Residence permits & Identity cards

How to obtain them

All foreign nationals planning to stay in Belgium for more than 90 days are considered residents. Residency requirements vary according to nationality, profession and reasons for residing in Belgium.

EU and EEA nationals don't need to apply for residence permits in Belgium.

Non EU-nationals must register with their local commune within eight days of their arrival in Belgium, even if they’re living in temporary accommodation. Within two weeks of moving to a permanent residence, you must apply for a foreigner identity card and to be officially registered in the foreign population register.

To apply for your identity card, whether you’re an EU national or not, you and family members over the age of 12 must go to the town hall in person to register. Children under the age of 12 will be issued a ‘name card’, people over 12 will get an eID (electronic identity card).

To apply for an identity card, each applicant needs two or three passport-size photos, a medical certificate, plus a work permit and visa if you’re a non-EU national. The charge for the application varies from commune to commune, but is usually between €15 and €20. In some communes you may have to be fingerprinted.

Once you're registered, you will need to pick up and activate the eID at the town hall, or request for it to be activated and sent to your place of residence. Foreigner identity cards are renewable every year. You must apply for a new card within eight days of moving to a new home, even within the same commune.

All residents of Belgium over the age of 12 are required to carry their identity cards with them at all times. Though random ID checks are no longer permitted under Belgian law, a police officer can ask to see your identity card if he has ‘reasonable cause’ to suspect you of having committed a crime. If you don't show your card, you can be held under ‘administrative arrest’ for up to 12 hours until your identity and your right to be in Belgium can be officially established.

Children under the age of 12 must have their name cards with them (usually carried in a plastic envelope worn around their necks) any time they aren’t with their parents. While you’re waiting for your identity card to be issued, it’s sensible to carry your passport with you at all times.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in in Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg. from Survival Books. © 2003-2020 Just Landed