Welcome to Belgium, Brussels, VUB!

Please find below an overview of the administrative steps International students must comply with. The info is divided in 3 sections: before arrival, upon arrival and staying in Belgium. We provide info on visa administration, proving financial means, blocked account procedure, housing, banking, taxes, town hall administration, health insurance, renewing your residence permit and orientation year. Make sure to check all the different tabs per section, they might hold useful info! 

Before arrival


You can find relevant information on how to obtain a visa via the links listed below. The procedures for obtaining a visa can vary depending on your nationality, duration of the stay and reason for the stay. Want to find out more about how to apply for a visa? Watch our info video here!

Where can I apply for a visa? You can find the competent diplomatic post of your country here.

Providing a proof of sufficient financial means is one of the conditions to obtain a visa. You can find an overview of the average study costs and living expenses in Belgium here.

Before arrival

Financial means

When applying for a student visa or residence permit (ID card), students need to prove that they have sufficient financial means to cover their living expenses, studies, healthcare and repatriation costs. There are several ways to prove this:

  • Via a guarantor (=Annex 32 procedure). The guarantor declares to cover the study and living costs from the student during the period of the studies.
  • By providing a scholarship certificate. For the 2023-2024 academic year, a minimum amount of €789 per month applies.
  • Opening a blocked account at VUB

You can choose a different option to prolong your residence card each academic year. Want to find out more about the blocked account? check the next tab.

Before arrival

Blocked account

We provide with help and advise on how to open a blocked account. The blocked account procedure is also open for students applying to an orientation year. Want to find out more on how to open a blocked account? Watch our info video here!

Students with a blocked account are obliged to register for the SIP (=student insurance programme) insurance. This insurance comes on top of the mandatory basic health insurance (E.g. Partena, CM, Solidaris, …) This basic health insurance will reimburse you partially for your medical costs, SIP will reimburse you the remaining part and also covers repatriation.  Online info on SIP insurance.

Students who remain in Belgium for 6 months or less will have to register for SIP integral. The price is ca. € 39/month. Students who stay longer than 6 months will have to register for SIP complementary (on top of their basic health insurance). The price is ca. € 24/month.

Before arrival


Are you looking for student housing? Rent a room on a VUB campus or pick one of the 10,000 student residences offered by private owners. You can apply with Brik, or one of the other VUB housing partners to find a suitable student room .

Erasmus students embarking on a 1 semester exchange towards VUB are notified on housing options at U Residence; in June for the Fall semester, in December for the Spring semester. 

Want to find out more on how to look for a student room? Watch our info video here!

Some websites that offer rooms in Brussels

MyKot | Find a student room in Brussels (main partner of VUB – you need to create a log in)

Most of the rooms in Brussels are rented out by private owners. You can find a large amount of privately owned rooms on the online room finder MyKot. Found an interesting room? Contact the landlord for more information and a visit. The contract and practical matters are arranged between the student and the landlord. 

https://www.aise-svks.brussels/nl/studenten/ (only for students who already in Belgium and have a Belgian residence permit)

Renting as SVKS? You are looking for a room, but struggling financially? Speak to the Sociaal Verhuurkantoor voor Studenten (SVKS – it translates as ‘Social Renting Office for Students’ in English). It’s an organisation that helps students with low incomes. It lets student rooms to them at reduced prices. Get into contact to see if you’re eligible (website in Dutch and French only, but you can write/call them in English).

Other websites (be aware of potential scams!)





Site to rent Apartment-Flats & Rooms short/long term | Spotahome

Upon arrival

Town hall registration

All international students with a long stay in Belgium must register at the town hall of the city they stay in. Need more info on town hall registration? Watch our info video! You can find out which town hall is yours based on the postal code (zip code) via this link


Obtaining a Belgian residence permit / id-card 

According to Belgian law you must register within 8 days after your arrival. This will not always be possible since a lot of the municipalities work with appointments. Our advice is to contact the municipality within the 1st 8 days after arrival in Belgium to make an appointment. Only if you have already found permanent housing! 

In Google, you can search the website of your municipality with “gemeente + name of the municipality” (for municipalities in Flanders & Brussels) or with “commune + name of the municipality” (for municipalities in Wallonia & Brussels). Be aware that not all the websites will have an English version since English is not an official language in Belgium. 

You will need at least the following documents when you present yourself at the local town hall/municipality: 

  • Rental contract 
  • National ID/Passport with type D visa 
  • Registration certificate from VUB for 54 credits 
  • Proof of Solvability (scholarship, blocked account, guarantor (annex 32)) 

Sometimes also: birth certificate, civil status certificate, or certificate of good conduct, ...

This appointment is the 1st step towards receiving your Belgian residence permit. Upon declaring the necessary documents, you will receive a document called “annex 15”. A visit from the local police to check if you really reside at the address you have provided will follow. Please make sure your name is clearly visible on the mailbox and doorbell!

Once the police confirm your address, you will receive an invitation from the municipality to collect your Belgian ID card. The documents you will have to take with you will be indicated on this invitation. 

This whole process can take between 2 to 6 months. 

Upon arrival

Health insurance

A valid health insurance is compulsory when residing in Belgium. VUB has a partnership with Helan/Partena health insurance broker (= private company). You can find an overview of what this includes online. You can meet a representative from Helan/Partena at the International Relations office (Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Brussels) on Tuesdays and Thursdays during our opening hours (10h00 - 12h30 & 13h30 - 16h00). 

You are free to choose the provider of your choice, below a list of other providers. You will have to pay the cost for the basic health insurance yourself. All basic health insurances reimburse 60 – 75 % of generic medical costs, certain aspects are not covered, please check with the provider of your choice to find out more. Please start your registration for basic health insurance as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you receive your Belgian residence permit or household composition document!

Want more info on health insurance in Belgium? Watch our info video!


Helan/Partena has an agreement with following countries: 

Albania (AL-BE 111) Algeria (Alg-BE 111)
Bosnia-Herzegovina (BIH-BE 111) North-Macedonia (RM-BE 111)
Morocco (MAR-BE 111) Montenegro (MNE-BE 111)
Serbia (SRB-BE 111) Tunisia (TN-BE 111)
Turkey (TR - BE 111) Quebec (QUE-BE 128)
Great Britain (GHIC) Australia (Medicare)

Between brackets you will find the name of the document the student’s local health insurance broker has to provide him/her to remain covered during his/her stay in Belgium. 

Upon arrival

Student Insurance Programme

Students with a blocked account are contractually obliged to register for SIP insurance. This insurance comes on top of the basic health insurance like Partena, CM, Solidaris,… 

The basic health insurance will reimburse you 60 – 75 % of your medical costs. SIP complementary insurance will reimburse you the remaining 40 - 25% and covers repatriation to the home country when needed. You can find more information about SIP here: https://www.sipinsurance.eu/

Students who stay here for 6 months or less will have to register for SIP integral (= basic health insurance + SIP complementary). The price is around € 38,5/month. 

Students who stay here for a full academic year (13 months) will have to register for SIP complementary (on top of the basic health insurance). The price is around € 24/month or € 303 for 13 months. This cost will be deducted from your 1st blocked account installment. 

You can find additional information here 

Upon arrival

Opening a Belgium bank account / Taxes


International students with a long stay in Belgium are advised to open a Belgian bank account. Visitors can choose any bank they prefer to open their account. Please note that several documents are necessary to open an account: A Belgian residence permit, a rent contract, a proof of registration in the university, ... Documents may differ depending on the choice of bank, nationality and type of account (online or regular).

Some online banks that are frequently used by international students: N26, Wise, Revolut, Bunq or Monese. The IBAN accounts from these banks are all part of the SEPA-zone and are accepted for the purpose of transferring the monthly installments of the blocked account.


International students with a long stay are required to fill in a tax return form each year.  An online instruction video on how to fill in a simple tax return (no taxable income, single student).

Staying in Belgium

Renewal residence permit

Extension of residence permit is the discretionary power of decision of the Immigration department. By law, applications for extension of residence permits should be submitted to the town hall after making an appointment preferably one month and at latest 14 days before the residence permit expires

The below documents are required:

  • Passport
  • Current ID card
  • Registration certificate for the next academic year
  • “Standard form” issued by the  Student Administration department
  • Transcript of records
  • Proof of sufficient financial means
  • Proof of a Health Insurance subscription
  • ...

This is a non-exhaustive list of documents. Please check with your local town hall which documents they require.

Staying in Belgium

Study progress

When extra time is necessary in order to finish a two (MA) or three (BA) year programme, students need to submit proof they obtained at least a minimum amount of credits corresponding to the below table (= Immigration law).

Minimum amount of credits obtained




After 2 years



After 3 years



After 4 years




Staying in Belgium

EU students

Following a study programme needs to be your main activity. This means you need to have a normal class schedule. A few hours of classes each week is not sufficient. Fulltime evening classes are accepted.

Third country nationals

You need to register fulltime in a, by the Flemmish or French community, recognized higher education institution and this for a minimum of 54 credits (ECTS).

Educational programmes that don't offer a fulltime schedule are not accepted, unless the programme meets the below criteria:

  • You are following your last year of the educational programme and only have a limited amount of credits left
  • For reasons outside of your own will you cannot register for a higher amount of credits
  • The programme is part of a preparatory programme that leads towards a fulltime programme at a recognized higher educational institutions and consists of at least 12hrs of classes per week  

Professional Orientation Year

Students who recently graduated are eligible for a stay of 12 months to search for a job in Belgium or to carry out an independent professional activity.

  • You are a non-EEA student in the possession of a residence permit
  • You are a non-EEA student  who obtained a graduate, bachelor or master degree or doctorate at a Belgian institution of higher education in the past academic year.
  • You are a non-EEA student who obtained a diploma in another EU member state  but studied in Belgium as part of a mobility programme (e.g. Erasmus Mundus)

Professional Orientation year

During the orientation year, you must:

  •  Actively look for a position that allows for the application of a combined permit as an employee; or
  • Take the necessary steps to comply with all legal obligations to exercise an independent professional activity, whether as a natural person, within a juridical person (= legal entity such as a corporation, NGO,…) or within any other organisation without legal status.
  • If it appears that you no longer meet the conditions set for your residence, and there is no reasonable chance of being recruited by an employer or of starting up a company, the Immigration Department may terminate the temporary residence permit.
  • During the ‘orientation year', you are given unlimited access to the labour market and you can work legally for the duration of the orientation year.

Professional Orientation Year

The application must be submitted to the municipal administration where you have your main residence, no later than preferable 1 month and at latest 15 days before the expiry of the residence permit.

You must at least submit the following documents with the application:

  • A valid passport:
  • Proof that you have obtained a recognised diploma at a Higher Education Institution
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means

If the application for an orientation year is approved by the Immigration Office, you will receive a temporary residence permit. This residence permit (A card) is valid for a maximum of 12 months and cannot be extended.

Professional Orientation Year

If you obtained your diploma at a foreign institution of higher education, but you were in Belgium via a mobility exchange programme (e.g. Erasmus Mundus programme), you can submit an application to the competent Belgian diplomatic or consular post in the country where you currently reside. The application must be submitted within 3 months after obtaining the diploma.

You must at least submit the following documents:

  • A valid passport:
  • Proof that you have obtained a recognised diploma at a Higher Education Institution
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial means

Professional Orientation Year

A proof of solvency is necessary to apply for the orientation year. One of the options for a proof of solvency is a blocked account with the higher education institution where you've graduated. As an alternative to the blocked account you can also opt for a guarantor or Annex 32 procedure.You can find more information about both procedures here.

Professional Orientation Year

As the information on the website of the Belgian immigration office is only available in Dutch and French so far, Study In Flanders provides you with the general rules and conditions via their website In English.

International Relations Office

International Relations Office
Pleinlaan 5
1050 Elsene
More info