Note form the SNR

Introduction.  I thought it time for an update on the latest travel restrictions to supplement the information recently pushed out by Mrs Fairclough.  I have discussed the restrictions with the Director of Management (who controls access to SHAPE on behalf of COS) and with NMR Belgium, who has in turn consulted with the Belgian national authorities.

2.       Travel from Belgium.  Belgium currently prohibits all but essential overseas travel, which for us means only those categories of journey listed in COS Order 093.  If your proposed journey fits into one of those categories, you must complete a lot of paperwork and carry it with you, including:

a.                 A Belgian “Sworn Statement”, which you can find at  Tick the box for diplomats, ministers, heads of state etc.

b.                 A COS Order 093 Enclosure 1 ‘certificate of essential travel,’ signed by the NMR or me. 

c.                 Host Nation specific Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) for the destination country must be completed.  This is likely to include a COVID negative test certificate.

d.                 You must also ensure you meet entry the requirements for transit through other countries (such as France) and that you carry any required certificates and declarations.  

3.       Travel to the UK.  The rules on entering the UK change regularly and you must keep yourself up to date.  As I write, one needs to complete a PLF, to have a negative test certificate within 72 hrs of entry, and to quarantine on arrival.  If you meet the criteria, you may be eligible for a Defence or a Welfare and Resilience Exemption.  You should apply for exemptions through the NMR Registry. 

4.       Returning to Belgium/SHAPE from the UK.  If you intend to transit through France, you will need a Negative PCR test certificate.  For entry to Belgium, and following clarification from the host nation NMR and SHAPE staffs, the below guidance is to be followed:

a.                All travellers to Belgium must have a negative COVID PCR test no more than 72 hrs before arrival. 

b.                If you visit the UK and are outside Belgium for less than 48hrs, and travel via private vehicle (ie, the tunnel), you do not need to complete a PLF, nor do you need to quarantine or take a PCR test after arrival.

c.                If you have been outside Belgium for more than 48hrs, you must complete a PLF, here:  You will also need to quarantine for 10 days, with a test on day 1 and 7. 

d.                While you are quarantining in Belgium after a trip of more than 48hrs, if a requirement to attend the workplace arises, it might be possible to leave quarantine for essential work.  This exceptional procedure must be staffed through the NMR offices and, for personnel in NATO roles, through the NATO Chain of Command at 2* level.  There is likely to be an additional testing requirement.  If you anticipate this being needed, contact the NMR office prior to your journey to discuss Business Travel Abroad regulations.

5.            For all Journeys.  Now that EU Transition is complete, and while border officials and others are getting used to the rules around borders, it makes sense to be able to demonstrate to officials that you have the right of residence in BEL.  So, carry your passport with its SOFA Stamp, the accompanying SOFA letter, and EU Travel Order, as well as any other documents/cards that reinforce the fact that you live in Belgium, such as NATO ID Card, a Residency Card, or a Proximus Bill. 

6.            More Widely.  We continue to monitor changes to restrictions on travel to and from the UK.  MOD, working in parallel with FCDO, continues to lobby for the maintenance of current exemptions for travellers from non-Red List countries and for some exemptions for travellers from Red-List countries.  MOD is well aware of the difficult circumstances that we are all being asked to live under and will continue to champion our cause.  But we must be realistic and appreciate that the safety of our country comes first. 

7.            Fair Warning.  You must follow these rules.  They are there to keep the SHAPE community, the UK, and Belgium safe.  I know myself how personally inconvenient they are.  But you must follow them nonetheless.  If one of our community were to bring a COVID infection into SHAPE, let alone one of the new highly infective variants, you can be sure that our allies would not thank us.  Neither would the British community here, if you were to transmit the disease to one of us.