Can I enter Belgium

The Schengen Area is the area of 26 European countries that have abolished border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy. Members of the Schengen Area are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland. (Countries in Bold aren’t members of the European Union) The United Kingdom and Ireland are not a member of the Schengen Area and have their own border control. Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia are candidates to join the Schengen Area. If you are a national of a Schengen State you don't need to apply for a visa.  
Nationals of most third countries are under an obligation to hold a visa. These are the several accepted motives for a proposed stay of a maximum duration of 3 months :

Short stay for private reasons–Visiting family or friends Short stay for tourism purposes Travel for professional reasons Travel conducted in the framework of study or another type of short training course Participation in a cultural, scientific, academic, sporting or religious event

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. The list can be found the website: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/index_en.htm Steps to apply for a visa:

Visa Procedure

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 earliest 3 months before the planned start of your journey.

If your papers are  legally okay 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.

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 the 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. documents relating to the continuation of your journey, a visa or another authorisation to enter the third country of destination, etc.);

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 SCHENGEN territory 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. a return ticket or proof of a reservation, 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.

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.
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.
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’). However, holding 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 through which you will be passing. If, in the course of your journey, you pass through the territory of several SCHENGEN States, contact the SCHENGEN State through whose external border you will be beginning your transit. If the SCHENGEN State competent to examine your visa applicationhas no consulate in the country where you reside, contact the SCHENGEN State that represents it. Consequently, if you turn up at the borders of one Schengen State with a visa issued by another Schengen State, which is not the one through which you planned to transit, you will be liable to be refused entry and turned back to your country of residence.
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. When you have a problem in these matter don't hesitate to contact us.

Obtain the Belgian Nationality?

For non-EU citizen, having a Belgian (and EU) citizenship offers significant advantages. As a EU citizen, you can freely move within the territory of the Union and you have the right to reside in the EU member state of your choice. Your children can easily register and attend one of the many European Universities. In addition, you can take up employment in any other member state or set-up a business without going through lengthy immigration proceedings. You can also benefit from other member states’ public services, such as healthcare, when abroad. It must be noted that acquisition of the Belgian nationality cannot be used to obtain the right to reside in Belgium. Only if you have the legal right to reside in Belgium, you will be entitled to become a Belgian National under the conditions briefly set out hereunder.
There are two ways of obtaining Belgian nationality, legally or voluntarily. The matter is regulated in The Code of Belgian Nationality (WBN) contains the legal conditions relating to Belgian nationality.

1. Being granted the Belgian Nationality before the age of 18 You can become legally Belgian before the age of 18 if you fulfil certain legal conditions and, sometimes, as a result of a process carried out by the Belgian parent. In a nutshell, the ways to be granted Belgian nationality are : If you have a Belgian parent (art 8) If you are adopted by a Belgian citizen (art 9) If you are born in Belgium as stateless (art 10 – 11) Nationality through a natural or adopting parent who obtains Belgian Nationality (art 12)

2. Acquiring the Belgian Nationality after the age of 18 From the age of 18, a person can submit a voluntary and personal application for Belgian nationality. From 1 January 2013, (by virtue of the law of December 4, 2012) Belgian nationality can be obtained in 2 ways: via a nationality declaration (various options) and by naturalisation.

2.1. Nationality declaration

The Nationality declaration is the standard procedure for acquiring Belgian nationality. If you, as a foreign national, fulfil the criteria that are set out in the nationality legislation (art 12bis), you are legally entitled to obtain Belgian nationality by declaration. You are eligible for the Nationality declaration if you have reached the age of 18 years and were born in Belgium and are legally residing in Belgium since your birth (art. 12bis, 1°). You are also eligible if you have reached the age of 18 years, have resided continuously in Belgium during a reference period of 5 years, can provide evidence of language knowledge of one of the three official languages, and can prove your social and economic integration (art. 12bis 2°). See herunder for more details.

2.1.1 Legal Residency

As a first condition, you must have resided legally and continuously in Belgium during the 5-year period immediately preceding the nationality application. During this period you must have had your main place of residence in Belgium and cannot have left Belgium for a total period exceeding 1 year (in the 5-year reference period) or for more than 6 continuous months. In addition, you must be entitled to permanent residency at the moment of filing the application. In this regard, you must be in possession of any of the following residence permits: residence card B, C, D, E, E, E+, F, F+.

2.2.2. Language knowledge

You must show that you have sufficient knowledge at an A2 level of one of the Belgian languages (Dutch, French, German). All the documents mentioned as proof of social integration will also act as proof of sufficient language skills. It is also possible to take a language test at a language institution that is recognised by the Belgian authorities.

2.2.3. Social integration

Proof of social integration must be given, by means of either (i) a degree or certificate from an institution of higher education, a (ii) certificate of completion of a professional training, a (iii) certificate of completion of an integration course, or (iv) if you have worked continuously in Belgium during the 5-year reference period, employment history will act as proof of social integration.

2.2.4. Economic participation

You must have worked as an employee at least 468 days in the past 5 years to show your economic participation. If you are a self-employed individual, you must provide evidence that you have made at least 6 quarters of social security payments in the past 5 years. Time spent on studies and specific types of training during the 5-year period can qualify as days of employment under certain conditions.

2.2.5. Exceptions

Belgian nationality legislation foresees a number of situations in which slightly different eligibility criteria apply, such as: If you are married to a Belgian national or you are the parent of a child with Belgian nationality, you are exempt from showing evidence of economic participation. If you have reached the age of 65 years and have resided legally in Belgium during 5 years you will qualify for Belgian nationality. If you have resided in Belgium for at least 10 years, you can qualify for nationality if you can prove your language skills and if you have actively participated in the community life. Application procedure

The application is filed at the town hall of your place of residence in Belgium (art. 15). The Public Prosecutor has a fixed period of 4 months from the moment of filing to oppose to the application. In that case you have the possibility to start a proceeding before the Court of First Instance.

2.2. by Naturalisation

The Naturalisation request is the exception, and is available in case you do not fulfil the conditions for a Nationality declaration. In contrast with the Nationality declaration, Naturalisation is not a right under supervision of Belgian Courts, but a favour granted by the Belgian State. The conditions for filing a Naturalisation application are open for interpretation. You must legally reside in Belgium at the moment of filing the application. You should also explain why you cannot qualify for the standard declaration procedure. In addition, you must show that you provided exceptional services to Belgium in the field of sports, scientific research or socio-cultural development (art 19) .  In practice, the naturalisation procedure aims to issue Belgian nationality to top-athletes, musicians, PhD holders, etc.

Naturalisation is not a right, but a favour granted by the House of Representatives. There are no legally set processing times and no possibility to appeal in case of a refusal. You can either apply for naturalisation directly to the House of Representatives, or through the Registrar in the municipality where you have your main place of residence.

If your main place of residence is abroad, you must submit your application to the Belgian Embassy or Consulate. These services will then forward the application to the House of Representatives. A stay abroad may be equated with a stay in Belgium, but in that case you must provide evidence that you had 'genuine links' with Belgium during the required period.

Once the file is complete, the Registrar will forward your application to the House of Representatives. The House will then take a decision over granting naturalisation. The public prosecutor's office, the Aliens Office and the National Security Department will all be consulted and have a period of four months in which to submit their opinion. The Naturalisation Act takes the form of a law. You are Belgian on the day on which the law appears in the Belgisch Staatsblad/Moniteur belge.

You can find more information about the naturalisation procedure at www.diplomatie.be (link is external) and at www.dekamer.be (link is external) (in Dutch) or www.lachambre.be (link is external) (in French)

Yes, Belgium allows dual nationality. This entails that you could acquire Belgian nationality without having to renounce your current nationality, for instance if your parent have different nationality. If you have another nationality and obtain Belgian nationality, the Belgian authorities will not ask you to renounce your original nationality. You should however consult with the other national authorities to check wehether obtaining the Belgian nationionality will not result in the loss of your original nationality in accordance with that legislation. As such, you could potentially enjoy the best of two worlds.

Long Stay (Longer than 3 months)

YES, Everyone has to register, Within a period of 3 months from the date of arrival in Belgium, you must present yourself to the municipal authority in your place of residence. The municipality will issue an application for a registration. During this same period, you will be listed in the provisional register and you will be given a national number. A control of residence will be made, after which you will be registered in the aliens register. Attention! If you are staying in a hotel, hostel or camping or in any other housing where the rules of checking travelers apply, than you have to present yourself to the municipal authority in your place of residence within 10 days from arrival.
  1. I am a EU national
EU = free movement of persons As an EU national you generally don't need a work permit to work anywhere in the EU. Work permits are never required for self-employed people in the EU. However, some EU citizens still need a work permit to become an employee in certain EU countries.

This only concerns: Croatian citizens in some EU countries some EU citizens in Croatia Liechtenstein imposes quotas that limit the number of people who can work and live there. This quota system applies to nationals of all EU countries, Norway and Iceland

2.   I am a third country national

As a general rule, a foreign worker wishing to provide services in Belgium in the framework of a work contract may be admitted to work by his employer only after obtaining a work permit, regardless of the duration of the employment. Always check the treaty between your country and Belgium for more detailed information. The first step when wanting to obtain a resident permit in Belgium is to have a valid employment contract. 3.    Working as an employee or as a self-employed a.1. The employee As a general rule, a foreign (not European Union nationals) worker wishing to provide services in Belgium in the framework of a work contract may be admitted to work by his employer only after obtaining a work permit, regardless of the duration of the employment. There are three types of work permit:

Work permit A: This permit is valid for all salaried professions and has an unlimited duration. It is granted to a foreign worker who can prove, over a maximum period of 10 years of legal, uninterrupted residence immediately prior to the application, 4 years of work covered by a work permit B.

Work permit B: This permit is limited to employment with a single employer and is valid for a maximum of 12 months. It is granted only if the employer first obtains the authorisation to employ the foreign worker.

Work permit C: This permit is valid for all salaried professions and has a limited duration. It is granted to certain categories of foreign nationals authorised to remain in Belgium for a limited duration or on an insecure basis (e.g. students, asylum seekers, etc.). Several categories of workers are exempt from the obligation to hold a work permit, either because of their nationality, or because of their status, or because of the nature and/or the duration of the services. These categories of exempted workers are listed in Article 2 of the royal decree of 9 June 1999. The competent authorities : Région wallonne:  http://emploi.wallonie.be  
Région de Bruxelles-Capitale: http://www.bruxelles.irisnet.be / Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest:  http://www.brussel.irisnet.be 
Deutschsprachige Gemeinschaft:  http://www.dglive.be    
Vlaams Gewest:  http://www.werk.be    

As a general rule, foreign workers wishing to pursue a self-employed activity in Belgium must be in possession of a professional card to pursue self-employed activities in Belgium. ‘Self-employed activity’ means activity which is not subject to the regulation on the employment of foreign workers. The application for a professional card is made to the Belgian consulate competent for the worker’s place of stay or residence abroad, which passes it on to the competent authority, depending on where the registered seat of the company is located (Flanders, Brussels, Wallonia). Where the authorization to pursue a self-employed activity in Belgium is granted, the consulate and the worker are notified by the competent authority. After receiving the decision the worker must return to the consulate to lodge an application for a provisional residence permit (D visa). Once in Belgium, he goes to collect his professional card from the enterprise counter given on the application form for a professional card. If you wish to stay for more than 3 months in Belgium, you must first receive authorisation from the minister competent for entry, stay, settlement and removal of foreign nationals, or his delegate (Aliens Office).
A difference has to be made between the higher education or the preparatory year ahead of higher education and studying in a private higher education establishment. 1. Higher education or the preparatory year ahead of higher education As a general rule, authorisation to stay in Belgium for more than 3 months is granted to a foreign student wishing to pursue higher education there, or spend a preparatory year ahead of higher education, as a regular student, in an educational establishment organised, recognised or subsidised by the public authorities, if that student:
proves that he is a regular student in a higher education establishment organised, recognised or subsidised by the public authorities, proves that he has sufficient means of subsistence, proves that he is not carrying any of the diseases which might endanger public health, and if aged over 21, produces a document stating that he has no convictions for crimes or offences under common law.
Regular student : Registration as a ‘free student’ or auditor, or for isolated courses, will not be taken into consideration. On the other hand, part-time education may be taken into consideration if the said education is the principal activity and the preparation for or complement to full-time education. In such cases, a detailed plan of the studies envisaged and a supporting letter are to be attached to the file. Attestation of registration : Three attestations are taken into consideration:
the attestation of registration as a regular student in a programme of courses of university or non-university higher education,


> the attestation of admission or pre-registration in a programme of courses of university or non-university higher education. This document must specify the conditions accompanying the definitive registration, and

the attestation of registration for an admission examination (a test or set of tests which must be passed before registration).
The preparatory year ahead of higher education. This means:
the seventh year of secondary education in preparation for higher education. In other words, a year of studies organised specifically to prepare the student for higher education and supplement his knowledge in one or more fixed disciplines, or > a year of languages (French, Dutch, German) followed in an educational establishment organised, recognised and subsidised by the public authorities, provided that the said year is in preparation for higher education.
2. Studying in a private higher education establishment Authorisation to stay provisionally in Belgium may be granted to a foreign student wishing to pursue education there as a regular student in a private higher education establishment. Registration as a ‘free student’ or auditor, or for isolated courses, will not be taken into consideration. On the other hand, part-time education may be taken into consideration if the said education is the principal activity and the preparation for or complement to full-time education. In such cases, a detailed plan of the studies envisaged and a supporting letter are to be attached to the file.
An au pair is a young person welcomed temporarily into a family, where he is lodged and fed in return for light everyday family tasks, with a view to perfecting his linguistic knowledge and increasing his general culture through an improved familiarity with the country while participating in the life of the host family. A family and a young foreign national may start an au pair placement only after first securing authorisation from the competent Region (employment authorisation and work permit). A host family may not have another au pair employment authorisation underway. The duration of the validity of the employment authorisation and the work permit relating to the au pair may not exceed 1 year. The employment authorisation and the work permit relating to the au pair may be renewed only once, and insofar as the placement does not exceed a total duration of 1 year. Only one change of host family is permitted, and only insofar as the total duration of the placement of the au pair does not exceed a total duration of one year and provided that the all other conditions for the granting of the employment authorisation and the work permit are likewise satisfied. The conditions to be met by the au pair and the host family to obtain the employment authorisations are as follows: The au pair must:

a) be aged at least 18 and not have reached the age of 26 at the date of the granting of the employment authorisation and the work permit;

b) undertake not to occupy any other employment in Belgium during the au pair placement;

c) hold a document giving him access, in the country of origin, to higher education or prove that he has followed courses until at least the age of 17;

d) have a basic knowledge of the usual language of the host family, or undertake to acquire such a basic knowledge by following an intensive language course immediately after arriving in Belgium;

e) follow courses, during the au pair placement, in an establishment recognised, approved or subsidised by one of the Communities or determined by the Regional Minister whose portfolio includes employment, teaching the language or languages of the Region and reporting quarterly on actual attendance at such courses;

f) not have already previously benefited from a work permit in Belgium in any capacity whatsoever (except the case of a work permit as an au pair which did not exhaust the maximum duration of 12 months of employment which can be granted.)

The host family must:

a) have among its members at least one child below the age of 13 at the start of the au pair’s stay;

b) in the case of children who have not yet reached the age of 6, provide proof that their day care has been provided for a period corresponding to the maximum duration of the au pair’s stay or for the period up until the youngest reaches the age of 6;


c) produce a certificate of good character for all its members who are adult at the start of the au pair’s stay;

d) pay the au pair every month, by bank transfer, a fixed sum of at least 450 €, by way of pocket money, regardless of any periods during which the au pair is not working;


e) conclude, in favour of the au pair, complementary insurance covering the risks with regard to medical, pharmaceutical and hospitalisation costs in the case of accident or sickness;

f) make an individual room available to the au pair and give him free access to the dwelling;

g) allow the au pair to have at least one full day of rest per week, and every opportunity to participate in the exercise of his religion or philosophical beliefs;

h) undertake to conclude insurance for the potential early repatriation of the au pair as the result of sickness or accident, and undertake to cover the costs which might arise for the State from the au pair’s stay or repatriation;

i) declare that they agree to allow the surveillance operatives access to the dwelling.

If you wish to stay for more than 3 months in Belgium, you must first receive authorisation from the minister competent for entry, stay, settlement and removal of foreign nationals, or his delegate (Aliens Office).