When moving to Belgium, many foreign nationals intend to make this relocation permanent, meaning that their ultimate goal is to obtain Belgian citizenship. This status is acquired voluntarily for adult foreign nationals who have lived in the country for a minimum amount of time and who also comply with other requirements.
Studying and working in the country can be two prerequisites when deciding to apply for citizenship. Of course, foreign nationals may also have other reasons for staying in the country long enough so that they may apply to become citizens and some of these alternate reasons can include family reunification or opening a business.
Irrespective of your initial motives for coming to the country and seeking permanent residence, obtaining Belgian citizenship will be subject to a set of conditions that refer not only to lawful stay in the country but also sufficient knowledge of the language and social integration.
If you are interested in obtaining citizenship, our Belgium immigration lawyer can answer any questions you may have about the process, not briefly touched upon in this article. We remind individuals that, although the general conditions for citizenship are the same, each case is different and one’s particular situation in the country will be taken into consideration when the application is evaluated.
How can a foreign national obtain Belgian nationality?
There are two ways in which an individual can apply for Belgian nationality: via a nationality declaration and by naturalization. The latter is the most common form of acquiring Belgian citizenship and this is the procedure that is briefly described by our Belgium immigration lawyer in the following paragraphs.
A precondition for those who are interested in submitting a nationality request with the Belgian authorities is that they must have their main place of residence in Belgium. Each municipality keeps a register of population and the foreign national should be included there. A checkup is possible with the local authorities in the area where the applicant resides.
Minors can obtain Belgian citizenship when the Belgian parent submits an application corresponding to their particular situation:
- Birth: the child is born to a Belgian parent and they can also be born abroad; in some cases, this can extend to adults who were born of a Belgian parent;
- Acknowledgement: when parentage is acknowledged by a Belgian citizen, the minor is granted nationality following this occurrence;
- Adoption: citizenship becomes effective on the adoption date; certain conditions do apply in this situation;
- Other cases: for individuals born in the country who were stateless or who were born in the country and lost their nationality before the age of 18; other situations may apply.
Our team specializing in Belgium immigration can provide you with complete details on how nationality is granted for those under the age of 18. We can also provide detailed information on the policies set forth by the Ministry of Justice in the Code of Belgian Nationality.
What is the main application procedure for obtaining Belgian citizenship?
A key part of the application process is to provide the authorities with all of the required documents, including the Belgium residence permit that is valid at the time of the application. The pre-submission phase includes a preparation stage when one of our Belgium immigration lawyers can help you gather the documents and guide you to prepare them (make the necessary sworn translations, if needed). The following is a quick summary of the required documents:
- birth certificate;
- proof of legal residence in Belgium for at least 5 years and registration with the municipal register; the Belgium residence permit is the main proof in this case;
- proof of language knowledge (one of the three official ones, French, Dutch and German);
- proof of social integration and economic participation;
- proof of fee payment;
marriage certificate, if applicable;
- the child’s birth certificate, if applicable.
One of our Belgium immigration agents can provide more details on the submission steps as well as guide you throughout the process.
How can one lose Belgian citizenship?
Minors, as well as adults, can lose their Belgian nationality. Minors can lose their Belgian nationality if they are adopted by a foreign national before they turn 18 as well as in other few cases. Adults can lose their citizenship when they sign a special renouncement declaration. Children can also lose their Belgian nationality when the parent loses it for any other reason than deprivation.
If you are interested in this subject, please reach out to our Belgium immigration agents.
According to the Belgian statistical office, there were 2,622 foreign nationals who obtained Belgian nationality in December 2019. Other statistical data shows the following:
- in 2016, 31,935 individuals changed their nationality;
- their number was lower in 2014 when 18,726 were subject to this change;
- UK nationals are among those who increased their applications for acquiring Belgian citizenship, with 6% of all those living in Belgium in 2017 changing their nationality.
If you are interested in obtaining citizenship and wish to know more about this process, please contact our Belgium immigration lawyer.