless otherwise stated.
It is essential that you only include the most relevant information on your CV. Employers in Luxembourg hold work experience, qualifications, linguistic skills and hobbies in equally high regard, so presenting these in a clear format on your CV is important.
For best results, your CV should be set out as follows:
• Personal details, including full name, address and contact numbers, email address, nationality, date of birth and marital status;
• A recent professional photograph;
• Educational qualifications, starting with the most recent;
• Work experience, written in bullet-point style;
• Practical training and/or professional qualifications;
• Language skills, including proficiency in both written and spoken form;
• Computer literacy skills and any relevant qualifications;
• Hobbies and interests.
You should also try to stick to the following rules:
• Use a plain font;
• Use headings and bullet points to keep the information legible;
• Stick to one side of A4 where possible;
• Check spelling and grammar thoroughly;
• Translate into French (or German) if required.
Your CV should be sent alongside a covering letter, which should be concise and professional.
Many jobs in Luxembourg are secured via networking or the process of jobseekers sending out speculative CVs, both of which are worthwhile habits to form in your new country. Otherwise, check job sites such as monster.lu on a regular basis.
The recruitment process in Luxembourg can be rigorous and employers may expect you to attend more than one interview before a job offer is made. Once you secure an interview, prepare accordingly. Ensure your knowledge of the position you are applying for as well as the company itself are sound and be prepared to be quizzed on both. Interviews are likely to be conducted in French, German or English.
Some important tips for face-to-face interviews are:
• Find out the full name and title of the interviewer and ensure your pronunciation is correct;
• Wear business attire and appear smart;
• Be punctual – this is a big one in Luxembourg as being late is considered disrespectful;
• Promote yourself as a good candidate for the vacancy but try not to show off – Luxembourgers appreciate humility in their business culture;
• Prepare at least three questions to ask at the end of the interview.
If you apply for jobs in Luxembourg prior to relocating, you may be expected to partake in an online or telephone interview. Practice interviewing over the phone or on camera as it is a different experience and can provoke nerves in some individuals, so familiarisation is key.
Once you have secured a job in Luxembourg, it is important to continue networking as this may help to progress your career. Various events take place regularly across the country, or you could try LinkedIn. For those interested in freelance work, it is possible to register as self-employed or apply for a permit to start a business in Luxembourg.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
Luxembourg is one of the world’s smallest countries, and yet it remains a popular destination for tourists and expats. Indeed, it is not unknown for people in neighbouring nations to cross the border simply to have lunch. If you’re looking to visit Luxembourg, you may need a visa, depending on your nationality and the reason for your trip. Read on for further information.
Whether or not you need a visa to visit Luxembourg will depend on how long you intend to stay there, and your nationality. If you are from an EU/EEA member state, or from the UK, the US or Australia, you will not need a visa for the first 90 days of your trip. However, citizens from many of these countries will need a passport that is valid for at least 90 days from your intended departure date from Luxembourg.
Visitors from other nations, including China and India, will require a visa.
In order to apply for a Schengen visa (a short-term entry visa applicable to the countries in the Schengen zone), you will need:
• A completed application form
• Two passport-format photos
• Your passport and any copies of previous visas
• Travel insurance (including medical coverage) with confirmation of a minimum of €30,000 coverage within the entire Schengen area
• A cover letter stating the purpose of your visit and your itinerary
• Proof of civil status (for example, this could be your marriage certificate or the birth certificates of your children)
• Flight itinerary
• The address of your accommodation, including hotels
• Proof that you are able to support yourself financially throughout your stay (for example, a recent statement from your bank for the last three months that shows funds of at least €50 (£40) per day spent in the country, or traveller’s cheques, or proof of sponsorship)
You may need further documentation depending on your status.
If you plan to stay in Luxembourg for more than 90 days, you must make a declaration of arrival (déclaration d’arrivée) at the local town hall (commune) in your locality within eight days. Within three months of arriving, you must get an address registration certificate (déclaration d’enregistrement) from the commune.
If you have lived in Luxembourg legally for a continuous period of five years, you will automatically acquire the right of permanent residence in Luxembourg and can get an attestation de séjour permanent from your local commune.
A short-term stay visa for third party nationals usually costs around €50.
A long-term stay visa for third party nationals usually costs around €60.
It will take 10 to 15 days to process your visa in your local Luxembourg mission.
Your access to a work visa will depend on your nationality. EU/EEA citizens will find the process is more streamlined, and you will not need a permit to reside and work in Luxembourg.
If you are a third country national, you will need both an authorisation to stay document and a residence permit in order to work in Luxembourg. Since EU nationals are prioritised, your employer will need to complete a form from the National Employment Administration which states that they have made every effort to find a local worker.
You will need to apply to the Immigration Directorate for a temporary leave to stay in Luxembourg before you leave your home nation. To do so you will need:
• A valid passport
• A type D visa (depending on your citizenship)
This temporary visa will allow you to enter Luxembourg, and you can then complete the rest of the process once you arrive. You will need to fill out a declaration that you intend to live in a particular region.
Work visas will depend on the type of work you intend to carry out. For example, whether you are transferring to the Luxembourg branch of your existing company or going to work for a new employer. Work visas will usually be issued for a two-year period.
You will need to submit the following (original or certified) documents:
• A valid passport photo
• Your birth certificate
• Proof of clean criminal record
• Your resume and professional qualifications
• Your employment contract
• A certificate allowing the employer to hire a third-country national
• A cover letter explaining your motivation for moving to Luxembourg
Your employment contract must also cohere to the following criteria:
• Minimum wage of no less than €2307.56 per month
• A certificate for your profession
• If hired for manual skills, you will need proof of two years’ experience and a certificate
• If you do not have a certificate, then you will need proof of 10 years’ practical experience in a similar field
• If your profession does not require a certificate, then you will need six years’ practical experience in a similar field
You will also need a long-stay residence permit, and to apply for this you will need to show the temporary permit you already have along with proof of your accommodation and a fee. You must present yourself at your local commune to complete a declaration of arrival.
If you are self-employed, then you will need to go through a similar process in applying for a work visa, and you may need to submit any business licenses if applicable.
You may also apply for a permit for business.
You will be able to bring your family into the country, but must essentially act as their sponsor. You may need to demonstrate that you can support them financially.
Seasonal workers must also apply for a permit to work in Luxembourg, and you will need to go through the process above. If you are applying to work as an au pair, you will need a different visa.
Students enrolled in full-time courses at university in Luxembourg may also be entitled to work as part of their student visa.
EU blue card
If you have been issued a residence permit for work that requires advanced skills by an EU member country, you will be eligible for a EU blue card. This is an approved EU-wide work permit, which allows highly skilled non-EU citizens to work and live in any country within the European Union, excluding Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
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.
There are no legal barriers preventing migrants from purchasing property in Luxembourg, regardless of whether they intend to live in the country or not.
Luxembourg has high rates of home-ownership, and as a small country, it has limited amounts of available building land. Many important industries such as banking and IT have bases in Luxembourg, attracting well educated, aspirational professionals. These factors combine to make Luxembourg an expensive place to buy a home, especially in Luxembourg City.
There are several routes to finding your ideal property, but most people will contact a real estate agent, known as agents immobiliers. It is rare for an owner to sell a property without an agent. Agents will have helpful websites showing the properties they are currently under instruction to sell, with filters according to price, location, type of property and so on.
Sale boards are also placed outside properties for sale, if the owner agrees to it. The boards will include the real estate agent’s contact details. This is useful if you have a specific location you would like to move to, as you will be able to spot new properties coming onto the market.
All estate agents in Luxembourg are regulated, and must be covered by professional liability insurance. This protects both buyers and sellers, and ensures a level of service appropriate to the significance of the business.
The real estate agent will arrange viewings with the owners, so you can visit the property as many times as you like before making an offer. Most people will visit twice. You can also look at the ministry of housing’s website to find out whether the asking price is reasonable.
By law, all properties about to change hands must be inspected and given an energy performance certificate, known as the energiepass. This will tell you how energy efficient the property is and what improvements could be undertaken.
Once you have decided you definitely want to buy somewhere, you will make an offer via your agent, who will communicate that offer to the seller. You may be accepted, asked to increase the offer, or rejected outright.
Once an offer has been made to the satisfaction of both parties, a legally binding purchase document will normally be prepared. This is not compulsory, but once signed it is enforceable and protects both parties. The contract should include the names and addresses of the buyers and seller, a full description of the property and buildings, the agreed purchase price, mortgage data, and details of the penalties should one party default.
You will normally be asked to pay a deposit at this stage. Your solicitor will keep the funds in a client account until it is eventually transferred to the seller on completion of the property transfer.
A building surveyor can be hired by the buyer to investigate the condition of the property. There are different degrees of investigation that can be done, with a range of charges to match. A mortgage company will ask for at least a basic check and report to be completed, to ensure their loan is being used for a property which is in good condition and being bought at a reasonable price. In the event you default on the mortgage, they will repossess the property and sell it.
If you are buying your new home without a mortgage, you will not be obliged to commission a building surveyor’s report. However, you may wish to make this investment anyway, so that any issues of concern can be identified and investigated by the experienced professional before the sale progresses further.
Apartment blocks have a number of charges and responsibilities levied on all the residents. This could include maintenance of elevators and corridors, employment of a concierge or handyman, general repairs and other costs which may be levied monthly. It is possible that significant repairs, such as to the roof, may require additional payments. Meanwhile, residents may be required to deal with refuse in a particular way or to a timescale, or be required to follow other rules such as where to store bicycles or allow visitors to park. Each property will be different. Make sure you have received written notice of all charges, obligations and rules, and that you are happy with them. Your solicitor will normally include this in the purchase papers but you must have reviewed it thoroughly too.
Your solicitor must register your title with the Administration de l’Enregistrement et des Domaines. A tax charge will be levied, which the buyer pays. The rate will be between six percent and 10.20 percent. A transcript tax of 1.2 percent will also be levied on the property buyer. The registration tax can be increased to 7.2 percent if a resale clause is added to the property deeds. In Luxembourg City, a further three percent is also added.
Solicitors in Luxembourg are regulated and covered by professional indemnity insurance. Their work protects your legal rights to a property which you have paid for. They charge 1.5 percent of the property purchase price to cover the cost of their work, which is paid by the buyer. The legal work for the seller will be typically done by a different solicitor, and the seller will pay their own costs.
On successful completion of a house sale, the agent will receive a fee of three percent (plus VAT). This will be paid by the seller, and is normally deducted from the property sale funds by the solicitor, who then makes the appropriate payment to the agent. The property buyer does not pay the agent.
It is also possible to purchase property through an auction. You must have your finances in place before the auction takes place, and comply with all terms and conditions. You are advised to visit the property and perform enough checks on the property and area to satisfy yourself it is a good purchase before the auction date. Once you have given the winning bid for a property in the auction, you are committed to purchasing that property, making the immediate deposit and settling the balance within tight deadlines.
House builders also sell apartments and houses off plan. This means you choose the property from its plans, usually after having looked at the ‘show home’, which is an example of the property type about to be built. The purchasing process is similar to that for existing homes, except that you will pay the purchase price in agreed instalments. Once the property is completed, you will need to sign an acceptance agreement, and to note on it anything that you have found to be missing, incomplete or requiring repair. The builder will have to deal with these issues and resolve them as quickly as possible. You will have a 10-year warranty, which means all issues relating to the property construction can be referred back to the builder during the warranty period.
The government can offer and promote schemes to help homebuyers and home builders finance their purchase. This can be through tax credits, grants, saving schemes or allowable tax deductions. Each scheme will have rules and conditions, and will change in response to economic conditions. They will normally only be available to those purchasing their primary home, and all the scheme criteria will be strictly applied.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Luxembourg health insurance
Luxembourg’s health insurance is based on a joint Beveridge (universal government funded healthcare) and Bismarck (co-pay between employer and employee) model. About 84% of healthcare funding is paid by the government and from health insurance: the Mutual Medico-Surgical Fund (Cause Médico-Chirurgicale Mutualiste) is comprehensive and compulsory. It is governed jointly by the Ministries of Health and Social Security.
An amount will be deducted from your salary each month and paid into the Luxembourg Health Offices of the Caisse Nationale de Santé (CNS – National Health Fund), or the Caisse de Maladie, who govern health insurance along with nine other agencies.
If you are self-employed, you will need to sign up with the Joint Centre of Social Security, and they will send you your social security card. If you are a cross-border worker then you will need to make sure that your dependents are covered in Luxembourg as well as your country of residence. You will either need a Luxembourg social security card or you can submit your documentation to the CNS, who can co-insure you.
You will then be covered for most health-related appointments. Luxembourg operates on a reimbursement system, so you will need to pay your costs upfront and then claim them back. Usually you will be refunded within three weeks, for 80-100% of the costs. You will need to send your receipts, along with your social ID number and a bank statement, into the CNS.
This does not apply to hospital treatment: the CNS will settle the bulk of the cost directly with the healthcare provider and you will only need to pay the difference. Luxembourg does not have any private hospitals: they are all CNS-run.
Your employer has to register you for healthcare within eight days of you starting work. They will then be sent a form from the CCSS on which you will need to note down your family members, and following this you will be sent a social security card (Carte de Sécurité Sociale). This functions as your medical insurance card and you will need to take it with you when you first visit your local GP, and for any hospital or specialist visits.
Open A Bank Account
Luxembourg has been a long-standing partner of many major European projects since 1951. This includes the European coal and steel community, the European Economic Area (EEA), the Euro currency area – known as the Eurozone – and the Schengen Agreement. As a result of this, the legal tender in Luxembourg since January 2002 has been the Euro.
The Euro can be divided into 100 cents, and is represented by the symbol €.
In 2013, the Europa series of Euro banknotes were put into circulation. The enhanced security features of the banknotes mean that forgeries should be easier to detect.
Euro banknotes are widely available in denominations of €5, €10, €20 and €50. Denominations of €100, €200 and €500 are also legal tender, but are unlikely to be issued by ATMs or used in retail outlets.
The €500 note is due to be discontinued in late 2018. UK banks stopped accepting them in 2010 after concerns that they were facilitating criminal activity, and a European Commission inquiry in 2016 concluded that concerns justified withdrawing the note.
Coins are issued for €1 and €2, as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. All Euro coins have a side showing which Eurozone country issued the coin, whilst the other side has a standard design regardless of the Eurozone country of origin.
ATMs are easily found in the city and towns centres in Luxembourg. Some charge for cash withdrawals, but the screen will tell you how much you are being charged before you proceed with the transaction.
All debit and credit cards will be issued with four-digit PINs, under the chip and pin system. This is normal for most countries across the world, except for those using debit and credit cards issued in the United States. If you are paying by card from any automated point, you will need to enter your PIN. A staffed pay point may allow a US customer to pay by chip and signature, but as this is done very rarely, the member of staff may be unaware of the procedure.
Credit cards issued in Luxembourg are usually Mastercard or Visa cards. They are widely accepted by retailers, food outlets and other businesses. You may occasionally find a small business which does not accept credit cards, or which imposes a minimum payment as a result of transactions charges.
American Express cards are frequently accepted by larger companies, but you should check before putting your card in the reader. Diners Club cards are not accepted at many locations in Luxembourg.
Between 1999 and 2011, Luxembourg operated a domestic electronic money scheme called MiniCash. You may occasionally see outdated references to the scheme, but like the Bancomat card scheme, it no longer exists.
If you are looking to open a bank account in Luxembourg, there is plenty of choice. At the end of 2017, there were 146 credit institutions registered to operate in Luxembourg, despite 26 banks having recently closed. Commercial banks and branches of international banks offer a wide range of retail and commercial services.
Luxembourg has high standards of regulation for its financial services industry. Banks are required to be alert to the risks of corruption, crime and money laundering. As a result, there will be thorough checks of your ID documents, address and income sources before you are allowed to open a bank account.
Banks charge for the transaction costs associated with each account. Some banks offer a set monthly fee, whilst others offer a range of costs for individual transactions. The account that is best for you will depend on your individual circumstances, including access to nearby ATM machines, bank branches, and the types of transactions that you typically generate through your bank account.
The hours of bank branches vary, depending on the bank and the branch location. Most branches open on weekdays at 9am, though some offer pre-arranged appointment times at 8.30am. Closing time is normally between 4-4.30pm, although pre-arranged appointments at some branches can be offered as late as 5.30pm.
Access to bank branches on Saturdays is limited; some close for the entire day and some offer a few hours in the morning. All branches will be closed on Sundays.
Electronic banking has become a normal feature of accounts in Luxembourg. There will be different procedures to generate banking processes online depending on the retail bank account you choose, but they are all aimed at stopping your money from being stolen by criminals online.
As online security increases, scammers now cold call householders with various stories, including claims to be calling from the bank, to try to persuade the account holder to make a transfer. Even experienced professionals can find themselves falling for these ploys. Many banks will not refund customers who unknowingly transfer funds to criminals.
Luxembourg is one of the 32 countries which form part of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). Under this system, a bank payment in Euros from a Luxembourg bank account can be made to an account in a different SEPA country as though it is a domestic payment. Credit transfers, direct debits and payment cards are covered by the SEPA harmonised legal framework.
Since electronic payments including direct debits are so common, cheques are not used very much in Luxembourg. If shopping at a supermarket, take a €1 coin to use in a trolley, but most people will pay for their groceries using a debit or credit card.
If you are a resident in Luxembourg, you must pay your taxes there on all income, wherever it is derived from. Your individual circumstances determine whether you are classed as a resident for tax purposes. This includes where you ordinarily live, and whether you have been in the country for at least six months without any significant absences. If you live there for less than six months, you will only pay income tax on your earnings within Luxembourg. Income taxes are due for income earned in Luxembourg even if you live elsewhere.
Tax treaties mean that you will not pay income tax twice if you earn income abroad but are a taxpayer in Luxembourg, or vice versa.
If you are working for an employer in Luxembourg, your income tax and health insurance payments will be deducted at source. Although income tax is a progressive system as in the UK and US, where higher incomes gradually lead to higher rates of tax due, a different approach is used. Firstly, all taxpayers fall into classes according to whether they are single, married, have dependent children or are over the age of 65. Every small increase in income leads to a higher rate of tax, starting at eight percent for those earning more than €11,266 and up to 42 percent for those earning above €200,000 a year for the 2017 tax year. Married couples split their income in half, add it to their partner’s halved income, and pay tax at that income level. This is a much more sympathetic system for couples raising children without two full time incomes coming in. Compare this, for example, to the UK tax system, where in most cases the full timer pays full tax, even if their partner does not earn enough to reach the personal allowance at which tax deductions begin.
The tax year ends on the 31st of December each year. Anyone required to submit tax returns must do so by the following 31st of March, but if your employment is your only source of income and below €100,000 you may not be required to do so. Tax advice for uncomplicated circumstances can be readily found online, but if you have other assets and income then investment in personal tax advice would be worthwhile.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
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Learn The Language
Luxembourg is a tiny European nation, with a small population of just over half a million people, including the 40 percent of Luxembourg City’s residents who have moved there from other countries. Landlocked between Germany, Belgium and France, it has a long history of being invaded, welcoming migrants, and conducting everyday business with people over the border.
Today, Luxembourg is home to a number of important European Union functions, and is the base for a thriving financial services industry, employing thousands of highly skilled staff. Major companies are attracted by the low tax base offered by a country which has fewer expenditure requirements for military and infrastructure projects compared to larger nations. However, the high cost of living there means many workers commute in each day from neighbouring countries.
As a result of its history, as well as current commercial and political importance, the use of language in Luxembourg is complicated. Luxembourg has three official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German, all of which have different uses.
Most people who have been born and brought up in Luxembourg will speak what the English call Luxembourgish. The native term is Lëtzebuergesch, whilst in German it is known as Luxemburgisch, and Luxembourgeois in French. It is a variant of German, but with important differences that mean Germans would have difficulty understanding some of it.
A 2013 study found that about 70 percent of the national population speaks Luxembourgish at home, work or school, although this varies by region. Most pre-school children and staff will use Luxembourgish as the primary language of communication. People will use it as their primary language on the street. Cashpoints and some supermarket signs will communicate with customers in written Luxembourgish.
However, official written procedures, such as application forms, will never be issued or accepted in Luxembourgish. Local people are proud of their language, and it is the primary one offered by local language schools, but if you come to live in Luxembourg you will struggle if you only learn Luxembourgish. French and German are too integral to the country for them to be ignored.
Once children start primary school in Luxembourg, they are taught in German. Most newspapers are printed in German, as are official sources of information for the public such as local council leaflets.
French is the written language for official processes. It is taught in almost all schools, from second grade onwards as an additional language. Whilst it is used for matters of high office such as parliamentary documents and bills, you will also find a lot of street names, menus, tickets and adverts are in French.
Younger people tend to speak more languages to a good level. Retired people are more likely to speak Luxembourgish with only a basic grasp or French or German. This may reflect location, as the countryside has an older population, and younger people are drawn to cities where they will work in a multinational workforce.
A number of strange anomalies exist. For example, debates in Parliament will be conducted in Luxembourgish, while the written questions are submitted in French. In order to receive citizenship of Luxembourg, you must take the Luxembourgish language test, but the nationality application forms will be completed in French. Despite being official languages of the country, French and German may not be taken as alternatives to Luxembourgish if you wish to become a citizen. Some institutions will reject applicants from degree courses and similar academic studies if they do not speak French.
After the three official languages, which local people happily use depending on the circumstances, English and Portuguese are the next most commonly spoken languages. English is taught in schools, and the significant number of English speaking expats working in Luxembourg City means the language is widely understood there. However, English cannot be relied upon if you want to settle long term in Luxembourg and integrate well into your new community.
Italian, Danish, Polish, Chinese, Dutch and Indian languages are some of the other tongues spoken by smaller communities in Luxembourg.
The majority of expats living in Luxembourg speak more than one language, with about one third of them having some ability to speak Luxembourgish.
There are a number of options available to anyone wishing to learn Luxembourgish. Classes at private language schools offer choice over location, timing and difficulty level. Private tutors are easily found, and there is a variety of online resources. Unusually, all language teaching, even in class, tends to rely on the written form, even though the language is predominantly a spoken one.
Whilst newsstands in city centres will offer a range of imported English language newspapers and magazines, the internet offers a wide range of sites which communicate news and views about Luxembourg to their English-speaking audience.
The Luxemburger Wort is a German language newspaper which also has an English language online edition. It covers politics, business, sport and community.
The Luxembourg City Magazine is a good source of information about cultural events and news connected to the running and development of the city. For a business take on the city, try the magazine Delano. The Chronicle offers an array of local news to entertain readers.
For those looking for specific streams of news, try EIN Newsdesk. You can view the news from thousands of sources, arranged by the subject.
Many newspapers from your home country will also allow access to their sites, though some may construct paywalls around premium sections.
Satellite television services are widely available, so you can watch television programmes, news and films in English. Some broadcasters offer free streaming of content, but note that the BBC has location blocks on anyone attempting to stream content from the BBCiPlayer from abroad. This is because the BBC is funded by UK license fee payers, with no subscriptions for overseas viewers available.
If you live in a city, especially Luxembourg City, you will find screenings of films in English across a number of cinemas.
Choose A School
Luxembourg is a wealthy country which has made education compulsory for all children. Most children enrol at state maintained schools, which don’t have tuition fees. As a result, adult literacy rates in the country are at around 99 percent. However, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) compared the educational achievements of 15 year olds in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in 2015 and found that Luxemburg performed below the OECD average in science, mathematics and reading.
Children must, by law, be enrolled with a school for full time education from the age of 4 until they are 16. Schools may not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion or language. Parents’ status has no bearing on their child’s rights to an education or the legal compulsion for them to attend school.
Children are expected to attend their local school, within their local government community. As an expat, you can send your child elsewhere, but the process will not be easy. Given that the national curriculum is supposed to be delivered in all schools and using the same textbooks, each school aims to deliver the same educational experience. External data about school performance is not available, so you have no league tables to review when identifying school options.
Teachers are employed by the central department for education, a significant change from the pre-2009 recruitment system, in which local government appointed teachers. Pre-school and elementary teachers must have a bachelor’s degree as a minimum, whilst teachers in secondary school must possess a master’s degree.
Financial resources for elementary schools are allocated by central government to local government according to population needs. These take into account pupil numbers, but also the wealth and education levels of local communities, to ensure children from poorer households are given additional support and resources to overcome their barriers to education. Secondary schools are funded directly from central government.
Children start their school day between 8 and 9am, depending on their age. Between 11.45am and 12noon, children are expected to go home for lunch. In the modern world, this can be difficult for some families, so many schools have set up a lunch club at school. You will be asked to pay a daily fee, based on food and staffing costs, and places are limited.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, all pupils have the afternoon off. A lot of clubs and classes are run during this period, giving children the chance to develop sporting, artistic and musical skills outside the classroom. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, children return to school for 2pm, where they will be in lessons for a further two hours.
When school finishes, children can stay at an after-school club if there is one provided. A fee will be charged to cover staffing and overhead costs.
Class sizes are typically, small ranging from 16 or 17 pupils to around 29 pupils in larger schools.
Almost one in five children in Luxembourg were born abroad, and the majority of the school population cannot speak Luxembourgish. The country is keen to promote cohesion and integration, so language skills are at the core of the education system.
The numbers of international children are so high that the state has three elements of support dedicated to helping these families. The department of schooling for foreign children, the school reception unit known as CASNA, and the intercultural mediators are all sources of help and information aimed at helping children access and succeed in local schools.
The Luxemburger Wort, which is an online newspaper with pages available in English, publishes school term dates. Whilst different types of schools will have differing dates, meaning elementary schools and secondary schools may differ, state schools of the same type will have the same term dates.
The new school year starts in early September, with a week-long half term break starting in late October and running into early November. The Christmas holidays start in mid-December, but end as early as January 1st. The middle of February sees a week-long break for the country’s carnival. March and April see a two-week Easter holiday. Whitson bring another week-long holiday in mid-May, before the summer break arrives in mid-July.
Pre-school education in Luxembourg is normally delivered in an environment where adults and children speak Luxembourgish to each other. From grade one, when the children are six years old, they will be taught in German. French is introduced in grade two, and English will be taught as a foreign language later.
When children reach the age of 12, they will attend either an academic school or one tailored towards a technically based education. The child’s elementary school will recommend the best option for your child, based on the assessment tests taken throughout the year. Up to three tests per subject may be taken each term, so that teachers have a good selection of data on which to base their recommendations.
Technical schools will deliver their curriculum in French or German, depending on the language skills of their pupils, but from grade seven onwards, this reverts to French only. These schools aim to prepare pupils for work, but also deliver a wide range of subjects to study.
Those attending a classically designed academic school will be taught in both French and German, and will be expected to be fluent in both. English will be taught as an additional language, and many will also include Latin classes.
Between the ages of 16 and 19, pupils can attend a local lycée général (general high school). Some of the these also provide vocational training.
Students who successfully complete their higher-level studies will graduate with a diplôme de fin d’études secondaires (school leaving certificate). Students whose focus is technical rather than academic will receive a certificate of aptitude.
There is a small number of private schools in Luxembourg, most of which receive some funding from the state and follow the national curriculum. If you are looking for something different and have the means to pay, international schools and international baccalaureate schools may provide the solution.
St George’s International School, which teaches according to the English and Welsh curriculum, and the European School, which offers a breadth of international lessons and languages across two school sites are both popular international schools in Luxembourg City.
Luxembourg’s first International Baccalaureate (IB) school opened in 1994. Today, four schools offer the IB curriculum that leads to a diploma. The Athénée de Luxembourg and International School of Luxembourg deliver their teaching in English, whilst the Fräi-Öffentlech Waldorfschoul Lëtzebuerg and Lycée Technique du Centre both teach in French. The IB diploma is an internationally recognised alternative to the Luxembourgish school leaving certificate.
Due to its small size and population, the nation only maintains one university, which was established in 2003. The University of Luxembourg has three separate faculties, offering a range of bachelor and postgraduate degrees. Master’s and doctorate degrees are offered on a research basis. Some technical secondary schools also offer higher education courses, in the areas of business and management, healthcare and the arts.
However, a number of overseas universities have set up sites in Luxembourg, providing a wider range of study opportunities.
Students on most bachelor degree courses do not pay tuition fees, including those who arrive from abroad. An enrolment fee will be charged, which is a few hundred Euros a year depending on the course.
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