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    Before your arrival

    Have you received your letter of acceptance? Congratulations! We look forward to welcoming you along with students from all over the world!

    We have some useful tips on what, when and how to prepare for your journey.

    Searching for the perfect accomodation

    Student housing

    Your first steps towards Brussels

    Visa requirements

    What about money?

    Blocked account

    Managing your time

    Your to-do list

    By air or by land

    Planning your journey

    Fueling your first steps

    First expenses

    Packing your bags?

    What to bring

    Living to the fullest

    Student life is just around the corner! Make the most out of your stay and explore what it means to live in Brussels!

    Transport in and out of Brussels

    Mobility

    Get to know our facilities

    Discover the campus

    Around the center of the European Union

    Discover Brussels

    Expanding your horizons

    Beyond the city

    Long-term finances

    What's the best way to pay rent? Thinking about opening a bank account and managing your money during your stay? To find out more about financial matters, visit the section on student financing.  

    A student job can add some welcome change to your pocket, though you should not rely on it to cover all your living expenses. If you feel up to it, the Student Job Service can help you apply for jobs in and around the university. To see under which conditions a student can work and where, check out our student job page.

     

    Professional Orientation Year

    WHAT/WHO?

    As of 15 August 2021, the following students are eligible for a stay of 12 months to search for a job in Belgium or to carry out an independent activity.  

    • Non EU-students in possession of a residence permit
    • Graduated in Belgium during the academic year 2020-2021 with at least a graduate, bachelor or master diploma OR obtained his diploma abroad but studied in Belgium as part of a mobility programme

    CRITERIA

    • During the orientation year, the foreign national may not be financially dependent on the Belgian government.
    • During the orientation year, the foreign national must:

    - actively look for a position that allows for the application of a combined permit as an employee; or

    - take the necessary steps to comply with all legal obligations to exercise an independent professional activity, whether as a natural person, within a juridical person (= legal entity such as a corporation, NGO,…) or within any other organisation without legal status.

    If, when following up the file, it appears that the foreign national no longer meets the conditions set for his/her residence, and there is no reasonable chance of being recruited by an employer or of starting up a company, the Immigration Department may terminate the temporary residence permit.

    During the ‘orientation year', the foreign national is given unlimited access to the labour market and can work legally for the duration of the orientation year.

    PROCEDURE WITH BELGIAN DIPLOMA

    The application must be submitted to the municipal administration where the foreign national has his/her main residence, no later than 15 days before the expiry of the residence permit. No fee has to be paid.

    The following documents must be submitted with the application:

    • A valid passport:
    • Proof that the foreign national has obtained a recognised diploma of at least qualification level 5 (graduate degree).
    • Proof of health insurance (e.g. a healthcare registration certificate);
    • Proof of sufficient means of subsistence.

    If the foreign national has submitted his application on time and the current residence permit as a student expires during the processing of the application, an annex 15 will be issued by the municipal council. With this annex he/she can look for work and submit an application for a single permit or an application as a self-employed person as primary occupation (with a professional card entitling the right to residence).

    If the application for an orientation year is approved by the Immigration Office, the foreign national will receive a temporary residence permit. This residence permit (A card) is valid for a maximum of 12 months and cannot be extended. The period under Appendix 15 during which he/she can already start looking for work is deducted from the validity period of the A card.

    PROCEDURE WITH DIPLOMA OBTAINED AT A FOREIGN INSTITUTE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

    The foreign national who obtained his/her diploma at a foreign institution of higher education, but who was in Belgium via a mobility exchange programme (e.g. Erasmus Mundus programme), can submit an application to the competent Belgian diplomatic or consular post in the country where the foreign national stays. The application must be submitted within 3 months after obtaining the diploma.

    The foreign national must also submit the following documents:

    • A valid passport;
    • Proof that he/she resided in Belgium as part of a mobility programme
    • Proof that the foreign national has obtained a recognised diploma of at least qualification level 5 (graduate degree) in the first or second Member State.
    • Proof of health insurance (e.g a healthcare registration certificate);
    • Proof of sufficient means of subsistence.
       

    I received a tax form...

    What should I do?

    Get to know us

    Studying abroad means facing many unknowns, especially during the first few weeks. Here's what you should know to get you started.

    Enrol at the VUB

    Find out when to enrol, where to go and what documents you need on our enrolment page. If you have questions or encounter problems, contact the Education and Student Administration.

    After enrolling, you will receive your student card and your NetID so that you can register your courses online. You can find out more at our registration helpdesk.

    Orientation Days

    Want to know the campus better and get a taste of Brussels as well? Wondering what steps are needed in Mobility Online? Get a head start and join us during the Orientation Day(s). We'll provide you with lots of information and you'll be able to ask any question you might have!

    Following the Webinar ‘General Info Session & Q&A’, please find here the PDF version of the presentation with all relevant links, as well as the Q&A extracted from the webinar.

    How to reach us

    The VUB has several campuses around Brussels. Maps and other useful pamphlets can be found for free at the student information hubs. You can find the locations of our campuses and the means to travel between them on our mobility page.

    Still feel a bit lost? We are here to help!

    • Not sure where to go, or have questions about what paperwork you need? You should visit or call the Student Information Hub.
    • Having trouble with your application? Is there a problem with a certificate? Are there issues with your invoice or student card? It's time to contact the Education and Student Administration.
    • If you have a scholarship and there's trouble with the procedures, or if you want to know what activities are open for international students, check the International Relations and Mobility Office.

    Course materials

    You can purchase any book required for your courses at our book shop. Even if a book is out of stock, you can still place an order and receive it later. If it's needed for your studies, we can get it!

    Our library also has an extensive collection of printed or electronic journals, books and newspapers. You can check the online databases and our catalogue to find the sources you need for your studies.

    Your first days in Brussels

    Welcome to the heart of the European Union and, more recently, your new home! Before you know it, you'll walk the streets like a true Belgian.

    Registration at your local town hall (aka 'commune')

    All international students and scholars planning to stay for a period that exceeds 90 days must apply for a residence permit (Belgian ID card) at the commune in which they will reside. For more information, check out our page on visas and registrations.

    The paperwork required to apply for the residence permit is slightly different from 'commune' to 'commune', so be sure to check their requirements. For more information and links to the webpages of each 'commune' please consult the info below:

    > Check here for more information on how to renew your residence permit (ID Card) <

     

     

     

    Banking

    Money exchange bureaus and cash dispensers are available within the Brussels International Airport premises, as well as in the main train station Brussel-Zuid/Bruxelles-Midi and in the city itself. There are numerous foreign exchange offices located around the Grand Place.

    You can find out more about opening a bank account in Belgium and how to transfer money for payments in this infofile.

    Health insurance

    Health insurance is compulsory for registration at the VUB. Depending on your nationality, there are different ways to make sure you are covered by the Belgian health insurance system. Students from certain countries can prepare a valid insurance while in their home country. You can find out more about insurance requirements on this page.

    The International Relationships Office can help international students arrange their health insurance for their stay.

    Calling in and out of Belgium

    Belgium’s country code is +32 and Brussels’ city code is 2. When calling a Belgian number always dial (0) + city code + number. For international information call 1304.

    If you are planning to buy a Belgian SIM-card, there are many different mobile companies that offer their services at competitive rates. Don’t hesitate to compare prices before buying one.

    Before you head home

    Finished studying and heading back home? Moving out is just as emotional and draining as moving in. To make sure you tie all the loose ends, check the following.

    Moving out: a checklist

    • Hand in your ID card at the town hall in Brussels where you are registered. You need to de-register so they know you will be leaving/have left.
    • Be sure to check with the proprietor of your accommodation that all is sorted, closed off and the last bills have been settled.
    • Go to the bank to close your accounts and transfer any money back to your home account.
    • If you are registered with Partena or another health insurance organisation, make sure that you de-register. Otherwise you will still be charged after you leave the country. 

    If you have questions or you encountered problems with these steps, make sure to contact the International Relations Office.

    • Those who are obtaining degrees must check with the Education and Student Administration that your home address is in the system so your degree certificates can be mailed to you. Make sure to leave them a forwarding address.
    • If you were at the VUB on a scholarship, check what paperwork is involved before you leave (e.g. Erasmus+ and Erasmus Mundus notice of departure). Especially if you were on an Erasmus+ scholarship, since the Education and Student Administration needs to sign your certificate of departure before you go!

    For matters concerning the end of your studies in Brussels, do not hesitate to contact the Education and Student Administration.