Guidelines for international students and staff
Currently, it is only possible to travel to Belgium from a country of the EU, the Schengen zone or the UK.
The travel ban to and from countries outside the EU, the Schengen area and the UK remains in force until further notice. These travel restrictions do not apply to third-country citizens with a valid Schengen residence permit or D-visa.
The Belgian embassies abroad are gradually resuming their activities. However, at the moment the visa activity is limited to categories of travelers with an essential function or need, as mentioned on the website of the Immigration Office.
- As from 1 August, 2020, all people travelling to Belgium must complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form 48 hours before arrival in Belgium.
- If you don’t have a mobile phone, you must fill in the document on paper and keep a printed copy with you.
- When you arrive in Belgium and you are recognised as a risk profile (coming back from a red zone), you will receive an SMS asking you to isolate yourself and contact a General Practitioner (GP). You will automatically receive a second SMS with a corona test prescription code which you need to perform this test. It is a code of 16 alphanumeric positions (4 blocks of 4 positions) and is sent in an SMS from the telephone number 8811.
- Staff and students arriving by plane at Brussels airport can also perform a Covid-19 test at the airport if they come from a red zone and have received the corona test prescription code. You can register online for the test with the code and your passport. It is also possible to register on site. The results will be sent in the course of the following day by email.
- In Antwerp the test can be done at the test village at Park Spoor Oost after registration on the website. In this case you don't have to contact a GP but you can register directly on the website of the test village to take a Covid-19 test. You will need the corona test prescription code that you have previously received by SMS. The test village is only available for students and staff members who already have a Belgian national registration number or BIS number. Staff members can request this number through the International Staff Office.
- If you do not have a Belgian national registration number or a bis number and you haven’t received a code, you can also have the test taken at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITG). You need to make an appointment by mail or phone, more information can be found on the website. Please note that it may take some time before an appointment can be made.
The isolation and test are mandatory if you come from a red zone. If the test is positive, you will be contacted by the regional health service and a contact tracing will be started.
Everyone travelling from a country outside the EU, Schengen zone or UK, as well as any traveler from a red zone within the European Union, as defined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is required to go in self-isolation for a 14-day period upon arrival in Belgium. For people travelling from an orange zone, this period of self-isolation is recommended, but not compulsory.
Quarantine means staying indoors (including garden or terrace) in a single place, which must be specified in advance on the Passenger Locator Form. This can be a private address (with family or with friends), or another place to stay, such as a hotel. If the person falls ill, all members of the same household are close contacts.
- The period of 14 days starts as soon as the person travelling arrives in Belgium.
- During this period, contact with other people, including people in the same house, must be completely avoided (always keep a distance of 1.5m).
- Towels, bed linen and eating or drinking utensils should not be shared with the other members of the same household and, if possible, the person should use a separate toilet and bathroom.
- Quarantine in an environment with people at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is not recommended (e.g. people older than 65, people with a serious underlying medical condition such as severe heart, lung or kidney disease, people with reduced immunity).
- No visits are allowed.
- Working and going to school is not allowed, with the exclusion of the exceptions mentioned below. Teleworking is possible.
- For all journeys (from the time of arrival in Belgium) the use of public transport must be avoided.
- The health situation must be closely monitored. If symptoms of COVID-19 appear, the local GP must be contacted immediately.
- It is mandatory to be reachable and cooperate with the health authorities throughout the self-isolation period.
Going outside is only allowed for the following essential trips and provided that you wear a face mask:
- Urgent medical attention
- Purchase of basic necessities, such as food and medicines, but only if no one else can provide them and by exception
- Settling urgent legal/financial issues
- For persons performing essential work or persons who have a recognized compelling reason whose essential activities cannot be postponed until after the period of quarantine has ended, e.g. the funeral of a family member.
In addition to the follow-up of the applicable Covid-19 measures, it is mandatory for staff members to register with a local health insurance fund upon arrival in Belgium. Staff members can contact the International Staff Office for assistance with the registration.
Students can find more information on the website of the University. Especially non-European students are strongly advised to register with a local health insurance fund.
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. They cover potential medical costs until you have permanent health insurance, which you will sign up to once you arrive in Antwerp.
Take care of yourself
- Stay at home as soon as you show any symptom related to COVID-19, especially if you are ill. Contact your GP by telephone. If you don’t have a GP yet, you can consult the list of doctors in Antwerp online. If you need help finding a doctor, as a student you can contact the Office for Students Affairs (STIP) at email@example.com. Staff members can contact the International Staff Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The symptoms of COVID-19 are mild to severe respiratory diseases with fever, coughing and/or shortness of breath. If you live with someone who is suspected of being infected with COVID-19, you also stay at home.
- Anyone with a suspicion of COVID-19 should be tested. In case of a positive test, isolation at home for at least seven days is mandatory and contacts are traced, notified and if necessary also tested.
- Staff members should notify their supervisor and the Health and Safety Department – more information can be found on the intranet page (Pintra) of the Health and Safety Department.