Immigration. Travel. Living.

Belgium: how become a citizen?

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High living standards, favorable taxation conditions, and great business opportunities attract every year more and more foreigners who want to obtain Belgian citizenship.

In 2020, there is a fairly large list of options for obtaining Belgian citizenship by foreigners. There are only about 12 ways. In each case, the requirements for the candidate may vary significantly. The most common among immigrants is the procedure for (of) obtaining a Belgian passport on the declaration. Here, the main condition is legal residence in Belgium for at least 5-10 years.

In addition, over the past 5 years, a foreigner must not leave Belgian territory for a continuous period of more than 6 months, and the total period of stay outside Belgium cannot exceed one year. You also need to confirm the knowledge of one of the official languages – Dutch, French, German and demonstrate sufficient adaptation in the country in economic and social terms. For example, official employment in Belgium over the past 5 years will be sufficient.

The application for citizenship of Belgium is carried out through the city hall at the place of registration. In each case, local officials will provide comprehensive information on the basic requirements and provide practical assistance. Documents are provided both in the original and duly certified copies with translation into the local language. As a rule, the application processing time is about 4 months, but very often the process takes longer, on average 5-8 months. The cost of registration is 150 Euros.

Why Belgium is attractive to foreigners

The main reasons to immigrate to Belgium are:

  • High standard of living.
  • The possibility of receiving social guarantees and benefits.
  • The possibility of obtaining EU citizenship automatically. Belgian citizens receive EU citizenship automatically and can live, work, do business and study in the Schengen states. 
  • The possibility of retaining the citizenship of the country of origin. In Belgium, dual citizenship is allowed.
  • Low prices for real estate.
  • The multinational population is tolerant towards immigrants from any country.

Documents for Belgian citizenship upon declaration:

  • Birth certificate and a copy of a foreign passport.
  • Documents proving permanent residence in Belgium for at least 5 years (extract of residential addresses).
  • Proof of proficiency in one of the official languages at a minimum A2 level according to the pan-European classification.
  • Confirmation of socio-economic integration. For example, the presence of a permanent job, business, long-term training, payment of taxes and social contributions in Belgium.

Ways to obtain Belgian citizenship:

  • According to the declaration based on legal residence in Belgium for more than 5 years (see above).
  • Naturalization. It is issued to foreigners permanently residing on the Belgian territory, having achieved outstanding results in the scientific, sports or cultural sphere.
  • By marriage. The main condition is a marriage with a Belgian citizen for at least 3 years. In addition, it will require permanent residence in Belgium for more than 5 years, knowledge of one of the local languages, and sufficient social integration.
  • By birth. The following categories are available:
  1. children born in Belgium, including adopted ones (if one of the parents is Belgian);
  2. children born abroad (if one of the parents has a Belgian passport). The application is submitted before the child reaches 5 years old. This rule applies to adopted children;
  3. children (born and permanently residing in Belgium) up to 12 years old, if their parents are foreigners legally arrived on the Belgian territory for 10 last years;
  4. adult children (18 years +) born in Belgium and permanently residing in the country;
  5. children born in Belgium whose citizenship is not established;
  6. parents of a minor Belgian citizen, subject to 5 years of residence in the country, knowledge of the official language, and sufficient integration into Belgian society.

  • By the length of stay. It is granted to foreigners legally residing in Belgium on a permanent basis for the last 10 years and actively participating in the life of local society. Knowledge of local life/rules is also a prerequisite.
  • By disability or retirement age. Belgian citizenship is issued to persons after 5 years of their continuous residence in the country in the event of disability or retirement.

The list of documents, the cost, and additional requirements for foreigners may vary  (depending on the situation). 

One of the significant advantages of Belgium is the ability to have dual citizenship.

How to lose a Belgian citizenship 

There are several ways to lose citizenship in Belgium. If one person plans to refuse it solely at his/her own discretion, then he/she must provide the Embassy with a positive response from the authorities of the state in which he/she wants to live. Persons who were born or did military service in the territory of another state can lose their Belgian passports without warning the Government of the Kingdom.

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