Residence in Belgium's formalities


Make sure you have the following documents:

Residence in the Belgian territory of foreign nationals is subjected to rules and strict procedures.  The objective of this chapter is only to give you an outline and to inform the newcomers with regard to the steps to take systematically.

The rules regarding residency differ considerably according to whether one is a citizen of the EU, a member of a family of an EU citizen or a national of a third State.  However, all the foreigners who come to Belgium with the intention of staying, within eight days of their arrival in Belgium, must fill out a “declaration d’arrivée” (a declaration of arrival) at the municipality of their place of residence in Belgium, providing proof of their identity and nationality.

For more details

The sites mentioned below are very well done and represent a mine of information to read before you relocate to Belgium.

Official Information and Services 


Citizens of the European Union

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Who does it concern ? EU citizens are citizens of Member States. The rules of residence applicable in Belgium to EU citizens extends to the citizens of Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.

All the citizens of the EU (as well as authorised persons staying in the Schengen area) may enter Belgian territory and may stay there during a maximum of three months out of six months, on the sole condition of showing their citizenship and to declare their arrival to the municipal authorities in their place of residence in Belgium.


To stay more than three months :  To stay in in Belgium more than three months, a request of  establishment must be made to the municipality located in the place of residence during the three months of arrival in the territory.

The main condition of residence for more than three months for EU citizens is to dispose of sufficient resources so as not to become a burden to the Belgian welfare system.

Documents to produce : With the help of a request for registration certificate, besides the proof of their citizenship, the citizens of the EU must then show that they have indeed sufficient resources. They must attach to their file within three months of their request, the following proof, depending on the origin of their resources.

Residence permit : As soon as the introduction of a request with proof of EU citizenship* is made, the EU citizens are registered in the waiting register and are given a form "annexe 19". It is followed by a control of residence, resulting in the citizen being registered in the Register of foreigners and a registration certificate (residence permit, card E) is delivered. EU citizens allowed to stay may work in Belgium without any particular authorisation.

The registration certificate has a valid duration of a maximum of five years, renewable.                                                                

*By any means: a passport or identity card even if expired or any other document proving the identity and nationality


Family members of EU citizens

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Who does this apply to?
"family members" called "nuclear family members", which means:

-  The spouse or a civil partnership equivalent to marriage of an EU citizen

-  The partner to whom the EU citizen is linked to by a registered partnership according to the law (legal cohabitation, PACS, etc.) more than 21 years of age.

-  The descendants of the EU citizen or his spouse or partner less than 21years old or those who are under their responsibility, even if the parent has custody and, in the case of shared custody, on condition that the other custodian has given his agreement.

-  The ascendants of an EU citizen non Belgian or his spouse or partner who are responsible, except the ascendants of the EU citizen student.

These persons, on condition that they show their family tie and the citizenship of the EU citizen, may enter Belgian territory and stay there during a maximum of three months out of six to accompany or join the EU citizen member of their family. They must declare upon  their arrival their place of residence in Belgium to the municipal authorities.

To stay in Belgium more than three months with a EU citizen member of their family, these nationals must, in principal, introduce a request with the consulate or the Belgian Embassy in their authorised country of residence (request Visa D).

If they are already in Belgium, the request may be introduced at the municipal administration of the place of residence.

See the site of ADDE ( on this subject or the Foreign Office (

Documents to produce

-  A passport or a valid or non-valid identity card

-  A registration certificate of an EU citizen

-  The proof of custody of minor descendants or the agreement of the other parent

-  For the descendants more than 21 years of age, the proof that they are responsible and that they have health insurance

-  For the ascendants of an EU citizen, the proof that they are responsible and the proof of substantial and stable means, regular and sufficient as well as health insurance

-  For the descendant of an EU citizen who is a student, the proof that he is responsible

-  The proof of sufficient resources and health insurance

Most of the certificates (birth certificate, marriage,..) must be translated in one of the Belgian national languages and first of all legalised by the competent national authorities, then by the Belgian Embassy.

Consult the site of the Minister of Foreign Affairs  ( )

Residence Permits  

From the introduction of the request with proof of the position of the member of the family of an EU citizen, the municipal administration must deliver an annexe 19ter (temporary residence permit). Once the required documents are filed, the municipal administration proceeds with a residence control and delivers a Certificate of Registration valid for six months then transmits the file to the Foreign Office who must give a ruling as quickly as possible and at the latest six months from delivering the annexe 19ter. If no decision has been made during the six months by the Foreign Office, or there was a positive decision, the municipal administration must deliver the Residence Permit of the family member of an EU citizen. (annexe 9, card F).

In the case of refusal, with or without an order to leave the territory, a decision in writing and stating the reasons must be delivered by the municipal administration, likely to be contested in front of the Aliens Litigation Council, through the assistance of a lawyer specialised in matters of residence.

Nationals of Third Countries

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With the exception of asylum seekers, the nationals of Third countries who are not Belgian family members or EU citizens and who wish to come to stay for more than three months in Belgium must systematically introduce with a diplomatic post or a Belgian consulate of their place of authorised residence an application for a residence permit before their entry on Belgian territory (request for a visa).

On this subject see the site of  the ADDE ( or the Foreign Office (

There are several visas according to the different reasons for which the stay is requested (family reunion, studies, work, etc…). Each request contains a series of conditions and documents to produce to show the different conditions, the list of documents having been delivered on request by the Embassy or the Belgian consular post of the authorised place of residence.

Members of a family of citizens of Third Countries

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See Family members of EU citizens 

Work in Belgium for foreign nationals

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Before anything else, it is indispensable to know that :

- Citizens of the EU allowed to stay may work in Belgium without any particular authorisation.

- For non-EU citizens, the right to stay, the delivery of a residence permit, does not give the automatic right to work in Belgium.

In principal, all persons of foreign nationality, who wish to benefit from work in Belgium must obtain the authority beforehand of the competent authorities.  The salaried worker is subject to a work permit, while an independent worker must apply for a professional ID card.

Many exceptions or special terms to these principals exist however or special conditions of application, according in particular to the work market, international conventions, the proposed activity, the duration of the exercise, or again the stay of the foreign worker concerned.

The subject is however very complex, and to permit you to understand your personal situation, it is interesting to consult the excellent Practical Guide published on the ADDE site

Very briefly and simply, here are different options:

Foreigners authorised to stay for an unlimited duration : The list of workers exempted from the obligation of obtaining permission to work is very long and complex, but in brief and with certain small differences, are authorised to work in Belgium from the moment they obtain their residence permit without additional formalities, the foreigners authorised to stay for an unlimited duration, as well as certain categories of workers exhaustively described according to the law: it relates to particular occupations where it would be time consuming to produce the long list here, available on (

The other foreigners authorised to stay (for a limited duration, then) who would like salaried work : there are 3 types of existing work permit (salaried work).

-       Permit A, for an unlimited duration and valid for all salaried professions, reserved for workers who can justify many years of work under work permit B in Belgium.

-       Permit B, a fixed period of twelve months and limited to working with one   employer, is not granted in principal if "it is not possible to find amongst the workers belonging to the work market a worker capable of taking up in a satisfactory way and in reasonable time, even if the means with an adequate professional formation, of the proposed work". It is only delivered if a fixed employer solicits and obtains an authorisation of employment.   

-       Permit C, a fixed period and valid for all salaried professions, is granted to specific categories of foreigners because of their stay.

The requests must be introduced with the competent regional authorities, according to the place of the worker's employment.

For independent workers: Foreigners permitted to stay who wish to exercise an independent professional activity having an economic, social, cultural, artistic or sportive interest for Belgium are likely to see a professional card delivered, after having their request examined by the Federal Economics Service, the small and medium-sized businesses, the PME and Energy.

The animals

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Within the European Union: 
The rules which apply for the movements of dogs, cats and ferrets (pets) between the Member States of the European Union have been harmonised. To travel within the European Union, dogs, cats and ferrets must have a European passport delivered at the time of identification of the animal or at the time of vaccination against rabies.

The owners who want to take their dog, their cat or their ferret on a trip are obliged to have their animal identified. In Belgium, it is the electronic transponder (microchip) that is used and implanted under the skin by the vet. Apart from the microchip, a visible tattoo is still provisionally authorised as a means of identification in the majority of countries.


Dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies.  A complex vaccination procedure is envisioned. It is necessary to contact your vet to become familiar with the regulations in force when moving in the European Union


Coming from a Third country:
To enter into Belgium coming from a third country to the EU, animals must be accompanied by an individual certificate of which the model was fixed at European level. The different sanitary requirements are according to the countries of origin and it is then necessary  to contact a vet to know the regulations in force for third countries which apply to you.

For all supplementary information, please contact:
SPF Santé publique, Sécurité de la chaîne alimentaire et Environnement, DG Animaux, Végétaux et Alimentation,
T : 02 524 73 20 - F : 02 524 73 49

Civil status

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In Belgium, the civil status of the inhabitants is the responsibility of the registrars, who are divided into municipal administrations. It is therefore at the municipality where one draws up or registers different certificates, relating to births, deaths, marriages, etc...

It is also the municipal administration that delivers the different certificates or extracts of certificates on requests from the counter or by electronic means (this possibility depends on each municipality and can be verified by consulting the municipality's website).


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The declaration of a birth is an obligatory formality, which must be done not later than 15 days after the birth at the office of the registrar of births of the place of birth. A number of maternity hospitals in Belgium often offer a decentralised service allowing the declaration of a birth to take place directly at the hospital

If the relationship between the two parents is established (by the presumption of the paternity of the father or prenatal recognition) the certificate can be made by one parent. If the paternal relationship is not established on the basis of a marriage or prenatal recognition, the child may be recognised immediately upon establishing the certificate or later on with a postnatal recognition.


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The marriage may be celebrated in Belgium by a registrar of the residence of the future husband and wife, as soon as the future couple have resided in Belgium for more than three months. Residence of more than three months may be proven by any means possible, the simplest being the certificate of arrival.


Foreigners must meet the country's conditions of marriage where they are nationals, and Belgium adds to its conditions the said conditions of "public order" which is the agreement of the husband and wife, the absence of certain parental ties and the interdiction of bigamy.


It should be noted that since June 2003, marriage between two persons of the same sex is authorised in Belgium, whatever their nationality.

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Two persons who live together may make a declaration of legal cohabitation to the municipal administration of their municipality of residence. This declaration is recorded by the registrar and gives to the cohabitants the rights and obligations likely to be carried out through judicial channels ;

The administration establishes joint taxation in the name of the two legal cohabitants.

This action is accessible to all persons who live together in Belgium, no matter what their emotional or family link is, on condition that they are not married and do not already legally live with another person

Legal cohabitation automatically ends by marriage or death of one of the cohabitants, or voluntarily by a joint declaration or a written unilateral declaration and handed to the registrar of the municipality of residence against a receipt.


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Divorce in Belgium is not an action but a judicial procedure. It must be pronounced by a tribunal (the Family Tribunal) and it is therefore preferable to consult a lawyer to check the number of questions which arise relating to a divorce before embarking on this procedure.

 Foreigners may introduce a request for divorce in Belgium, no matter what the nationality of their spouse is, according to certain extensive conditions to examine before the introduction of the request. The conditions to fill in order to obtain a divorce in Belgium are determined by the law applicable to the situation, to be examined before the introduction of the request, with the help of a lawyer specialising in divorce, not always being subjected to Belgian law.


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A death must be recorded officially, by a doctor, who will provide a death certificate.

The death must then be declared as quickly as possible to the service of the registry office of the municipality of the place where the person died.  Generally, the funeral director takes care of the death certificate and all the administrative steps.

A death certificate is then drawn up by the municipal administration.  This certificate authenticates the death and establishes the identity of the deceased.  It is necessary for the registrar to give authorisation for transport and burial or cremation of the deceased.

The death certificate drawn up in the municipality where the person has died is then copied in the registry of the last residence of the deceased, where an extract or a copy can be requested.


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Europeans :

Persons residing in Brussels as citizens of a current or future member State of the European union, but who do not have Belgian nationality, can participate :

In the elections to the European parliament in Belgium and vote for candidates appearing on Belgian lists ;
In the municipal elections.
Conditions required :

This right is only a right to vote, not to stand for elec- tion, and is limited to the municipal elections.

Conditions required :

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