Since 27 January 2021, only so-called ‘essential’ travel to foreign countries and Belgium has been authorised. These include trips for business purposes, which, however, can only be made if a series of formalities are observed.
Which trips are allowed?
The principle is as follows: non-essential travel abroad is prohibited for persons having their main residence in Belgium. Non-essential travel to Belgium is prohibited for persons whose main residence is abroad.
In particular, trips undertaken for purely professional reasons, including trips by professional sportsmen and sportswomen with elite sport status, cultural sector professionals and journalists travelling for work, are considered essential (and therefore authorised).
Although these trips are indeed authorized, several formalities must be observed. In addition to a declaration on honour to be completed by the employee and proving the essential nature of his trip, the pre-existing formalities remain, namely:
- the ‘Business Travel Abroad’ (BTA) certificate to be completed by the employer,
- the ‘Passenger Locator Form’ (PLF) to be completed by the employee.
Declaration on honour
For authorised trips (to foreign countries or Belgium), the employee is required, prior to the trip, to complete, sign and keep during the entire duration of the trip, the electronic or paper version of the declaration on honour, the model form for which is published on https://www.info-coronavirus.be/fr/voyages/. This formality applies for the period from 27 January 2021 to 1 March 2021.
If the trip abroad is frequent and regular (e.g. for frontier workers), the declaration on honour must be completed only once.
‘Business Travel Abroad’
If the employee makes a business trip abroad for more than 48 hours, the employer must complete the ‘Business Travel Abroad’ certificate (BTA) before the employee's departure abroad.
The same applies to trips to Belgium by non-residents, but only for limited business contacts related to a specific project or file, of a maximum duration of 5 days. This formality must be completed by the Belgian employer.
The ‘Business Travel Abroad’ certificate will generate a 10-digit code (‘business trip certificate number’), which must be communicated to the employee.
‘Passenger Locator Form’
On his return to Belgium after a stay abroad, the employee must complete the ‘Passenger Locator Form’ within 48 hours before his arrival in Belgium, in the following two situations:
- if he returns to Belgium by carrier,
- in any case, if he has stayed abroad for more than 48 hours.
The same applies to the non-resident worker in the following two situations:
- if he returns to Belgium by carrier,
- in any case, if he stays in Belgium for more than 48 hours.
On this form, he must indicate that he has travelled for business reasons and mention the ‘business trip certificate number’ that the employer has communicated to him.
He must also complete a self-assessment questionnaire on the conditions of his travel and/or stay abroad.
The ‘Passenger Locator Form’ and the self-assessment questionnaire will be checked to determine whether or not the worker is considered a "high-risk contact".
The fact that it is a stay abroad for professional reasons certified by the employer via the ‘Business Travel Abroad’ (BTA) does not automatically mean that the employee should not be considered as a high-risk contact.
The assessment parameters of the Passenger Locator Form and the self-assessment questionnaire are simply less stringent for business travel.
If, as a result of this assessment, the employee is considered a ‘high-risk contact’, he will have to observe a quarantine period and be tested on the 1st and the 7th day after his return to or his arrival in Belgium.
Consult our Infoflashes:
- Returning from a business trip in a red zone: compulsory quarantine?
- Negative test for non-residents coming from a red area: what exceptions?
- New obligations for foreign employees
Sources: ministerial order of 26 January 2021 amending the ministerial order of 28 October 2020 on emergency measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Belgian Official Gazette of 26 January 2021; https://www.info-coronavirus.be;https://bta.belgium.be.