Working for NATO
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 30 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Staff members pay a premium for combined medical, invalidity and life insurance.
- 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.
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:
- NATO will pay you your holdings as a tax-free cash lump sum upon departure or,
- 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:
- You have the possibility to draw your retirement benefits when leaving the Organization, or
- You have the possibility to maintain your holdings invested and draw your retirement benefits at a later point in time;
- 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.
The performance management system applies to all NATO civilians at the Headquarters. It follows a yearly cycle with three main phases:
- Setting Objectives
- Mid-term Review
- 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.
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.
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
Basic salaries and allowances/supplements are not subject to income tax, by virtue of the Ottawa Agreement.
Staff members 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. Annual adjustments are normally applied, subject to Council approval, to all scales to compensate for changes in salary purchasing power and the cost of living.
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 Coordinating Committee on Remuneration. The single salary spine will, over time, replace the ABCL salary structure (in force since
The single salary spine is a new salary structure which aims to modernize the current remuneration structure by providing a flexible system that meets the broad needs of all NATO bodies and provides a long term cost control. It also aims to correct pay scales in the duty countries facing challenges to recruit and retain the staff that NATO needs.
Under the ABCL salary structure members of the staff are recruited into one of four categories, A, L, B and C, which correspond to four types of duty or
post. 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.
Salary in non-NATO countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans
Under a Council-approved policy there are special arrangements for the remuneration and benefits of international civilian staff occupying posts in non-NATO countries.
For staff appointed by NATO on or after 1 January 2017, reference made to the household allowance in (ii) should be substituted for the basic family allowance.
The salary for International staff is based on the Belgian scales, adjusted by the UN purchasing power parities to reflect prices at the duty station. These indices may go up or down but the basic salary may not be less than that applicable in Belgium.
When reasonable accommodation is provided by NATO or the duty station, the basic salary is reduced by 20%.
Expatriation allowance is paid at a rate of 32% (if not eligible for household allowance) or 40% (if eligible for household allowance) of the adjusted Belgian salary.
In addition, NATO pays a hardship allowance calculated by applying UN rates to the adjusted Belgian basic salary. These rates may vary from one duty station to another.
There is also provision for reimbursing travel costs if necessary where appropriate medical facilities are not available at the duty station.
The salary is adjusted once a year on 1st January at the time of the annual NATO salary review. The latest UN figures are also applied at that time.
(iii) Allowances/supplements are granted, in accordance with the personal and family situation of the staff member, on production of the relevant supporting documents. They are subject to a deduction if the staff member or household receives similar allowances/supplements from other sources. The various types of allowance/supplement are listed below.
Staff appointed to a post, having accepted an offer of employment on or after 1 July 2015, who are not entitled to the expatriation allowance will receive the basic amount of the installation allowance equal to one month’s basic salary, up to a ceiling of EUR 2,000 (Brussels base), adjusted by the purchasing power parity applicable in the country of the duty station. Staff appointed to a post, having accepted an offer of employment on or after 1 July 2015, who are entitled to the expatriation allowance will receive the basic amount of the installation allowance equal to one month’s basic salary, up to a ceiling of EUR 5,500 (Brussels base) adjusted by the purchasing power parity applicable in the country of the duty station. A supplement for change in the geographical zone* amounting to 75% of the basic amount of the installation allowance is granted to staff entitled to the expatriation allowance. A supplement for mobility amounting to 75% of the basic amount of the installation allowance is granted to staff members who settle their actual and habitual residence in a different duty station more than 100 km away as a result of their transfer for at least one year within NATO. The supplement for a change in geographical zone and the supplement for mobility may not both be granted in respect of the same installation. The spouse of the staff member, within the meaning of the Civilian Personnel Regulations, or, in the absence of a spouse, the first dependant shall give right to an increase of the basic amount of the installation allowance by 20%. Any other dependant shall give right to an increase of 10%. The collective increase for spouse and dependants shall not exceed 100% of the basic amount. A staff member who resigns within the year that follows his/her appointment or his/her transfer to a different duty station shall pay back the installation allowance on a pro rata basis for the time remaining to reach 12 months. The allowance shall not be paid back to NATO when the official is successively reappointed by NATO after the termination of his/her previous appointment.
* EME (Europe and Middle East), Africa, Americas (North, Central and South America), Asia and Pacific (Far East and Pacific countries).
Expatriation allowance is paid to all staff members of categories A, L and B 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.
The rate of this allowance will be 10% of the first step of the grade. Beginning in the 6th year, the allowance will be reduced by 2% per year through year 10, when the allowance will reach zero.
Regime applicable to staff appointed by NATO prior to 1st January 2017
- Household allowance amounting to 6% of basic salary, payable to married, widowed, divorced, legally separated or unmarried staff members with one or more dependent children. Also paid to married staff members without children, upon proof that the spouse’s earnings are below a certain ceiling;
- Dependent child allowance (approximately 287 € per month per child), depending on the age of the child and certain conditions;
- Other dependent’s allowance, subject to approval, on provision of appropriate justification;
- Handicapped child allowance.
Regime applicable to staff appointed by NATO on or after 1st January 2017
- Basic family allowance amounting to approximately 287 € per month, payable when the staff member and his/her spouse have established a family unit at the duty station.
- Dependent child supplement (approximately 287 € per month per child), depending on the age of the child and certain conditions;
- Supplement for disabled and dependent parent, subject to approval, on provision of appropriate justification;
- Supplement for disabled or severely disabled child.
Education allowance, for each dependent child who is still studying and is less than 22 years of age, is normally paid to staff members entitled to the expatriation allowance. If the dependent child has performed compulsory military service, payment may be extended beyond the age of 22. Staff transferring from another NATO body retain the child dependency age limit of 24, as further described in the Civilian Personnel Regulations.
More details are to be found in Annex III of this brochure.
The NATO Headquarters in Brussels is a non-smoking environment.
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.
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.
- 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/ .
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.
(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 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. Staff may also seek grant opportunities through the “NATO Training Awards Programme”, for the improvement of individual qualifications and career prospects.
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.
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.