Are you required to hold a visa for a short stay not exceeding 3 months?Where to lodge your visa applicationThe supporting documents to submit when applying for a visaProcessing of the visa applicationIssue of the visaRefusal to issue the visaTracking the progress of a visa applicationEntering the territory and registering your arrival at the municipal administrationUseful texts
Are you required to hold a visa for a short stay not exceeding 3 months?
Nationals of most third countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) are under an obligation to hold a visa for a proposed stay of a maximum duration of 3 months on the territory of the SCHENGEN States.
To find out more, consult the list of third countries whose nationals are placed under the obligation to hold a visa to cross the external borders of the SCHENGEN States and/or the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from that obligation.
Also consult the list of residence permits issued by the SCHENGEN States authorising entry without a visa.
click here to see the list (Follow Visa – Obligation de visa ou Exceptions à l’obligation de visa or Visa – Visumplichtig of Visumvrij).
Where to lodge your visa application
>As a general rule, you lodge your visa application with the Belgian consulate with territorial competence for the country in which you legally reside. You present yourself in person, at the earliest3 months before the planned start of your journey.
>If your papers are in order in a country where you do not habitually reside, you may, exceptionally, contact the Belgian consulate competent for that jurisdiction, but you will need to be able to explain why you are lodging your application there. In that case, your application will be passed on to the Aliens Office, which will take the final decision.
To find out more about the territorial competence of the Belgian consulates, click here
RECOMMENDATIONGo first to the consulate’s website for any information on the practical arrangements on the lodging of your visa application. The point is that it is possible that you might need to make an appointment. It is also possible that the consulate might cooperate with an external service provider entrusted with sundry tasks (information, making an appointment, receiving files, etc.). In that case, additional service fees will be charged.
Bear in mind also that the consulate might invite you for an interview or ask for additional documents.
Finally, look at when you will be travelling, because the period for the issue of an appointment and the time taken to process your visa application will inevitably be longer at certain times of the year.
In short, make sure you lodge your visa application in good time (but at the earliest 3 months before the planned start of your journey) to avoid any disappointment and unnecessary costs.
What to do if there is no Belgian representation in your country of residence
If there is no Belgian consulate in the country where you reside, contact the Belgian consulate competent for that country. This is usually in a neighbouring country. They will tell you whether Belgium is represented by another SCHENGEN State in the country where you reside, and whether you can lodge your visa application with the consulate in that other Member State.
The supporting documents to submit when applying for a visa
It is essential that your file contain the following:
a) a completed and signed application form, complying with the harmonised SCHENGEN visa application form. This form is available free of charge from consulates. You complete it in French, Dutch, German or, if you do not have a command of any of these national languages, ideally in English. You append a recent identity photograph meeting the standards in force.
Any person appearing in your travel document must complete a separate application form.
Minor children must submit an application form signed by a person with parental authority or by a legal guardian;
b) a travel document (e.g. a passport), valid for at least 3 months from the date on which you intend to leave the SCHENGEN territory, or, in the case of multiple journeys, the date on which you intend to leave it for the last time. This document must also contain at least 2 blank pages and have been issued less than 10 years ago;
c) the documents indicating the purpose of your journey (e.g. a letter of invitation stating the date, duration and purpose of your stay, proof of a family tie to the host, information about your relationship with the person inviting you, etc. If you are a minor travelling without your parents or without your legal guardian, parental authorisation or the authorisation of your guardian will be required);
d) the documents relating to accommodation (e.g. in the case of accommodation with a private individual, an invitation from the person hosting you, or in the case of a stay in a hotel, guesthouse, etc., a supporting document from the establishment offering accommodation or any other substantiating document indicating the type of accommodation envisaged, etc.);
e) the documents indicating that you have sufficient personal means of subsistence, both for the duration of your stay on the SCHENGEN territory and for the transit to a third country in which your admission is guaranteed or a commitment that charge will be taken (Annex 3 bis);
f) information making it possible to assess your intention to leave the territory of the SCHENGEN States before the expiry of the visa or, in other words, information indicating that you retain the centre of your interests in your country of origin or habitual residence (e.g. any proof that you have roots in your country of origin or habitual residence: attestation of employment, professional situation, receipt of regular income, ownership of real estate, family situation, etc.);
g) suitable, valid travel health insurance covering any costs of repatriation for medical reasons, emergency medical care and/or emergency hospital care or death during your stay/s on the SCHENGEN territory. This insurance must be valid for the whole of this territory and the whole of the stay. The minimum cover is 30,000 EUR. In principle, it is taken out in your own country. Ask the competent consulate about the insurance companies whose contracts are accepted.
h) If you are applying for a multiple-entry visa, you must in addition establish the need to travel frequently and/or regularly, inter alia because of your job or your family situation, and prove your integrity and reliability, inter alia by the legal use of visas issued previously, by your economic situation and by your desire to leave the territory of the SCHENGEN States before the expiry of the visa applied for.
i) When you receive confirmation of the issue of the visa, add the proof of the transport that you will use to reach Belgium (non-transferable return ticket in your name). This proof is not required when you lodge the visa application, to avoid unnecessary costs. On the other hand, proof of the reservation of a return ticket may be demanded.
ATTENTIONYour application will not be admissible and will thus not be examined if you do not lodge a completed, signed application form, a valid travel document and a photograph, if you do not pay the visa fees and, in certain countries, if you do not agree to give the consulate your biometric data.
On the other hand, if you comply with these instructions, a stamp indicating that your application is admissible will be affixed to your travel document (unless that travel document is a diplomatic passport, a service passport and/or an official passport, or a special passport). This stamp has no legal effect.
Processing of the visa application
As a general rule, a decision will be taken by the consulate or the Aliens Office within 15 days from the date appearing on the stamp affixed to your travel document and indicating that your application is admissible. However, this deadline may be extended up to 30 days and even, exceptionally, 60 days, if a more detailed examination of your application and/or additional documents are required. In that case, your application will be sent to the Aliens Office, which will take the final decision.
Note likewise that one SCHENGEN State may require the other SCHENGEN States to consult it before issuing a visa to a national of certain third countries. As a general rule, the Member State consulted will give a definitive reply within 7 to 14 days. If you are a national of a country on this list, make sure you lodge your visa application in good time (but at the earliest 3 months before the planned start of your journey) to avoid any disappointment and unnecessary costs. To find out more about the countries concerned by this prior consultation procedure, click here.
Issue of the visa
The visa is affixed in the form of a sticker (visa sticker) in your travel document by a consulate or, exceptionally, at the border.
As a general rule, it is valid for the whole of the SCHENGEN territory (see heading ‘VALID FOR’). Its period of validity (5 years maximum – see heading ‘FROM … TO …’) and the length of stay authorised (90 days maximum – see heading ‘DURATION OF STAY… DAYS’) are laid down on the basis of the examination of the visa application. The visa may be issued for one entry, two entries or multiple entries (see heading ‘NUMBER OF ENTRIES’).
In all cases, you can transit or stay on the SCHENGEN territory only for the duration of stay authorised (X days to be used, in one or more batches, during a period of 6 months from the date of the first entry into the territory of the Schengen States, with the deadline being the date on which the validity of your visa expires – see heading ‘FROM … TO …’).
Exceptionally, one SCHENGEN State may issue a visa with limited territorial validity. This visa is valid only for the territory of that State, unless one or more other SCHENGEN States have given their agreement to extend its territorial validity to their territory (see heading ‘VALID FOR’).
ATTENTIONHolding a C visa does not give you the irrevocable right to enter Belgium or the SCHENGEN territory.
The external border authorities may, inter alia, refuse to allow you to enter if you cannot justify the purpose and the conditions of the intended stay, and/or you do not have sufficient means of subsistence.
Remember, too, that the SCHENGEN State competent to examine your visa application is the one in which you will stay (single destination). If your journey involves several destinations, contact the SCHENGEN State which will be your principal destination in terms of the duration or purpose of your stay. If you cannot determine your principal destination, contact the SCHENGEN State through whose external border you will be entering the SCHENGEN territory.
If the SCHENGEN State to which you are travelling has no consulate in the country where you reside, contact the SCHENGEN State that represents it.
If you turn up at the external borders of one Schengen State, which is neither your single destination nor your principal or habitual destination, with a visa issued by another Schengen State, you will be liable to be refused entry and turned back to your country of residence (e.g. you arrive at Zaventem or Gosselies with a visa issued by the consulate in another Schengen State, when the purpose of your journey is to see family or visit Belgium as a tourist).
Refusal to issue the visa
This decision is within the exclusive competence of the Aliens Office. It is notified to the applicant by the consulate.
You may appeal against this decision. The information on avenues of recourse can be found on the refusal form.
For the sake of respecting your privacy, neither the consulate nor the SPF Foreign Affairs, nor the call centre at the Aliens Office will communicate the grounds for the refusal of a visa to third parties, whether host or sponsor. These grounds may, however, be notified to your lawyer, if a written request is submitted to the Aliens Office.
Tracking the progress of a visa application
First of all, contact the consulate where you lodged your visa application, with due regard to the practical arrangements stated on its website.
If your application has been referred to the Aliens Office for a decision, start by consulting the site www.dofi.fgov.be (What is happening to my visa application?). Enter the reference of your visa application and the location of the competent consulate to find out information about its status.
If necessary, ring or email the call centre at the Aliens Office (+ 32 2 793 80 00 or (email@example.com).
Entering the territory and registering your arrival at the municipal administration
Go to the municipal administration in the place where you are staying within 3 days of your arrival in Belgium, unless you are staying in a lodging house subject to the legislation on the control of travellers (e.g. a hotel).
The municipal administration will give you an arrival declaration (Annex 3). This document gives the date on which you must leave the SCHENGEN territory.