Ah, Belgium. This castle-rich, birthplace of the “french” fry has finally joined the rest of Europe in reopening to American tourists. But there’s a catch.
I’m writing this from the quaint countryside town of Rochefort, Belgium. Perhaps you’re familiar with the famous beer that eminates from this historical town. If you’re not, you should try it.
But whether your excuse to head to Belgium is beer, fries, chocolate, castles, or a little baby peeing into a fountain, you’re going to want to read this first.
Is Belgium open? What are the restrictions for entering Belgium right now?
For those seeking to delight their taste buds, Belgium is indeed open to countries outside of Europe. Well, some of them.
To see if you are allowed to enter Belgium:
- First check the list of allowed third countries in Europe. At the moment, Americans are allowed in.
- Next, for Belgium, make sure the country you’re arriving from is green or orange. If it’s red, you may only enter if vaccinated or with some additional restrictions.
As long as you meet both above requirements (and all the other normal passport/visa requirements), you can enter Belgium.
- You need to complete the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) within 48 hours of arriving in Belgium. Make sure you fill this out before your flight, or you will be denied boarding.
- You have to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test result from a test taken within 72 hours of arrival to enter Belgium from a red zone European or red code whitelist country (such as the United States)
Shortcuts to restrictions that apply to you:
- Vaccinated travelers entering Belgium from green or orange countries (such as the US)
- Can I enter Belgium from a red country if I’m vaccinated? (such as Spain)
- Restrictions for unvaccinated travelers entering Belgium from green or orange countries (such as the US)
- Can I enter Belgium from a red country if I’m not vaccinated?
- How to find the Passenger Locator Form and why it’s so important
- Why getting a Covid test is hard in Belgium and how to get one
Travel from “Red-Zone” Countries
If you’re vaccinated, you can travel from a red-zone country. If it’s a red zone country within Europe, there are no additional testing or quarantine restrictions. However, if it’s a red zone country outside of Europe, you will have to get tested on day 1 (day of arrival) and quarantine until you receive your test results.
As long as you correctly fill out your Passenger Locator Form, you’ll be sent a QR code that allows you to receive a free PCR test on arrival.
Those wishing to travel to Belgium from a green or orange zone country without getting vaccinated will need one of the following:
- A recovery certificate that shows that you have recovered from COVID-19. This must include a positive PCR test result no older than 180 days.
- A negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours before arrival.
You do not need to quarantine if you haven’t been in a red or dark-red country in the last 14 days.
Can I enter Belgium from a red zone country if I’m not vaccinated?
Yes, but unless you have EU nationality, only if it’s a red zone country in the EU.
Only those with EU nationality can enter from a red-zone outside the EU.
Do I have to quarantine in Belgium after traveling from a red zone country if I’m not vaccinated?
Yes. There is a mandatory quarantine for those unvaccinated entering Belgium from red zone countries.
If unvaccinated, upon return from a red zone, you must quarantine for 10 days. Residents of Belgium must be tested on day 1 and everyone must be tested day 7. The quarantine period may end after a negative test result of the test performed on day 7.
Unvaccinated non-EU nationals/residents cannot enter Belgium from a red zone country outside the EU.
When does my quarantine in Belgium start?
The quarantine period starts on the day you leave the red zone, provided that it is clearly and objectively specified on the PLF. If not, quarantine will commence as soon as you arrive in Belgium, after a stay in a red zone, unless stipulated otherwise by the treating physician/decree of the federated entities.
Make sure you’re not traveling to Belgium from very-high risk countries – vaccinated or unvaccinated
There’s actually an entry ban for people coming from countries with high incidence of the Delta variant of Covid-19. The list can be found here.
This ban applies if you have been in any of the listed countries within the last 14 days, and there are only a few exceptions – including Belgian Nationality or residence. Even then, you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
The list includes much of South and Central America, but also some countries in Asia and Africa. Make sure to check it out.
The PLF (Passenger Locator Form) and why it’s so important
Everyone has to fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before entering Belgium.
As soon as you submit the PLF, you should gain access to (and receive by e-mail) a QR vode.
The first thing I was asked for when checking in for my flight to Belgium was the QR code you get after completing the PLF. Belgium is super strict about this.
Secondly, you can be fined 250 Euro for errors or missing information on your PLF, especially if you’re found violating mandatory quarantine.
That being said, I filled out my PLF in 3 minutes and had my QR code instantly. And most travelers will either be vaccinated or not coming from red countries and therefore will not have to quarantine.
My experience flying into Belgium from within Europe
For those traveling into Belgium from somewhere in Europe, expect a relatively easy experience.
I traveled from Estonia which is luckily a green zone country. On arrival, before entering baggage claim, all passengers were split into two lines: arrivals from green zone and red zone countries. Those traveling from red zone countries in the EU had to undergo an additional check (for PCR test or vaccination record) whiile those of us coming from green countries could walk straight to baggage claim.
Why it’s so hard to get a Covid test in Belgium (and how you can get one)
The US is still requiring Covid tests for those looking to return or enter. Luckily, these include rapid antigen tests that can be done just about anywhere.
Unfortunately, I struggled so hard to get a Covid test in Belgium that I ended up driving to France to get one. Luckily, that’s easy to do in Europe.
The reason I struggled to find a test in Belgium? Almost every testing center is part of the centralized “MaSante” testing system – designed for Belgian residents. And you need a Belgian ID card to take the test. Silly and complicated, which is to say very Belgian.
There is, however, a solution.
For those without the flexibility or time to leave the country, you can simply pay for a test right at Brussels Airport.
The testing centre has convenient locations at both departures and arrivals. They’re impossible to miss, very-well set up, and offer both rapid and PCR tests.
The easiest solution is to take an approved at home test with you and take it within 3 days of departure to the US.