Belgium Citizenship: All You Need to Know

Embarking on the journey to Belgian citizenship is like weaving through the rich tapestry of Belgium’s history, culture, and legal intricacies.

Whether you’re drawn by the allure of medieval cities, the tranquility of the Ardennes, or the vibrancy of Brussels‘ international community, understanding the pathway to becoming a Belgian citizen is crucial.

This guide aims to illuminate the process, providing a clear and comprehensive overview of the requirements, steps, and tips to navigate the path to citizenship with ease and a dash of Belgian charm.

Let’s dive in!

How Can I Obtain Belgian Citizenship?

The following are the conditions for becoming a Belgian citizen:

  • Being listed in the population register. You should be included in the population list as a resident of Belgium.
  • Staying lawfully in Belgium for five to ten years. To obtain citizenship by residency, you must have lived in Belgium for at least five years.
  • Demonstrating your economic and social integration. You must have worked in Belgium for the last five years or have completed an integration course.
  • Demonstrating understanding of Belgian legislation. You should be aware of what is legal and illegal in Belgium.
  • Knowledge of one of the three national languages.

How To Apply For Belgian Citizenship?

Follow these steps to apply for Belgian citizenship:

  1. Make an appointment. You can apply for naturalization at the House of Representatives or your local municipal office. 

The registrar will transmit your application to the House of Representatives for review, and they will decide whether or not you will be granted naturalization.

  1. To obtain Belgium citizenship, you must meet some requirements, such as proof of language competency, integration, time spent in Belgium, and so on.
  2. Compile a document file. The following documents must be brought with you:
  • Birth certificate.
  • Proof of residency.
  • Evidence of social and economic integration.
  • Proof of proficiency in the language.
  1. Wait for the processing to complete. The processing period for your citizenship application is determined by your circumstances and the city in which you apply. 

Most places take four months, but in Brussels, for example, it may take five to eight months to process your application.

What Are The Benefits Of Belgian Citizenship?

You can live and work in any country within the EU if you have Belgian citizenship. It also gives you the following rights:

✅ Visas are not required for travel to 186 countries throughout the world.

✅ Pass citizenship on to your minor kids.

✅ Education.

✅ Qualifications are recognized.

✅ Benefits from the government.

Social services.

✅Union membership and associational freedom.

How To Obtain Belgian Citizenship Through Ancestry?

Belgium follows the principle of jus sanguinis (citizenship by descent). This means that children with at least one Belgian parent will be born with Belgian citizenship. This also applies to children who have been or have been:

  • Born outside of wedlock, and the first parent to recognize them is a Belgian citizen
  • Born outside of Belgium to Belgian parents.
  • They were born outside of Belgium to parents who had numerous nationalities (including the Belgian one) and were not given another nationality until they were 18 years old.
  • Parents born in Belgian Congo before June 30, 1960
  • Parents born in Ruanda-Urundi (later Ruanda-Burundi) before July 1, 1962.

Adoption By A Belgian National

When a kid is adopted by at least one Belgian parent, they are granted Belgian citizenship.

If a child is born in Belgium but adopted by non-Belgian nationals, the child can obtain citizenship if the adoptive parents have lived in Belgium for the previous ten years. At least one of the parents must have a valid residence permit for this to apply.

It is also possible to reverse the process. If a foreign national adopts a child of Belgian nationality, the adoptive parent may petition for citizenship as well. To be eligible, the parent must meet the following requirements:

  • They have lived legally in Belgium for at least five years.
  • They can demonstrate their acceptance in society by speaking at least one of the three official national languages (French, Dutch, or German).
  • Received a degree or certificate
  • At least 400 hours of professional training and at least 234 days of paid employment or self-employment with at least three quarterly social security payments
  • Taken an integration course

Applying For Citizenship Through Descent Or Adoption

Belgian parents who have had a baby do not need to apply for their child’s citizenship. 

When the newborn is registered with the Civil Registrar (French: service de l’état civil de la commune, Dutch: dienst burgerlijke stand) at the local town hall (French: mairie, Dutch: gemeentehuis), he or she will automatically acquire Belgian nationality.

If the parents live in another country, they can register their kids with the nearest Belgian embassy or consulate. They will also be required to file a declaration of attribution of Belgian nationality (declaration d’attribution de la nationalité, nationaliteitsverklaring in Dutch).

When adopting a child, parents in Wallonia, Flanders, or Brussels must file a declaration of nationality with their local municipal office. They must do so within five years after the adoption or before the child turns five.

If the application is made on behalf of a foreign parent with a Belgian child (or vice versa), it is deemed a declaration of citizenship via residency. This is detailed further down.

Children’s declarations of nationality are free; however, expenses may rise due to additional fees for translation and legalization of documents (i.e., apostille).

Processing times and any additional fees may vary depending on the municipality.

Citizenship By Birth Is Possible in Belgium

In Belgium, paternal birthright outweighs birthplace rights. In other words, children will only become citizens if at least one of their parents is a Belgian. If neither parent holds Belgian nationality, their kid does not get automatic citizenship unless they would otherwise be declared stateless.

This is not to say that birth citizenship is impossible in Belgium. Children must meet the following requirements to get Belgian nationality:

You were born in Belgium and have lived there since. Your (adoptive) parents are foreign nationals who have lived in Belgium for at least 10 years before your birth or adoption.

At least one of your parents is a permanent resident.

How To Obtain Citizenship Through Birth Or Adoption?

Foreign (adoptive) parents may apply for Belgian citizenship for their children by submitting a declaration of nationality to the local municipal office in Wallonia, Flanders, or Brussels.

If you are over the age of 18, you can request a declaration of Belgian citizenship on your own. You must, however, meet the following extra requirements:

  • You have a valid permanent resident permit.
  • You can demonstrate that you are fluent in at least one of the three national languages.
  • You have social and economic integration (for example, you have worked and lived in Belgium over the past five years).

Children’s nationality declarations are free, but adults must pay €150. Of course, fees for document translation and legalization may increase the costs. Processing times and any additional fees may differ by municipality.

Belgian Citizenship Through Residence

Residence is the most popular way for internationals and immigrants to obtain Belgian citizenship. Anyone who has lived in the country for at least five years in a row is eligible to file a declaration of citizenship.

You’ll also need to meet a few more requirements. These are some examples:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Speaking at least one of the three national languages, as evidenced by your social integration
  • Being integrated into society means having acquired a degree or diploma, completed at least 400 hours of professional training, and completed an integration course in Belgium over the past five years.
  • Being economically integrated by having worked as one of the following:
  • A paid worker or a public servant for at least 468 days in the last five years a self-employed person who has contributed to social security for at least six quarters of the last five years
  • A self-employed person who has made social security contributions for at least six quarters of the last five years
  • Proving that you are unable to work due to a disability or chronic illness or because you have reached pensionable age (65 in 2022)

If you do not match these requirements, you can apply for citizenship after ten years of lawful residence in Belgium. In that situation, you must demonstrate that:

  • You speak at least one of the three national languages.
  • You become absorbed into social, cultural, or economic life.

Citizenship Through Marriage To A Belgian National

People who marry a Belgian citizen do not automatically gain citizenship. Instead, they can become citizens by completing the above-mentioned residence method. The same rules apply, with one exception: you must have cohabitated with your partner in Belgium for at least three years.

Obtaining Citizenship Through Residence

You can apply by filling out a declaration and submitting it to your local Belgian municipal office in Wallonia, Flanders, or Brussels.

You must submit several documents, including:

  • If necessary, have your birth certificate translated and legalized.
  • Proof of your continuous residency in Belgium for at least five years
  • Social integration as proof of language proficiency
  • Demonstration of social and economic integration
  • Proof of payment of the €150 application fee

Aside from application expenses, there may be additional fees for translation and legalization. You can also utilize a respected translation agency, such as Lingoking, to translate your documents.

The municipality will forward your application to the public prosecutor’s office once the file is complete. 

Once the application is filed, you will receive a receipt. Before making a final decision, the prosecutor will consult with the Immigration Office (French: office des étrangers, Dutch: dienst vreemdelingenzaken) and the National Security Authority – NSA.

If you did not get a receipt, the prosecutor did not receive your file. Your application will be rejected automatically, and the municipality will inform you immediately.

The prosecutor has four months (from the date of receiving the application) to raise any objections. If there aren’t any, you’ll receive confirmation of approval. If they oppose you becoming a Belgian citizen, they will send you and the municipality a registered letter. 

The prosecutor did not receive your file if you did not obtain a receipt. Your application will be automatically rejected, and the municipality will notify you immediately.

What Is The Main Application Procedure For Gaining Belgian Citizenship?

The provision of all essential documents, including the Belgium residence permit that is valid at the time of the application, is an important component of the application procedure. 

The pre-submission phase comprises a preparation stage in which one of our Belgium immigration lawyers can assist you in gathering the essential documents and guiding you through the preparation process (including sworn translations, if applicable). 

The required documents are listed below in brief:

  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of legal residency in Belgium for at least 5 years and registration with the municipal register in this situation, the Belgium residence permit is the primary proof.
  • Proof of proficiency in language (one of the three official languages, French, Dutch, or German)
  • Proof of social integration and economic activity
  • Proof of fee payment, a marriage certificate, if applicable
  • A birth certificate for the kid, if applicable

Is It Possible To Get Dual Belgian Citizenship?

Yes, dual citizenship is permitted under Belgian law. Even if you have dual nationality, Belgium will not ask you to give up your citizenship. 

Some countries, however, do not allow dual citizenship, so you may be forced to choose between Belgian nationality and your country of origin. 

Conclusion

As we wrap up this guide, the journey to Belgian citizenship should now seem less like a daunting quest and more like a well-marked trail through the heart of Europe.

Armed with knowledge of the legal requirements, application process, and integration criteria, you’re wellprepared to embark on this significant journey.

Belgium offers more than just a passport it offers a chance to be part of a diverse, multilingual community with a rich cultural heritage. Here’s to your successful journey towards calling Belgium your home.

Bonne chance (Good luck)!

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