General information on short stay visas
US citizens in possession of a valid US passport do not need a visa for airport transit, tourist or business trips for stays up to 90 days per 180 days. Do note that your passport should have at least another three months validity after the planned date of departure from Europe (Schengen Zone). Holders of a U.S. Refugee Travel Document do not need a visa to enter Belgium. The document "Permit to Re-enter" is recognized by Belgium, but requires a visa if you choose to travel with it.
Other travelers may have to apply for a Schengen visa, which allows them to enter Belgium or another Schengen country and then to travel freely throughout the Schengen zone for a period not to exceed 90 days.
- Please consult the following map to verify whether you need a visa: Schengen Visa Policy.
- The Schengen zone includes: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
- Note that you should always apply for your visa with the Embassy or Consulate of the country of your main destination:
- If you intend to visit only one Schengen country, apply at the Embassy or Consulate of that particular country.
- If you intend to visit several Schengen countries, apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country where you will stay the longest.
- If you intend to visit several Schengen countries but do not have a main destination or destination where you will stay the longest, apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country which is your first point of entry.
Individuals applying for a Schengen visa must appear in person, so that the necessary biometric data – fingerprints and a live photo – can be collected. The biometric data is stored for a period of 59 months and can be reused. This means that future applications during that period of time may be filed through correspondence (to the diplomatic post with jurisdiction over your State of residence), provided your data are of good quality and can be retrieved from the VIS. In case of additional questions regarding your application, you may still be invited for an interview.
Exemptions for the fingerprinting requirements are granted to:
- Children under the age of twelve;
- Persons for whom the collection of fingerprints is physically impossible;
- Heads of State and members of National Governments and their accompanying spouses, as well as the members of their official delegation when invited by Member States' governments or by international organizations for an official purpose.
Visitors (Schengen Visa)
When to apply:
- You must apply at least 15 days before your intended departure date. The processing time is three weeks and can be longer if your application needs to be submitted to the Immigration office in Belgium for review.
- The earliest you may apply is 6 months prior to your departure date.
Where to apply:
Applicants can apply in the Belgian diplomatic or consular representation of their choice. Residents of Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and all other islands can also apply in the Belgian diplomatic or consular representation of their choice in the U.S.
Visa applicants must create an account and schedule an appointment online*: visaonweb.diplomatie.be. Please cancel your appointment if you cannot come to the consulate as planned.
*if you apply at the Consulate general of Belgium in Los Angeles, please send your complete application by post. You will then be contacted to lodge an appointment after your file has been revised.
If you are mailing your application, make sure to:
- have your signature on the application form notarized (certified) by a notary public.
- not send your application to an Honorary Consul. The application will be processed by the Embassy or by a Consulate General. Always make sure to mail your application to the Embassy or Consulate General with jurisdiction over your place of residence (see the jurisdictions described here).
- include the payment by money order or certified check. In Washington you may also use this credit card authorization form.
What to submit:
1. A passport or official travel document issued within the last 10 years and with validity that exceeds the intended stay of the applicant by at least three months. Please make sure that your passport has at least two blank pages facing each other where visa and stamps may be affixed.
Note: If the passport or travel document is not recognized by one or more Schengen countries, it is still possible to obtain a visa. This visa will then be restricted to those Schengen countries which accept the passport or travel document.
2. Two passport-sized color pictures.
3. One visa application form duly completed, dated and signed
Please include a printed and signed copy -out of the application form that you completed on Visa On Web (VOW) after registering on the website visaonweb.diplomatie.be
4. Language form (in French, Dutch or German); Choose one of the forms and indicate your language preference (or no preference). The option you choose will be used by the Belgian Home Office to communicate its decision regarding your visa application. There is no English version of this document. Please retain a copy for your records.
- Indicate your name: full name as it appears on your passport (nom du demandeur, naam visumaanvrager, Name Visumbewerber)
- Number of the file will be indicated by this office (numéro du dossier - dossiernummer - Aktenzeichen)
- Indicate in what language you wish your file to be handled:
- have no preference (geen voorkeur, pas de preference, keiner Sprache den Vorzug)
- prefer French (français, Frans, französischer Sprache)
- prefer Dutch (néerlandais, Nederlands, niederländischer Sprache)
- prefer German (allemand, Duits, deutscher Sprache)
- Date the form (format: DAY MONTH YEAR (NOT: MONTH, DAY, YEAR)
- Sign the form (no need to have it notarized)
5. Proof of legal residence in the USA and re-entry document
Original or notarized copy of valid US permanent resident card ( green card) or valid US resident visa (1). The US residence permit or visa should be valid at least three months beyond the intended departure from the territory of the Member States.
If the applicant is minor and travels without parents or with one parent: official statement from both parents (this condition shall not apply if there is only a single parent or he/she holds the parental authority alone) or legal guardian authorizing the child to travel and covering the costs. Proof of sufficient means of subsistence as described below should be provided.
6. Proof of travel arrangements
Flight (roundtrip)/travel reservations or other proof of intended transport and full itinerary (if several Schengen States will be visited OR if the trip covers several Schengen States and non-Schengen countries).
7. Proof of accommodation - Evidence of hotel bookings or travel plans
Evidence of hotel bookings or travel plans for the entire Schengen area:
- Individuals: confirmed hotel reservations, stating name, address and telephone number of the hotel, including confirmation number.
- Groups: the certificate of the travel agency mentioning the same information as for individuals, or other proof of accommodation (e.g. rental agreement).
8. Supporting documents
- Invitation letter from friend/relative, with a copy of their national ID or residence permit. For relatives, please make sure to include proof of family ties through official documents like birth certificates, etc.
- Proof of confirmed accommodation. If you are not staying at a hotel, state the name, address and telephone number of the lodging place.
- A letter of invitation from the business partner specifying the nature of the business;
- reference letter from your employer; and
- confirmed accommodation if different from hotel, stating name, address and telephone number of the lodging place.
- If applicable, letter stating that all expenses are fully covered.
- Certificate from the receiving institution on the length and purpose of stay;
- certificate from Home institution on enrolment (student cards only are not sufficient); and
- proof of confirmed accommodation. If you are not staying at a hotel, state the name, address and telephone number of the lodging place.
- If applicable, letter stating that all expenses are fully covered.
9. Proof of sufficient means of subsistence for the intended journey (you can find the minimum necessary funds needed here).
- Bank account statement(s) of the last three months. Bank statements must show the name and address of the account holder(s). Electronic copies are accepted.
- Proof of regular income (please provide all the items that apply to your situation):
- if you are an employee:
- Copy of your latest pay stub with the monthly and year-to-date amounts;
- Reference letter from your employer on business letterhead mentioning your job title, start date, yearly income and approved time off;
- Last tax return submitted: two main pages of Form 1040.
- If you are self-employed:
- Tax return from previous fiscal year: full Form 1040;
- Copy of your business license;
- Proof of previous economic activity.
- If you are retired: proof of pension benefits benefits or other regular and sufficient income
- if you are an employee:
- If you do not have a regular income and intend to visit a family member or a friend in Belgium, you may submit a financial support form (“Annexe 3bis” or “Bijlage 3bis”) to be obtained by your sponsor (friend or family) from the municipal authorities in Belgium. The sponsor must be a resident in Belgium. This procedure is described in detail here. You should then file the original document with your visa application, accompanied by the following documents:
- Original statement of family composition of the sponsor (this is a standard document issued by the municipal authorities);
- Copy of the identity card of your sponsor;
- Proof of sufficient resources: salary slips or a document drawn up by a public authority certifying the net or gross, monthly or annual income earned during the three months preceding the application or, failing that, any document indicating the source and amount of their resources (pension slips, proof of receipt of unemployment benefit, bank statements for the last 3 months, notice of assessment for tax for the year preceding entry into the Schengen area or the submission of the visa application, etc.). Self-employed guarantors must present at least their last notice of assessment.
10. Proof of travel/medical insurance to cover medical expenses, hospitalization costs, repatriation of mortal remains and repatriation for medical reasons while traveling in Belgium or in other Schengen countries. Please note that your medical insurance card alone is not sufficient proof. Minimum coverage must be at least 30,000 EURO and must be paid directly to the provider in Belgium by the insurance company. Please provide us with a copy of the contract. You will have to show proof of travel/accident insurance when entering the Schengen area. You can find a list of commonly used insurances here.
11. If you are a minor (under 18), please present a birth certificate and written consent of your parent. In the case of guardianship, please present the court document naming the guardian as well as written consent. The signatures on this document have to be notarized.
12. A self-addressed prepaid envelope if you wish to have your passport and visa sent back to your home address. The Embassy or Consulate General is not responsible for lost items during shipping. We recommend using a trackable envelope with signature requirement at delivery.
Remarks: Do not use metered postage (for mailing to the Consulate General in New York only). Please note that the Embassy of Belgium in Washington DC no longer works with FedEx (You can use UPS or USPS).
At the time of application please bring originals and one copy of each document requested.
The applicant is informed that submitting the aforementioned documents does not guarantee automatic issuance of the visa. Additional documentation may always be requested. The holder of a Schengen visa is still subject to immigration control upon first entry into a Schengen country and is therefore not guaranteed automatic entry.
Please find the list of visa fees here.
The visa application fee is non-refundable, whether your visa is actually issued or not.
If you apply in person, you can pay by credit card, money order or certified check. Personal checks or cash are never accepted.
If you mail in your application, the visa fee should be paid by money order or certified check, made out to:
- "Embassy of Belgium" if you apply at the Embassy in Washington. However, you are encouraged to use the Credit Card Payment Authorization Form.
- "Consulate General of Belgium" if you apply at the Consulate General in Atlanta, Los Angeles or New York.
- Incorrect money orders or certified checks will be rejected and returned to the applicant. Processing will only begin once the proper payment is received.
Please note that the following Schengen visa applications are free:
- for children younger than six years old.
- for the foreign spouse and/or children of EU citizens. The spouse should present a marriage certificate (translated if it is not in Dutch, French, German, or English) and the E.U. citizen's passport.
(1) E.g. type A, E, F plus endorsed I-20 by competent authority, G, H, I, J plus J1 documents, L, O, R.