Formal obligation

[Article 3 of the law of 15/12/1980 & Articles 17/2 to 17/9 of the Royal Decree of 08/10/1981]

A formal obligation can be made with respect to any third-country national wishing to make a short stay in Belgium, whether they are subject to the visa obligation or are exempt from it.

This formal obligation must be in accordance with Annex 3bis to the Royal Decree of 8 October 1981. The first part constitutes the undertaking to assume financial responsibility and the second part contains information for the guarantor and the person for whom they take financial responsibility. 


A formal obligation is considered valid proof of sufficient means of subsistence for a short stay in Belgium if it is accepted by the Immigration Office or by the Belgian embassy or consulate to which it is submitted with the visa application.

Engagement de prise en charge (annexe 3bis)

Any natural person who personally has sufficient resources and who holds Belgian nationality, or who is authorised or permitted to reside in Belgium for an unlimited period of time, may be a guarantor.

The Belgian national must have their main residence in Belgium.

A third-country national authorised to stay in Belgium for a limited period of time (A or H card) cannot be a guarantor.

The guarantor undertakes to assume financial responsibility for the person concerned with regard to the Belgian State and any competent public social welfare centre (PSWC) for two years for the care, accommodation and repatriation costs of the person concerned. The guarantor and the person for whom the guarantor has assumed financial responsibility are jointly and severally liable for the payment of this care and the expenses.

This means that the Belgian State and the PSWC that have paid the costs of the stay, health care and repatriation of the person covered by the guarantor can claim the reimbursement of these costs from the guarantor, by registered letter, within 2 years after the entry of the person concerned into the Schengen area.

If the guarantor does not reimburse the amount of the costs claimed, the recovery is entrusted to the Cadaster, registration and domains administration (FPS Finance). 

Find out more about the amount of residence and health care costs in articles 17/7 and 17/9 of the Royal Decree of 8 October 1981.

A guarantor may not withdraw their formal obligation, unless the Immigration Office accepts a new formal obligation signed by another guarantor. However, the guarantor's responsibility ends if they provide proof that the person for whom they have assumed financial responsibility has left the Schengen area at the end of the authorised period of stay.

The guarantor must personally have sufficient regular income. The minimum amount depends on the purpose of the trip of the person covered.

What income does a guarantor need to have?

Purpose of the trip
Basic amount (in  euros)
Amount to be added per dependant (in euros) 
Amount to be added per invited person(in euros)
Family visit
(1st or 2nd degree)
800 150 150
Other
1.000 150 200

 

Example: A married guarantor with two dependent children who assumes financial responsibility for his mother during a family visit will have to prove that he earns income at least equivalent to €800 + (3 X €150 ) + €150 = €1,400.

Please note:

This amount is a reference amount. Special circumstances may be taken into account when assessing income (accommodation conditions, signature of other formal obligations, etc.).

The source of the guarantor's income is also verified. The following are taken into consideration:

  • income declared in the context of an employed or self-employed activity;
  • benefits paid by a public authority (pension, unemployment benefit, family allowance, disability benefit, etc.);
  • declared regular income from the rental of property owned by the guarantor.

 Financial assistance from a public social welfare centre (PSWC) is not taken into account.

The guarantor must complete boxes A, B and D (Part I) of the formal obligation, legibly and without any deletions or alterations, and have their signature authenticated by the municipal administration of their place of residence.

The subsequent procedure depends on the nationality and place of residence of the person for whom the guarantor has assumed financial responsibility.

  1. The person for whom the guarantor has assumed financial responsibility is exempt from the visa requirement for a short stay in Belgium

When they request the legalisation of their signature, the guarantor must present the following documents:

  • proof that they have Belgian nationality or that they are admitted or authorised to reside in Belgium for an unlimited period (identity card or residence permit);
  • a family composition issued by the municipal administration of the place of residence;
  • where applicable, proof of relationship with the person for whom the guarantor has assumed financial responsibility;
  • proof of sufficient resources.

Proof of sufficient resources may take the form of salary slips or a document drawn up by a public authority certifying the net or gross, monthly or annual income earned during the three months preceding the request for legalisation of their signature or, failing that, any document indicating the source and amount of their resources (pension slips, proof of receipt of unemployment benefit, bank statements for the last 3 months, notice of assessment for tax for the year preceding entry into the Schengen area or the submission of the visa application, etc.). Self-employed guarantors must present at least their last notice of assessment.

If the guarantor does not present these documents, the municipal administration will declare the formal obligation inadmissible.

The municipal administration sends the formal obligation and the documents to the Immigration Office, which indicates its decision in box F. The municipal administration will notify the guarantor of the decision.

If the Immigration Office accepts the formal obligation, the guarantor must forward the original document to the person for whom the guarantor has assumed financial responsibility.

  1. The person for whom the guarantor has assumed financial responsibility must apply for a visa for a short stay in Belgium

Belgium does not issue short-stay visas (C visas) for all countries. In this case, visa applications for Belgium are generally examined by another Schengen State.

If the person for whom a guarantor assumes financial responsibility resides in a country where Belgium is represented by another Schengen State, the guarantor must follow the procedure explained in point (1)

If the person for whom a guarantor assumes financial responsibility resides in a country where Belgium issues visas for a short stay, the guarantor must send them the original of the legalized formal obligation, as well as the following documents:

  • proof that they have Belgian nationality or that they are admitted or authorised to reside in Belgium for an unlimited period (identity card or residence permit);
  • a family composition issued by the municipal administration of the place of residence;
  • where applicable, proof of relationship with the person for whom the guarantor has assumed financial responsibility;
  • proof of sufficient resources.

This proof may take the form of salary slips or a document drawn up by a public authority certifying the net or gross, monthly or annual income earned during the three months preceding the request for legalisation of their signature or, failing that any document indicating the source and amount of their resources (pension slips, proof of receipt of unemployment benefit, bank statements for the last 3 months, notice of assessment for tax for the year preceding entry into the Schengen area or the submission of the visa application, etc.). Self-employed guarantors must present at least their last notice of assessment.

The formal obligation may be presented as proof of sufficient means of subsistence in the context of a visa application and/or when crossing the external borders of the Schengen area. To constitute valid proof, Part I of the formal obligation must be printed on both sides, with an original copy submitted containing no alterations.

  1. Application for a visa for a short stay in Belgium
  • If the person for whom a guarantor assumes financial responsibility applies for a visa at a Belgian embassy or consulate, they must present the original of the formal obligation (printed on both sides and without alterations) and the documents sent by the guarantor within 6 months of the date on which the municipal administration legalised the guarantor's signature (see box D). After this period, the formal obligation is inadmissible.

The post will give the original of the formal obligation to the person concerned for whom their visa application is also accepted. If the formal obligation is refused, this decision will be notified with the decision on the visa application.

  • If the person for whom a guarantor has assumed financial responsibility applies for a visa from a Schengen State which represents Belgium in the country where they reside, they must present the formal obligation accepted by the Immigration Office within 6 months of the date on which the municipal administration invited the guarantor to come and collect it (see box D). After this period, the formal obligation is no longer valid proof of means of subsistence.

The post will give the original of the formal obligation to the person concerned for whom their visa application is also accepted.

  1. Entry into the Schengen area

If the person for whom a guarantor has assumed financial responsibility is exempt from the visa requirement for a short stay in Belgium, they must present the original of the formal obligation at the external borders of the Schengen area within 6 months of the date on which the municipal administration invited the guarantor to come and collect it (see box D). After this period, the formal obligation is no longer valid proof of means of subsistence.