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International travels

 


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.

The different measures which apply on the Belgian territory can be found on https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/faq/

1. Travel restrictions

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 abroad is prohibited for persons whose main residence is in Belgium;
  • Non-essential travel to Belgium is prohibited for persons whose main residence is outside of Belgium.

These measures apply until 1 April 2021.

The various measures taken since March 2020 to limit the spread of the coronavirus are published on the website of the Crisis Centre:  https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/faq/

2. Exceptions to the travel restrictions

2.1 List of essential travels applicable to persons having the nationality of an EU*/Schengen Member State or having their main residence in an EU/Schengen Member State, or having their main residence in a third country considered safe by Belgium**

* 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.

** Australia, South Korea, Rwanda, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand

The following travels are considered essential:

1. a trip for purely professional reasons, including a trip by professional sportsmen and sportswomen with elite sport status, cultural sector professionals and journalists travelling for work;

2. a trip undertaken by diplomats, ministers, Heads of State and Government; a trip undertaken by staff of international organizations and institutions and by people invited by international organizations and institutions whose physical presence is required for the proper functioning of those organizations and institutions; a trip undertaken by staff of diplomatic and consular posts and by people invited by these posts whose physical presence is required for the proper functioning of those posts; a trip undertaken by members of the European Parliament when performing their duties; 

3. a trip for compelling family reasons, i.e.:

  • a trip justified by family reunification, as defined in the Law of 15 December 1980 on entry, stay, settlement and removal of foreign nationals;
  • a visit to a spouse or partner who does not live under the same roof, insofar as the stable and long-term character of the relationship can be proven;
  • a trip in the context of co-parenting;
  • a trip in the context of a funeral or cremation of first- and second-degree relatives or next of kin, insofar as plausible evidence can be provided of the stable and long-term character of the relationship with the next of kin;
  • a trip in the context of a civil or religious marriage of first- and second-degree relatives or next of kin;

4. a trip for humanitarian reasons, in particular:

  • a trip for medical reasons or to continue urgent medical treatment;
  • a trip to provide assistance or care to an elderly, minor, disabled or vulnerable person;
  • palliative care visit;

5. a study-related trip, in particular a trip by pupils, students and trainees who are undergoing training as part of their studies and researchers with a hosting agreement;  

6. a trip to a neighbouring country by a resident of a border municipality and the adjacent neighbouring municipalities as part of their everyday activities that are also allowed and necessary in the country of their primary residence; a trip to a neighbouring country by a resident of a border area as part of their everyday activities that are also allowed and necessary in the country of their primary residence, insofar as plausible evidence can be provided;  

7. a trip to take care of animals;  

8. a trip in the context of a legal obligation, insofar as it is necessary and cannot be done online;  

9. a trip to have urgent repairs carried out in the context of vehicle safety;  

10. a trip in the context of moving house;  

11. a trip for the purpose of transiting;

2.2 List of essential travels 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:

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 long-term 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).

3. Specifications of certain categories of travel

> Family or private visit of short duration: This type of visit is not considered an essential travel, with the exception of the travel which falls under 3. and 4. of section 2.1 above and 9. of section 2.2 above. 

> Visit of a short duration to a spouse or partner who does not live under the same roof.  For the application of 3. of the section 2.1 above and 7. of the section 2.2 above: the proof of the marriage or the legal partnership has to be provided by an official document. For the de facto partners, the plausible proof of the stable and long-term character of the relationship can be given by: 

  • The partners prove that they have lived together for 6 months in Belgium or in another country; or
  • The partners prove a relationship of at least one year, during which they have physically seen each other physically at least twice, for at least 20 days*; or
  • The partners prove that they have a child together

Both de facto partners have to at least 18 years old and unmarried.

* If a visit has had to be cancelled due to travel restrictions (Covid-19), evidence of the forced cancellation of that visit may be taken into consideration during the planned new visit.

> Travel for funerals, cremations and marriages: the proof of the family relationship within the first or second degree has to be given by official documents.

> Travel of short duration to provide assistance or care to an elderly, minor, disabled or vulnerable person: this is considered essential if the traveller demonstrates the need for assistance or care, or the physical or mental distress of a first- or second-degree relative. The proof of the family relationship within the first or second degree has to be given by official documents.

> Travel of persons who come to Belgium to exercise an employed or self-employed activity, including the travel of artists and sportsmen and women - In the case of a person who is exempt from a work permit (because of the nature of the occupation or the short duration of the occupation), travel may be considered essential, provided that the work is necessary from an economic point of view, or has a societal value, and that this work cannot be postponed or performed at a distance. Whether or not work can be postponed may change over time.

The cases in which a foreigner is exempt from the need for a work permit or a professional card can be found on the Regions' website.

> Transit: Attention is drawn to the fact that if you travel to another Schengen Member State via Belgium, you must have an authorisation to enter the other Member State in question, unless you can prove the essential character on the basis of documents. You can do this with a verbal note from the embassy of that other Schengen Member State or an individualised proof from those authorities confirming that you can travel there. If you do not have such a document, it will be up to the Belgian immigration authorities to determine whether you can travel via Belgium. Therefore, you are advised to plan a direct flight to the Schengen Member State which is your final destination.

4.  Control at the external borders             

Every traveller must (a) be in possession of the documents required for entry into Schengen and (b) 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.

5. Sworn Statement

For the travels permitted under the terms of section 2.1 above: the traveller is obliged to fill in the digital or paper Sworn Statement, of which the model form is published on the website "infocoronavirus.be" prior to the trip, to sign and carry it with him during the entire trip.

If a transporter is used, the transporter is be obliged to check that the passengers have filled out the Sworn Statement before boarding. If this not the case, the transporter is obliged to refuse boarding. Upon arrival on Belgian territory, the transporter shall check again that the Sworn Statement has been completed.

In the absence of this Sworn Statement or in the event of false, misleading or incomplete information in this document, the entry into the Schengen area can be refused by the authorities.

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

6. Essential Travel Certificate:

For the travels permitted under the terms of section 2.2 above: 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

7. Public Health Passenger Locator Form

Any person travelling to Belgium, or returning to Belgium after a stay abroad, by airplane or boat, must complete the electronic version of the Public Health Passenger Locator Form (PLF) within 48 hours before arrival in Belgium. This also applies when travelling by train or bus from a country outside the European Union and the Schengen area.

Any person travelling to Belgium, or returning to Belgium after a stay abroad, without using a carrier as mentioned above (e.g. by car) must also fill in the PLF within 48 hours prior to arrival in Belgium, except :

  • if this person stays less than 48 hours in Belgium ;
  • if this person has stayed less than 48 hours outside Belgium.

The traveler must carry the proof of introduction of the completed PLF with him/her throughout the journey to the final destination in Belgium and for the next 48 hours. If it is not possible to obtain such proof, the traveler is required to carry a copy of the completed PLF with him/her throughout the journey to the final destination in Belgium and for the next 48 hours.

8. Test Results

Each traveller, from the age of 6, arriving on Belgian territory from a territory classified as a red zone on the website of the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs in the context of the COVID-19 crisis and not having his or her main residence in Belgium, must have a negative test result based on a test carried out at the earliest 72 hours prior to departure to Belgian territory. If necessary, the transporter is obliged to check that passengers present a negative test result before boarding. In the absence of a negative test result, the transporter is obliged to refuse boarding.

A traveller who stays less than 48 hours in Belgium and a traveller who has stayed less than 48 hours outside Belgium must not have a negative test result.

The following travellers don't need to be in possession of a negative test result:

1° Persons having their main residence in Belgium

2° While travelling to Belgium in the context of their duties:

  • Transport workers or transport providers, including truck drivers, who transport goods for use on the territory and those who are only in transit;
  • Seafarers (This only applies to embarking or disembarking via a Belgian port. However the seafarers who travel to Belgium in order to embark a vessel via a Belgian port must still be able to present a negative test result to their transporter – see general rule above)
  • The Border Force Officers of the United Kingdom;
  • The frontier workers

3° Border pupils who travel to Belgium within the framework of the compulsory education ;
4° Persons who travel to Belgium within the framework of co-parenting.

9. Quarantaine measure

Each person who stayed at least 48 hours in a red zone is subject to a quarantine measure which can be ended through a negative PCR-test on day 7 of the quarantine. This measure applies to residents and non-residents. 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. More information concerning the quarantine and some exceptions can be found on https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/faq/

 

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