Holidays: forget anything but your documents!

date: 17 May 2013

Because everyone should be able to leave on holiday with peace of mind, Foreign Affairs would like to remind you of a few important basic principles.

Passport or identity card: check the validity

Every Belgian who leaves the country must be in possession of an identification document (identity card) or a travel document (passport), depending on the destination.

- The electronic identity card (eID) allows you to travel to approximately 50 countries, primarily in the European Union (with the exclusion of overseas territories), as well as some of the EU’s neighbouring countries and other tourist destinations.

- The Belgian passport is recognised in every country, but some countries have the extra requirement of a visa.

Whether you need to request an identity card, a Kids-ID (an electronic identity card for children) or a passport, be proactive and take into account that the issuance period can be as long as four weeks.

Before you leave, also check the expiration date of these documents. Some countries also require that your passport be valid for a certain time after you return.

Your children also need a document to travel.

Children, even newborns, travelling abroad must also have their own identity or travel documents: Kids-ID or passport, depending on the destination.

Foreign Affairs recommends getting written permission when the child travels alone or in the company of a person who is not the child’s parent(s). Your airline or the Belgian representative in your destination country (embassy or consulate) can provide you with the best information in this regard.

Are you travelling to the United States of America?

Within the framework of the new Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), you are required to register online in advance. You are strongly advised to register at least 72 hours before departure. This registration remains valid for two years, unless your passport expires before this.

Would you like more info?

For additional information in regard to travel documents, you can:

1) pick up the “Reis Wijs”/“Voyageur Averti” (Travel Wise) brochure from your town hall or at the offices of the FPS Foreign Affairs. You can also consult it on the website http://diplomatie.belgium.beNo label found for: as_externallink.alttag;

2) consult the website http://diplomatie.belgium.beNo label found for: as_externallink.alttag, on which you’ll find a small module under the section “Op reis in het buitenland”/“Voyager à l’étranger” (Travelling abroad), where you’ll find out which documents you must have, per country, as well as some practical information (safety, travel insurance, etc.);

3) contact the representative of your destination country in Belgium (embassy or consulate), where you can also request a visa if necessary;

4) contact your local authorities for information.