Information regarding COVID-19 for foreign diplomatic missions and international organisations established in Belgium

 

Updated on 9th June 2021
 
 

The information on this page is subject to change at any time. Please take this into account. 

 

The Consultative Committee of June 4, 2021 notes that the number of patients with coronavirus in intensive care continues to drop. The vaccination campaign is also keeping pace.

The Concertation Committee confirms the goal of vaccinating a maximum percentage of the population. In the meantime, caution remains applicable. Compliance with the rules of conduct such as wearing a mask and keeping the distance of 1.5 meters is therefore recommended.

The Consultative Committee also set the rules for free and safe travel in the European Union this summer. These rules will apply as per July 1st.

Please note that the chapters “Travel” and “Health measures” further down this page reflect the current situation, until June 30th.

Travel to countries outside the European Union or the Schengen Area remains strongly discouraged.

More information on the general measures can be found in the recent Press Communiqué of the Prime Minister (in French | in Dutch) and the last updated Ministerial Decree of 28th October 2020 on urgent measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 (in French | in Dutch).

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) of the National Crisis Center are updated regularly.

 

The following points are important for foreign diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organisations:

 
Please note that some regions, cities or municipalities can have extra rules in place, depending on local threat levels. Check the website of your city or municipality.

  • More information on additional measures in the Walloon Region (in French).
  • More information on additional measures in the Brussels-Capital Region (in French | in Dutch).
  • More information on additional measures in Flanders (in Dutch).

 
Vaccination

IMPORTANT REMARKS:

  • Vaccination can only take place in one country. For vaccines requiring two doses, they should be administered in one and the same country. Registration systems do not allow a first dose to be administered in one country and a second one in another.
  • Currently, vaccinated persons remain subject to all applicable hygiene rules, travel restrictions and health measures.
  • Information on how to access the vaccination certificate will be published when available, towards the end of June.

Staff members of diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations registered with the Protocol Directorate, as well as their family members who reside in Belgium, are included in the national vaccination strategy, on a voluntary basis (not compulsory), according to the same criteria as the whole population of the Kingdom.

All beneficiaries of the Belgian vaccination strategy have been assigned an identification number to the social security (NISS). The procedure on how to retrieve this number is detailed in the verbal notes distributed on 6th May and 3rd June 2021. You will find this notes further under “Official notifications”.

Due to the inviolability of the residence of diplomatic agents (holders of a "D" residence permit), their invitations to be vaccinated are sent to the address of their diplomatic mission and not to their private address.

Questions related to the vaccination itself (schedule, invitations, etc.) are a regional responsibility: the Protocol Directorate is unable to answer them. Likewise, it is not empowered to respond to specific requests: these are to be settled with the regional authorities.

Many answers can be found in the frequently asked questions about vaccination on the website of the national crisis center.

 
Teleworking, the organization of events and other basic rules

  • Although the epidemiological situation is improving, the basic rules remain essential: respect for hygiene rules, preferring to carry out activities in the open air, paying attention to vulnerable people, keeping enough distance (1.5 m) from one another and abiding by the rules regarding meetings.
     
    If a COVID-19 case is identified in a diplomatic mission, consular post or international organization, it is sufficient to thoroughly clean the area where the person works and the shared areas such as kitchen and toilets with the usual cleaning products.
     
  • Wearing a mask from the age of 12 is compulsory in public places and transportation, shops and heavily crowded areas designated locally by the municipal authorities (for example: shopping streets, markets…).
     
  • Teleworking remains the rule, however with the possibility to be present in the workplace for 20% of the staff or one day a week. International organizations and diplomatic missions are encouraged to apply this rule to the maximum possible extent, taking into account their essential tasks and their organizational constraints. The Protocol Directorate expressly urges everyone’s sense of responsibility to this effect.

    Diplomatic missions and international organizations which employ locally hired staff (contract under Belgian law) must continue to complete the “corona teleworking declaration” on a monthly basis on the dedicated site of the National Social Security Office (ONSS) – link in French click here | link in Dutch click here, declaring:
     
    - the number of local employees on the first working day of each month;
    - the number of local employees who perform a function incompatible with teleworking.

    This declaration is made in the same way as any ONSS declaration, if necessary through the social secretariat.

    This declaration does not concern staff not subject to Belgian social security: diplomatic, administrative and technical staff, service staff as well as most international civil servants.

    All the necessary explanations can be found on the ONSS website. The Protocol Directorate is not qualified to provide clarifications on this matter.
     
  • Spontaneous gatherings outside are limited to a maximum of 10 persons, children under 12 years old not included, with respect of social distancing. This number is limited to 4 persons between midnight and 5:00 AM.
     
  • Each household is allowed to host four persons at home, with respect of the social distancing rules, children under 12 years of age not included. 
     
  • Strictly professional meetings, events and conferences are allowed. Preference is given to holding meetings by teleconference or videoconference.
     
    If this is not an option, professional meetings such as co-ordinations, briefings, seminars,… can be held while respecting the following strict conditions: hygiene measures, wearing a face mask at all times and social distancing rules must be enforced. The number of participants is limited to the available room capacity, taking social distancing rules into account. The meeting room should be ventilated and carefully disinfected before and after the meeting.

    One must consider the expression "professional meeting" in its strict meaning, i.e. a meeting dedicated exclusively to work, without a social dimension.
     
    A business meeting during which a meal is served so as not to have to interrupt the meeting meets this definition.
     
    A working lunch or dinner during which professional topics are discussed is primarily a social activity equivalent with a reception: see next point.
     
  • Receptions and banquets are allowed under the following conditions:

    - catering rules apply: in particular, the service must be provided by a catering establishment, or a professional caterer or catering company; guests seated per tables of maximum 4 people, no self-service buffet; distance of 1.5 m between tables; wearing a mask is compulsory when joining or leaving the table; cut-off time 11:30 p.m.
     

    - indoors: maximum attendance 50 persons, the room must be ventilated;
     
    - outdoors: maximum attendance 200 persons.

    The organizer is responsible for the strict observance of hygienic measures and social distancing rules. A model risk analysis according to the type of event, as well as the appropriate measures, is available on the website www.covideventriskmodel.be.
     
  • Cultural or social events without catering service are allowed under the following conditions:

    - the public must be seated, wear a face mask at all times and respect social distancing rules;
    - indoors: 75% of the room's capacity with a maximum of 200 people, the room must be ventilated;
    - outside: 400 people maximum.

 
Travel

All current measures remain applicable until June 30th.

  • Essential travel is authorized in compliance with the health measures in force.
    Definition of essential travel and more details on the page: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/travels-outside-eu-schengen/
    Each traveler must provide a plausible proof of the essential travel, such as an official note from the administration where the traveler works, an official invitation, a death certificate, a summons to a medical examination, etc.
     
  • Non essential travel from Belgium is strongly discouraged, whatever the destination. It is advised to follow on a daily basis the evolution of the zones on the map and the travel advice on the Foreign Affairs’ website.

    National rules and possible health measures in the country of destination must always be observed. Entry into the country of destination also depends on the consent of the country in question.
     
  • Non essential travel towards Belgium from outside the EU+ (1) remain subject to the European rules. 
    Non-essential journeys to Belgium are prohibited for people who do not have the nationality of one of the EU+ (1) states and with their main residence in a third country, except countries on the EU white list.
     
  • All travelers coming to Belgium, whatever their status, their country of origin, the purpose of their trip or their transportation means, are required to complete at the earliest 48 hours prior to arrival in Belgium the PLF: Passenger Locator Form, available online.
     
    Exceptions:
    people who travel via other transportation means than a public or private carrier (2) AND who stay less than 48 hours in Belgium or who have stayed less than 48 hours outside Belgium;
     
    - cross-border workers, that is, those who move back and forth between two Member States of the European Union every day or at least once a week, as well as Border Force Officers from the United Kingdom.

    The electronic form also includes the option of voluntarily filling in a questionnaire containing a self-assessment of the risk of contamination. On this basis, an SMS is sent with the measures to be followed. After sending in the PLF, the traveler will receive a confirmation receipt by e-mail or SMS with a QR-code, and details on the measures to be taken: see next chapter.

  
Health measures related to travel: testing, quarantine

  • All non-residents in Belgium coming from a red zone must show a negative PCR test result dating back less than 72 hours before their departure to Belgium.
     

    Exceptions: the following travelers are not required to have a negative test result:
     
    - travelers who come to Belgium via other transportation means than a public or private carrier (2) AND who stay less than 48 hours in Belgium or who have stayed less than 48 hours outside Belgium;
     
    - travelers who only transit by air and who remain exclusively in the transit zone without entering Belgian territory;
     
    - cross-border workers, that is, those who move back and forth between two Member States of the European Union every day or at least once a week, as well as Border Force Officers from the United Kingdom.

    A "non-resident" is a person who does not have his usual residence in Belgium: in particular, a foreign national who does not hold a Belgian residence permit.
     
    Holders of a special residence permit issued by the Protocol Directorate are regarded as residents.
     
  • On arrival in Belgium from a red zone, a quarantine and a test on day 1 and on day 7 of this quarantine are mandatory.

    Exceptions:

    - no quarantine and no test for visitors who are staying in Belgium for less than 48 hours or who have been in a red zone abroad for less than 48 hours, UNLESS they originate from the following countries/regions: United Kingdom, South Africa, South America, India.

    - no test required on day 1 for non-resident travelers who already showed a negative PCR test result upon arrival, UNLESS they originate from the following countries/regions: United Kingdom, South Africa, South America, India.

    If the test result is negative, the quarantine ends on day 7. If the test shows positive, the person in question must self-isolate for at least 10 days.

  • If quarantine is requested, it can be lifted to fulfil an essential function or to meet the essential need of the travel if this activity cannot be postponed. While exercising the essential function or activity, the rules of social distancing and other protective measures must be followed.

  • For anything not related to the essential function or essential need, the person will have to comply with the quarantine. Example: during his period of quarantine, a member of an international organization is allowed to attend a meeting where his/her physical presence is a must, but cannot go to a furniture store.

  • The accompanying family members of diplomats and international officials must respect the quarantine in all cases.

    It goes without saying that if the stay in Belgium of a traveler subject to quarantine lasts less than the quarantine period, this traveler can leave the country on the scheduled date.

    Visitors staying in Belgium for less than 48 hours do not have to go into quarantine.
     
  • If a person has to leave Belgium for a third country which requires a negative test to enter its territory, he can ask to be tested in a laboratory, but not in the test centers which cooperate with the federal platform.
     
    It is also possible to take a test at Brussels-National Airport (Zaventem). Details and conditions of this private initiative here. No guarantee can, however, be given regarding the delay before receiving the results.

    As there is currently a strong demand for primary care, we also ask not to contact general practitioners for these preventive tests.

 
It is generally advised to observe the officially announced measures and to demonstrate common sense. Everyone has the individual and collective responsibility to respect these principles. Each diplomatic mission or international institution may always decide for itself to take more restrictive measures for their staff or visitors.

The Protocol Directorate of the FPS Foreign Affairs reiterates that, without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities have the duty to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State, in particular the measures taken by the authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Foreign diplomatic missions and international organizations may direct their questions – exclusively regarding their staff – to the Protocol Directorate’s dedicated email address: corona-protocol@diplobel.fed.be. Please start the title of your email by writing the name of the sending State or the organization.

The reception desk of the Protocol Directorate remains open twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 am to noon. Caution: the desk will be exceptionally closed on Wednesday 21st July 2021.

The Protocol asks the diplomatic missions and international organizations to only go to our reception desk if absolutely necessary and to observe the following precautions: keep a sufficient social distance and limit the number of persons in the waiting room. Wearing a mask is mandatory.

 
Measures at the airport - message of Brussels Airport Company (BAC)

The VIP services have resumed their activities. Upon arrival in the VIP building, the cooperation of the passengers will be asked to respect the following measures:

  • Keep a distance of 1.5 meters from others.
  • A mouth mask is mandatory at the airport and in the aircraft.
  • It is recommended to wash and disinfect your hands regularly.
  • Requests should be sent at least 72 hours in advance instead of 48 hours. The number of visitors per delegation will be reduced to 1 instead of 6.

These recommendations will be reviewed at a later stage.

Contact: sylvie.wuiame@brusselsairport.be

 
Official notifications Protocol Directorate

 
Useful information and web links

 

[1]  As a reminder : European Union, four non-EU Schengen countries (Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and four European micro-states (Andorra, Monaco, Saint-Marino, Holy See).

[2] Public or private carrier: all carriers by air or water; train or bus operators for transport from a country outside the European Union and the Schengen area. Journeys of no more than 48 hours by private or official car or by taxi, as well as within the EU or Shengen by train or bus, are not affected.