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

 

Updated on 27th July 2021
 

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

 

The Consultative Committee of June 18th, 2021 has noted the continuation of encouraging figures and decided to activate the next stage of the “summer plan” as from June 27th.

The Consultative Committee of 19th July is happy to see progress with the vaccinations, but remains vigilant towards the more infectious variants of the virus.

The Consultative Committee also set the rules for free and safe travel in the European Union. These rules apply as per July 1st. On the other hand, travel from a number of third countries where the epidemic situation is worrying are prohibited, with very limited exceptions.

More information on the general measures can be found in the recent Press Communiqué of the Prime Minister 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.
  • Travelers, even if they are vaccinated, who do not have a digital EU COVID certificate or a certificate from a third country considered regarded as equivalent by the European Commission remain subject to all applicable health measures, hygiene rules and travel restrictions. These rules also remain applicable to persons who are fully vaccinated or tested negatively originating from a number of third countries where the epidemic situation is worrying.

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" or “C” residence permit), their invitations to be vaccinated are sent to the address of their diplomatic/consular mission and not to their private address. Holders of a “P” or “S” residence permit will receive the invitation to their home 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.

 
Vaccination or Negative Test or Recovery Certificate:

The vaccine data of each person who has benefited from the Belgian vaccination strategy, as well as the results of recent tests, are individually and securely accessible on the institutional site “Ma Santé” (in French | in Dutch). You can download the European digital COVID certificate, the negative test certificate for less than 72 hours or the recovery certificate.

To access this site, you must identify yourself. Members of diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations who have a special residence permit without a microchip must use an alternative authentication method:

  • with an electronic identification recognized at European level, in accordance with Regulation (EU) No. 910/2014: currently, the identity documents of 10 European Union countries are eIDAS compatible. People holding such a document are already able to consult the “Ma santé” site;
  • with a security code obtained by going in person, with one’s special residence permit "D", "C", "P" or "S" to one of the registration centers. This method is to be used as a last resort because the appointment times are long. The third method below should be preferred;
  • with a security code sent by e-mail: first, a profile must be created for each user. The Federal Public Service Strategy & Organization (BOSA), in charge of digital administration, is involved in this process. Diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations received a note verbale about this procedure between 18th and 21st June. The persons concerned will be contacted individually during the month of July.

Persons who were fully vaccinated in Belgium can also receive their European COVID certificate by post, by calling one of the numbers below. You need to know your social security identification number (NISS or NISSbis).
Please take the following deadlines into account:

  • vaccine registration: wait at least 3 to 7 days after the last vaccination before calling;
  • preparation of the certificate and mailing: approximately 5 working days.

The number to call depends on your address as known by the administration in charge of vaccination:

  • holders of a "D" or "C" special residence permit: address of the diplomatic mission or consulate;
  • holders of a "P" or "S" special residence permit: private address.

    Call center number if your address is located in the Brussels region: 02 214 19 19
    Call center number if your address is located in Wallonia: 071 31 34 93
    Call center number if your address is located in Flanders: 078 78 78 50

 
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 is no longer compulsory but remains recommended for all staff members whose function allows it.

    The “corona teleworking declaration” is no longer necessary as per July 2021.
     
  • Spontaneous gatherings outside are no longer limited.
     
  • Each household is allowed to host eight 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:

    - indoors: limitation of the number of seated guests to the maximum capacity of the room, distance of 1.5 m between guests, wearing a mask is mandatory when joining or leaving the table;

    - outdoors: limitation to a maximum of 2500 persons until 29th July 2021 inclusive and 5000 persons as per 30th July 2021;

    - cut-off time 1:00 a.m.
     

    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:

    - indoors: limitation of the number of seated public to the maximum capacity of the room, without ever exceeding a maximum of 2000 people until 29th July 2021 inclusive and without exceeding 3000 people from 30th July 2021;

    - outdoors: an audience of a maximum of 2500 people until 29th July 2021 inclusive and a maximum of 5000 people from 30th July 2021;

    - spectators must wear masks at all times and respect a distance of 1.50m between groups of 8 people;
     
    - cut-off time 1:00 a.m.

 
Travel

  • An entry ban applies to travelers originating from countries classified as "very high risk".

    The list of countries, the strictly limited exceptions, as well as the measures applicable before and upon arrival in Belgium, are detailed on the official website info-coronavirus - high-risk countries.

    The last category of exception: diplomats / international civil servants, concerns exclusively function holders in their official duty; family members do not benefit from any exceptions, unless they are accompanying the agent who heads for his post for the first time or who leaves it permanently.
     
  • Travel from Belgium to member states of the European Union is free for people with a EU digital COVID certificate. This is the basic principle, but destination countries can always decide to impose related conditions to it. Please check these conditions in advance with the authorities in each country.
     
  • Non essential travel from Belgium towards countries outside the EU+(1) remains strongly discouraged. It is advised to follow on a daily basis the evolution of thee zones 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 are not nationals of one of the EU+(1) states and whose main residence is located in a third country, except for travelers:
    • coming from countries on the EU white list ;
    • coming from other third countries which are not classified as “high risk”, under conditions:
      • fully vaccinated persons who detain a vaccination certificate recognized by the European Commission as equivalent to the EU digital COVID certificate;
      • as well as the categories of travelers included in the list of exceptions (legal text in French | in Dutch). The essential reason for the trip must be demonstrated by an essential travel certificate or an official document.
  • 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:
    persons who travel through 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 (this exception does not apply to travelers from high-risk countries: they must always complete the PLF) ;
     
    - 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.

    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

Return to Belgium of persons residing in Belgium, including holders of a special residence permit issued by the Protocol Directorate:

  • Return from green or orange zone: no obligation to quarantine or test. Please note: the status of an area may change during your stay.
  • Return from red zone:

- People with a European digital COVID certificate testifying a complete vaccination (+ 2 weeks), a recent negative PCR test (<72 hours) or a certificate of recovery should not self-quarantine.

- People 12 years old and over who are tested on arrival (day 1 or day 2) and whose test result is negative should not self-quarantine. Children under 12 are exempt from testing.

Mandatory 10-day quarantine with PCR test carried out on day 1 and day 7. This obligation also applies to people who had a complete vaccination or who have already taken a test which showed negative in the country in question.

 
Entry in Belgium of non-residents:

  • Arrival from green or orange zone: no obligation to test or quarantine.
  • Arrival from red zone countries located in the European Union:

People with a European digital COVID certificate testifying a complete vaccination (+ 2 weeks), a recent negative PCR test (<72 hours) or a certificate of recovery should not self-quarantine.

  • Arrival from countries outside the European Union:

People must be fully vaccinated (+2 weeks) with one of the vaccines approved by Europe and undergo a PCR test on the day of their arrival. If the test is negative, these people should not quarantine.

- An entry ban on the territory applies for non-Belgians who do not reside in Belgium and who have been at any time during the last 14 days in a very high risk area.

- An exception is granted for essential travel of transport personnel and diplomats. These persons must respect a quarantine of ten days and pass a PCR test on day 1 and day 7. The quarantine can only be interrupted for essential reasons.

 
If quarantine
 is requested, it can be temporary 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 linked 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 restaurant.

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

 
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.

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.