Transposition of Directive 2016/801/EU

Third-country nationals who want to participate in a voluntary service scheme recognized by the European Union (European Voluntary Service) can come to Belgium.

To come to Belgium as a volunteer, you need an authorisation for volunteer.

This authorisation should be applied for by your volunteer organisation to the competent regional government in the form of an application for authorisation to work, which will then be considered as an application for a authorisation for volunteer.

>> Information for the volunteer organisation

When the volunteer organisation submits this application, you still have to be in the country outside the EU. Only if you are already authorised for a long stay (i.e. more than 90 days) in Belgium, an exception is made and you may already be on Belgian territory at the time the volunteer organisation applies for the authorisation. This exception only applies if your authorisation for a long stay in Belgium is still valid at the time of submitting the application for the authorisation for volunteer.

*If you do not yet have this diploma, but you are pursuing a course of study for this purpose, you can also come to Belgium as a volunteer.



Submission of an application for authorisation for volunteer (single permit)

The application procedure for an authorisation for volunteer is a "single application procedure", where the authorisation includes both the authorisation to stay (“residence” component) and the authorisation to work (“work” component). For the authorisation, the supporting documents for both the work component and the residence component must be submitted with the same application. The Immigration Department is the competent authority for the "residence" component and will assess the application in this regard. The "work" component is assessed by the regional authority competent for employment.

The host entity or volunteer organisation applies for this authorisation for volunteer to the competent regional authority in the form of an application for authorisation to work, which will then be considered as an application for an authorisation for volunteer.

The host entity or volunteer organisation shall attach the following documents relating to the stay to the application:

  • proof of payment of fee;
  • a copy of the valid passport or a copy of an equivalent travel document;
  • the volunteer agreement;
  • sufficient resources to cover subsistence costs without having recourse to the Belgian social assistance system, and return travel costs. The volunteer organisation or host entity may choose to enter into a guarantee accepting the responsibility for the volunteer throughout the stay, in particular as regards subsistence and accommodation costs;
  • where the volunteer stays with the host entity or volunteer organisation for the duration of the stay, the application shall include proof that the volunteer will be accommodated in an appropriate manner during his/her stay. Such proof shall be provided by means of (1) a written housing declaration or, (2) a lease or sublease contract signed and registered by the person concerned, or (3) any document emanating from a judicial or administrative authority authorised for that purpose, proving the appropriate mode of accommodation;
  • proof that he has health insurance covering all risks in Belgium during his stay;
  • a medical certificate proving that he does not suffer from any of the diseases listed in the Annex to the Act of 15 December 1980 ;
  • if the volunteer is over eighteen years of age, an extract from the criminal record or an equivalent document, and where appropriate its legalised translation, issued by the country of origin or the country of his last residence, which is not older than six months and confirms that he has not been convicted of crimes or misdemeanours of common law;
  • a written undertaking from the host entity that, in the event that a volunteer remains illegally in Belgium, that host entity is responsible for reimbursing the costs related to the stay and return incurred by public funds.

These documents should at least reflect the following information:

  • Belgian diplomatic or consular post where the visa will be applied for;
  • e-mail address of the volunteer organisation and volunteer

If the documents are in a language other than German, English, French or Dutch, the documents submitted must be accompanied by a legalised translation into one of these four languages.

Examination period

If all the documents are attached to the application, the regional authorities responsible for employment and Immigration Department start the examination of the application. As soon as possible, but at the latest within 90 days, the authorities take a decision on this application.

However, if not all the required documents are attached to the application, the applicant will be asked to supplement the file with the missing or additional documents within 15 days. As long as the application is not supplemented and complete, the 90-day examining period does not start and the application is not yet examined.

Attention: Given the 90-day examining period, it is therefore best for the volunteer organisation to submit the application to the regional authorities at least 90 days prior to the desired start date of the voluntary service scheme. If the volunteer is already authorised for long stay in Belgium, it is best submitted at least 90 days before the expiry of this authorisation for long stay.

If you are a volunteer still on outside the EU, you will need a visa to travel to Belgium.

This visa (visa D) should be requested at the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in the country you are in. For this you need a valid passport (or equivalent travel document) and the positive decision from Belgium granting you the authorisation for volunteer.

The letter is a so-called "Annex 46" and is delivered to the specified residential address abroad.

So when you have received the letter with this Annex 46, you can start applying for the visa.

The visa will state that it is a volunteer visa through the mention of “BXX” and is valid for more than 90 days.

The list of Belgian embassies and consulates is published on the FPS Foreign Affairs site (www.diplomatie.belgium.be).

Note: In most countries, embassies and consulates work with an external service provider (VFS Global or TLS Contact). This service provider manages appointments and receives visa applications. It is strongly recommended to read the practical information published on the service provider's site before taking any steps.

Provisional residence document (annex 49)

After arriving in Belgium, you have to go to the municipal administration of your place of residence as soon as possible, and at the latest within 8 working days, for your registration in the foreigners' register.

The municipality will also send a district agent to check if you are indeed staying at the specified place of residence. If this check is positive, you will get the authorisation for volunteer.

However, since it takes some time to create the electronic card of this authorisation (a so-called A card), the municipality will issue you with a provisional residence document (a so-called "Annex 49"). This allows you, as a volunteer, to start your voluntary service scheme immediately. You therefore do not have to wait for the actual authorisation for volunteer to be issued in order to start your voluntary service scheme.

The provisional residence document (Annex 49) is valid for 45 days and can be extended by the same duration each time until the authorisation for volunteer is issued to you.

Note: It is recommended to take into account the possible waiting period to obtain an appointment at the municipal administration.

Right of residence as a volunteer

According to the rules on the single permit, the authorisation for volunteer (A card) contains both an authorisation to stay and an authorisation to work. The granted duration of authorisation to stay is equal to the granted duration of authorisation to work by the regional authority competent for employment. The duration of the authorisation to work thus determines the duration of the entire authorisation for volunteer and is determined by each regional government in its legislation on employment of foreign workers.

The duration of the authorisation for volunteer will be limited to the duration of the voluntary service scheme and will not exceed 12 months (not renewable).

If the voluntary service scheme comes to an end, you will have to leave Belgian territory.