Belgium, or the Kingdom of Belgium, is located in Western Europe and joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program in 1991. Since 2009, citizens of Belgium have been allowed to apply online for the Electronic System of Travel Authorization (ESTA) giving access to the U.S. for up to 90 days. The ESTA is not a visa, and some Belgians might still have to apply for the B-2 tourist visa.
The ESTA can only be obtained via an online application form and is a travel document that is used to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days for the purpose of business, tourism, medical purposes or non-credit study programs. The ESTA expires after two years, at which point a new application has to be made.
Streamlining the immigration process for Belgian citizens has made traveling to the U.S. much simpler for all travelers and both efficient and secure for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in terms of gathering information prior to granting anyone access into their country.
U.S. Immigration statistics about Belgians (2017):
- The total amount of visitors from Belgium: 325 897
- Approved ESTA applications: 295 607
- Students and exchange visitors: 5 934
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 13 164
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 3 593
- Other types of visitor categories: 567
How to travel from Belgium to the United States
Brussels Airport (BRU) is an international airport and the largest out of the airports in Belgium. BRU is located in the northeast of Brussels and is the 24th busiest airport in Europe. From here, you should have no issues finding a flight to your destination in the United States.
Brussels Airlines is Belgium’s national carrier and the largest airline in Belgium. They offer nonstop flights to the East Coast with around 7-9 hours of flight time. Another noteworthy carrier that offers nonstop flights is Lufthansa. For flights with stopovers, there are plenty of options to choose from. Some strong contenders for best price are TAP Portugal, Air Canada, Swiss, and United Airlines.
If you live closer to Antwerp, then you may consider flying from Antwerp Airport (ANR). It is a smaller international airport then BRU, but carriers such as KLM offer flights to many different cities in the U.S.
When should you apply for the ESTA?
Since December 2018 it has been mandatory to apply for an ESTA 72 hours prior to boarding. Although, travelers are recommended to apply weeks or months in advance to ensure that their travel authorization (ESTA) is approved. Non-approved applications mean that a regular B-2 visa must be obtained at the nearest U.S. Embassy, which can take a very long time to complete. If you have plans to visit the United States, apply now or well in advance. Read more about the ESTA application here.
Travelers with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
Belgian citizens can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from Belgium
Belgians can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Belgium’s overstay rate is only: 0.50%