Obtaining Belgian citizenship takes some effort unless you can get it by right of birth. Suppose you do not have any connections with Belgium, such as a spouse or an ancestor. In that case, it will take years of residing there as a temporary resident before you can start the process to become a Belgian citizen.
Since Belgium is part of the list in the European Union, it presents a lot of advantages for non-EU nationals.
Benefits of Belgium Citizenship
Holding Belgian citizenship gives you the chance to live and work not only in Belgium but in all other EU countries because of its free movement rights. Also, it grants you rights to:
- Pass on the citizenship to your minor children
- Recognition of qualifications
- Welfare benefits
- Social assistance
- Union membership and freedom of association, etc.
How to Become a Belgian Citizen?
The requirements to become a Belgian national are:
- Being registered in the population register. You should be registered in the list of the population as an individual who is residing in Belgium.
- Staying legally in Belgium for five to ten years. You need to live in Belgium for at least five years in order to receive citizenship through the residence.
- Showing that you are economically and socially integrated. You should have worked in Belgium for the past five years or should have taken an integration course.
- Showing knowledge of Belgian laws. You should be aware of what is legal and illegal in the country of Belgium.
- Showing knowledge of one of the three national languages. You should prove that you are able to speak either Dutch, French, or German.
These are the requirements that the Belgium embassy asks for if you want to obtain Belgian citizenship through naturalization.
There are other ways to get citizenship in Belgium, such as by birthright or marriage. See Other Ways to Obtain Citizenship in Belgium below.
Pathway to Belgian Citizenship
To become a Belgian citizen, you must first live in Belgium for at least five years. A simplified step-by-step process is:
Find a job and apply for a work visa
First, you need to search for a job in Belgium, which you can do online. After your employer provides you with a work contract, then you can apply for a work visa. A work visa is a type of long-stay visa (D-visa) that allows you to work and live in the country for more than 90 days.
After you arrive in Belgium, you will need a work and residence permit before you can start working. Your employer applies for the work permit on your behalf. You can get your residence permit at your local administration or city hall.
Convert into permanent residency
As a non-EU citizen, you can convert your temporary residency (D-Visa) to Belgium permanent residency after living in Belgium for five years continuously. You have to apply for permanent residency at your local town hall. The application will be sent to the Immigration Office for review, and if it is successful, you will receive your residence card. After five years, you can renew your permanent residency without needing to submit a new application.
For EU citizens, it is easier to get permanent residency since they do not have to go through the visa application process. EU citizens have to go to their local municipal office, register their stay, and get a residency card.
Apply for Belgium citizenship
In order to apply for Belgian citizenship, you should follow these steps:
- Make an appointment. You can apply for naturalization to the House of Representatives or in your local municipal office. The registrar will forward your application to the House of Representatives for review, and they will decide if you have been granted naturalization.
- Check out the requirements. You have to fulfill some requirements to pass Belgium citizenship, such as language proficiency proof, integration, period lived in Belgium, etc.
- Compile the documents file. The documents you need to bring include:
- Birth certificate.
- Proof of residence.
- Proof of social and economic integration.
- Proof of language proficiency.
- Wait for processing. The processing time for your citizenship application depends on your individual situation and in the city you submit the application. In most areas, it takes four months, but in Brussels, for example, it may take five to eight months to process your application.
Other Ways to Obtain Citizenship in Belgium
Except for naturalization, other ways to receive citizenship in Belgium are through birthright and marriage.
If you were born in Belgium or born to a Belgian citizen parent, you have the right to obtain Belgian citizenship. Birth to a Belgian parent is the most common way to receive Belgian nationality.
A child born in Belgium to foreign parents has the right to Belgian nationality if they:
- Do not hold another nationality before turning 18 years old.
- Lose their nationality before turning 18 years, which means being stateless.
- Have a parent who was born in Belgium and has lived there for five years before the child was born.
- Have been living in Belgium since birth and have two foreign parents that have been born abroad but have lived in Belgium for ten years.
- They are adopted by a foreign parent who was born in Belgium and has lived in Belgium for five years before the adoption.
To acquire citizenship through marriage with a Belgian citizen, you must have lived at least five years in Belgium, at least three of which you must have been cohabitating with your partner. You should speak one of the national languages, which are: Dutch, German, or French, and prove your social and economic integration.
Can I Have Dual Belgian Citizenship?
Yes, Belgian law permits dual citizenship. Belgium will not require you to give up your citizenship even if you hold the nationality of another country. However, some countries may not allow dual citizenship, so you might be obliged to choose between Belgian nationality and your country of origin.