Normally Belgian Nationals do not need a visa to get into Canada. They only need an ETA (Electronic Travel authorization) which can be obtained online. It’s usually valid for 90 days and only valid for arrivals by air. This Canada Tourist Visa Application in Belgium post is meant for people who reside in Belgium but are not yet Belgian Nationals and whose nationality or passport requires a visa. In my case, I live in Belgium but I have a Philippine passport so I need a visa to enter Canada. The process for me was pretty straightforward but a bit of a hassle specially if there are no Visa Application Centers in your city or nearby. All in all, the process took about a month so give this some consideration for your travel plans.
TIMELINE ON APPLYING FOR A CANADA TOURIST VISA IN BELGIUM
Day 1 – I created my GC Key account and started to upload documents
Day 4 – I completed and submitted my application, paid the fees
Day 5 – Received my Biometrics Collection Letter
Day 9 – Biometrics were collected
Day 24 – I got a correspondence letter
Day 24 – Received the passport request letter
Day 29 – Sent my passport
Day 32 – My passport arrived at the Visa Applicaton Center in Dusseldorf
Day 37 – I received my passport back with the visa on it
There are actually two ways to do this.
- Apply Online
- Apply through the Visa Application Center
I did the first one which is applying online since I think it’s the easiest, you mostly scan your documents, upload them on the site and pay the visa fees with a credit card. It also has a guide on which documents are required. You need to sign up for an account which you can do online. I did it with the GC Key. This is the link below:
- IMM5257 – This is the application form and you can electronically sign it
- Copy of Passport
- Proof of Means of Financial Support – I included savings account, paycheck and credit card statement
- Proof of Relations – My reason for visiting Canada would be to visit family so to prove this, I needed to show an invitation letter, ID of the person inviting, pictures of us, a family tree and birth certificate
- Proof of Travel – included hotel bookings and our travel itinerary
- Travel History – I listed all my travels in the last 10 years
- Schedule 1 IMM5257 – Basically it’s a form listing your family relations and details like address and phone number
Then I submitted everything, signed the application electronically. After that, I was directed to a payment page.
CANADA TOURIST VISA FEES
APPLICATION FEE FOR A TOURIST VISA – CAD$ 100
BIOMETRIC FEES – CAD$ 85
DELIVERY SERVICE – EURO 16.91
The application and biometric fees are the same but the delivery service fee is different depending on which Visa Application Center you applied at. I applied at the Dusseldorf VAC office and here are the fees at their VAC. If you did the Biometrics at their office, the passport transmission fees are supposedly free but this is not clearly stated on the schedule of fees so I still paid it. I just sent them an email if this could be refunded but I have yet to hear from them.
I live in Belgium and there are no VACs in Belgium. The closest Canada Visa Application Centers for me are the one in Paris and Dusseldorf. The Paris office would have only been 2 hours by train but the fares are expensive. If I take the bus, it’s 6 hours and that is a bit much. I checked Flixbus for Dusseldorf and it was only around 30 euros for a round trip fare and only 3 hours each way so at least I can do everything in a day. I also made sure to schedule an appointment just to be sure. Biometrics are valid for 10 years so if just in case you need to apply again, you only have to do this once in 10 years.
As you can see the map, the Visa Application Center office in Dusseldorf is very close to the train station where the Flixbus or other buses also stop. It was maybe a 5-10 minute walk. When I was there, their office is not full at all. There were maybe 6-8 people there. You need to fill in something on the computer once you enter, then you will be given the number. I was called after 5 minutes. The biometrics were done after 10 minutes. It was really fast. This is in contrast to the Lyon office that my mom went to. She said it was packed and even though she had an appointment, it took them a while to get to her. She had to tell them a few times before she was let through. I could have actually took the earlier bus home but I had to pay double so I just took the opportunity to take a few hours to go around the city of Dusseldorf. I went to the center and walked around which is not too far from the train station.
On August 8, I got a correspondence letter on my GCKey account. I’m guessing this is when a decision has been made that my application has been approved. The next day, August 9, I got another letter requesting my passport. It’s important to note that this has to be done within 30 days of the receipt of the letter. This will also be something to consider if you have travel plans.
When I submitted my passport to the VAC, these are the documents I needed to send:
- Original Passport
- Passport Request Letter
- VAC consent Form
- Proof of Payment for courier fees or for other VACs like France – this could be a certified check
- Contact Information (return address, phone number and email)
I got a notification in my email on 22/08 that my passport is for dispatch with their courier partner which turned out to be DHL. It was quited quick because I got an email from them the same day that I need to sign the document but I was not gonna be home that day so I just opted for a pick up at one of their offices in Antwerp. DHL is really good because I get notifications on when the actual package was available at the pick up point. I got my visa! The validity is for almost 9 years which is a day before the expiry of my passport. It’s really good and worth it in my opinion. It was a pain free process after you’ve submitted all the documents. The time frame was about a month. The total amount I paid was about CAD$ 210 or 141 Euros if they return my passport transmission fees I mistakenly paid.