Visa for Belgium

Visa needed?

All information about obtaining a visa for Belgium is available via the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs and the Foreigners Department of the FPS Home Affairs.

Be sure to apply for the correct visa. Changing from one visa type to another is not always possible.

Visa application conditions

You must go to the embassy or consulate in person in order to submit your visa application and offer a verbal explanation of the purpose and circumstances of your trip. In some very exceptional cases, you may be exempted from the requirement to submit your application in person.

When submitting a visa application at an embassy or consulate, upon entry into Belgium or if subject to a check in Belgium, all foreign nationals (who are not EU citizens) wishing to come to Belgium (whether or not they require a visa) must, prior to entry to Belgium and any short stay in the country, meet the following conditions:

  • Be in possession of identity or travel documents (passport) that are recognised by Belgium and remain valid for at least three months subsequent to their planned period of stay in Belgium. The fact that the passport remains valid means that its holder can return to the country in which the passport was issued and gives the country being visited some guarantee that the foreign national will not be prevented from leaving its territory.
  • Be able to produce documents justifying the purpose and conditions of their planned stay. There may be various reasons for the trip: visiting family, friends or acquaintance, medical treatment, tourism, cultural, sporting or work-related activities.
  • Have adequate means of subsistence, both for the duration of the planned stay and for the return trip to their country of origin or transit to another country.
    • Foreign nationals must provide evidence that they are able to bear the cost of their stay, any medical costs and the cost of the return journey, so that the Belgian authorities will not have to cover these costs should problems arise.
    • Examples of documents that can be used as proof that the individual concerned has sufficient means of subsistence are: cheques and credit cards accepted in Belgium, an original copy of a pledge of financial support, a work contract, bank statements, proof of enrolment on the trade register and proof of professional activity. For students facing difficulties in obtaining one of the documents mentioned above a specific procedure has been worked out by Ghent University.
    • Only the holders of diplomatic, official and service passports who are on an official mission, citizens of EU countries, Rhine boatmen, cross-border workers and refugee applicants are not required to prove that they have sufficient means of subsistence.
  • Not have been flagged for non-admission to Belgium (e.g. known criminals).
  • Not be considered a threat to public order, national (domestic) security, public health or the international relations of Belgium or the other Schengen countries.

Sometimes other requirements are to be met, such as travel insurance or medical certificate, etc. Want to be sure? Always check with the embassy or consulate!

Top tip: make sure whether a travel ticket is mandatory before you make reservations, to minimize expenses.

Official documents issued abroad must be legalised or bear an apostille, depending on the country whence they originated, unless a treaty provides for exemption from this process. Documents issued abroad in a language other than Dutch, English, French or German must be translated by a sworn translator.

What documents does Ghent University issue for your visa application?

  • Exchange students: Ghent University will supply you with a letter of invitation which proofs that you will be participating in an exchange programme with UGent.
  • Degree students (incl. PhD students): Ghent University will supply you with a letter of admission which proofs that you are admitted to a full-time study programme at UGent.
  • Staff: depending on your employment contract, Ghent University will apply for a work permit, draw up a guest agreement (for the application of a scientific visa) or an individual contract. The Personnel Department will supply a letter of invitation.
  • Guests (short stay): Ghent University will supply a letter of invitation.

Important note: admission as a student or an employee at Ghent University does not guarantee a visa.

E.g.

  • EU/EEA citizens: The free movement of persons applies within the European Union, making the residence rules for EU citizens much more flexible than those for the citizens of other countries. However, besides the admission as a student or employee at UGent, there are other requirements to be fulfilled. For example, for students: proof of regular studies and enrolment, health insurance, proof of solvability. For employees: proof of actual employment (e.g. employment contract).
  • non-EU/EEA citizens: As with EU/EAA citizens, besides the admission as a student or employee at UGent, there are other requirements to be fulfilled. For example, for students there are always financial prerequisites. Moreover, the granting of a visa can exceptionally be refused (e.g. health and safety measures).

In any event, the decision on whether a visa will be granted to you remains with the diplomatic post.