Expats and foreigners visiting Belgium may require a visa before entering the country. As Belgium is part of the Schengen visa area, travellers who don’t have an EU passport or one from of a list of visa-exempt countries will be required to apply for a Schengen visa before arrival.
Schengen visas 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.
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.
Expats wanting to travel to Belgium for business purposes will likely 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 often need proof of registration and accommodation.
Residence permits for Belgium
Expats wanting to stay in Belgium for longer than 90 days may require a residence permit, depending on their nationality.
For non-EU expats, there are three types of residence permits which operate on a tier-based system. First, a B card is granted, which allows them a long stay in Belgium. After five years of being a B-card holder, foreigners may apply for a C card, also known as an identity card for foreigners, or a D card, which grants them status as a long-term resident.
Anyone intending to stay in Belgium is required to report their presence in the country to their local commune. Having done so, they will receive a document called a notification of arrival for short stays and a registration certificate for long stays.
For short stays of less than three months, EU citizens must do this within 10 working days of arrival and non-EU citizens within three working days of arrival. For longer stays of more than three months, EU citizens must register their stay at any point in the first three months, while non-EU citizens have eight working days to do so.
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.