Our telephone lines are currently very busy. The recent announcements by the UK government regarding changes to COVID-19 travel regulations and the requirement for non-residents to have a passport for entry into the UK from 1 October has caused a surge in calls to the Embassy. We apologize for the inconvenience.
In light of the Covid-19 travel restrictions towards the UK, Belgian citizens should consult the travel advice IN DUTCH or IN FRENCH. Please check this information regularly before your trip - the rules may change at any time, often at very short notice.
In light of the Covid-19 travel restrictions towards Belgium from the UK, please read the restrictions on travel from RED ZONE COUNTRIES
- I am a national of the EU or of a country that is part of the Schengen Area, or my primary residence is in the EU or in a country that is part of the Schengen Area. May I travel to or from Belgium?
You are allowed to travel to and from Belgium. Upon your return to or arrival in Belgium, you must respect the applicable measures (Passenger Locator Form, tests, quarantine, etc.) You do not need an ETC.
- I am not a national of the EU, nor of a country that is part of the Schengen Area, and my primary residence is in a third country marked as "red". Am I allowed to travel to Belgium?
- Do you have an NHS full vaccination certificate from the United Kingdom (the Scottish certificate has to be the recent type bearing the QR code) You no longer need an essential reason to travel to Belgium and no Essential Travel Certificate from the Embassy. The following is still valid though:
- Fill out a PLF
- Get tested on day 1 of your arrival in Belgium (day 2 if you arrive late in the day)
- Stay in quarantine until the negative result of your test is known.
- Get tested again on day 7 of your stay in Belgium. Quarantine is required in case of a positive result.
- You are not fully vaccinated? : If you do not have an EU nationality or main residence you may only travel to Belgium for essential reasons and you have to apply for an ETC. Even if you have already sent us an email, please send us a new request to firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be processed.
- Fill out a PLF
- Get a PCR test maximum 72 hours before you are in Belgium. This test must be negative.
- Quarantine for 10 days. Get tested on day 1 and 7 after your arrival in Belgium.
Refer yourself to THIS WEBSITE for the allowed essential travels.
Essential Travel Certificate.
For allowed travels : the traveler is obliged to be in possession of an essential travel certificate. By way of derogation, an essential travel certificate is not required in the following situations:
- The traveler is in possession of a valid D visa delivered by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post;
- The traveler is in possession of a valid C visa delivered after 18/03/2020 by a Belgian diplomatic or consular post if the essential nature of the journey is demonstrated by the official documents in the possession of the traveler;
- The traveler is in possession of a valid C visa delivered after 18/03/2020 by a diplomatic or consular post of another Schengen member State in representation of Belgium if the essential nature of the journey is demonstrated by the official documents in the possession of the traveler;
- The essential nature of the journey is demonstrated by the official documents in the possession of the traveler.
The ETC does not exempt you from quarantine, it only allows you to enter the Belgian territory for essential reasons while travel restriction are still currently in place and travel is discouraged.
The ETC is only valid for one trip; send the request + supporting documents AT LEAST 5 (five) working days before the travel date with the documentation required to email@example.com
Requesting an ETC:
Only if you have ascertained that your trip/travels fall under the exception categories, may you send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Your ETC request email must include all supporting documents justifying the essential character of the trip and a detailed motivation letter in order to allow us to evaluate if you qualify for an essential travel certificate or not. Please note that the Embassy does not advise on individual cases. We are receiving an enormous number of e-mails right now, largely above and beyond our capacity to reply within a reasonable time-frame. Delays are unavoidable and must be expected.
The supporting documents must be in PDF format, or word document, no other format will be accepted.
For missing or non-conforming documents it is settled case-law that it is up to the claimant who wishes to convey information pursuant to a claim that may have an influence on the assessment of his administrative situation, to fully inform the administration which, for its part, cannot be required to carry out numerous inquiries, on pain of making it impossible to respond within a reasonable timeframe to the numerous requests it receives.
And a last important reminder:
For any questions regarding the Passenger Locator Form, the COVID-19 test, vaccinations and the quarantine obligation in Belgium, travelers should check the website www.info-coronavirus.be/en/ or contact the FPS Public Health. NOT the Embassy in London.
1. Travel documents – Can I travel to the UK with an ID card?
A valid passport or identity card (ID) is sufficient as a travel document in order to get access to UK territory, even after 31/12/2020. Until 30 September 2021, a Belgian identity card is sufficient to travel to the UK for a stay of less than 6 months. From 1 October 2021, a passport will be mandatory, even for short stays.
Please note that only holders of (pre-)settled status can continue to use their ID card to travel between the EU and the UK until 31 December 2025. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-after-brexit.
2. Freight traffic from the EU to the UK - What changes from 1 January 2021?
On January 1, 2021, the United Kingdom will leave the European single market and the customs union. Consequently, from then onwards there will be border and customs controls on goods at every border crossing between the EU and the UK, in ports, airports, and at the Channel Tunnel. That will also be the case if a treaty between the UK and the EU can be applied that provides for free trade (no tariffs or quotas).
The United Kingdom will introduce border controls in phases for all freight traffic entering the country from the EU. You can consult the specific import requirements in terms of documentation and controls for your sector / cargo via the Border Operating Model (link) of the British authorities. Below is a brief summary of this phased approach. (Note: Please also check which export requirements will apply from 1/1/2021 to export from the EU).
- From January 1, 2021: all basic customs requirements will enter into force, but companies will have until July 1, 2021 to submit customs declarations and make payments (excluding transit traffic). Physical checks of the goods will take place sporadically at the place of destination.
- From April 2021: a pre-notification will have to be made for all animal products and regulated plant products and these products will have to be accompanied by the necessary documentation.
- From July 2021: full customs declarations are required at the border post and payments must be made. Entry safety and security declarations become mandatory. Goods subject to sanitary and phytosanitary controls (SPS) will have to be declared at the border and may be subject to checks at the border or inland sites.
It is the responsibility of the importing company and carrier to ensure that the necessary formalities are met. The Belgian embassy in the United Kingdom does not have the authority to intervene or remedy this in any way.
3. Freight traffic from the UK to the EU – What changes from 1 January 2021?
From 1 January 2021, all formalities will have to be fulfilled for goods entering the EU from the UK. There will be no phased approach for goods entering the EU from the UK, both through ports and through the Eurotunnel. The Border Operating Model (link) includes all the necessary British documents required to export from the UK such as export summary declarations, customs declarations and safety and security declarations. (Note: also check which documents are required from 1/1/2021 for import into the EU).
- Ensure all necessary formalities have been completed and you have all the necessary documents with you for a border or customs check. For road transport exceeding 7.5 tons: consult the web platform Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border via this link.
- If you are driving via the county of Kent (crossing via Dover or Folkestone): make sure you have the Kent Access Permit which you can obtain after you have received the green light following an application via the web platform Check an HGV is Ready to Cross the Border.
- Make sure you have your ID card to hand. Until 30 September 2021, a Belgian identity card is sufficient as a valid UK identity document. From 1 October 2021, you will need an international passport. In some exceptional cases (e.g. with settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or with a frontier worker’s permit) you can continue to use your Belgian identity card until at least December 31, 2025 (link).
- In principle, a Belgian driving license will remain valid in the UK, even after January 1, 2021. Depending on where your vehicle is insured, you must, however, have a green card or other proof of insurance (link).
- Closely Check the traffic situation via the UK media before your departure and during the journey.
It is the responsibility of the exporting company and carrier to ensure that the necessary formalities are met. The Belgian embassy in the United Kingdom does not have the authority to intervene or remedy this in any way.
4. Driving license and insurance – Is my Belgian driving license sufficient to drive in the UK? What about car insurance for traveling in the EU?
After 31 December 2021, a Belgian driving license will remain sufficient to legally drive a vehicle on British roads. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/visiting-the-uk-after-brexit. For vehicles registered in the UK, the driver needs to have a green card as proof of insurance when traveling within the EU from 1 January 2021. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021.
5. "EU settlement scheme" – What do I need to do to stay legally in the UK after 31/12/2020?
As a result of Brexit, EU citizens (including students and minors) already resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 need to apply for a British residence permit: pre-settled status (less than 5 years of continuous residence) or settled status (continuous residence of 5 years or more). The « EU settlement scheme » was set up for this purpose. You have until 30 June 2021 to register. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families.
6. New immigration system – What changes for people who arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021?
From 1 January 2021, European tourists can stay in the UK for a maximum period of 6 months without a visa. If you arrive in the UK after 31 December 2020 and you plan to stay in the UK for more than 6 months or you plan to come to the UK to work or study (even if it is for less than 6 months for these last 2 categories), you will need a visa unless you hold or are eligible for (pre )settled status. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-immigration-system-what-you-need-to-know.
7. Contact details – Who can I contact for more information on Brexit and EU citizens’ rights?
You will find extensive information on EU citizens’ rights in the context of Brexit if you follow the link https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/brexit and a list of FAQ is also available on https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/brexit/faq.
Communication from the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs: Rights of Belgian citizens in the context of Brexit
On 17 October 2019, a new agreement was concluded between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom on an orderly exit of the United Kingdom from the EU. The agreement was ratified and entered into force on 1 February 2020. Since that date, the United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU.
On 1 February 2020 the transition period has officially commenced. This period will normally run until 31 December 2020, but it might be extended by one or two years. Notwithstanding the fact that the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the EU, it will remain bound by EU rules during this period but it will no longer be present in the European institutions. Everything else stays the same. EU citizens and Brits can travel, live and work in the exact same conditions as before. After this period, EU citizens and Brits who settled in the UK or EU before 31 december 2020 and registered themselves in time will largely retain the same rights. This has been agreed upon in the withdrawal agreement.
During this period, the EU and the United Kingdom will negotiate the future framework for their relations. When there is more info on this, we will update you.
Given the current developments surrounding Brexit, the information on this website is susceptible to change in light of political events. This information does not constitute legal advice. Neither the FPS Foreign Affairs nor the Belgian Embassy in London are in a position to provide such advice.
© Tom D'Haenens
I hope that you enjoy our website - a portal into Belgium's presence in the UK.
Are you a Belgian citizen living in the United Kingdom or thinking of moving to the UK? Please register with the Embassy in London. Our consular services provide information about how to register, apply for identity cards and passports. Please note that Belgians residing in the UK have to book an appointment and come in person to the Embassy in London to apply for a new passport and identity card.
You are interested in travelling to Belgium or would like to study, work or do business there, please check the Travel to Belgium section. If you need a visa, an easy and quick application is available via the ‘Visa Application Centre’. Details can be found on https://be.tlscontact.com/gb/LON/index.php.
Finally, do not forget to join the Embassy’s Facebook page or follow us on Twitter for the latest news from the Embassy of Belgium in London and feeds about events in the UK with a Belgian touch.
If you have any questions and/or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us on email@example.com.