This section gives you an overview of the administrative procedures involved. This section is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to provide an overview that will be developed further in thematic sections. In addition, as this information can change very quickly from country to country, we ask you to check it by yourself.
Once you have confirmed your registration, you will receive a road map containing all the practical information you need to get ready and get to your project. Depending on your destination, you will need your identity card or passport and a VISA. Take this into account well in advance because it would be a shame to have to postpone or cancel your project because your documents are not in order! It’s also important to find out about the insurance and mutual insurance companies that can cover you during your project abroad!
Check that your passport is valid 6 months after the date of return to your country. To apply for a passport, contact your municipality. If you wish to apply for a biometric passport, please note that delays can be long, with a minimum of 4 weeks.
Please note that apply for a VISA can be very long, from 1 to 4 weeks, depending on the destination. For more information on the need for a visa depending on the destination, its cost, and how it is issued, always consult the embassy of the destination country. Whether or not a VISA is required, the conditions for renewing a VISA, the length of stays without a VISA can change from one day to the next and may apply to nationals of one country and not to others. So, double-check the information you receive a month before your departure, and don’t hesitate to call the embassy.
For the United States, European travelers can obtain an electronic visa, which should also be considered during a stopover on American soil. They must obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Issuing the authorization costs $14, exclusively by credit card. However, this is still ten times less expensive than a visa, that costs minimum €115 and maximum $140. Since September 2014, the SVI has been working with agencies specialized in obtaining visas.
In all the European Union, the driver’s license valid. However, for certain countries outside Europe, an international driver’s license is required. Check with the embassy or consulate of the country concerned.
If you are planning to travel for more than 6 months, check the expiry date of your bank card.
Before you leave, check with your bank to see if you can withdraw money internationally (without additional commission), and ask them to increase your withdrawal limit. Once on site, compare the banks where you can withdraw money. Commissions can vary greatly between banks.
Take cash with you to limit taxed withdrawals abroad and exchange it in your own country for a better rate. Remember to order your foreign currency at least a week in advance, more if your host country is not a popular destination. Find out more about budget management on our dedicated page.
commodation, etc. If you can, store these documents on your email. More information on this page.
Please check that everything is in order with your insurance company.
Project in Europe
Ask for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), valid in EU countries as well as Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland. It is issued to each individual and is valid for a maximum of 2 years. It is issued free of charge, on request, by your mutual insurance company.
For projects outside Europe, sign up to:
- Health and Repatriation insurance;
- Civil Liability Abroad insurance;
- Trip Modification/Cancellation coverage
- Theft/Loss of luggage and valuable objects insurance
Some Visa payment cards include sufficient insurance cover for travelers, as long as payment for transport, hotel or car rental has been made using this card. Find out more!
Before you leave, it’s important to remember to photocopy, print or even scan your passport, identity card, driving license, VISAS, and insurance certificate, as well as documents such as flight bookings, accommodation, etc. If you can, store these documents on your email. More information on this page.
If you’re leaving on a long-term volunteer project, you’ll need to:
- give advance notice if you are leaving your apartment, either 3 months or 1 month depending on the situation.
- cancel your water, gas, and electricity subscriptions.
- make decisions regarding your telephone subscription (maintenance, suspension, cancellation, etc.).
- change your address and forward your mail to someone you trust.
- remember to unsubscribe from all registers abroad before your return (consular registration, banks, telephone subscriptions, etc.).
Please note that these information below applies to Belgians only. For more information, go to our “Unemployment and volunteering” page.
Since volunteering is not considered as a gainful activity, volunteering does not prevent you from receiving family allowances for your dependent child.
Volunteering and unemployment
Before you start volunteering, you must first inform the Onem unemployment office of your intention to start a voluntary activity, using form C45B.
If you have not received a reply from the unemployment office within two weeks, you can consider your activity authorized. If the unemployment office refuses, you must stop your voluntary activity, but you will not be penalized for having worked in the days preceding the decision.
In the case of refusal, the Onem must inform you of the reasons for its refusal.
The director of the Onem can refuse the application if he or she considers that your voluntary activity makes you less available on the labor market, or that the nature, volume, and frequency of the work do not correspond to what is normally considered as voluntary activity.
That said, volunteering by the unemployed (and others social welfare beneficiaries) is now expressly authorized by law. All you need to do is send a written declaration to the Onem. Further information on this site.