Visas for Belgium
Belgium is part of the Schengen visa area and therefore expats travelling to the country who don’t have an EU passport or one from of a list of visa-exempt countries are required to apply for a Schengen visa.
Nationals who are exempt from needing a visa for Belgium include American, Singaporean, Brazillian, Japanese, Canadian and Australian travellers, amongst others. All travellers entering Belgium should have a passport that is valid for at least three months.
Applying for a Schengen visa for Belgium
Those who apply for a Schengen visa for Belgium will need to gather the required documents, complete a visa application form, and submit these to the Belgian consulate or embassy in their home country before they travel. Processing time can vary, so applicants should be sure to submit their application well before their intended departure date.
Expats wanting to travel to Belgium for business purposes will have to include a letter of invitation from the Belgian business party who will be hosting them and a letter from their local employer stating their duties in Belgium. Those attending a conference will need proof of registration and accommodation.
In some cases, applicants may be asked to provide additional documents at the discretion of the Belgian embassy or consulate. It's common for an applicant to be asked for proof of employment and proof of residence in their home country as an indicator that they will return home after their trip.
Residence permits for Belgium
Expats wanting to stay in Belgium for longer than 90 days may require a residence permit, depending on their nationality. The procedure for getting a residence permit for Belgium may seem complicated, but provided an applicant has all the correct paperwork and has followed the right procedures, the process should be a smooth one.
EU and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens don’t require a residence permit to live in Belgium. However, those intending to stay in Belgium for the long-term are required to report their presence in the country to their local commune within 10 working days of arriving. These new arrivals will need to produce their passport and identity card, and will then be issued with a Declaration of Presence, which is valid for 90 days. EEA citizens wishing to stay in Belgium for longer than three months need to obtain a Declaration of Registration within 90 days of arriving in Belgium.
Citizens of non-EU countries who wish to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days need to arrange a residence visa before arriving in Belgium. They are also required to have a temporary residence permit, which they will receive at their local municipality upon presentation of their residence visa.
Non-EU nationals also need to register their presence at their local commune within eight days of arriving, and should obtain a foreigner identity card within two weeks of moving into a permanent residence.
Citizens of the USA, Japan, Argentina, Australia and Brazil are able to enter Belgium without this visa and undergo a special registration procedure at their local municipality upon arrival in the country, where they will receive a temporary residence card.
Non-EU expats moving to the country for employment will most likely also need a work permit for Belgium.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.