Students, researchers and lecturers who are citizens of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland must apply for the European Health Insurance Card. This card is free and provides access to the same public healthcare (e.g. doctors, pharmacies, hospitals or treatment centres) enjoyed by Belgian residents. Charges for medical care are reimbursed by the home country immediately or after returning to the home country (depending of the home country). However, EU nationals may wish to join a Belgian health insurance scheme ("mutuelle") (see below) to make sure they benefit from all available services (for example, child supervision at home).

Students, researchers and lecturers who are citizens of any other country must join a health insurance scheme (the so-called ‘mutuelle’ or ‘mutualité’; French and Dutch only) as soon as possible after arrival. These schemes reimburse the cost of medical care (either in full or in part depending on the type of services provided) and some medications, and are run by a range of agencies – socialist, Christian, liberal and independent – any of which can be chosen. Non-compulsory ‘complementary’ health insurance, which covers some or all of the costs not reimbursed by compulsory health insurance, is also available.

International students and some visiting professors (for example, those participating in Erasmus + teaching assignments) often have to prove that they are covered by international health insurance.

International visitors who stay in Belgium for less than three months cannot join a Belgian health insurance scheme.

See also the "Register with a health insurance agency" section.