Internationals and their family
Make an informed decision
If you intend to bring your family with you, prepare it well and in advance. There are a lot of things to consider - not only of an administrative kind but also taking into account the needs of you and your family. Adapting to a new and foreign life is an crucial factor for success for expatriates and their family.
First of all, make sure the period of your stay in Ghent is sufficiently long for it to be worth the effort (and maybe stress). Take a careful inventory of every member of the family, their needs, and their ability to adapt.
Get acquainted with Belgian practices and regulations. For example, is your spouse allowed to work? Are there appropriate schools for your child(ren)? What is the social and/or expatriate community like? How to navigate the medical system and language barriers?
Family reunion procedure
If you have travelled ahead, there is also the family reunion or re-unification procedure.
It is a strictly regulated and time-consuming procedure, specified according to one's citizenship (EEA, non-EEA) and the duration of the stay.
A whole range of documents is needed, such as:
- valid passports
- a legalised copy of your marriage certificate
- legalised copies of your birth certificate and those of your spouse and children
- medical certificates for each member of the family
- certificates of good conduct for each adult member of the family
- proof of solvency that is sufficient for the whole family
- document from City Hall attesting to suitable housing in Ghent for the family
If the required documents are not in English, Dutch, French, or German, they need to be translated into one of these languages the translation of the documents must be authenticated as well.
Please inquire at the diplomatic post in your country of residence who should authenticate the original documents and any translations thereof.
As with all international guests, your spouse and/or child(ren) will need to be registered at the host town within days of their arrival.
Note as well that a person who is granted a family reunion visa to join one's spouse studying in Belgium, will also have to leave Belgium together with the spouse when the latter has finished his/her study. However, if a student's spouse is later on also accepted for enrolment at Ghent University and will need to stay in Belgium longer in order to complete the study programme, she/he must apply for a change of status of their residence permit at the Foreigners' Office.
Do not forget to adapt your insurance policies - especially health insurance. International staff (on university payroll) are also advised to inform the International Staff Office of the change in their family situation since this may influence one's salary.
International guests coming to Ghent within the framework of development cooperation (ICP/ITP - VLIR-UOS scholarship) can consult staff members of the Research Department for their family reunion.
International staff (on the university payroll) are welcome at the International Staff Office.
Website of Federal Agency for Interior Affairs (information in Dutch)