All students need to be covered by health insurance for the duration of their stay in Belgium. Without medical insurance, a trip to the doctor can prove to be very expensive. 

The Belgian health insurance system has agreements with neighbouring countries and within the EU. The costs and procedures for health insurance are different for international students from outside the EU. 

Are you from the Netherlands?

If you go abroad to study, you can continue to pay for your basic health insurance in the Netherlands as long as you do not work on the side and are under 30. It doesn't matter how long you stay abroad for your studies - nothing changes. 
 
The EHIC (= European Health Insurance Card) will provide sufficient coverage. If you decide to work on the side, however, the situation changes.  You will then be considered economically active abroad and as a result you will lose your right to basic health insurance coverage in the Netherlands. 

Are you a resident of an EEA country?

As the resident of an EEA country you will have to obtain a European Health Insurance Card from your own health insurance provider before travelling to Belgium. You should only contact a Belgian health insurance provider if you have incurred medical expenses (when buying medication, seeing a GP, and so on).
 
If you see a GP or a specialist then you will receive a receipt or 'getuigschrift voor verstrekte hulp'. Take this receipt and your European Health Insurance Card to the health insurance provider. Don't forget to give them your bank account number too. If you only have a foreign bank account then bring the International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and BIC or SWIFT code along, as well as your international passport.
 
If your foreign health insurer cannot issue a European Health Insurance Card or if you receive a different document then you will probably have to register with a Belgian health insurance provider. In this case, you should contact a health insurance provider as soon as you can after arriving in Belgium. Take along the document, your bank account number and your international passport. They will look into registering you and find out if you have to pay a contribution.

Healthcare during the transition period for British nationals:  Your government says that there will be no changes to healthcare access for UK nationals visiting or living in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland before 31 December 2020. You can continue to use your EHIC during this time, as you did before. An EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. You can consider a travel insurance before you leave your country. You can continue to use your EHIC in the country you were visiting on 31 December 2020 for the duration of your visit to that country. https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/

Is your country of origin outside of the EEA?

If you are a non-EEA national and you come to Belgium to study then you need to be registered in the Belgian Registry of Foreign Nationals and Belgian health insurance is mandatory. You will also be required to pay a contribution. Depending on your personal situation you have two options:

  • Insurance registration as a ‘student’: this option is mainly designed for students who will be studying in Belgium for a short period of time. You need to obtain a certificate from your institution which states that you have enrolled in a programme.
  • Insurance registration as a ‘resident in Belgium': most students can register as a resident. Condition: you need to have a (temporary) Belgian foreigner's card.

Proof of identification for health insurance purposes

Your eID will be proof of your identification for the health insurance. If you don't have an eID you will get another electronic pass. You will need the eID at the hospital and when buying medication in a pharmacy. Keep it somewhere safe. 

Which expenses are reimbursed?

The Belgian health insurance system reimburses (Belgian) medical expenses. On average, the health insurance system will reimburse 75% of your expenses. How much is reimbursed mainly depends on the nature of the service provided and on the status of both the insured person and the care provider.
 
In most cases the full amount will not be reimbursed. You will often be required to pay a personal contribution, the so-called 'remgeld' or patient contribution. In principle, the personal contribution amounts to 25% of the expense but this may be higher depending on the type of care provided. Some (essential) medical expenses are reimbursed in full.  
 
Expenses are reimbursed after the fact by the legal health insurance providers on the basis of your receipt or 'getuigschrift van verstrekte hulp'. Attach an identification sticker (which you get when you register with a health insurance provider) to the receipt and take it or send it to your health insurance provider. In case of emergency, you can also go to A&E at the hospital. However, you should only do this if it is really necessary. At weekends and out of office hours, you can see a duty doctor.

More information

You can read more about the Belgian health insurance system and contact a health insurance provider in your area.