Visa Information for Belgium 2023 – How To Apply

By: Izza Kazmi

Visa Information for Belgium 2023: If you’re thinking of moving to Belgium, find out if you need a Belgian visa or permit to visit, live, work, or study there. If you want to go to, live in, work in, or go to school in Belgium, you may need a visa or permit. The following sections comprise this guide to visas in Belgium:

  • Immigration in Belgium
  • Who requires a visa for Belgium?
  • Visa variants for Belgium
  • Visas for visitors staying in Belgium for less than three months
  • Non-immigrant Belgian visas
  • Immigration visas in Belgium
  • Upon your arrival, registration is required.
  • Belgian citizenship
  • Asylum seekers in Belgium
  • Helpful resources

Immigration in Belgium

Throughout the past two decades, the number of migrants living in Belgium has increased. Around 150,000 individuals immigrate to the country annually, and approximately 25% of Belgians are foreign-born. As a member of the Schengen Area, Belgium permits many EU citizens to enter the nation without a passport. As the location of the European Commission and a centre of economic activity, the nation enjoys an international reputation. As part of the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs, the Immigration Office handles the nation’s immigration policy.

Who Needs a Visa for Belgium?
EU/EFTA Nationals

Belgium is visa-free for citizens of the European Union (EU) and the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland). EU and EEA citizens are exempt from work permit requirements. Citizens of the 25 other Schengen Area nations inside the EU/EFTA can enter Belgium without a passport and travel freely.

Individuals from EU nations that are not members of the Schengen Area (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania, and the United Kingdom) must present a passport but are not required to obtain a visa. The United Kingdom is now a member of the European Union, although it is scheduled to depart very shortly after the 2016 Brexit referendum. So, the future of Belgian visa or entry restrictions for British citizens after Brexit is still unknown. For now, the UK is still getting all the benefits of being an EU member.
Citizens of the EU, the EEA, and Switzerland must register at the local town hall (Maison communale/gemeentehuis) before entering Belgium. 

read more:Visa Information for South Africa 2023- How to Apply

Non-EU/EFTA Nationals

Foreign nationals (non-EU/EFTA citizens) are typically required to get a Belgian visa for stays of more than 90 days. For visits of less than 90 days, citizens of several nations are required to apply for a short-stay visa. Several non-EU/EFTA nations have visa-free access to the Schengen Area for up to 90 days for leisure or business travel.

Types of Belgian Visa

Visas for Belgium fall into one of three categories:

  • Short-term Belgian visas are visas that allow tourism or business stays of up to 90 days.
  • Non-immigrant visas are longer-term temporary visas for studying or working on fixed-term contracts when the holder does not plan to remain in the nation beyond the allotted time.
  • Immigrant visas—long-term visas for persons who wish to reside in Belgium permanently or long-term for reasons such as employment or retirement

Below is more information about these visas, including who can get them, how much they cost, and how to apply for them. 

Short-term Visas for Belgium

A short-stay Schengen or C visa permits you to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without the ability to work. If you have a Schengen visa from another Schengen state and have not surpassed the 90-day limit, you may also stay in Belgium.

Below is a list of the various types of Belgian visas for short stays.

Airport Transit Visa

A transit visa at an airport enables you to transit the international transit zone while waiting for your connecting flight. It is not possible to leave the airport and enter Belgium. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Syria require a visa. If you are a family member of an EU/EFTA citizen, you may not require this visa.

You must apply for a Belgian airport transit visa at least 15 days prior to departure. If a Belgian airport is your first or only transit airport, you may apply at your home country’s Belgian embassy. Here is a list of all Belgian embassies and consulates worldwide. In addition to the application form, you must submit a valid passport or identification card, two recent passport images, proof of flight, a trip insurance policy, and proof of payment of the €60 visa cost.

Visa Information for Belgium 2023
Visa Information for Belgium 2023

Tourist Visa

A Belgian tourist visa permits travellers to remain in the country for up to 90 days within six months. Unless they are from one of the 61 excluded nations, all nationals of a third country who wish to visit Belgium for tourism purposes must obtain this visa. Apply at the embassy or consulate of Belgium in your native country at least fifteen days before to your trip. In addition to the visa application form, you must submit a valid passport/ID, two recent passport photos, flight information, proof of health insurance, proof of accommodation, and proof of sufficient funds to sustain your stay. You must also provide evidence that you have paid the €60 tourist visa cost (€35 for minors ages 6 to 12).

Visitor Visa

This visa is required if you wish to visit relatives or friends in Belgium. The visitor visa for Belgium has comparable requirements, procedures, and fees to the tourist visa. The primary distinction is that you must additionally submit a letter of invitation and proof of family relationship for relatives.

Business Visa

This visa is required for business journeys to Belgium that last fewer than ninety days. This is a requirement for non-EU/EFTA citizens, however the same exemptions as for the tourist visa apply. The procedures and fees for a Belgian business visa are identical to those for a tourist visa. Also, you must supply a statement from your employer stating the purpose of your trip, or a letter of invitation from the group in Belgium requesting your attendance.

Official Visit Visa

Belgium requires official visitor visas for persons who have an official invitation for:

  • formal meeting, consultation, or negotiations; exchange programme; intergovernmental event
  • Same requirements and procedures apply as with the Belgian tourist visa. You must also provide the invitation letter in addition to the other required documents. For diplomatic trips, an Official Note from the Consular Department is necessary. This Belgian visa costs €60, although diplomatic passport holders do not have to pay the amount.

Medical Visas for Belgium

This visa is for individuals seeking medical treatment in Belgium for a maximum of three months. If treatment lasts longer than this, you must apply for a Belgian visa for long-term stays. Same requirements, procedures, and fees apply as with the tourist visa. However, you will be required to provide evidence of the need for medical care (e.g., a doctor’s note) as well as proof of health insurance or payment in advance.

Short-Term Study Visa

A short-term student visa can be applied for in the same manner as the tourist visa or other short-stay Belgian visas for trips lasting less than three months. You must submit supporting documentation for your study or educational reasons (e.g., acceptance onto the study programme or proof of qualifications). Children must also obtain a statement of agreement from their parents and school. For school trips and exchanges, schools or travelling parties from non-EU/EFTA countries may submit a group application exempting pupils from the need to submit individual visa applications. Detailed information, including photographs, must be submitted in advance for all children joining the trip.

Visas for Cultural, Sports, Religious, or Film Events in Belgium

This visa covers visits by artists, sportsmen, and religious leaders to Belgium for events and competitions. In addition to the regular requirements for short-stay visas, applicants must provide event details and proof of skills or certifications. Details on the film, the filmmaker’s credentials, and a crew roster must also be provided for film crews. This visa’s usual charge is €60, but there are numerous exclusions. Verify what pertains to your situation.

Non-immigrant Visas for Belgium

If you intend to visit Belgium for more than 90 days but not permanently, you must apply for a long-stay (category D) non-immigrant visa depending on the reason for your visit. For instance, whether you are travelling to Belgium to work, study, or visit family, Starting in 2015, an extra fee is required to process certain visa applications for long-term stays in Belgium. Before submitting your application to the Belgian Immigration Service, you must pay this charge in addition to the regular handling cost. The fee ranges from €62 to €358 depending on the circumstances, though some categories, such as children, are exempt.The Belgian Immigration Office or a Belgian consulate can also provide you with additional information.

The following non-immigrant visas are available for Belgium:

Student Visas in Belgium

Non-EU students who wish to study in Belgium for more than 90 days must submit an application for a student visa. You are eligible to apply for this visa if:

  • Your studies will be your primary focus during your time in Belgium, and you have the funds to support yourself. This is €654 per month net for the 2018–2019 academic year.
  • You are covered by health insurance in Belgium, and there are no pending criminal proceedings against you.

You must present proof of acceptance into a course at a recognised institution in Belgium, as well as a valid passport or identification card and evidence that you meet the aforementioned prerequisites. This Belgian visa costs €180 in addition to any further donation, if required.

Visas for Temporary Workers/Au Pairs

There are three temporary work visas for Belgium. Each permit allows the holder to work in Belgium for a maximum of one year. They include:

  • Category B Work Visa: This visa is for a specific position with a specific employer and requires employer sponsorship. B work permits are provided when there is a lack of eligible candidates among the Belgian labour force or for particular professional occupations, such as managerial roles, academic personnel, spokespersons, and entertainers. This visa is often requested by the employer and can be renewed beyond 12 months if the eligibility requirements are still met.
  • Category C Work Visa: This is provided to those who are already in Belgium on a temporary basis but not for employment purposes (e.g., students, family members, asylum seekers). It permits the possessor to accept any position for which he or she is qualified. In some instances, the term can be extended beyond 12 months.

Au Pair Visa: Those between the ages of 18 and 26 who do not possess a Belgian work visa are eligible to work in Belgium as an au pair if they and their host family meet specific requirements. This visa is only valid for a period of twelve months. 

Non-immigrant Family Visas

You must submit an application for a category D family reunion visa and a temporary residence permit if you wish to come to Belgium to be with a partner or relatives for a limited amount of time longer than three months. It is possible to renew visas for up to five years. Visas can be given for up to five years. You must submit your application at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country. The precise procedure and requirements depend on your country of origin, whether you are visiting EU/EFTA or non-EU/EFTA relatives, and the duration of your intended stay. Visa charges are €180.

Immigrant Visas in Belgium

If you are relocating to Belgium or want to visit for an extended duration (longer than one year), you must apply for a category D Belgian visa for long-term stays. The type of visa you apply for will depend on the reason for your trip to Belgium. The normal price for a long-stay immigrant visa is €180, in addition to the same additional surcharges as non-immigrant visas. Typically, you must apply for this visa at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your place of residence. If you are applying from within Belgium, you must do so at the local municipal administration office or town hall (Maison communale/gemeentehuis). The following categories of Belgian immigrant visas are:

Family Reunion Visas

Generally, if you are a non-EU/EEA or Swiss national, you can obtain a long-term visa to accompany your spouse, registered partner, or parent (if you are a dependent family member) who has been granted permission to reside in Belgium, provided that you meet certain requirements. You must be able to prove your relationship, have acceptable housing in Belgium, and have sufficient means to cover the family’s living expenses and health insurance premiums.

For a long-stay visa in Belgium, you must submit an application form, numerous papers (including a valid passport or ID and proof of relationship to your relative), and proof of payment.

Adopted Children

If you are a Belgian national or a foreign resident living in Belgium who wishes to adopt an international child, you must apply for a category D long-term visa for the child. To do so, you must submit a completed application form, a passport, the passports and visas/residence permits of both biological parents, the child’s birth certificate, and completed adoption documents. Children adopted by parents born in Belgium or with Belgian citizenship get Belgian citizenship automatically.

Work Visas

Before applying for a long-term work visa in Belgium, you must obtain employment. Employers in Belgium apply for work permits on your behalf. The long-term Belgian work visa, known as a “Category A” work visa, allows the holder to work indefinitely for any employer.

Entrepreneur Visas

Non-EU/EFTA nationals who wish to start a business or become self-employed in Belgium must submit an application for a professional card, which serves as a licence to trade and engage in independent business operations. For long-term stays, you must apply for a Belgian visa of category D at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country (or at the local municipal administration offices if you are already in Belgium), submitting a completed application form and all required supporting documents. You can apply for the professional card concurrently with your application for a Belgian visa. The regional authorities issue the professional card.

Retirement to Belgium

People from outside the EU/EFTA who want to retire in Belgium must apply for a Category D long-stay visa at the Belgian embassy or consulate in their home country.

To retire in Belgium, you must be able to provide for yourself without working. This can be accomplished by producing six-month-old bank statements, pension statements, or proof of income from real estate. You must also submit a letter detailing the grounds for your relocation to Belgium. Priority is given to applicants who can demonstrate ties to Belgium (e.g., family ties or having lived in the country before). Additional required documents include a completed application form, a valid passport or identification card, a medical certificate, a criminal record history certificate, and proof of visa fee payment.

Arrival in Belgium: Registration and Residence

You have three days upon arrival in Belgium to register your arrival at the municipal administration offices. They will provide you with documentation indicating when you must leave Belgium. Anybody intending to remain in Belgium for longer than three months will be considered a resident. You have eight working days after your arrival in Belgium to visit your local municipal administration office or town hall (Maison communale/gemeentehuis) to register with the Foreigner’s Register and obtain a residence card.

You must bring your passport, work permit (if applicable), and passport photos with you. You will receive a Certificate of Registration and either a Residence Card A or a Residence Card B, depending on the length of your stay in Belgium.

In addition to registering to live in Belgium, you will need to set up a bank account, health insurance, and other necessities.

Citizenship and Permanent Residence in Belgium

After living in Belgium for five years, you may be eligible for permanent residency. If they meet specific requirements, certain inhabitants will also be eligible to seek Belgian citizenship. Both allow you to work and reside in Belgium indefinitely under the same rules as Belgian citizens.

If you have lived in another EU country for a certain amount of time and have a Blue Card from another EU country, this time can count towards your five-year residency requirement. 

Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Belgium

Belgium is a signatory to the Geneva Convention; therefore, any foreigners who enter the nation are permitted to seek refuge. The first step in requesting asylum in Belgium is to submit an application to the General Commissariat for Refugees and Stateless People (CGRS). Applicants must next visit a reception centre as part of the application procedure. Here, they receive shelter, food, and medical care.

Typically, decisions require three to six months. If the asylum application is denied, an appeal can be filed within thirty days. As part of the procedure, asylum seekers will be asked about their application. If they are awarded refugee status, they will be granted permanent residency in Belgium. Denied candidates will be required to depart Belgium within a given timeframe. In 2018, Belgium had over 20,000 first-time asylum seekers from non-EU countries, the eighth highest number in the EU.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for a visa to Belgium?

Your visa application must be sent to the Belgian Embassy or Consulate in your country.
To apply for a Belgium visa, please follow the given instructions.
Contact the Embassy of Belgium.
Make a reservation.
Complete the visa application form.
Gather all your documentation.
Attend the visa appointment.

What documents are required for a Belgium visa?

What Documents Are Needed for a Schengen Tourist Visa for Belgium?
Your valid passport
Two Recent Passport Pictures
a Schengen Visa Application Form.
an itinerary or round-trip flight ticket.
Evidence of Financial Resources
Evidence of Accommodation
a cover letter.
Schengen Travel Insurance

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