Get travel and medical insurance
- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- FAQs Passports / Visas
- Embassy Contact
General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation
General advice to avoid non-essential travel and ‘Normal Precautions’ list of exemptions:
In accordance with Government policy, which is based on official public health advice, the Department of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against non-essential travel overseas. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.
Travel to a very limited set of locations is exempted from this advice. Individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations will not be required to restrict their movements upon entry. These locations currently have a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) security status rating. As of 4 August 2020, these locations are:
Inclusion on the list is based on the current epidemiological situation and related public health information in each location. The list and related travel advice will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials, including public health experts. Any updates or changes will be based on Government decisions. The latest updates will always be uploaded first to this General COVID-19 Travel Advisory. Country-specific tabs will be updated subsequently, and as quickly as possible, but this advisory is the primary source of information for the latest version of the list. The above list was updated on 4 August following the latest review.
If you are considering travelling outside of Ireland:
Irish citizens travelling to locations with a ‘normal precautions’ (“green”) rating are advised to follow the public health guidelines of the local health authorities and to continue to practice physical distancing measures, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette etc. The security rating for all other locations remains unchanged at either to ‘avoid non-essential travel’ (“orange”) or to ‘do not travel’ (“red”).
The purpose of the Department’s Travel Advice is to provide information to the general public so that individuals can make informed decisions for themselves. The COVID19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel. Citizens should be aware of the possible limitations to any consular assistance that could be provided. Any citizens who are considering travel abroad are advised to monitor closely our travel advice and we recommend that citizens download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. Citizens travelling abroad should also register with their local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.
Should you need to travel for essential reasons, you should inform yourself about any requirements in place in the destination to which you are travelling. Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate as scheduled. Testing and restrictions may be imposed or may already be in place in other countries. It is important to check with your insurance provider on coverage at this time.
What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:
The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (“green”), to restrict their movements for 14 days, and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. Restricting your movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. For further details please see the Irish Government Advice Page. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff. Check the Irish Government Advice Page for full information on these requirements and further advice on returning from abroad.
Where to go for more information:
We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.
Avoid Non-Essential Travel
Security Status Last Updated: 17 March 2020
The Belgian government has introduced a series of measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus.
On June 15, Belgium reopened its borders for travel to and from EU member states (including Ireland), the UK and non-EU Schengen states (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway), regardless of the nature of travel.
There is no requirement to self-isolate for people travelling from Ireland to Belgium.
From 1 August, anyone traveling to Belgium from abroad (including Ireland) is required to submit an electronic Public Health Passenger Locator Form. It should be completed no more than 48 hours in advance of travel. The form is compulsory for anyone travelling to Belgium or prior to return by anyone leaving Belgium for a period of more than 48 hours.
If you are travelling to Belgium from specified regions in another EU country, the UK or a non-EU Schengen country, you may need to self-quarantine and be tested for COVID-19. A list of these regions is available from the Belgian Foreign Ministry (see section labelled ’You are returning from...’).
Those travelling to Belgium from outside the EU, the UK or non-EU Schengen countries must meet criteria for essential travel (see ‘Transport & International’ section of FAQ here) and are obliged to complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form, to self-quarantine for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19.
Transiting via Belgium is permitted. Those transiting are advised to carry proof of onward travel. Those transiting to destinations outside the EU, the UK or non-EU Schengen countries are advised to bring evidence as regards the essential nature of their travel.
Mask wearing is mandatory on public transport, at stations, airports, all shops, cinemas, museums, libraries and busy outdoor public spaces such as markets and shopping streets.
Visitors to Belgium should comply with social distancing (1.5 metres) and other public health measures in place. More information is available in English from the Belgian Health Ministry.
As a result of an increase in cases of COVID-19, some restrictions have been reintroduced and extra measures have been introduced at local level.
On 29 July, Antwerp Province, which includes the City of Antwerp, Geel, Lier and Mechelen, introduced a night-time curfew (23:30-06:00) with limited exceptions and face masks must be worn in public by everyone aged over 12. Breaches of these measures may result in a €1,600 fine and 14 day custodial sentence. These measures will be in place for at least 4 weeks.
It is important to be aware of developments in the locality you intend to visit and to adjust travel plans accordingly. Further local measures may be introduced at short notice when authorities consider them necessary to reduce transmission.
Disruption to transport including flights to and from Ireland is possible. If you have already booked travel to Ireland from or via Belgium, you should check the status of your journey with your travel operator/airline. If you are currently planning to return to Ireland, you should monitor the operations of airlines and airports closely.
In what is a rapidly evolving situation, additional measures may be announced. If you are in Belgium, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities.
See links to relevant websites below.
Be alert to common signs of infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.
HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 is below.
• wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
• put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
• touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:
Latest Travel News
If you are visiting Belgium, a list of places to exercise particular vigilance with your belongings can be found in the ‘Safety and Security’ tab under ‘Petty Theft’.
Irish citizens planning travel to Brussels are advised to remain vigilant and exercise a high degree of caution.
In January 2018, the Belgian authorities reduced the threat level from Level 3 to Level 2. Level 2 represents an "unlikely" threat. This drop implies that the threat level has decreased and an attack has become less likely. However, Level 2 does not mean no threat exists. The move has seen a reduction in the number of army personnel patrolling the streets and a reduced security presence at large events.
Keep yourself fully informed of what's going on by monitoring local news and social media and follow the instructions of the local authorities. Follow us on social media @IrishEmbBelgium and @DFATravelWise to make sure you have access to all relevant updates and alerts. You can also stay up-to-date in the event of a crisis by following @CrisisCenterBE and @BelPoliceEvent.
Multiple explosions occurred in Brussels on 22 March 2016 and a heightened security presence remains. We strongly advise citizens to be vigilant, especially in crowded areas. This means being aware of your surroundings and immediately reporting anything suspicious to the police (112).
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Belgium by dialling 112.
Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, + 32 499 58 53 28, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox. This mailbox will be monitored regularly.
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Get a European Health Insurance Card
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
There is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, including in Belgium, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists.
Following terrorism attacks in Brussels in 2016 security measures were reinforced and the public have been advised to exercise a higher level of vigilance.
We advise Irish citizens to maintain an awareness of their surroundings, remain vigilant and in the event of a security incident to follow the advice of local authorities.
Crime remains relatively low in Belgium but you should take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
As with any country, crimes such as mugging, bag-snatching and pickpocketing are not uncommon in Belgian cities and towns. You should always be vigilant at major railway stations, on the metro, buses and trams.
We advise Irish citizens to be particularly vigilant of your belongings following a noticeable increase in reports of theft in the following areas of Brussels:
- Brussels South Station (Gare du Midi/Zuidstation), which is the Eurostar terminal and the terminus for buses from Charleroi Airport
- European Quarter/Schuman area (particularly in bars and cafes near Schuman Roundabout and Place Jourdan)
We also advise you to exercise caution in the following areas:
- Brussels North Station (Gare du Nord/Noordstation)
- Brussels Central Station (Gare Centrale/Centraalstation)
- Buses and trains serving Brussels Zaventem Airport
- Areas with a large density of tourists, such as the Grand Place in Brussels and areas in the vicinity of Grand Place.
- Public Squares in popular tourist destinations, such as Ghent and Bruges
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Belgium, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Brussels if you need help.
Pedestrians should be aware that ‘the green man’ signal does not mean that cars will automatically stop. Also, many of the zebra crossings are not accompanied by light systems. The custom is that the motorist should stop to allow any pedestrian cross at the zebra crossing as and when they choose to use the zebra crossing. Be careful in all cases and at all times as some motorists will be more vigilant than others.
If you want to drive in Belgium:
- Bring your full Irish driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught.
- Be aware that on-the-spot fines can be incurred for motoring offences. If you are unable to pay the fine, your vehicle may be impounded.
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
- Be aware of low emissions zones prohibiting certain types of vehicles from specific urban areas. Further information is available on the Urban Access Regulations website where you can search by city.
More tips and driving advice for Belgium is available from AA Ireland.
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.
Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
Visitors to Belgium must at all times be able to produce photo identification.
The Passport Card is available to all Irish citizens who hold a valid Irish Passport. It can be used for travel within the EU/EEA and Switzerland.
Travelling with Children
While there are no laws prohibiting the travel of a minor with only one parent or guardian, it should be noted that border control authorities pay particular attention to minors travelling under these circumstances. To avoid difficulties, we suggest that the accompanying parent carry a copy of the minor's birth certificate, a signed permission letter and passport/ID for the non-accompanying parent.
We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.
Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.
Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.
Your policy should cover:
- All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
- Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
- Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
- Lost and stolen possessions.
- Cancellation and curtailment.
- Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).
Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.
European Health Insurance Card
As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.
The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.
FAQs Passports / Visas
FAQs Passports / Visas
Frequently Asked Questions on Passports and Visas
Q. My passport is lost or stolen. What should I do?
- Check again! Search your bags, pockets, safes, and suitcases. Check the clothes you were wearing when you last had your passport. Once your passport is reported lost, it can't be used again even if found.
- You should report your passport lost/stolen at the nearest police station. A police report will be needed for a replacement travel document and to make a claim on your travel insurance.
- Further guidance on what to do if your passport is lost/stolen is available on our website.
- During office hours call +32 2282 3400 to make arrangements for the issuing of emergency travel documents.
- Outside of office hours, if you are in an emergency situation requiring urgent travel, contact the Embassy Duty Officer on +32 499 585 328 and leave a voicemail (including a phone number).
Q. Can you email or deliver a new travel document to me?
Q. I always carry my passport on nights out as proof of my age. Is that ok?
- Carrying a photo ID is mandatory in Belgium at all times. Your passport is an important document and should always be kept safe. Don't carry it with you unless absolutely necessary.
- The Embassy strongly recommends obtaining the Passport Card prior to travel.
Q. My passport has become damaged over time. Is that ok?
- Normal wear or fading of the lettering on the cover should not be a problem. However if there is any damage or signs of tampering such as missing pages, or cracks on the photo page, this may cause problems at Belgian airports.
- If you are encountering problems because of a damaged passport, you should replace your passport online, or at the Passport Office in Dublin or Cork before leaving Ireland.
Entry and exit
- Irish citizens do not need a visa to enter Belgium. A valid passport for the duration of your stay is all that is required.
Any other tips?
- Leave a copy of your passport in your hotel or email yourself a copy in case you lose it.
- Plan ahead and check your passport expiry date before you book your holidays. Check your children's passports too as they expire more quickly than adult ones. You can sign up for a passport renewal reminder online.
Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, + 32 499 58 53 28, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox.
This mailbox will be monitored regularly.
Embassy of Ireland to Belguim,
50 Rue Froissart/Froissartstraat,
Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 16:00; Tuesday & Thursday: 10:00 - 13:00 ONLY
Honorary Consulate Contact
Mr. Yves Rombouts
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Tel: + 32 474 99 56 66
Email: Email us
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.