• Last updated: 07 Mar. 2024 09:44

General Information

Working for NATO

  • Introduction

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) brings together Europe and North America in a unique defence and security alliance. Today the Alliance, as it is called, is engaged in a broad range of activities designed to further international cooperation and to confront the new security challenges of the 21st century. As an international NATO civilian you could expect to be involved in a variety of functions - supporting the Secretary General in the day-to-day activities of the Alliance, together with experts and officials drawn from the NATO member nations.

    The NATO International Staff (IS) offers challenging and rewarding employment opportunities in various fields, ranging from policy development, facilitation of dialogue and policy programme implementation to the provision of services and support for the smooth, effective operation of the Organization and to managing and allocating resources.

    Joining the International Staff means working with colleagues of 32 different nationalities, as well as with national delegations, representatives of NATO countries and partners, and members of the International Military Staff. It is a highly stimulating multicultural environment.

    Through its Human Resources policies, it is NATO's firm aim to maintain a work environment that is free from discrimination or harassment, providing equality of opportunity regardless of sex, race or ethnic origin, religion, nationality, disability, age or sexual orientation. Without setting quotas, NATO tries to ensure that its workforce reflects the diverse cultures and backgrounds of the nations it serves while maintaining an appropriate gender balance. The objective is an organization that flourishes in the natural diversity of its international employees.

    The International Staff is located in the beautiful city of Brussels, Belgium, considered by many to be the capital and the heart of Europe, and very close to other countries and capitals.

  • Building Integrity Policy

    Building Integrity is a key element of NATO’s core tasks. As an employer, NATO values commitment to the principles of integrity, transparency and accountability in accordance with international norms and practices established for the defence and related security sector. Selected candidates are expected to be role models of integrity, and to promote good governance through ongoing efforts in their work.

    More information on NATO's Building Integrity Policy

  • The Civilian Personnel Regulations (CPRs)

    The CPRs have been approved by the NATO Council and govern civilian staff administration. The rules comprise a large number of articles and annexes, and constitute binding contractual arrangements between staff members and NATO.

    A copy of the CPRs is given to each staff member who joins the International Staff of NATO.

  • Code of Conduct

    Service in NATO entails promoting the highest levels of trust and confidence in our integrity, impartiality, loyalty, accountability, and professionalism. These five core values – and the principles that exemplify them – form the basis of this Code, which shall guide the conduct of all NATO staff, whether they be civilian or military, in all NATO bodies. This code sets forth the framework and standards for the personal and professional conduct which is to be expected of those entrusted with positions in the Alliance.

  • Contract Policy

    In principle, a 3 year definite duration contract is offered on appointment, which may be extended for a further period.  A contract for a further period may then be offered subject to a decision based upon factors which include confirmation of a continued requirement for the post, the staff member’s performance and the need for rotation. For some posts, there will be a possibility to apply for an open-ended contract during the second term. Please see specific provisions included with each vacancy notice.

  • Deployment

    Staff members may be deployed to other locations during their employment at NATO. There are special conditions and procedures for civilian staff who are assigned to a location other than their duty station to carry out duties in support of Council-approved operations.  These are described in the Civilian Personnel Regulations and in implementing directives for the International Staff. There are also a number of preparatory steps which have to be taken before a NATO civilian is permitted to deploy.  These are intended to ensure adequate protection and administrative support.  They include pre-deployment training, immunization, insurance, and provision of protective clothing and equipment.

  • Diversity and Equal Opportunities

    A diverse workforce is our asset

    As an international organization, NATO is characterized by diversity. It is made up of people with different backgrounds, cultures, work styles, values and ways of thinking. We benefit greatly from this variety of thought, energy and insight in fulfilling our mandate, and thus we invite differences and seek them out. We strive to create an environment that maximizes potential and appreciates the diversity of every employee. This is all the more important as the changing international security environment broadens the range of competencies and skills required.

    Differences need to be managed

    For diversity to live up to its full potential, it needs to be managed. To achieve the right mix of competencies, strategic human resource management ensures that skilled and competent staff are available, and assesses their merit using objective, relevant and transparent criteria. We strive to optimize both performance and staff satisfaction. NATO offers equal opportunities to all members of staff based on individual merit.

    Diversity is about us

    Diversity refers to the differences between human individuals. It recognizes the benefits and contributions provided by a mixed workforce. Valuing diversity means respecting and appreciating those who are different from ourselves.

    Equal opportunities make professional advancement equally available to all staff, regardless of any characteristics unrelated to the skills and abilities required for job performance. To provide equality of opportunity it is often necessary to treat people differently, in ways that are fair and tailored to their needs.

    To make this a reality the International Staff of NATO adopted a Policy on Diversity and Equal Opportunities in 2003. Please read our 2016 Annual Diversity and Inclusion Report.

  • Employment of Spouses (or Other Relatives)

    The International Staff of NATO encourages the employment of spouses or other relatives. Although there are some restrictions on relatives working within the same organizational unit, spouses or other relatives are welcome to hold short-term assignments or temporary contracts in the International Staff.

    Applicants must be nationals of a NATO member state, with skills in a relevant discipline, and proficiency in English or French (preferably with a good knowledge of the other language).

    The International Staff is particularly interested in applications from persons with backgrounds in areas such as diplomacy, policy development, management, public affairs, project management, IT, secretarial and administrative support and technical and maintenance work, who are already located in Brussels and hold security clearance.

    Assignments can also be on an occasional basis (e.g. a few hours per week or only in certain periods when required).

    For further information please consult our Interim Staff website.

  • Flexible Working

    The normal working hours of the International Staff are from 08:30 to 17:30 (or to 15:30 on Fridays) with one-hour lunch break. However, it is possible to adapt working hours to a fixed weekly or two-week personal schedule, provided that the total number of hours worked is 38 per week overall. Such a variant schedule is, of course, subject to approval by the supervisor, and may not conflict with service requirements.

    Part-time working is also possible. Depending on the requirements of the post and of the service, a staff member may be authorized to work a fixed percentage of the normal hours. The salary paid will of course be reduced in proportion.

  • Harassment and Discrimination

    The Civilian Personnel Regulations (CPRs) state that members of the staff shall treat their colleagues, and others with whom they come into contact in the course of their duties, with respect and courtesy at all times. They shall not discriminate against them on the grounds of gender, race or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The CPRs and the NATO Code of Conduct make it clear that in our multicultural environment every person must be aware of, and respect, the sensitivities of others. NATO has adopted a specific policy on discrimination and harassment at work and has developed preventive measures. Mediation and Psychosocial support are provided for the handling of informal and formal interventions and trained persons of confidence can also be contacted by staff members for informal advice and support.
  • Language Policy

    Following the approval by the Secretary General of the revised language policy, an implementing directive (PDF/54Kb) was developed for the International Staff with effect from 16 June 2011.

    Candidates applying for posts of the NATO International Staff are invited to consult the equivalence table (PDF/11Kb) between the NATO IS language levels and international standards of language certification.

  • Leave

    Annual leave is 30 days, i.e. 2.5 working days per month. After the probationary period, it is cumulative and may be taken in advance with the approval of the staff member’s supervisor.

    Home leave is granted every two years and for a limited period to staff members eligible for the expatriation allowance and who are not nationals of the host country. It amounts initially to 8 working days for the first home leave cycle and 3 days for the second. The amount of home leave will then reduce to zero for the third and successive cycles, with only travel time being granted and travel costs reimbursed.

  • Medical and Life Insurance

    Staff members pay a premium for combined medical, invalidity and life insurance.

    This covers:

    • partial reimbursement of medical costs for staff members, their spouses and dependent children;
    • full reimbursement of medical costs for staff members in case of an accident on duty or occupational illness;
    • an invalidity pension if the staff member is declared an invalid;
    • a lump sum in the case of death of the staff member.

    In case of a disputed claim, this article (PDF/99Kb) from the contract with Allianz is instructive.

  • Pension Scheme

    If your appointment to NATO started on or after 1 July 2005 and you have no rights to a deferred pension in the Co-ordinated Pension Scheme (CPS), nor drawn a pension under the CPS, you are a member of the NATO Defined Contribution Pension Scheme (DCPS).

    The NATO Defined Contribution Pension Scheme is fully capitalized, money - purchase pension scheme which is funded by contributions made by the Organization and by the staff member. The contributions together with interest on investment shall be used solely for the provision of retirement pensions and related benefits and fees.

    In the NATO DCPS, contributions are paid into individual member accounts. The accounts are credited each month with member contributions (8% of basic salary) and with Employer's contributions (12% of basic salary). You have the possibility to make Additional Voluntary Contributions of up to max 5% of your basic salary.

    NATO appointed Previnet spa as the pension scheme administrator. Previnet runs and maintains the DCPS web site which allows members to monitor their pension accounts and to request fund switches, on-line. Members can also find pension related information and fund performance data, frequently asked questions and useful links on the web site.

    The contributions are invested in commercially managed funds (currently by BNY-Mellon Asset Management and PNB Paribas Investment Partners) in order to build up a capital which will enable NATO to buy a pension for you on retirement. In order to invest your contributions, you can choose to rely on the default investment proposed by the system, or you can make your own investment decisions. Contributions and holdings can be invested in one, or several funds within a fund range of 7 funds, comprising two cash funds, three bond funds and two equity funds. Returns on the investments can be positive or negative, and your account in the Scheme is credited or debited accordingly. The rules of the Scheme, as approved by the nations, state that the Organization shall not be held responsible for any losses on investments incurred by movement in the investment markets.

    Your final DCPS holdings will depend on the level of contributions paid, and on the return on investment achieved by the funds you chose to invest in. This means that the future return on your investments, and the future benefits to be paid, are NOT known in advance and there is no guarantee that, if the investment results are negative, you will recover the full level of your contributions. High investment performance would lead to larger holdings and consequently higher pension benefits while poor investment performance would result in payment of smaller pension benefits. NATO does not guarantee a certain pension level.

    If you leave NATO having contributed to the Scheme for less than 6 years; you have the following options:

    1. NATO will pay you your holdings as a tax-free cash lump sum upon departure or,
    2. You can ask for the transfer of your DCPS holdings to the pension fund of your next employer.


    If you leave NATO having contributed to the Scheme for 6 years or more, you are entitled to payment of DCPS retirement benefits and you have the following options:


    1. You have the possibility to draw your retirement benefits when leaving the Organization, or
    2. You have the possibility to maintain your holdings invested and draw your retirement benefits at a later point in time;
    3. You have the possibility to transfer your DCPS holdings to another Pension Fund.


    On retirement, the holdings saved on your account will be transferred to an annuity provider who will convert the capital into payment of monthly annuities at commercial rates. You can also choose to take your holdings, or part of them, in form of a lump sum payment.

    Members of the DCPS are also covered for risks of death and invalidity in service.

    For further information please consult the attached document.

  • Performance Management

    The performance management system applies to all NATO civilians at the Headquarters. It follows a yearly cycle with three main phases:

    1. Setting Objectives
    2. Mid-term Review
    3. Annual Review.

    A mechanism for mediation and conflict resolution and a procedure for upward feedback are also part of the system.

    Induction training on performance management is given to all new recruits, who receive the "Quick User Guide for Performance Management" during their first days at NATO.

    Performance management is concerned with progression in order to achieve Organization, team and individual effectiveness. It is a continuous and evolutionary process in which performance improves over time. It focuses on future performance planning and improvement rather than on retrospective performance appraisal.

    The performance management system aligns individual objectives with broader Organization objectives; it provides for regular and frequent dialogue between managers and individuals about performance and development needs. It also fosters the enhancement of individual competencies through a training and development plan.

  • Probation

    In principle, the first six months of definite duration contracts are a probationary period. During this period the staff member's work is assessed to ensure that he/she has the ability to carry out the duties of the post. At or before the end of the probationary period, the staff member will be notified in writing that the appointment is confirmed or terminated or, in exceptional cases, that the probationary period is extended.

  • Removal and Travel

    Staff whose permanent residence at the time of their appointment is 100 kilometers or more from NATO Headquarters have their travel and removal expenses paid for them when taking up their duties and on departure from NATO. The travel expenses for the spouse and dependent children can only be reimbursed after satisfactory completion of the probationary period.

    Further information on removals is to be found in Annex I of this brochure

  • Salary and Benefits

    The Ottawa Agreement provides for exemption from taxation on salaries and emoluments paid to international civilian personnel (referred to hereafter as "staff") by the Organization.

    Staff are in principle recruited at pay step one of their category grade. Subject to satisfactory performance, higher steps are awarded in subsequent years within the limits of the grade appointed to. Subject to Council approval, annual adjustments are normally applied to basic salaries to take into account changes in purchasing power and cost of living.

    Single salary spine

    In 2019, the North Atlantic Council approved the implementation of a new remuneration structure for NATO, known as the single salary spine, following principles developed in the Coordinating Committee on Remuneration, replacing the ABCL salary structure over time, which has been in force since 1958.

    The single salary spine is designed to provide a flexible, modernized remuneration structure, which meets the broad needs of all NATO bodies and provides long term cost control. It also aims to correct pay scales in duty countries where there are challenges to recruit and retain the staff that NATO needs.

    Following implementation of the single salary spine, posts are placed on the single salary spine and are described in terms of 24 "NATO grades". The grade equivalence table is found above. The current salary scales by grade for Belgium can be found via this link.

    Allowances/supplements are granted on the basis of the personal and family situation of the staff member and on production of the relevant supporting documents. They are subject to deduction of allowances/supplements of the same nature to which the household or the unmarried staff member may be entitled from other sources. The various types of allowances/supplements are listed below.       

    • Expatriation allowance

    Expatriation allowance is paid to all staff members of NATO grades 2, 5, 8, 10 to 24 who, at the time of their appointment, are not nationals of the host country and have not been continuously resident in the host country for one year or more.

    Under the single salary spine, the rate of the expatriation allowance is 10% of the first increment of the grade. In years six through ten, the allowance is reduced by two percentage points per year to reach zero in year ten.

    • Installation allowance

    Staff who at the time of their appointment were residing more than 100 kilometres away from the duty station and who move their residence in order to take up duty are eligible for installation allowance.

    For staff who are not entitled to the expatriation allowance, the amount of the installation allowance is equal to one month's basic salary, up to a ceiling of EUR 2,373 (Brussels base), adjusted by the purchasing power parity applicable in the country of the duty station.

    For staff appointed to a post who are entitled to the expatriation allowance, the amount is one month's basic salary, up to a ceiling of EUR 6,528 (Brussels base), adjusted by the purchasing power parity applicable in the country of the duty station.

    • Supplement for change in geographical zone

    Staff entitled to the expatriation allowance who change geographical zone* in order to reside in the vicinity of the duty station are in addition entitled to a supplement amounting to 75% of the basic amount of the installation allowance.

    • Supplement for mobility

    Staff who transfer for a period of at least one year within NATO and settle their actual and habitual residence in a different duty station more than 100 km away are entitled to a supplement amounting to 75% of the basic amount of the installation allowance.

    The supplement for a change in geographical zone, and the supplement for mobility, may not both be granted in respect of the same installation.

    • Supplement for dependants

    The spouse of the staff member (according to the definition in the Civilian Personnel Regulations), or in the absence of a spouse, the first dependent, gives rise to an increase of 20% in the basic amount of the installation allowance. Each additional dependant gives rise to an increase of 10%. The collective increase for spouse and dependants is capped at 100% of the basic amount of the allowance. Payment of these additional amounts is subject to presentation of proof that the individuals in question have taken up residence with the staff member at the duty station.

    Payment of the installation allowance

    The allowance is payable when the eligible staff member takes up duty or is transferred to a different duty station within NATO. Staff who resign less than a year after their appointment or transfer are required to reimburse the allowance on a pro rata basis unless they are resigning to take up a new NATO appointment.

    * EME (Europe and Middle East), Africa, Americas (North, Central and South America), Asia and Pacific (Far East and Pacific countries).

    Family allowances/supplements

    Regime applicable to staff appointed by NATO on or after 1 January 2017

    • Basic family allowance amounting to EUR 356.02 per month (Brussels base) for staff members not entitled to expatriation allowance, and EUR 712.04 per month (Brussels base) for staff members entitled to expatriation allowance, is payable when the staff member and his/her spouse have established a family unit at the duty station, provided that the salary of the spouse (if applicable) does not exceed a certain ceiling;
    • Dependent child supplement is equal to EUR 356.02 per month per child (Brussels base), depending on the age of the child and subject to certain conditions;
    • Supplement for disabled and dependent parent, payable under certain conditions to a staff with a dependent parent who is disabled.
    • Supplement for disabled or severely disabled child.

    Education allowance

    The education allowance is paid to staff members entitled to the expatriation allowance with dependent children who are regularly attending an educational establishment on a full-time basis.

    The age limit for payment of the education allowance for staff receiving the dependent child allowance for children aged over 18 who are in full-time education may not be extended beyond the age of 24.

    The age limit for staff receiving the dependent child supplement for children aged over 18 who are in full-time education is 22.

    Payment of the allowance ceases at the end of the month in which the child has his/her 24th birthday or until the end of the school year during which the child reaches the age of 22.

    If the dependent child has been called up to perform compulsory military service, payment may be extended beyond the age of 24 or 22 but may not exceed the length of the compulsory military service.

    The amount of the education allowance is subject to certain ceilings.

    More details may be found in Annex III of this brochure.

  • Smoking

    The NATO Headquarters in Brussels is a non-smoking environment.

  • Staff Association

    There is a Staff Association to which all staff members belong, represented by an elected Staff Committee whose function is to provide a channel of communication between the administrative authorities and the staff.

  • Status in Belgium

    Special identity card

    Although NATO employees have special status by virtue of the Ottawa Agreement, newcomers from non-EU countries must obtain a short-term tourist visa with a validity of 3 months (see below) before they enter Belgium, to cover them until they have their contract with NATO and acquire an identity (ID) card.

    After signature of the employment contract at NATO, the formalities for obtaining special ID cards for the staff member and family are begun by the NATO Privileges and Immunities Service. This personal identification document, equating to a residence permit, will be provided by the Belgian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs approximately 4 weeks later, for the new staff member and spouse and each dependent living under the same roof.

    For information:

    • Belgian law requires all citizens to carry an identity card at all times, whatever their nationality.
    • It is mandatory to be registered in Belgium after the above-named period of 90 days.
    • By virtue of a Royal Decree dated 1999, no work permit is required for foreign workers who are engaged by an international organization, provided their apprenticeship does not exceed 12 months.
    • At the time of application for a special ID card, the passport of the applicant must still be valid for at least 12 months.

    Visas for short visits to Belgium (up to 3 months)

    Entering Belgium means staying on Belgian territory, even if the period is short.

    Belgian legislation defines a short visit as an uninterrupted stay of 90 days at most, or several separate periods of which the total duration does not exceed 90 days, on the territory of Belgium, the BENELUX states or the Schengen states, within a 6-month period.

    Visa applications must be made to the Belgian Embassy or Consulate in the country of the requesting person. When applying, the requestor must be in possession of identity papers or travel documents (such as a passport) recognized by Belgium and valid for at least 3 months* following the planned visit.

    Applicants for certain NATO-sponsored programmes (such as interns) do not need a visa if they come from EU countries. 

    Further details can be found on the website under http://www.diplomatie.be/ .

  • Taking up Duty

    The Officer in the Personnel Support Service ensures that all civilian newcomers to the International Staff are helped to settle into their new environment. Staff members recruited from outside the host country receive general information on living in Belgium, as well as guidance concerning housing and schools, in advance of their arrival. The Personnel Support Officer arranges for a sponsor to guide the newcomer through the first days at NATO, and an induction course is given every three months to inform the latest recruits about various aspects of working at NATO HQ.

  • Taxation, VAT, Etc.

    (NB : VAT is referred to as “TVA” in French and “BTW” in Dutch)

    Expatriate staff who have not yet completed their first year of residence in Belgium, provided that this is their first period of employment in the country, may purchase certain items (such as furniture and electrical appliances and, under specific conditions, cars) without paying VAT.

    Information concerning the formalities for VAT exemption, and any obligation to pay direct taxes, will be provided by the Privileges and Immunities/Vehicle Registration Offices, Human Resources.

  • Training Opportunities

    Training and development of staff is a high priority at NATO. Increasing the knowledge, skills, expertise and motivation of staff raises the operational flexibility of the Organization as a whole, to better meet new challenges and carry out the mandates of Member Nations.

    As such, NATO encourages its international civilian employees to undertake regular training with the aim of enhancing and acquiring the competencies and skills needed to perform their duties to the highest possible standards. Language training is available for NATO’s two official languages, English and French, as well as other languages of interest. Competency-focused training is available for staff seeking to enhance their behaviours required for successful job performance (e.g. teamwork, analytical thinking, customer service and organisational awareness). Job-specific skill courses are offered in areas such as information technology (IT), finance, translation, pre-deployment and law. 

    Furthermore, NATO offers a range of executive and management development programmes, designed to enhance the leadership abilities and potential of NATO staff. The programmes are tailored to meet the requirements of various levels of managers and leaders.

  • Working Hours

    Members of the International Staff have a 38-hour working week.

    Working hours applicable year-round:

    • Monday to Thursday: from 08:30 – 17:30 with a one-hour lunch break to be taken at discretion between 12:00 - 14:00
    • Friday: From 08:30 till 15:30, also with a one-hour lunch break to be taken at discretion between 12:00 – 14:00

     It is possible to work variable hours or part time, but this is subject to agreement and depends on service requirements.