Information regarding travels, quarantine and COVID-19 testing for international students

Update 18/05/2021

Since 27/04/2021, there has been a ban on entry for travellers from India, Brazil and South Africa.  Only a very limited number of essential journeys are allowed. Travels by staff, researchers and students are not covered by the exceptions. The entry ban does not apply to people with Belgian nationality or people who have their main residence in Belgium and want to return to Belgium.

I returned to Belgium from a red zone and I have to stay in quarantine. I have on campus exams. What can I do?

You may interrupt your quarantine temporarily each time you have to do an on-campus exam. Please note that this interruption is only valid for the duration of the exam. You must respect the quarantine before and after the exam.

Can I still travel to and from Belgium?

The Belgian government advises against all non-essential travel from and to Belgium.

As an UGent international/exchange student, you may always travel to your home country and return to Belgium. However there are some restrictions (COVID-19 testing, quarantine… see below).

We would like to point out that your home country may also discourage non-essential travel and impose restrictive measures such as a COVID-19 test, quarantine and/or curfew.

What should I do on return to/arrival in Belgium when my main residence is in Belgium because I study here (temporarily)?

I come  from an EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

  • If you spent less than 48 hours abroad, or are spending less than 48 hours in Belgium AND you travelled by car or public transport, there are no travel requirements that apply to you.
  • In ALL OTHER cases, regardless of means of transport or country of origin, the following is mandatory:
    • Completion of the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) 48 hours prior to your arrival in Belgium at the earliest. Compliance will be strictly monitored at border crossings by both carriers and the Belgian government.
    • Upon return from a red zone, you must self-quarantine immediately following your arrival. A COVID-19 test is mandatory on the first day following your return. A second test must be administered on day 7 (e.g. in the  UZ Gent test centre see also belowr). You should also bring your BIS number. For more information about the BIS number, please check the FAQ below
    • Following a second negative test result, you may end your quarantine.
    • Following a positive test result, you must self-isolate and follow the attending physician’s instructions. You must report this at contacttracing@ugent.be

I come NOT from an EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

  • If you spent less than 48 hours abroad, or are spending less than 48 hours in Belgium AND you travelled by car there are no travel requirements that apply to you.
  • In ALL OTHER cases, regardless of means of transport or country of origin (so green and orange zones as well), the following is mandatory:
  • Completion of the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) 48 hours prior to your arrival in Belgium at the earliest. Compliance will be strictly monitored at border crossings by both carriers and the Belgian government.
  • Upon return from a red zone, you must self-quarantine immediately following your arrival. A COVID-19 test is mandatory on the first day following your return. A second test must be administered on day 7 (e.g. in the  the UZ Gent test centre see also below ). You should also bring your BIS number. For more information about the BIS number, please check the FAQ below
  • Following a second negative test result, you may end your quarantine.
  • Following a positive test result, you must self-isolate and follow the attending physician’s instructions. You must report this at contacttracing@ugent.be

What should I do upon return to/arrival in Belgium if my main residence is not (yet) in Belgium?

I come from an EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

  • If you spent less than 48 hours abroad, or spend less than 48 hours in Belgium AND you travelled by car, there are no travel requirements that apply to you.
  • In ALL OTHER cases:
    • it is mandatory, regardless of means of transportation or country of origin (so orange and green zones too), to complete the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) 48 hours prior to your arrival in Belgium at the earliest. Compliance will be strictly monitored at border crossings by both transportation companies and the Belgian government.
    • when coming from a red zone, you must be able to provide a valid negative PCR COVID-19 test result received no later than 72 hours prior to your journey to Belgium. Carriers will require that you are able to produce this test result both upon leaving to, and upon arrival in Belgium.
    • when coming from a red zone, it is mandatory to self-quarantine upon arrival in Belgium.
    • when coming from a red zone, it is mandatory to get tested for COVID-19 on day 7 following your arrival (e.g. in the  UZ Gent test centre see also below). You should also bring your BIS number. For more information about the BIS number, please check the FAQ below
    • following a negative test result, you may end your quarantine.
    • following a positive test result, you must self-isolate and follow the attending physician’s instructions. You must report this at contacttracing@ugent.be

I come NOT from an EU member state, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

  • It is mandatory to complete the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) 48 hours prior to your arrival in Belgium at the earliest, regardless of country of origin and means of transport. Compliance will be strictly monitored at border crossings by both carriers and the Belgian government.
  • When coming from a red zone, you must be able to provide a valid negative PCR COVID-19 test result received no later than 72 hours prior to your journey to Belgium. Carriers will require that you are able to produce this test result both upon leaving to, and upon arrival in Belgium.
  • When coming from a red zone, it is mandatory to self-quarantine upon arrival in Belgium.
  • When coming from a red zone, it is mandatory to get tested for COVID-19 on day 7 following your arrival (e.g. the UZ Gent test centre see also below). You should also bring your BIS number. For more information about the BIS number, please check the FAQ below
  • Following a negative test result, you may end your quarantine.
  • Following a positive test result, you must self-isolate and follow the attending physician’s instructions. You must report this at contacttracing@ugent.be

Where can I do a COVID-19 test in Belgium? Is the test free?

There are testing facilities in the airports and in some train stations, however we suggest to take the test in Ghent. Students can get tested for Covid-19 at the Test Centre of the Ghent University Hospital. It is mandatory to make an appointment.

The test is free of charge for UGent students who, according to contact tracers of UGent or the government, have had a high-risk contact, are returning from a red zone abroad, need a test before an admission or procedure in hospital, or have COVID-19 symptoms. Students without valid Belgian health insurance pay the amount of the lab analysis (€ 47.18) + € 31,93 administration cost at the consultation itself but can get it back through their own health insurance.

Other students who suspect that they are at risk of COVID-19 infection can have themselves tested at UZ Gent on their own initiative. In that case, the cost (47.18 euros) will not be reimbursed by the health insurance.

Up-to-date information about who must/can be tested when can be found on the official government site. Info about the test center of UZ Gent can be found here

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, please send an e-mail to contacttracing@ugent.be immediately. In consultation with you, we will map out your contacts, so that we can discreetly provide them with the necessary information about the risk of infection and the need for quarantine, and so that we can quickly take any additional measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Should there be however a problem with the reimbursement of  the test, you might apply for a reimbursement by Ghent University. Only new students, admitted or enrolled for a bachelor, master or exchange programme at UGent, are eligible for reimbursement. This implies that UGent does not reimburse COVID-19 tests for students who need this to travel or to return home.

If you want to claim the costs for your COVID-19 test please send an e-mail to international@ugent.be containing the following information:

  • Your name and student number
  • Your date of arrival in Ghent
  • Invoice of both COVID-19 tests
  • Proof of payment of tests
  • Your private e-mail address (not @ugent.be!), this is necessary to start the refund application

Other systems apply for (exchange) PhD candidates.

What is a BIS number and how to obtain this?

The BIS number is a unique identification number for individuals who are not registered (yet) in the National Register, but who have a relationship with the Belgian government. 

New international students arriving in Belgium from a red zone need a BIS number in order to be tested in the COVID- 19 test centres.

  • If you are PhD student that will get a contract/bursary agreement from UGent ask your contact person for your BIS number. If you come with an external scholarship, first check if you don’t have such a number yet, for example you can find it on your letter of enrolment if you have this already, if not, please send an e-mail to both Barbara Lobert and Peter Hunor to initiate your BIS number. Include the following documents in your e-mail:
    • A scan of your ID/passport
    • This document– completed with your information.
  • If you are a Bachelor or Master student please send an e-mail to actueel@ugent.be in order to initiate your BIS number. Include the following documents in your e-mail:
    • A scan of your ID/passport
    • This document– completed with your information.

Can I get a vaccine in Belgium as an international (exchange) student?

Yes. You can get vaccinated in Belgium as an international student,.

If you have an official domicile address in Belgium you don't have to take additional administrative steps. If you don’t have an official domicile address (most exchange students are in that case) you have to apply for a BIS number (see above What is a BIS number and how to obtain this? ). In both cases the city/municipality where you live provides a list of names to the vaccination centre of your city. You will receive a personal invitation when it is your turn according to the priorities set by the government (vulnerable groups, certain jobs, age…) Vaccination is a right and not an obligation. If you agree to be vaccinated you must be able to take both vaccines (if needed according to the sort of vaccine) in the same country. There is no exchange of information between your home country and Belgium between your first and second jab. For more information please check https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/vaccination/

How about health insurance?

All international students are obliged to have a health insurance during your stay in Belgium.

Please consult your private health insurance before you leave on whether you are covered for covid-19 related matters.
If you are a student moving to Belgium from outside the EU, we strongly recommend arranging travel insurance for the first month. Travel insurance plans usually cover your medical and urgent dental fees, as well as exceptional events such as repatriation and medical transport.

Please read this information carefully.

Where can I find general guidelines regarding (possible) infection, high risk contacts and quarantine?

Please check  this webpage

I have rented a room/flat in the University Halls of residence, what measures are taken so that I can self-isolate myself?

Please check the webpage of our housing office.

I have rented a room/flat on the private housing market, what measures are taken so that I can self-isolate myself?

You have to contact your landlord in order to see what extra measures are to be taken.

I feel unhappy/lonely during my quarantine. Can I speak to someone? What can I do?

You can contact one of our student psychologists/counselors at studieadvies@ugent.be or 09/331.00.31
Please check some tips

Is it possible to commute between a residence address abroad (in the Netherlands, France, Luxemburg or Germany) and Ghent University for study/exams without going in to quarantine and get tested?

Commuting means that you regularly travel between Ghent University and your home country (at least once per week) by car or public transport.

If you commute for study/trainee/exam activities you are exempted from a corona test or quarantine.

You don’t need to fill out the Passenger Locator Form!

However please check the national measures in your home country such as possible testing, quarantine and/or curfew measures.