International travels

In order to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) the Belgian authorities have decided to introduce a ban on travel for non-essential purposes (recreational, tourism, etc.) to and from Belgium.

Article 21 §1 of the ministerial decree of 28.10.2020 on emergency measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) states that non-essential travel to Belgium is prohibited for:

  • Persons who don’t have the nationality of an EU- or Schengen Member State. For the purposes of the ministerial decree of 28.10.2020, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City are considered to be countries of the European Union;
  • Persons not having their main residence in a third country considered safe by Belgium (meaning ALBANIA, ARMENIA, AUSTRALIA, AZERBAIJAN, BOSNIE-HERZEGOVINE, BRUNEI, CANADA, ISRAEL, JAPAN, JORDAN, KOSOVO, LEBANON, MOLDOVA, MONTENEGRO, NEW ZEALAND, QATAR, REPUBLIC OF NORTH MACEDONIA, SAUDI ARABIA, SERBIA, SINGAPORE, SOUTH KOREA, UKRAINE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HONG KONG, MACAO and TAIWAN)

Useful links:

List of essential and permitted travels from a third country to Belgium applicable to persons not having the nationality of an EU/Schengen Member State and not having their main residence in an EU/Schengen Member State, and not having their main residence in a third country considered safe by Belgium.

The following travels are considered essential and permitted:

1. the professional travels of health professionals, health researchers and elderly care professionals;

2. the professional travels of frontier workers;

3. the professional travels seasonal workers in agriculture;

4. the professional travels transport personnel;

5. the professional travels of diplomats, staff of international organisations, people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel, federal police personnel, civil protection personnel, law enforcement personnel, personnel from the Immigration Office, customs personnel and humanitarian aid workers, in the exercise of their functions;

6. passengers in transit : extra-Schengen transit and extra-EU transit

7. passengers travelling for imperative family reasons, meaning:

  • trips justified by family reunification (which is a long stay in the meaning of the Belgian Immigration law);
  • visits to a spouse or partner who does not live under the same roof, insofar as plausible evidence of a stable and longterm relationship can be provided;
  • travel within the framework of co-parenting, including medical treatment within the framework of medically assisted procreation;
  • travel for funerals or cremations (first- and second-degree relatives);
  • travel within the framework of civil or religious marriages (first- and second-degree relatives).

8. the professional travels of seafarers;

9. the travels of undertaken for humanitarian reasons (including journeys undertaken for imperative medical reasons or the continuation of urgent medical treatment or to provide assistance or care for an elderly or disabled or vulnerable person);

10. the travels for the purpose of study, including pupils, students and interns undergoing training as part of their studies and researchers with a hosting agreement;

11. the travels of qualified persons, if their work is necessary from an economic point of view and cannot be postponed; including the journeys of professional sportsmen and women with top sports status and professionals in the cultural sector, when they hold a single permit and journalists, when they are exercising their professional activity.
The travel of persons who come to work as an employee in Belgium, including au pairs, whatever the duration of this activity, provided that they are authorized by the competent Region (work permit or proof that the conditions of an exemption are met).
The travel of persons who come to work as a self-employed in Belgium, whatever the duration of this activity, provided that they are authorized by the competent Region (valid professional card or proof that the conditions of an exemption are met).

12. the travels of a spouse or partner of a person who has the nationality of an EU- or Schengen member state and who accompany  this spouse or partner. This spouse or partner must live under the same roof. The same applies to the travels of the children who live under the same roof. The de facto partners must have provided plausible evidence of a stable and long-term relationship. (Entry into force 24.06.2021)

Specifications of certain categories of travel.

 

For the permitted travels the travellers has to be in possession of an essential travel certificate.

All sanitary measures to be respected can be found on https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/faq/

Useful information:

For the purposes of the ministerial decree of 28.10.2020, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City are considered to be countries of the European Union.

Third country considered safe by Belgium : ALBANIA, ARMENIA, AUSTRALIA, AZERBAIJAN, BRUNEI, BOSNIE-HERZEGOVINE, CANADA, ISRAEL, JAPAN, JORDAN, KOSOVO, LEBANON, MOLDOVA, MONTENEGRO, NEW ZEALAND, QATAR, REPUBLIC OF NORTH MACEDONIA, SAUDI ARABIA, SERBIA, SINGAPORE, SOUTH KOREA, UKRAINE, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HONG KONG, MACAO and TAIWAN

It is prohibited for persons who at any time during the past 14 days were in the territory of a country classified as very high risk on the website https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/ to travel directly or indirectly to the Belgian territory, provided they do not have Belgian nationality or do not have their main residence in Belgium.

When a country is classified as a very high risk in accordance with the first paragraph, the entry ban on the Belgian territory takes effect at the moment as indicated on the website https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/countries-with-high-risk/   and at the earliest 24 hours after its publication on that website.

Countries classified as very high risk since 28.04.2021: South Africa and Brazil.

Countries classified as very high risk since 26.06.2021: Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Chile, Colombia, eSwatini (Swaziland), Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinadad and Tobago, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

Countries classified as very high risk since 10.07.2021: Mexico, Zambia

Countries classified as very high risk since 17.07.2021: Malawi

Countries classified as very high risk since 24.07.2021: Costa Rica, Philippines

The following essential travels are permitted:

1°the professional journeys of transport employees, freight and cargo personnel and seafarers, tugboat crew, boat pilots and industrial personnel employed in offshore wind parks, provided they hold a certificate issued by the employer;

the professional travels of diplomats, staff of international organisations, people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, in the exercise of their functions, provided that they are also in possession of an essential travel certificate delivered by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post.

3° the travels of a spouse or partner of a person who has Belgian nationality or has his/her main residence in Belgium. This spouse or partner must live under the same roof as the person who has Belgian nationality or the person who has the main residence in Belgium. These travellers must hold an Essential Travel Certificate issued by the Belgian diplomatic or consular post. The de facto partners must have provided plausible evidence of a stable and long-term relationship.

4° the transit journeys outside of the Schengen area or European Union (transit via a high-risk country without leaving the international zone of the airport or transit in Belgium from a high-risk country without leaving the airport’s non-Schengen Area);

5° travels through Belgium to the country of the European Union or Schengen Area of which the traveller is are a national or where the traveller has his main residence;

6° People travelling for extremely compelling humanitarian reasons. These people must have a Certificate of Travel for Humanitarian Reasons issued by the Belgian diplomatic or consular post and approved by the Immigration Office.

In the absence of such an Essential Travel Certificate or Certificate of travel for Humanitarian Reasons or in the event of false, misleading or incomplete information in this certificate, and if the essential nature of the travel is not apparent from the official documents in the traveller's possession, entry may be refused in accordance with Article 14 of the Schengen Borders Code or Article 43 of the Law of 15 December 1980.

For the permitted travels : the traveller is obliged to be in possession of an essential travel certificate. This certificate is delivered by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post in order to certify the essential nature of the travel.

If a transporter is used, the transporter required to check that the passengers are in possession of this Essential Travel Certificate before boarding.

In the absence of such this Essential Travel Certificate, the transporter is obliged to refuse boarding. Upon arrival on Belgian territory, the transporter will check again that the passenger is in possession of this Essential Travel Certificate.

In the absence of such an Essential Travel Certificate or in the event of false, misleading or incomplete information in this certificate, and if the essential nature of the travel is not apparent from the official documents in the traveller's possession, entry may be refused in accordance with Article 14 of the Schengen Borders Code or Article 43 of the Law of 15 December 1980.

By way of derogation, an essential travel certificate is not required in the following situations (the certificate may however be requested if the passenger fears to encounter a problem when boarding):

  • The traveller is in possession of a valid D visa delivered by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post;
  • The traveller is in possession of a valid C visa delivered after 18/03/2020 by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post if the essential nature of the journey is demonstrated by the official documents in the possession of the traveller;
  • The traveller is in possession of a valid C visa delivered after 18/03/2020 by a diplomatic or consular post of another Schengen member State in representation of Belgium if the essential nature of the journey is demonstrated by the official documents in the possession of the traveller;
  • The essential nature of the journey is demonstrated by the official documents in the possession of the traveller.

The certificate is required in all other situations (nationalities exempt from visa requirements for a short stay, holders of a visa issued before 18/03/2020 by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post, ...).

The term "transporter" applies to:

  • the private or public air transporter;
  • the private or public sea transporter;
  • the inland waterway transporter;
  • The private or public train- or bustransporter for the transport coming from a State that is outside the European Union and outside the Schengen area

As of 01.07.2021, it is planned that the ban on non-essential travel to Belgium will no longer apply to travellers who, prior to arrival on the territory, can prove with a “vaccination certificate” a complete vaccination with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency and for which all doses of the vaccine provided for in the medical leaflet have been administered for at least 2 weeks.

However, in reality this will have a very limited or non-existing effect since the vaccination certificate is defined as follows in the Belgian Ministerial Decree of 28.10.2020 (non-official translation in English):

 “The vaccination certificate as meant in the “EU Regulation 2021/953 of 14 June 2021 on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates (EU Digital Covid Certificate) to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic” and “ and the “Regulation (EU) 2021/954 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2021 on a framework for the issuance, verification and acceptance of interoperable COVID-19 vaccination, test and recovery certificates (EU Digital COVID Certificate) with regard to third-country nationals legally staying or residing in the territories of Member States during the COVID-19 pandemic “ or a certificate from a third country considered as equivalent by the European Commission on the basis of the implementing acts or by Belgium on the basis of bilateral agreements. The vaccination certificate indicates a complete vaccination. The test certificate indicates that a NAAT test was carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival on Belgian territory;”

There are currently no implementing acts available.

If a transporter is used, the transporter is required to verify prior to boarding that the travellers indeed are in possession of such a vaccination certificate.

In the absence of such a vaccination certificate or in the event of false, misleading or incomplete information in this certificate entry may be refused in accordance with Article 14 of the Schengen Borders Code or Article 43 of the Law of 15 December 1980.

Every traveller must be in possession of the documents required for entry into Schengen and demonstrate that his journey is essential by means of the necessary documentation.

For a long stay in Belgium, all travellers must have a D visa.

For a short stay in Belgium, any traveller subject to the visa requirement to enter Schengen must have a C visa. Whatever his nationality, he must prove that he meets the conditions for entry into Schengen when he presents himself at the Schengen external borders, by means of the necessary documentation.

All travellers coming to Belgium or returning to Belgium by plane or by boat after a stay abroad must fill in the electronic version of the Public Health Passenger Locator Form (PLF) within 48 hours before arrival in Belgium. This also applies to travel by train or by bus from a country outside the European Union and the Schengen area.

Public Health Passenger Locator Form (PLF)

All travellers coming to Belgium or returning to Belgium after a stay abroad, without using a carrier as mentioned above (for example, by car), must also fill in the PLF within 48 hours before arrival in Belgium, unless they stay less than 48 hours in Belgium or have stayed less than 48 hours outside Belgium.

The traveller must carry proof of completion of the PLF for the entire journey to the final destination in Belgium and for the following 48 hours. If the traveller cannot use the electronic version of the PLF, he/she is required to complete and sign the paper version.

The following categories of travellers do not need a PLF when travelling to Belgium without using a carrier:

1° provided that they travel to Belgium within the framework of their duties:

  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
  • seafarers, crew of tugboats and industrial personnel employed in offshore wind farms;
  • UK Border Force officers;
  • frontier workers;

2° pupils, students and trainees who travel to Belgium at least once a week as part of their studies or a cross-border training course;

3° people travelling to Belgium within the framework of cross-border co-parenthood.

Warning:

The exception to the requirement to complete and sign a Passenger Locator Form, mentioned in paragraph 1, for travellers whose journey does not involve the use of a carrier and whose stay in Belgium does not exceed 48 hours or whose previous stay outside Belgium did not exceed 48 hours, does not apply to people who have been to countries classified as very high risk at any time during the last 14 days, provided that they do not have Belgian nationality or do not have their main residence in Belgium.

All travellers aged 12 and over who arrive on Belgian territory from a territory classified as a red zone on the website of the Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment in the context of the Covid-19 crisis and who do not have their main residence in Belgium must present a negative test result on the basis of a test carried out at the earliest 72 hours before departure to Belgian territory or a recognised vaccination, test or recovery certificate. Where applicable, the carrier must verify that passengers present a negative test result or the recognised vaccination, test or recovery certificate prior to boarding. In the absence of a negative test result or the  recognised vaccination, test or recovery certificate, the carrier is obliged to refuse boarding.

In the absence of such a negative test result or such a recognized vaccination, test or recovery certificate referred to in the previous paragraph, or in the event of false, misleading or incomplete information concerning these documents entry may be refused in accordance with Article 14 of the Schengen Borders Code or Article 43 of the Law of 15 December 1980.

The page with colour codes can be found here: Colour codes for each country | Coronavirus COVID-19 (info-coronavirus.be).

The following categories of travellers do not need to have a negative test result:

  • travellers who do not come to Belgium via a carrier (the public or private air carrier; the public or private maritime carrier; the inland navigation carrier; the rail carrier or public or private bus, for transport from a country outside the European Union and the Schengen area) and who have been abroad for a maximum of 48 hours or who will remain in Belgium for a maximum of 48 hours,
  • Travelers who only transit by air and who remain exclusively in the transit zone without entering Belgian territory are also not required to have a negative test result. These persons must have a confirmed connection ticket. If a negative test result is required for the final destination, the person must have it before arrival in Belgium. It is not possible to achieve compliance in Belgium because the conditions of access have not been met.

The following categories of travellers do not need to have a negative test result either:

1° persons whose main residence is in Belgium;

2° provided that they travel to Belgium within the framework of their duties:​

  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
  • seafarers, crew of tugboats and industrial personnel employed in offshore wind farms;
  • UK Border Force officers;
  • frontier workers;

3° pupils, students and trainees who travel to Belgium at least once a week as part of their studies or a cross-border training course;

4° people travelling to Belgium within the framework of cross-border co-parenthood.

Warning:

The exception to the requirement to have a negative test result,does not apply to people who have been to the countries classified as very high risk on the website https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/ at any time during the last 14 days, provided that they do not have Belgian nationality or do not have their main residence in Belgium.

More information concerning the quarantine and some exceptions can be found on https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/faq/  under the section “Transport and International”.

Testing capacity for this purpose is available in Brussels Airport, Charleroi Airport and Brussels South train station. Arriving passengers can be tested there on a voluntary basis

The page with the colour codes can be found here : Colour codes per country | Coronavirus COVID-19 (info-coronavirus.be)