What we know about Belgium’s ‘declaration on honour’ for travel
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What we know about Belgium’s ‘declaration on honour’ for travel

Credit: Belga

As non-essential travel to and from Belgium will be banned from Wednesday, anyone wanting to get in or out of the country will be required to carry a “declaration on honour” to prove that their border-crossing is, in fact, essential.

A template form for the declaration on honour – which is a statement in which a traveller declares that cross-border trip falls under a category of journeys that are considered essential by the authorities – will be made available online so it can be downloaded and printed if necessary.

The form will be put online at the same time that the Ministerial Decree with the latest measures will be published by Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden. According to her cabinet, this is expected to happen by Tuesday morning.

The declaration must be linked to the Passenger Location Form (PLF), which has to be completed by people who have been abroad for at least 48 hours, and has to be supported by the necessary documents.

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While the police will carry out targeted checks along the border and in airports and train stations to see if people’s declaration corresponds to reality, Verlinden acknowledged that not every traveller will be checked.

“However, if there are skis on the roof of a car, for example, the police will know that something is going on,” she said on VTM News on Friday. “We count on the fact that people understand that these measures are necessary.”

Police are still working on a coordinated approach to control travellers, but people found to be misusing their ‘declaration on honour’ will receive a fine similar to the fine you receive after failing to comply with the face mask requirement.

Additionally, the requirement to carry a declaration on honour will apply to everyone who crosses the border, including people living in border municipalities who have to cross regularly for work, or to go to a certain store, for example.

“However, we do not want to complicate their daily life unnecessarily,” said Verlinden. “People living along the border are allowed to cross the border anyway (as they are listed as one of the exceptions), but they also have to carry a declaration of honour.”

In their case, the document only has to be filled out once, with the reason why their journeys are essential. “It is not the case that a new form has to be filled out every day until 1 March,” she said. “We do not want to make life unnecessarily difficult, but we do want to prevent the virus from spreading through tourism.”

Essential reasons to travel

Following Friday’s Consultative Committee, Belgium’s authorities decided on the six reasons that warrant an exception to the ban on travel:

  • Business trips.
  • Cross-border commuters will still be allowed to cross the border for activities that are also allowed in Belgium without going through the quarantine, but for a period of up to 48 hours.
  • Humanitarian reasons: assistance to an elderly, minor or vulnerable person or a person with a disability, visiting relatives in palliative care, and relocations for medical reasons and continuation of medical treatment.
  • Travelling for studies: travel of pupils, students and trainees on exchange within the framework of their studies, as well as researchers with a hosting agreement.
  • Compelling family reasons: family reunification, visits to a spouse or partner who does not live under the same roof (if plausible evidence of a stable and lasting relationship can be provided), trips for co-parenting, civil and religious weddings, funerals or cremations (of relatives or next of kin).
  • Various: care for animals, journeys within the framework of legal obligations (if they cannot be made digitally), urgent repairs within the framework of the safety of a vehicle and moving house.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times