Enrolling with a foreign diploma
Students with a non-Belgian diploma will receive an invitation to pay an application fee of € 50. This does not apply to students with a Belgian diploma from a French speaking school, only for students with a foreign diploma. As soon as we receive your application fee, we start screening your application.
PhD students don't have to pay an application fee.
How to pay?
You will receive an e-mail with payment instructions on your personal e-mail account. The payment goes via bank transfer, with clear mention of the correct reference number. If your application is accepted, the fee will be deducted from your tuition fee. If you are not accepted, the application fee is non-refundable.
- Applying for multiple programmes? Then you will pay an application fee for each separate application.
- If you've applied for the wrong programme, and have already paid the application fee, you will need to apply for the correct programme and pay the application fee again.
- If you've applied for a programme in the wrong language by mistake, please apply for the correct programme and contact Student Administration to ask if they will transfer the fee to your new application.
Application is processed
After you submit your application, you will get an e-mail confirming that we've received your application. Our student administration will verify if all required documents are included.
Any documents missing?
Please e-mail them to email@example.com and mention your full name, date of birth and the programme you're applying for. The sooner we have all you documents, the faster we can process your application. Make sure you send in all required documents before the application deadline. The only documents you may provide after the deadline are your proof of language and the APS certificate (if applicable).
Overview required documents
We start screening your application as soon as:
- you've correctly submitted your application (before the deadline)
- all required documents are present (before the deadline)
- we've received your application fee
The Student Administration will handle the academic screening of your application, along with other departments involved. This process can take up to 10 weeks.
You will be notified via e-mail as soon as a decision has been made. Want to check your status during the screening process? Log in here with your personal e-mail and password, click 'Admissions & (Re-)enrolment' and check under 'overview' to see the status of your submitted application.
If your application is accepted, you will receive a conditional letter of acceptance.
Conditional letter of acceptance
You'll receive conditional acceptance via e-mail, once your application has been approved.
You can use this document to start your visa application if applicable. Let us know which embassy or consulate you will request your visa from, so we can confirm your application directly.
Apply for a visa
If you don't have a place to stay (yet) in Belgium, this is also the time to start looking for accommodation.
This is the time to verify your diploma if you are asked to do so.
Foreign students can apply for a scholarship at this point.
Deferral of acceptance
Please note that the university does not offer deferrals. If you wish to postpone your application to the next academic year, you will be able to submit a new application once the admissions for the next academic year open. Please bear in mind that you will be required to pay the application fee again, but that your application will be processed more quickly.
When you receive the conditional acceptance letter, you will have to verify your diploma. This is so we can verify the (previously obtained) diploma you are using to apply for a VUB programme is authentic.
Who has to verify?
Only students who are applying based on a diploma that we can't verify ourselves in the Flemish Higher Education Database (Flemish diploma's) have to provide extra verification. So we need verification for example from students applying based on a:
- foreign diploma (not Belgian)
- diploma from a school located in Wallonia (Belgium)
- baccalaureate from a European school located in Belgium
- baccalaureate from an International school located in Belgium
We accept digital verifications if your previous institution provides them through an official method that does not require payment from VUB. Always check your previous institution´s website or contact them to inquire about the available means of verification.
Here is a list of known options for digital verifications
- In some cases (such as IBDP verifications) we only accept verifications submitted through a specific system. If this is the case, this will be indicated in bold in the list of options.
- If you have studied at a college that is not accredited but you obtained a degree awarded by an affiliated accredited institution, please note we need the verification to come directly from the accredited institution.
- If your (secondary education / high school) degree was awarded by an education or examination board, the verification has to come from this board.
Verification via e-mail
If no other official method is available, your previous institution (who awarded you the diploma you are using to apply at VUB) can send an e-mail directly to us to verify that you graduated there.
- This e-mail needs to come from an official (verifiable) school e-mail address listed on the institution’s website, from a central administrative office eg. the registrar’s office.
- needs to contain: Your full official name + the title of your diploma or degree + the graduation date. (no extra documents or stamps required, just a simple e-mail)
- and should be sent from the institution directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Forwarded e-mails will not be accepted.
Once this verification is cleared, your enrolment will be finalised by our administration between July and October. Please be aware that verifications are processed in the order they are received, and all confirmation e-mails will be queued accordingly.
As soon as you sign your study contract, you are officially enrolled and you receive an enrolment certificate on your personal e-mail account. This can be used to buy a public transportation card.
Buy your transportation card
Check if you qualify for any of the scholarships for foreign students!
Apply for a scholarship
Prepare your stay
Need a visa?
Depending on your country of origin (citizenship), you must arrange certain formalities to come study in Belgium. Either before you leave (apply for a visa) and/or at your arrival in Belgium (ID card). This is based on:
- the duration of your stay
- your nationality (EEA or non-EEA)
- the reason of your stay (studies, work, family reunion,...)
Brussels consists of 19 communes, all with their own mayor and local administration office. All procedures and required documents depend on where you are going to reside. That's why we advise you to bring copies of all documents you use(d) for you visa application.
EEA-students don't need a visa. There are however extra administrative steps for long stays.
Short stay EEA students (maximum 90 days)
Before your arrival you only need a valid passport or ID card.
Upon arrival you are registered as a tourist in your hotel. If you are not staying in a hotel, please notify the commune of your arrival.
Long stay EEA students (longer than 90 days)
Before your arrival you only need a valid passport or ID card.
Upon arrival you go to your commune to request a Belgian ID card (providing you find long term accommodation within 3 months). You receive a Belgian ID card within 1 week or a few months and a temporary document 'annex 19 or annex 8ter' to prove your compliance with immigration regulations as a foreign student. You may use this document to open a bank account.
To request a residence card card you need a valid passport or ID card, and proof of health insurance cover in Belgium (for example European Insurance Card) and your VUB enrolment certificate from VUB.
Foreign students get 1 extra month to provide the required documents such as a rental contract, proof of sufficient financial means and an enrolment certificate from VUB. All documents must be submitted within 4 months after your arrival in Belgian.
Non-EEA students must apply for a visa to come study in Belgium. There is a difference between stays shorter and longer than 90 days.
For Chinese students, there is a separate procedure.
Short stay non-EEA student (maximum 90 days)
For a stay shorter than 3 months, you'll need a Schengen type C visa. In general these so called ‘tourist’ short term stay visas grant access to the whole of the Schengen area. Depending on whether there are bilateral agreements, some students are exempt from a type C visa and are allowed into the country with a valid passport (check with your local Belgian diplomatic representation). This type of visa cannot be prolonged beyond its 90 days validity, except for medical or humanitarian reasons. Returning to the Schengen area with a new type C visa is only possible after leaving the Schengen area for a period of minimum 6 months.
Delivery of Type C visas is generally the Belgian diplomatic representation responsibility (no permission needed from the Department of Immigration). Documents to submit are:
- Plane tickets, including a return ticket
- Proof of sufficient financial means or a financial guarantor (a Belgian resident)
- Hotel reservation or other proof of accommodation
- Medical (travel) insurance
- Invitation letter from VUB (letter of acceptance)
The Belgian embassy also requires digital fingerprints and a digital photograph from all type C visa applicants, regardless of their place of residence or nationality. This is why applications must be done in person, to be fingerprinted and photographed at the spot. Students for whom fingerprinting is physically impossible will be exempt from the fingerprint requirement. For all others, a refusal to provide the requested biometric data will lead to the visa application being put on hold, or even rejected.
Arrival in Belgium
Upon arrival you will be registered as a tourist in your hotel. If you are not staying in a hotel, please notify the commune of your arrival.
Short to long stay?
Using a type C visa to enter the country with the purpose of exchanging it for a long term visa (type D visa) in Belgium, leads to a long, difficult procedure which should be avoided at all times. This will only be possible if there is no Belgian diplomatic representation in your home country and therefor visa matters are handled by local Embassies of neighbouring countries (The Netherlands). In these cases, only type C visas can be delivered, and the applicant must change their status upon arrival.
Long stay non-EEA student (longer than 90 days)
For stays longer than 90 days, you will need a type D visa. The application is submitted to the Belgian diplomatic representation in your home country. If you have legal residence elsewhere, you can also apply from there. By bilateral agreement, Swiss nationals (non-EEA country) are exempt from all visa formalities. In some cases the visa is delivered by the Belgian diplomatic representation itself. In other cases the application is forwarded to the Department of Immigration in Belgium for examination and approval. It can take a while for the documents to arrive in Belgium with diplomatic post, and for the Department of Immigration to reach a decision. Once the documents have reached the Department of Immigration, the status of the application can be checked on their website (only in Dutch of French).
Applications from a number of so called ‘sensitive’ regions need to pass through State Security which may further delay the process.
With a type D visa you can travel through the entire Schengen area during the validity period of your visa.
Although procedures may differ from one Belgian diplomatic representation to another, the basic requirements for students applying for the type D visa are:
- A valid passport
- A certificate of good conduct
- A copy of the birth certificate
- Medical clearance delivered by a physician appointed by the Belgian diplomatic representation
- Acceptance letter from VUB
- Proof of sufficient financial means
- Proof of payment: The Belgian Embassy requires € 180 for the processing of your application. Immigration Services charge another € 200. These payments are made via bank transfer, directly to the Belgian account o f the Ministry of the Interior, with reference 'art 58' for students.
- Students with scholarships from a Regional, Federal, European entity or issued by a by the government recognized institution of higher education (VUB) can apply for an exemption (for more information contact the International Office).
Upon arrival in Belgium
With a visa from the Belgian diplomatic representation, you must report to your local commune within 8 days. This is generally unrealistic, since most students don't have accommodation lined up within 8 days, and don't know where they will be residing yet.
International students planning on staying longer than 90 days must request a Belgian ID card, which requires proof of long term accommodation.
You receive a Belgian ID card within 1 week or a few months and a temporary document 'annex 15' to prove your compliance with immigration regulations as a foreign student. You may use this document to open a bank account.
To request a Belgian ID card from the commune, which is valid for 1 academic year (can be renewed each year), you will need:
- a valid passport with type D visa
- a rental contract
- proof of a scholarship, financial guarantor or money blocked on a VUB account (blocked account)
- VUB enrolment certificate
Depending on the commune in which you will be living, some additional documents may be required, so we advise you to bring copies of all documents submitted for the visa procedure.
The APS certificate is a document that verifies the authenticity of academic documents and discourages document fraud. This document is only required for students who are both Chinese citizens and are applying with a Chinese diploma. Students with a different nationality or a diploma from a different country, don't need to follow this APS procedure.
Only for students who:
- are from the People's Republic of China (Chinese citizenship)
- are applying based on a higher degree from a Chinese university
- are applying to a Flemish Higher Education Institution
- Document screening (phase 1): the Chinese candidate sends his or her file to the Chinese APS Centre. Costs of the screening (around 1,000 RMB) are paid directly by the student. The APS Centre then screens the authenticity of the documents when the file is complete.
- Interview (phase 2): the student is invited for an individual interview in English after the document screening. During the interview, the student is tested on knowledge he or she should have according to the file.
The total cost of the document screening and the interview is 2,500 RMB. Students have three chances to pass the interview, with a minimum waiting period of 3 months between each interview.
More about the APS procedure
Exemption of the interview (phase 2) is possible if the student:
- is already legally residing in Belgium at the time of the application.
- is admitted as a doctoral student (PhD) at a Flemish University based on a selection interview. This PhD selection interview replaces the APS interview.
Contact the International Office to request this partial exemption.
Full exemption from the APS procedure is possible if the student:
- does an exchange in the framework of a bilateral agreement between a Chinese and a Flemish higher education institution.
- does an exchange in the framework of an official exchange programme, such as Erasmus+, ASEM Duo, ...
- has obtained a scholarship from the China Scholarship council (CSC).
- has already successfully obtained a higher education degree or study credits in a country other than the People's Republic of China. Credits from winter/summer programmes are not admissible.
- has a diploma from Hong Kong or Macau.
- is a refugee from the People's Republic of China.
- has a diploma from the People's Republic of China, but doesn't have the Chinese nationality.
For the first 3 options, contact our International Office with the necessary proof (transcript from the university, exchange programme nomination, scholarship certificate) and your family name, first name, date of birth and confirmation of the exemption category for which you are applying.
For all other options you don't need an APS certificate for the visa application.
Special admission requirements
Als je werd toegelaten tot het hoger onderwijs via een test, heb je een APS certificaat nodig voor je visumaanvraag. Voorbeelden van zulke tests zijn:
- entry exam for a bachelor or master programme, transition or preparatory rpogramme in audiovisual and visual arts, music and performing arts
- entry exam for a bachelor or master programme in medicine or dentistry
Sometimes the Belgian embassies in China are not immediately notified of the APS exemption updates. If you would be asked to supply APS documentation for your visa application after registering for the exemption, please notify the International Office to solve the issue.
Sufficient 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, including opening a blocked account.
- Documentation proving that the student has been granted a scholarship, sufficient to cover the expenses mentioned above.
- Either a Belgian, an EU-citizen living in the EU, a non-EU citizen with permanent residence in an EU member state, or direct relatives up to the third degree can be a guarantor to ensure financial solvency for the student during their stay in Belgium with a document called 'annex 32'. This person must be validated by the Belgian diplomatic post or via the local town hall, which is a very strict and long procedure. If the guarantor is rejected, there is not enough time left to switch to a blocked account, so we don't recommend this option.
If the guarantor lives in Belgium, they can obtain the necessary documents to set up the annex32 at their local townhall. Once completed, the town hall sends the necessary documents to the Ministry of Interior Affairs and they determine the outcome of the application.
If the guarantor lives outside of Belgium, they can obtain the necessary documents at the responsible Belgium embassy or consulate of their residence. The paperwork will be submitted by the embassy (or consulate) to the Ministry of Interior Affairs and they will take the decision.
- Opening a blocked account. The student transfers a specified amount to a VUB account, where the money remains blocked. During their stay, the student receives a monthly sum from this amount on their Belgian bank account.
The money in your blocked account must be sufficient to cover your living expenses in Belgium. This entails accommodation, food, transportation, leasure,...not your tuition fees.
- Requesting a blocked account for a visa is possible between 1 April and 31 July (before the academic year starts). The amount needed is € 1000 per month that the student will be staying in Belgium, or € 13.000 for students with a visa (long stay - 13 months). These amounts are fixed.
- Requesting a blocked account to extend a Belgian residence permit is possible from 1 August (before the academic year starts). The amount needed is € 1000 per month that the student will be staying in Belgium, or € 12.000 for a whole academic year (12 months). These amounts are fixed.
Students applying for a blocked account "family reunification" must provide € 2,100 per month that the student will reside in Belgium or € 27,300 for a full academic year (13 months) to obtain a visa or € 25,200 for a full academic year (12 months) to renew a Belgian residence permit. These amounts are fixed.
If you want to apply for a blocked account outside of the above mentioned periods, please email email@example.com. If money is transferred without following the procedure mentioned above, there is no guarantee that the money can be traced back to the student.
Please read the following documents (General Conditions, FAQ & application flow) thoroughly before starting a blocked account application. All useful information regarding the blocked account application is available in the 3 documents and you can find answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Conditions and procedure blocked account
FAQ blocked account
Blocked account application flow
Apply for a blocked account
Applications for standard blocked accounts are handled through the Blocked Account Online Tool, also referred to as the Mobility-Online tool. after you submit the application form, you will receive an e-mail containing a login and password to create your online profile. Log in and follow the self-explanatory steps.
Plan your trip / what to bring
Journey to Brussels
- Brussels Airport is about 20 minutes away from Brussels city centre by car. You can take the train from the airport to the centre, where you can connect to many metro, tram, train and bus lines to Brussels and our campuses.
- Brussels South Charleroi Airport is in Charleroi, south of Brussels. You can take a shuttle bus from the airport to Brussels South train station (about an hour drive) where you can connect to many metro, tram, train and bus lines to Brussels and our campuses.
Documents to bring
Don't forget to bring all required documents with you to Belgium:
- Valid passport or ID card
- Visa if applicable
- Letter of acceptance from the VUB
- Health insurance valid in Belgium (non-EEA students can get help applying for this)
- Student card from the home university, or other proof of registration (only for exchange students)
- The original learning agreement (only for exchange students)
- Officially authenticated copy of the diploma and of the transcripts of academic records (grade sheets), if the acceptance letter received was conditional on obtaining a degree which was not yet completed at the time of application. This means that if you hadn't graduated yet at the time of application, and have to prove this upon your arrival in Belgium. An authenticated copy means it's been signed and stamped by the designated university and verified by the Belgian embassy. If these documents are not in English, French, Dutch or German, they need to be translate by a sworn translator.
- For stays longer than 3 months, students must register at their local commune. This might require: A Belgian address, rental contract or proof of long term accommodation, proof of sufficient financial needs, copy of your birth certificate, proof of legal status,...
We also advise you to bring
We also recommend bringing the following:Contact information of an emergency contact person, contact at VUB, directions to where you'll be staying,...
- Contact info of your home country’s diplomatic representation in Belgium
- Your medical history in case of specific medical conditions
- Other insurance if applicable, such as life insurance
- Driver’s license (if valid in Belgium)
- 6 passport photographs for diverse documents (white background, 3.5 x 4.5 cm)
- Copies of the documents listed above
Expenses and finances
Before you leave, it's best to check if you can use your credit and/or debit card in Belgium. Aside from your tuition fees and course materials, we recommend for foreign students to set aside € 1000 per month to cover your living costs. Some students already have this amount set aside on a blocked account.
Opening a bank account in Belgium
Conditions for opening a bank account in Belgium are usually:
- Stay in Belgium for at least 3 months
- A valid passport or ID card
- A residence address in Belgium
- Proof of registration in the commune where you live
- A student card or enrolment certificate from VUB can be required
Students staying for less than 3 months are advised to provide sufficient cash money or a credit card they can use in Belgium, and a foreign bank account able to receive and send payments to and from Belgium.