Study abroad for a semester in


Belgium, often referred to as the “Crossroads of Europe,” is a small but vibrant country that offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern dynamism. Imagine studying in Brussels, the de facto capital of the European Union, where you can witness the heartbeat of European politics and enjoy a multicultural atmosphere. Or perhaps you prefer the picturesque canals and cobblestone streets of Bruges, a city that looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale.

In Belgium, academic excellence goes hand in hand with cultural richness. The country’s universities are renowned for their rigorous programs and research opportunities. Whether you’re interested in international business, political science, engineering, or the arts, Belgium provides a conducive environment for academic growth and personal development.

But studying in Belgium is not just about hitting the books. It’s about experiencing a country where every city has its own unique story. You can explore medieval castles, savor exquisite Belgian waffles, or participate in lively local festivals. And let’s not forget the chocolate—Belgium’s sweet legacy that’s loved worldwide.

Belgium is best known for

Heart of Europe 🌍: Belgium’s central location makes it an ideal base for exploring Europe. With its excellent rail and air connections, you can easily travel to Paris, Amsterdam, London, and beyond.

Multilingual Society 🗣️: Belgium is a multilingual country, with Dutch, French, and German as official languages. This offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in different languages and cultures.

Rich Historical and Cultural Heritage 🏰: From medieval towns and Renaissance architecture to world-famous chocolates and beer, Belgium is steeped in history and culture, providing a rich backdrop for your studies.

Table of contents

1. Visa and Health Insurance 🛂

Setting off on your academic journey to Belgium involves navigating the visa and health insurance processes. These essential steps ensure you comply with legal requirements and have access to necessary healthcare services during your stay. Proper documentation and insurance coverage are vital for a smooth and secure study abroad experience.

Visa Types

  • Long Stay Visa (Type D): This visa is for non-EU/EEA students who plan to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days for study purposes, including undergraduate, graduate, and exchange programs. The long stay visa is typically valid for one year and can be renewed annually based on the length of your academic program.
  • Short Stay Visa (Type C): This visa is for short-term study programs or courses that last less than 90 days. Valid for the duration of the short-term program, up to 90 days. It cannot be renewed for the same purpose; students must leave and reapply if they wish to extend their stay.
  • For EU/EEA Students: EU/EEA students do not require a visa to study in Belgium. However, they must register with the local authorities upon arrival if they plan to stay for more than 90 days. They are also required to have health insurance coverage.

Application Process

  1. Acceptance from a Belgian Institution: First, secure admission from a recognized Belgian university or educational institution.
  2. Prepare Documents: Gather all required documents, including your passport, proof of acceptance, proof of financial means, and health insurance.
  3. Visa Application Form: Complete the long stay visa application form available on the website of the Belgian consulate or embassy in your home country.
  4. Submit Application: Submit the completed application form along with all required documents to the nearest Belgian consulate or embassy.
  5. Pay the Application Fee: Pay the required visa application fee.
  6. Attend an Interview: Some consulates may require an in-person interview as part of the application process.
  7. Wait for Processing: Visa processing times can vary, so it’s important to apply well in advance of your intended travel date.

Required Documents

  • Passport (valid for at least six months beyond your intended stay)
  • Completed visa application form
  • Proof of acceptance from a Belgian university
  • Proof of financial means (bank statements or financial guarantee)
  • Health insurance coverage proof
  • Passport-sized photographs
  • Academic transcripts and diplomas from previous education

Application Timeline

Start Early: Begin the application process at least 3-6 months before your intended departure.
Processing Time: Visa processing can take several weeks to months, depending on the country and application volume.
Important Deadlines: Be mindful of university application deadlines and ensure your visa application is timely.

Tips for Success

Complete Documentation: Ensure all your documents are complete and accurately filled out.
Financial Proof: Clearly demonstrate financial stability and sufficient funds.
Health Insurance: Secure a visa-compliant health insurance plan early in the process.

Importance of Health Insurance

Health insurance is mandatory for all international students in Belgium. It ensures that students have access to medical care and covers a wide range of health services, from regular doctor visits to emergency care.

Types of Health Insurance

For EU/EEA Students:

  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC): EU/EEA students can use their EHIC to access healthcare services in Belgium under the same conditions as Belgian residents. The EHIC covers most medical services, but students are advised to check the extent of coverage before arrival.
    • Cost: Free, covered by the student’s home country.
    • Advantages: Provides basic coverage for necessary medical care.
    • Limitations: Does not cover private healthcare, non-urgent medical care, or repatriation costs. Additional private health insurance might be necessary for more comprehensive coverage.

For Non-EU/EEA Students:

  • Public Health Insurance: Belgium’s public health insurance system is accessible to international students and provides comprehensive health coverage.
    • Cost: Included in university fees or approximately EUR 100 – EUR 150 per year.
    • Advantages: Provides comprehensive coverage for medical services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescriptions.
    • Limitations: Limited to public healthcare facilities, which may have longer waiting times.
  • Private Health Insurance: Some students opt for private health insurance to ensure more comprehensive and faster access to healthcare services.
    • Cost: Varies based on the provider and plan. Plans typically start at around EUR 50 per month.
    • Advantages: More extensive coverage, faster access to services, and flexibility in choosing healthcare providers.
    • Limitations: Generally more expensive than relying solely on public healthcare.

Country-Specific Requirements

Public Health Insurance Registration: Upon arrival in Belgium, students can register for public health insurance at local health offices to access public healthcare services.
Private Health Insurance: Must meet the minimum coverage requirements set by Belgian authorities. Private plans often provide quicker access to healthcare services and more flexibility in choosing providers.

Finding the Best Health Insurance

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Thanks to our Insurance Finder


What happens if my visa application is denied?
If your visa application is denied, you will receive a notice explaining the reasons for the denial. Address the issues mentioned and reapply, or appeal the decision if you believe it was incorrect. Review the reasons for denial carefully and seek guidance from the embassy or consulate if needed.

Can I change my health insurance plan after arriving in Belgium?
Yes, you can change your health insurance plan after arriving in Belgium. Ensure the new plan meets the mandatory health insurance requirements for students. Compare different plans to choose one that offers comprehensive coverage and suits your needs.

What should I do if I need medical care and don’t have insurance?
If you require medical care and don’t have insurance, you will need to pay out-of-pocket for all medical services, which can be very expensive. It’s highly recommended to have valid health insurance to avoid these costs. If you find yourself without insurance, contact a health insurance provider immediately to enroll in a plan.

Additional Resources

Belgian Office for Foreigners: This official government portal provides comprehensive information for foreigners looking to study in Belgium, including visa requirements, application procedures, and practical advice for living in Belgium. It’s a reliable source for the most up-to-date information and official guidelines.

Study in Belgium: This website offers detailed information on studying in Belgium, including available programs, scholarships, and practical advice for international students. It also provides insights into Belgian culture and student life, helping you to prepare for your journey.

2. Cost of Living 💰

Belgium offers a rich cultural and academic experience, but it’s important to understand the costs involved to make the most of your stay. While Belgium can be more expensive than some other European countries, careful budgeting can help you enjoy your time here without financial stress. Whether you’re living in bustling Brussels or a charming university town like Leuven, knowing what to expect financially is crucial.

Detailed Breakdown of Living Expenses

Accommodation: Monthly rent varies widely based on location and type of housing.
EUR 500 – EUR 1,200/month
Food: From groceries to dining out, here’s what to expect.
EUR 350 – EUR 650/month
Transportation: Belgium offers efficient public transportation options that are relatively affordable.
EUR 40 – EUR 100/month
Utilities: Essential services like electricity, water, and internet.
EUR 100 – EUR 200/month
Entertainment and Leisure: Enjoying Belgium’s vibrant cultural and social scene.
EUR 150 – EUR 300/month
Miscellaneous Expenses: Personal items and services.
EUR 50 – EUR 200/month

3. Accommodation Options 🏠

Finding the right place to live is a crucial part of your study abroad experience. Belgium offers a variety of housing options to suit different needs and budgets, from student dormitories and shared apartments to private rentals. The type of accommodation you choose will greatly influence your experience, so it’s important to consider your preferences and budget.

Types of Accommodation

  • Shared Apartments (Colocations): Sharing an apartment with other students is a popular and cost-effective choice. This option allows for greater independence while still being economical.
    Price: EUR 500 – EUR 700/month
  • Private Apartments (Appartements privés): Renting your own place offers privacy and independence. This option is ideal for students who prefer more space and freedom.
    Price: EUR 700 – EUR 1,200/month
  • Homestays (Séjours chez l’habitant): Living with a local family can provide a deeper cultural immersion and a supportive home environment. This option is particularly beneficial for improving language skills and understanding local customs.
    Price: EUR 400 – EUR 800/month

Find accommodation in Belgium

Find the best student housing options with our Accommodation Finder

Tips and Resources

Start Early: Begin your search well in advance to secure the best options and avoid last-minute hassles.
Budget Wisely: When planning your budget, include utilities and internet costs.
Consider Location: Choose accommodation that is conveniently located near your university, public transportation, and local amenities.
Use Reliable Platforms: Book through reputable platforms to avoid scams and ensure quality accommodations. The options on wearefreemovers have been preselected by us, offering you greater peace of mind.

4. University Information 🎓

Choosing the right university is a significant part of your study abroad journey. Belgium is home to a variety of universities that offer diverse academic programs and vibrant student life, all within a culturally rich environment. Whether you are interested in engineering, humanities, environmental sciences, or the arts, Belgium has something to offer.

Find universities in Belgium

Try our University Finder and discover the best universities for your needs

5. Further Practical Information 🛠️


Belgium’s transportation network is extensive and efficient, making it easy to explore the country and commute to university.

Public Transportation 🚆: Major cities like Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent have extensive public transport systems, including buses, trams, and metros. Monthly passes range from EUR 30 to EUR 50, with student discounts often available. Brussels’ metro system is particularly extensive and user-friendly.

Bicycles 🚴: Many Belgian cities are bike-friendly, with dedicated lanes and bike-sharing programs. Cycling is an excellent way to navigate certain areas, especially during the warmer months.

Long-Distance Travel 🚐: Belgium’s intercity bus and train systems connect major cities and towns, offering a convenient way to travel across the country. For longer distances, domestic flights are available and relatively affordable.

Tips 💡: Always check for student discounts on transportation passes. For intercity travel, booking bus or train tickets in advance can secure the best rates.

Banking and Finances

Managing your finances effectively is crucial for a smooth study abroad experience.

Opening a Bank Account 🏦: Most banks in Belgium offer special accounts for students with low or no fees. Popular banks include KBC, Belfius, and BNP Paribas Fortis.

Documents Required 📑: To open a bank account, you will typically need your passport, proof of enrollment, and a local address.

Currency 💵: The currency in Belgium is the Euro (EUR). Having a local bank account helps avoid foreign transaction fees and simplifies everyday transactions.

Tips 💡: Look for student-friendly bank accounts and make use of online banking apps to manage your finances efficiently. Consider using services like for seamless international transactions.

Local Culture and Etiquette

Understanding local customs and social norms will help you integrate smoothly into Belgian society.

Punctuality ⏰: Punctuality is highly valued in Belgium. Arriving on time for classes, meetings, and social events is expected and seen as a sign of respect.

Greetings 🤝: A common greeting in Belgium includes a firm handshake, often accompanied by a friendly “Bonjour” or “Hallo”, depending on the region. In more casual settings, a kiss on the cheek is common among close friends.

Mealtimes 🍽️: Belgian mealtimes are usually social events, with lunch being the main meal of the day, typically around 12-2 PM, and dinner around 6-8 PM. Sharing food and hospitality is a cherished tradition, and tipping (usually 10-15%) is appreciated in restaurants.

Public Behavior 🤫: Belgians value politeness and respect in public spaces. It’s important to be considerate and mindful of your surroundings, especially on public transportation and in residential areas. Keeping noise levels low and respecting others’ personal space will help you integrate smoothly into the local community.

Do you still have doubts?

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