Visa for Belgium and residence permit

Visa needed?

  • Coming from your home country: All information about obtaining a visa for Belgium is available via the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs  and via the Belgian embassy in your country.
  • Non-EU mobility students with a valid residence permit in another EU country do not need a visa for coming to Belgium. UGent is taking care of the application for residence permit before the student arrives in Ghent (see part of residence permit application below).

If a visa is requested, be sure to apply for the correct visa. Changing from one visa type to another is not always possible.

Applying for a short-stay visa (Schengen visa)

Apply for the visa at the latest 3 months prior to departure at the Belgian diplomatic or consular post in your country.

Required documents

  • National passport (valid for more than 3 months when you will leave Schengen)
  • Document presenting proof of intended purpose of your planned visit
  • Medical insurance valid for the whole Schengen area and covering the whole period of intended residence with a min. coverage 30.000 EUR.
  • Proof of solvency, showing sufficient financial means for the whole period of stay.
    Required min. is 95 EUR/day when staying in a hotel/guesthouse, or 45 EUR/day when accommodation is offered. Proof of financial solvency can be proven by:
    • Scholarship document
    • Credit card with a limit in accordance to the min. amounts + bank statements of the last 3 months of the bank account linked to the card.
    • Traveler cheques
    • Cash amount in a convertible currency
  • Copy of the reservation of a return ticket, or any other document proving the intention of leaving Schengen at the end of the intended period of stay.

Non-EEA citizens who do not require a short-stay visa

Following documents may be checked at the border upon arrival in Belgium:

  • National passport (more than 3 months valid on the moment you will leave Schengen)
  • Document concerning the intended purpose of your planned visit
  • Proof of health insurance
  • For all certainty, bring a proof of solvency

Applying for a long stay student visa (type D)

If the intended stay lasts longer than 3 months, a national long-stay visa (visa D) is required. This visa is valid for a maximum period of 1 year.

Procedure for applying for a visa

VERY IMPORTANT: start your visa application as soon as you get your Letter of Admission.
Otherwise you will risk not getting your visa in time for the start your studies.

Request the authorisation to stay in Belgium for longer than 3 months at the Belgian diplomatic or consular post:

  • in the place of residence
  • or the place of stopover abroad.

Exceptionally, however, the residence permit can be requested from the mayor of the place of residence.
The decision is taken by the Immigration Office.

Required documents

  • Travel document or national passport in which the visa can be affixed (with validity period longer than 12 months)
  • Visa application form (double copy)
    • Name and address of inviting organization: Universiteit Gent – Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 25 – B-9000 Ghent

    • Telephone number of organization and information about the contact person: info about supervisor/program coordinator or his/her secretariat

  • Two recent passport photos
  • Proof of financial solvency
  • Evidence of good conduct and morals
  • Medical certificate
  • Proof of health insurance
  • PhD students: registration certificate as a student and a proof of funding such as the scholarship
  • Proof of paid contribution fee for administrative costs. Some students can be exempted from paying this fee. Ask the embassy for more information.

Applying for a residence permit at arrival

Every person without the Belgian nationality who comes to Ghent to study, must apply for a student residence permit.

Applying for a residence permit as a non-EU mobility student, with a valid residence permit in another EU country

Ghent University will take care of your application for a residence permit before arriving in Gent. You will need to provide us with the necessary documents/information:

  • Copy of valid passport
  • Residence permit valid for the entire duration of the mobility
  • Proof of health insurance, covering all risks in Belgium
  • Proof of financial solvency for the duration of the mobility

Please send these documents to upon receiving your Letter of Invitation at Ghent University.

If you are studying in a Joint-Programme, you will be contacted by your programme coordinator at Ghent University.

Exception: Non-EU mobility students coming from Ireland or Denmark still need to apply for a Belgian visa.

Applying for a residence permit for an orientation year while graduating

From August 15 2021 on, students with a residence permit as a non-EU student who graduate at Ghent University in the academic year 2020-2021 as bachelor, master or PhD, are eligible for a stay of 12 months (orientation year) to search for a job or to carry out an independent activity.

How is my visa progressing?

The processing time of visa applications depends on the purpose and duration of the intended stay.

Student visa application conditions

Always contact the Belgian Embassy or Consulate first! They will apply you with the most recent conditions and procedures. When submitting a visa application at an embassy or consulate, upon entry into Belgium or if subject to a check in Belgium, all foreign non EU citizens (visa required or not) must, prior to entry to Belgium meet following conditions:

  • Be in possession of a passport that are recognized by Belgium and remain valid for at least three months subsequent to their planned period of stay in Belgium.
  • Be able to produce documents justifying the purpose and conditions of their planned stay (e.g. letter of acceptance).
  • Have adequate means of subsistence, both for the duration of the study and for the return trip to their country of origin or transit to another country.
  • Not have been flagged for non-admission to Belgium and not be considered a threat to public order, national (domestic) security, public health or the international relations of Belgium or the other Schengen countries.
  • The embassy or consulate will inform you whether other requirements are to be met, such as travel insurance or medical certificate.

Official documents issued abroad must be legalised or bear an apostille, depending on the country whence they originated, unless a treaty provides for exemption from this process. Documents issued abroad in a language other than Dutch, English, French or German must be translated by a sworn translator.

What documents does Ghent University issue for your visa application?

  • Exchange students: Ghent University will supply you with a letter of invitation which proves that you will be participating in an exchange programme with UGent.
  • Degree students (incl. PhD students): Ghent University will supply you with a letter of admission which proves that you are admitted to a full-time study programme at UGent.
  • Staff: The HR team of Ghent University will apply for a single permit.
  • Guests (short stay): The responsible research group for registration will supply a letter of invitation.

Important note: admission as a student or an employee at Ghent University does not guarantee a visa.


  • EU/EEA citizens: The free movement of persons applies within the European Union, making the residence rules for EU citizens much more flexible than those for the citizens of other countries. However, besides the admission as a student or employee at UGent, there are other requirements to be fulfilled. For example, for students: proof of regular studies and enrolment, health insurance, proof of solvability. For employees: proof of actual employment (e.g. employment contract).
  • non-EU/EEA citizens: As with EU/EAA citizens, besides the admission as a student or employee at UGent, there are other requirements to be fulfilled. For example, for students there are always financial prerequisites. Moreover, the granting of a visa can exceptionally be refused (e.g. health and safety measures).

In any event, the decision on whether a visa will be granted to you remains with the diplomatic post.

Need extra help on Visa issues?

For non-standard situations, you might need some extra information or advise. AFTER consulting the embassy or the visa application center in your home country, you can contact