Temporary ban on non-essential travel to and from Belgium

Belgium recently imposed exceptionally strict travel restrictions. The measures will be in effect from 27 January until 1 April 2021. All non-essential travel to and from Belgium is prohibited during this period. But what are the consequences for consumers who had planned a holiday during this period?

Which travel is restricted?

Touristic and recreative holidays are considered non-essential, and are thus prohibited between 27 January and 1 April 2021, even if you booked your holiday before the announcement or entry into force of these measures. This travel ban applies to travel by road, air, sea and train.

There are a few exceptions. Travel for professional or family-related reasons is still allowed, for instance if you work across the border or are in transit to another destination for these reasons. Travelers must be in possession of a “declaration on honour”, which you can download and fill in. You can find more detailed information about these exceptions on the website of the government.

Already made reservations? What now?

Did you book a package holiday? If so, you need to distinguish between the following scenarios:

  • Did you book via a Belgian travel agency or tour operator? Your holiday will most likely be cancelled. In that case, you are entitled to a refund.
  • Did you book via a foreign travel agency or tour operator? And does your holiday depart from Belgium? In that case your holiday will most likely be cancelled and you will be entitled to a refund.
  • Did you book via a foreign travel agency or tour operator, with a departure from abroad? In that case, the situation is less clear. Foreign companies often contend that the Belgian legislation does not apply to these contracts. You should consult the terms and conditions of your contract for more information on your cancellation policy and try to invoke force majeure.

Did you only book a flight ticket? In that case you are only entitled to a refund if the air carrier cancels your ticket, or if the terms and conditions of your ticket give you the right to cancel without cost. If this is not the case, then do not have a right to a refund, and we would advise you to discuss alternative solutions with the air carrier, such as a voucher for future travel, a change of dates for your tickets...

Did you only book accommodation at your holiday destination, or a separate travel service like a rental car? Whether or not you’ll receive compensation is entirely dependant on the terms of your contract and the goodwill of the service provider. In this case you will also need to negotiate with the other side if your contract does not allow you to cancel or change your booking without cost.

What happens if I do not abide by the rules? You run the risk of legal sanctions.

Deze reisbeperking gaat gepaard met andere regels die u ook moet naleven. Zo moet u wanneer u (opnieuw) naar België reist, het Passenger Locator Form invullen, een PCR-test laten afnemen en een quarantaineperiode respecteren. Er zijn uiteraard consequenties voorzien voor het niet naleven van de regels, zoals een boete van 250 euro per persoon.

The new travel restrictions also come with a number of additional ancillary rules that must be abided by. Upon (re-)entering Belgium, the Passenger Locator Form must be filled in, a PCR-test must be taken, and a quarantine period must be observed. Failure to abide by these rules can result in legal sanctions, such as a 250 euro fine (per person).

More information

Further details on these measures can be found on the government website.

You can also contact the Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs by phone (0800 14689) or by e-mail (info.coronavirus@health.fgov.be) for all your questions relating to:

  • The negative PCR-test that is mandatory since 25/12/2020 for all travellers that intend to travel to Belgium from a red zone (does not apply to residents of Belgium).
  • The Passenger Localisation Form.
  • The mandatory COVID-test and/or quarantine upon your return from a red zone.