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

 

Updated on 11th February 2021

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

 

In order to fight against the import and further spread of new variants of the virus, the Consultative Committee of 22 January 2021 decided to temporarily ban non-essential travel, i.e. with recreative or touristic purposes to and from Belgium. A double list of "essential travel" emerges as well as a sworn statement form.

More information can be found in the last Press Communiqué of the Prime Minister and the recently 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.

Members of diplomatic missions, consular posts and international organizations residing in Belgium and registered with the Protocol Directorate will be included in the national vaccination strategy, on a voluntary basis (not compulsory), according to the same criteria as the whole population of the Kingdom.

A detailed note on this topic to the attention of all concerned authorities was sent out on 5th February 2021. This note contains all current information which falls within the remit of the FPS Foreign Affairs.

Questions relating to the vaccination itself (schedule, people with co-morbidities, 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.

 
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
    ).

 
1. The organization of events and other basic rules

  • The authorities have announced reinforced controls. The fine amounts for non-compliance with the measures below have been increased. The Protocol Directorate will not condone any infringement.
     
  • More than ever, 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. Close contacts outside one's own household are authorized with only one person. “Close contacts” mean a contact lasting more than 15 minutes, without respect of social distancing and wearing no mouth mask.
     
    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, shops and heavily crowded areas designated locally by the municipal authorities (for example: shopping streets, markets…) or even throughout the territory of some towns or municipalities.
     
  • Teleworking is the rule. 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. Working in person must remain exceptional; the Protocol Directorate expressly urges everyone’s sense of responsibility to this effect.
     
  • It is forbidden to enter the public space between midnight and 5:00 AM (10:00 PM and 6:00 AM in the Walloon and Brussels Regions), except for essential travel that cannot be postponed, such as for urgent medical reasons, professional travel and commuting.
     
    Unless for an urgent medical reason, one must be able to justify the reason for being present or traveling on public roads or in public spaces. A certificate from the employer is recommended; any documentary proof is acceptable, such as for example the special residence permit which demonstrates that its holder is a member of a diplomatic mission or international organization. These bodies are part of “essential services”.
     
  • Spontaneous gatherings outside are limited to a maximum of 4 persons, children under 12 years old not included, with respect of social distancing.
     
  • Each household is allowed to host only one person at home, always the same, children under 12 years of age not included, with respect of the social distancing rules.
     
    Thus, for example, for a family visit, one is only allowed to host one's spouse or one child if that spouse or child do not usually reside with the host. 
     
  • Strictly professional meetings, events and conferences are allowed; receptions and banquets as well as cultural or social events involving a public attendance are forbidden. Practically, this excludes invitations with a private or social character in residences or in any other place.
     
    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, currently not authorized.
     
  • 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.
     
  • If food is served – by a professional caterer only – then the catering rules are applicable : in particular, guests seated per tables of maximum 4 people and no self-service buffet.
     
    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.

 
2. Travel: ban on non-essential journeys

  • Currently non-essential journeys abroad are prohibited for people with their main residence in Belgium; non-essential journeys to Belgium are prohibited for people with their main residence abroad.

    Definition of essential trips and more details on the page: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/travels/
     
  • Outbound essential trips:

    ​Each traveler who leaves Belgian territory as part of an essential trip must complete a sworn statement.

    This declaration must be supported by a plausible proof, 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.

    If they wish and if they are technically able to do so, the diplomatic mission or international organization established on Belgian territory, on behalf of which the traveler is temporarily on a mission or official visit, can complete before the trip, a business travel authorization form (BTA) in the following cases:
     
    - outbound business / official travel of at least 48 hours and without time limit;
    - incoming business / official travel of at least 48 hours and a maximum duration of 5 days.

    The BTA is optional. Two conditions are necessary to complete it: this form requires the enterprise number of the diplomatic mission or international organization. The search link in the form makes it easy to find this number. The person completing the form must also have an identity card equipped with an electronic chip or eID.
     
  • Inbound essential trips:

    Each traveler who comes to Belgium for essential travel must complete a sworn statement.

    For frequent travelers of international bodies, the BTA form is of no added value. These travelers can demonstrate that their trip is essential by means of the sworn statement and the corresponding supporting documents.

    In such a case, when completing the PLF (see below), one should NOT check the "yes" box next to "Travel for business reasons".

    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.

    Exception: 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.

    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.

  
3. 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 (2AND 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.

    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. This duty does not apply to 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. Travelers will receive a text message upon their arrival, allowing them to get tested at a test centre.
     
    (*) no test required on day 1 for non-resident travelers who already showed a PCR test result upon arrival, UNLESS they originate from the following countries/regions: United Kingdom, South Africa, South America.
    ​ 
    The quarantine ends upon receipt of the negative result of the test 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 shopping in a perfume 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.

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 send 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.