Planning a quick trip to Belgium?

The ABRA guide to getting a short-stay visa

Imagine the scene, you’ve got a nice, two-week trip book to Belgium. Some promising meetings booked with new clients. Your flights are paid, hotel is booked, and bags are packed.

What’s missing? If you’re a third country national (i.e. not from the EU, the EEA, the EFTA or the Schengen zone) and you haven’t got a short stay visa, something very important!

type C visa Belgium

'It’s crucial that you provide exactly what is asked. If you give the wrong document in the wrong format, then this can lead to a delay or even rejection of your application.'

As with most countries in Europe, Belgium requires a visa for visitors coming from countries outside the Schengen zone. So, if you want to visit, you’ll need to have one to be let in.

There are, as we briefly touched on before, two main types of visa: long and short stay. As the name implies, the short-stay visa, known as a type-C, is for visits of up to 90-days.

But do you actually need one? How can you get one and who can you talk to if you get stuck? Let’s take a dive into the type-C short-stay visa and find out!

Who’s it for?

If you need to visit Belgium for less than 90-days, then the Type-C short stay visa is the one you need. It is for social, business, education, health, and tourist activities, so covers most of the common reasons to come.

However, not everyone needs a visa to come to Belgium. Some countries have a bilateral agreement which removes the need for their nationals to get a visa when coming here. To find out if your country has a waiver with the Schengen area, check the current list here. Note that this exemption only applies to trips for:

  • Tourist visits
  • Visits to family or friends
  • Cultural or sports purposes
  • Business trips
  • Short traineeships
  • Transit through the Schengen area

If your home country is not on the list, and you need to stay less than 90-days, then the type-C visa is the one for you.

What do you need?

As you’d expect, there is a form to be completed detailing both information about you, and your visit. You will then need to provide supporting information and documents to back-up and verify your declarations.

It’s crucial that you provide exactly what is asked. If you give the wrong document in the wrong format, then this can lead to a delay or even rejection of your application. So, we recommend checking your documents a few times before submission.

Current guidelines state that you will need to provide all of the following to successfully receive a visa:

  • Completed application form
  • Recent passport photo
  • Valid passport for the duration of your visit
  • Flight details for your trip or travel itinerary
  • Proof of travel health insurance
  • Proof of accommodation in Belgium, hotel reservations for example
  • If you’re visiting relatives or friends, proof of invitation and evidence of your relationship
    Proof that you can support yourself financially during your stay
  • Evidence of employment status in your home country

We recommend that you ensure you have all of the above in place before starting the process, just to speed things up for you.

How do you apply?

For most countries, it is necessary for you to apply for the visa at your local Belgian embassy or consulate. There are some countries where you can apply via a third-party or not in person, but for most countries you will need to go.

To find your local, check out the official list from the Belgian Government right here. Note that the type-C visa costs €80 for handling for anyone over 12 years old.

As a guide, you should allow a minimum of 15 days to receive your visa. However, during busy times, and in some countries, this can be much longer. We therefore recommend apply at least 60 days before departure day, to avoid disappointment.

The process of applying for a type-C visa is straight forward but can be time consuming. As mentioned, we recommend getting your application in as soon as possible. If you hit any issues with your application, then there are members of ABRA who can help, you can find them on our members list here.

Our thanks to Massimo Maesen of Expat Management Group for his help in checking and updating the information in this piece.

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