Schengen Area entry visa application (visa C)

This page is a guide for the foreign national as part of the steps to be taken in obtaining an entry visa for the Schengen Area.

It is recommended to consult the site of the competent Belgian embassy/consulate and the site of the external service provider that will receive the visa application (VFS Global or TLS Contact) for all the practical information (opening days and hours, appointments, amount and method of payment for the service fee and for the visa fee, etc.), as well as the documents to be presented along with this visa application (documents, form, number, originals or photocopies, translation, legalisation, etc.). 

It is also strongly recommended to present a complete file when the visa application is submitted. A complete file contains the documents and information that will enable the responsible Belgian authorities to verify that the applicant meets the conditions for entry into the Schengen Area and to assess the risk of illegal immigration.

Documents presented spontaneously after the submission of an application will generally not be considered.  

Territorial competence of Belgian embassies and consulates

The foreigner must apply to the Belgian embassy competent for the place where they legally reside and prove that Belgium is their sole or main destination – that is, the Schengen state where they will spend most of their time or the Schengen state where the main purpose of their trip will be fulfilled.

If Belgium is not the sole or principal destination, the visa application is inadmissible. The Belgian embassy will refer the foreigner to the competent Schengen state.

The list of Belgian embassies and consulates will be published on the site of the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: Addresses of Belgian embassies and consulates abroad | Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs (belgium.be)

What happens if Belgium does not issue a visa C in the country of residence?

Belgium has representation agreements with several other Schengen states. Under these agreements, Belgium processes visa applications intended for another Member State in certain third countries, and another Schengen state processes visa applications intended for Belgium in a third country where Belgium itself does not issue visas.

Regardless of their place of residence, a foreigner can generally submit a visa application for a short stay in Belgium to a Belgian embassy or consulate, or to the embassy or consulate of another Schengen state.

PLEASE NOTE: Foreigners travelling for one of the following reasons must submit their visa application to the Belgian Embassy competent for their place of residence:

 

The list of third countries in which Belgium is represented by another Schengen state will be published on the site of the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: Visa for Belgium | FPS diplomacy (belgium.be)

Collaboration of Belgian embassies and consulates with external service providers

Belgian embassies and consulates generally work with external service providers (VFS Global and TLS Contact).

These external service providers have one or more Visa Application Centres (VAC) in a country. These Visa Application Centres provide several services to applicants: providing general information on the documents to be submitted along with a visa application, making appointments for the submission of visa applications, receiving the visa applications, forwarding the decision taken by the competent Belgian authorities, etc.

These services require a payment ("service fee"). The amount and method of payment are listed on the embassy/consulate website or on the website of the external service provider.

It is strongly recommended that you check the site of the external service provider responsible for your place of residence before submitting your visa application.

The external service providers never intervene when the decision is made.

The list of third countries in which the embassy or consulate is working with an external service provider will be published on the site of the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation: Visa for Belgium | FPS Foreign Affairs 

When to apply for a visa?

A visa application must be submitted at least 15 days before the start of the journey and no earlier than 6 months beforehand. 

Useful information: During certain periods (holiday periods, school holidays, etc.), the appointment period and examination period are generally longer. Consequently, it is recommended that a visa application be submitted as early as possible.

How to apply for a visa?

The application form is generally completed online, at the site http://visaonweb.diplomatie.be/ managed by the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.

The file is generally submitted by appointment. It is recommended to consult the site of external service provider for all the practical information.

The procedure to be followed for submitting a visa application and making an appointment is explained on the site of the external service provider receiving the visa application on behalf of the Belgian embassy or consulate (VFS Global or TLS Contact). 

Personal appearance

The foreigner entering the Schengen Area for the first time must present themselves in person to submit their file. Their biometric identification characteristics (photograph and fingerprints) will be collected at the same time.

The biometric identifiers will be integrated into the Visa Information System [EF1] (VIS) and collected for 59 months.

The foreigner will no longer be required to give their fingerprints if they apply for a new visa during these 59 months, unless the embassy or consulate to which this new application is submitted has doubts regarding their identity (example: the quality of the fingerprints taken on the first application is poor), or if the foreigner is no longer exempt from the obligation to give their fingerprints when they submit this new application (example: when the first application was submitted, they were temporarily unable to give their fingerprints).Instead, the photo will be taken or scanned with each new visa application and integrated into the VIS.

The following categories of people are exempt from fingerprinting:

  • children under 12 years of age,
  • people for whom fingerprinting is physically impossible;

Note: if this physical inability is temporary, the applicant must provide an explanation of this inability and, if appropriate, provide a medical certificate attesting to it.

  • heads of state or government leaders and members of the national government with accompanying spouses, as well as members of their official delegation invited by governments of Member States or by international organisations for an official purpose;
  • monarchs and other senior members of a royal family, who have been invited by Member State governments or international organisations for an official purpose.

Visa fees

The general rule is that every applicant must pay a visa fee when they submit their application. This fee allows for the administrative costs of examining your visa application to be covered.

This visa fee is charged in euros (EUR – €).The amount and method of payment are listed on the embassy/consulate website or on the websites of the service providers.

An applicant who is between six and twelve years old will pay €40 and an applicant who is twelve or older will pay €80.

Agreements aimed at facilitating visa issuance provide for some general discounts, and special rules apply to family members of EU citizens covered by Directive 2004/38/EC and Swiss nationals.

The following categories of people are not required to pay a visa fee:

  • children under six years of age;
  • pupils, students, postgraduate students and accompanying teachers if the purpose of their stay is educational or vocational;
  • researchers from third countries travelling for the purpose of conducting scientific research within the meaning of Recommendation No. 2005/761/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 September 2005 for facilitating the issuance by the Member States of uniform short stay visas to researchers who are citizens of a third country travelling within the Community for the purpose of conducting scientific research;
  • representatives of non-profit organisations who are twenty-five years old or younger and who participate in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events organised by non-profit organisations;
  • participants in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events organised by non-profit organisations who are twenty-five years old or younger;

In certain cases, holders of diplomatic passports or service passports are also exempt.

Visa fees are generally non-refundable, regardless of the decision ultimately made regarding the application.

Travel documents

The applicant must have a travel document that is less than 10 years old.

This travel document must be valid for at least three months after the (last) date you plan to leave Schengen.

This travel document must contain enough blank pages (at least two, one on which to affix the visa sticker and one on which to affix the stamp of the authorities in charge of border control).

Finally, this travel document must be recognised by the Schengen states.

NOTE: A travel document not recognised by Belgium or not recognised by all Schengen states could be accepted, but certain special rules apply regarding the document to which the visa would be affixed or the type of visa to be issued.   

Admissibility of a visa application

A visa application must meet the following requirements:

  • submission of a completed application form that includes a handwritten signature;
  • presentation of a valid travel document;
  • presentation of a photograph;
  • payment of the visa fee, and
  • collection of the biometric identification characteristics. 

A visa application that does not meet these conditions is inadmissible and will not be examined.

The Belgian authorities in charge of examining the visa application will check whether the applicant meets the conditions for entry into the Schengen Area and assess the risk of illegal immigration. This examination is based in particular on the documents and information provided by the applicant along with their visa application. 

=> It is important that you submit a complete file immediately when submitting the visa application, so that the Belgian authorities can make a decision as soon as possible.

In general, a standard file should contain the following documents:

  • a completed application form that includes a handwritten signature,
  • a valid travel document,
  • a photo,
  • proof of payment of the visa fee,
  • the fingerprints,
  • documents relating to the purpose of the stay (personalised invitation, proof of kinship relationship with the host, proof of the existence of a business or professional relationship, confirmation of the reservation of an organised trip, entry ticket for a sporting event, etc.),
  • documents relating to housing (welcome card, hotel reservation, etc.),
  • documents relating to means of subsistence (personal income or formal obligation),
  • medical travel insurance, and
  • guarantees of return to the country of residence at the end of the authorised stay in the Schengen Area.

In most countries, the diplomatic and consular representations of the Schengen states have developed a list of the supporting documents that must be submitted along with a visa application. This (common) harmonised list is adapted to the purpose of the intended trip, the profile of the applicant and local conditions. The list is published on the site of the Belgian embassy or consulate and the site of the external service provider (VFS Global or TLS Contact).

It is also recommended that you consult these sites for any information on the form (originals or copies), translation or legalisation of supporting documents.

Finally, it is recommended that a complete file be submitted when the visa application is made, as the decision to grant or deny an entry visa is made based on the documents and information provided by the applicant. A complete file also allows for a quicker decision.

Useful information: since the information on the conditions for issuing an entry visa is widely disseminated, the Belgian authorities in charge of examining visa applications consider that the submission of an incomplete file, without explanation, means that the applicant is not taking their application seriously, or that they are unable to present the documents proving the purpose and conditions of his stay, or to demonstrate their intention to leave the Schengen Area when the authorised short stay ends.

In general, information and documents provided spontaneously after the submission of the application or notification of the decision are not taken into account.

A foreigner may have several reasons for coming to Belgium.  

A journey may have multiple purposes in Belgium, or in Belgium and another Schengen state. Example: a professional meeting followed by a tourist weekend. In this case, the file must contain supporting documents for all the purposes and circumstances of the journey. 

In all cases, the file submitted by the foreigner must confirm the purpose of the journey stated on the application form.

=> It is important that you submit a complete file immediately when submitting the visa application, so that the Belgian authorities can make a decision as soon as possible. 

Most common travel destinations:

 

Family visit

The foreigner coming to Belgium in a family context should present an invitation that:

  • clearly identifies the inviting person and the invited foreigner;
  • states their affinity;
  • specifies whether the invited foreigner is travelling to Belgium for a special event (marriage, birth, death, etc.);
  • specifies whether the invited foreigner will be housed by the inviting person;
  • specifies the length of stay.

The documents that allow for valid proof of affinity vary from country to country. Consequently, it is recommended to consult the site of the Belgian embassy and the external service provider that receives visa applications on behalf of the embassy.

Business

The foreigner travelling to establish or develop professional relations or commercial relations with a Belgian company should present an invitation to enter Belgium. This invitation will specify the purpose of the visit (for example, participating in talks, conferences or events of a commercial, industrial or professional nature) and whether the company will compensate any travel or accommodation expenses.

They should also submit documents proving the link between their company's sector of activity and that of the Belgian company, as well as proof of the existence of commercial or professional relations between the two companies.

If they are travelling in the capacity of a representative of a foreign company, they should prove their status at that company and present an assignment.

Tourism

If the stay is organised, the foreigner should present proof of the reservation and payment for the journey.

If the stay is not organised, the foreigner should provide some credible information about their schedule and housing.

Each Member State has established reference amounts that make it possible to assess whether a foreigner has sufficient means of subsistence, both for the duration of the intended stay and for their return to the country of origin or residence, or for transit to a third country where they will be admitted with certainty.

For a short stay in Belgium, a foreigner who bears the costs of their own travel must generally prove that they personally have at least 95 euros per day, if staying in a hotel, and at least 45 euros per day, if staying with a private individual.

The following evidence of personal resources is generally accepted:

  • Recent bank statements covering at least the course of the three months preceding the visa application; [If a (significant) sum of money, evidenced by a bank statement, was recently deposited, it is recommended to justify the origin of this sum];
  • a credit card and a bank statement corresponding to this card;
  • traveller's cheques;
  • an employment contract, or a certificate of employment, and pay slips covering at least the past three months. 

The foreigner who does not have sufficient personal resources, or who cannot provide valid supporting documents, may call upon a guarantor. A formal obligation in accordance with annex 3bis of the Royal Decree of 8 October 1981, accepted by the Belgian authorities in charge of examining visa applications, may be presented as valid proof of means of subsistence.

The "GUARANTORS" brochure contains all the information relating to the formal obligation: who can be a guarantor, what income must a guarantor have, what is the responsibility of the guarantor, when and to whom must the formal obligation be presented, etc.

Useful information:

This list of supporting documents for proof of resources is not exhaustive. In particular, these supporting documents may be adapted to local circumstances as set out in the list of supporting documents to be submitted along with a visa application. This list has been prepared by the diplomatic and consular representations for the Schengen states (harmonised list).

The Belgian authorities in charge of examining the visa application must assess the risk of illegal immigration and will assess the applicant's willingness to leave the Schengen Area prior to expiry of the visa requested.

Thus, the applicant must provide return guarantees. These return guarantees are elements demonstrating that the applicant does intend to leave the Schengen Area.

The applicant is recommended to provide as much information and documentation as possible about their attachment to the country of residence.

  • Do they have any close relatives not travelling with them (marital status, family composition, dependents, etc.)?
  • Is their professional situation stable? (employment certificate, proof of regular deposit of wages into an account, through a bank statement, etc.)
  • Do they have stable and regular income, such as a pension or rent? (amount, origin, proof of regular deposit into an account, through a bank statement, etc.)
  • Do they own any real estate or land? (a house, an apartment, grounds)
  • Do they possess strong social roots? Have they already have visas that were respected?

All the information and documents provided by the applicant will be taken into consideration to ensure the objectivity of the assessment.

[Articles 10 and 15 of the Community Visa Code]

The applicant must take out adequate and valid medical travel insurance that covers any expenses for repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical care and/or emergency hospital treatment or due to death during your stay in the Schengen Area. This insurance must be purchased in the country where you reside.

The insurance must be valid throughout the entire territory of the Schengen states for the entire duration of the intended stay or transit.

The minimum coverage is €30,000.

Useful information:

  • The foreigner applying for a multiple entry visa must demonstrate that they hold adequate and valid medical travel insurance covering the duration of the first intended stay. By signing the visa application form, they acknowledge that they are aware that they must hold travel medical insurance for any subsequent stays.
  • The obligation to purchase medical travel insurance may already be considered fulfilled for certain professional groups, such as seafarers, who are already covered by medical travel insurance in connection with their professional activities.
  • Holders of diplomatic passports are exempt from the obligation to hold medical travel insurance.

Complete file

The Belgian authorities in charge of examining the visa application will check whether the applicant meets the conditions for entry into the Schengen Area and assess the risk of illegal immigration. This examination is based in particular on the documents and information provided by the applicant along with their visa application. 

=> It is important that you submit a complete file immediately when submitting the visa application, so that the Belgian authorities can make a decision as soon as possible.

Positive examination of the application

If the examination of the application is positive (the applicant has proven that he/she meets the conditions for entry), Belgian embassies and consulates can issue the visa without consulting the Immigration Office. This decision is usually made within 15 days from the date of submission of the visa application.

Incomplete file, negative examination of the application, mandatory sending of the application to the Immigration Office

When a more thorough examination of the visa application is required, Belgian embassies and consulates will forward the visa application to the Immigration Office, which will make the decision (granting or refusing the visa).

In this case, the processing period may be extended up to 45 days from the date of submission of the visa application.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not contact the Infodesk by phone or e-mail until the 45-day deadline has passed. The Infodesk cannot help you then.

In certain situations, embassies and consulates are required to send the visa application to the Immigration Office. This is the case, for example, when a previous visa application has been refused due to a risk of migration. (Complete list of situations in which transfer of the visa application is mandatory)

In this case, the processing period may be extended up to 45 days from the date of submission of the visa application.

PLEASE NOTE: Do not contact the Infodesk by phone or e-mail until the 45-day deadline has passed. The Infodesk cannot help you then.

Busy periods

During certain periods of the year (school holidays, summer, year-end celebrations), the agreed period for submitting a visa application and the processing time for this application are inevitably longer. Consequently, it is recommended that a visa application be submitted as early as possible, if the journey is anticipated for a busy period.

The visa sticker is placed in the travel document. The visa sticker contains some essential information:

The validity period of the visa [VANAF/DU/FROM + date TOT/AU/UNTIL + date] is the period during which the visa-holder can use this visa to enter and leave the Schengen Area, respecting the authorised period to stay.

The authorised length of stay [DUUR VAN HET VERBLIJF/DURÉE DU SÉJOUR/DURATION OF STAY + DAGEN/JOURS/DAYS] is the number of days during which the visa-holder can stay in the Schengen Area while the visa is valid.

The number of entries [AANTAL BINNENKOMSTEN/NOMBRE D'ENTRÉES/NUMBER OF ENTRIES] is the number of entries that can be made during the validity period of the visa, while respecting the authorised period of stay: 01 = 1 entry, 02 = 2 entries and MULT = multiple entries.

The territorial validity of the visa [GELDIG VOOR/VALABLE POUR/NUMBER OF ENTRIES + 01, 02 or MULT] may vary. A uniform visa is valid for the entire territory of the Schengen states, while a visa with territorially limited validity only authorises the holder to travel to the Schengen state or states for which the visa is valid.

In this example, the visa holder can travel across the territory of all the Schengen states (1 entry). They can do so for five days, between 01/04/2010 and 21/04/2010.

You can find some other examples in the Border Control section, Visa tab, Reading the visa sticker.

PLEASE NOTE: A visa does not give any absolute right of entry to the Schengen Area.

The border control guards will also check the entry conditions. If these are not met, entry may be denied. (See Border Control)

[Article 32, §1 of the Visa Code]

The general rule is that the visa application will be denied if the examination leads to any of the following conclusions:

  1. the applicant has presented a false or forged travel document;
  2. the purpose and circumstances of the proposed stay have not been demonstrated;
  3. the applicant has not demonstrated sufficient means of subsistence, both for the duration of the intended stay and for their return to the country of origin or residence, or for transit to a third country where they will be admitted with certainty;
  4. the applicant has not proven their ability to legally acquire sufficient means of subsistence, both for the duration of the intended stay and for their return to the country of origin or residence, or for transit to a third country where they will be admitted with certainty;
  5. the applicant has already been staying in the territory of the Member States for 90 days during the current 180-day period, under a uniform visa or a visa with limited territorial validity;
  6. the applicant is the subject of an alert in the SIS for the purpose of refusing entry; in this case, the Member State concerned will be added;
  7. the applicant is considered a threat to public order or internal security by one or more Member States;
  8. the applicant is considered a threat to public health by one or more Member States;
  9. the applicant is considered a threat to international relations by one or more Member States;
  10. the information provided regarding the purpose and circumstances of the proposed stay is not reliable;
  11. there is reasonable doubt as to the credibility of ... (to be specified);
  12. there is reasonable doubt as to the reliability and authenticity of the supporting documents presented or the credibility of their contents;
  13. there is reasonable doubt as to the applicant's intention to leave the territory of the Member States prior to the expiration of the visa;
  14. the applicant does not provide any evidence demonstrating that they did not have the opportunity to apply for a visa in advance, which would have justified the submission of the application at the borders;
  15. the applicant does not provide any justification regarding the purpose and circumstances of the proposed airport transit;
  16. the applicant fails to demonstrate that they have adequate and valid medical travel insurance when it is required.

This decision and the reasons upon which the decision is based will be communicated to the applicant, who may lodge an appeal, or can submit a new application that takes into account the reasons for refusal.  

A previous visa refusal does not automatically result in the refusal of a new application. Each application will be examined based on the specific characteristics of that application, considering all the information available.