Belgian citizenship by descent

Article Breakdown

As a TLDR, Belgium only allows citizenship through ancestry up until the first generation. That means one of your parents has to be a Belgian citizen for you to acquire Belgian citizenship.

The Belgian citizenship by descent requirements can get fairly complicated and depend on the date you were born as well as the circumstances of your parents at the time of your birth.

Eligibility requirements for Belgian citizenship by descent

Belgium Passport CoverIn order to obtain Belgian citizenship or receive Belgian nationality based on Belgian ancestry links, you will have to have at least one Belgian parent.

Unless you have adoptive parents with Belgian nationality or a Belgian parent, it requires significant work to be granted Belgian nationality unless you are born with it.

Assume you have no family ties to Belgium, such as a spouse or ancestor. In that situation, it will take years of permanent residence before you can begin the process of becoming a Belgian citizen (see more about becoming a Belgian citizen through naturalization below).

A person with foreign citizenship may be eligible for Belgian citizenship if they meet the following criteria:

1. Born prior to January 1, 1967

  • the legitimate child born to a Belgian citizen father; OR
  • a person born outside of marriage who was recognized by one’s mother and is a Belgian citizen

2. Born between January 1, 1967 and December 31, 1984

  • born to a Belgian citizen in Belgium OR;
  • born outside of Belgium where the person is the legitimate offspring of a Belgian citizen father OR;
  • birth outside Belgium to a Belgian citizen mother who was born in Belgium or the Belgian Congo before June 30, 1960, or in Rwanda or Burundi before July 1, 1962.

3. Born after January 1, 1985

  • a child born to a Belgian citizen in Belgium OR;
  • child born abroad AND:
  • the Belgian parent was born in Belgium or the Belgian Congo before 30 June 1960, or in Rwanda or Burundi before 1 July 1962 (As these were official Belgian colonies at the time, they are not seen as foreign parents); OR the Belgian parent was born abroad and makes a statement requesting Belgian nationality within five years of the child’s birth.

How to Naturalize as a Belgian Citizen

Belgium Coat of ArmsIf your primary residence has been in Belgium for at least five years and you meet the standards stipulated by your municipality for citizenship based on naturalization or a declaration of nationality, you can apply for Belgian nationality.

According to Belgian law, the following are the conditions in order to obtain Belgian nationality:

  • Being added to the population registry. As an individual resident in Belgium, you should be listed on the population list.
  • Staying in Belgium lawfully for five to ten years. To obtain citizenship by permanent residence, you must remain 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 laws You should be informed of what is lawful and what is not in Belgium.
  • Demonstrating proficiency in one of the three national languages You must demonstrate your ability to communicate in either Dutch, French, or German.

These are the conditions specified by the Belgian Nationality Law if you wish to get Belgian citizenship through naturalization.

Belgian nationality by marriage?

Even if you have a Belgian spouse or partner, you must have been legally living in Belgium as your permanent residence for 5 years and have a strong understanding of one of the three national languages to be eligible for Belgian citizenship.

You must also demonstrate your social and economic integration, but your relationship is likely to help you in this aspect.

Belgium Country Landscape Photo

Belgium Citizenship Benefits

Because of free movement rights, being granted Belgian citizenship allows you to live and work in all EU nations, not only Belgium. It also offers you the following rights:

  • Pass citizenship on to your minor offspring.
  • Qualifications Recognition in Education
  • Social Security benefits
  • Union membership and associational freedom, for example.

What is the timeline to acquire citizenship in Belgium?

The processing period for your citizenship application is determined on your particular circumstances and the location of your application, as each municipality has its unique method.

In Brussels, for example, processing an application and being granted Belgian nationality will take 5 to 8 months, if it is correctly submitted.

Is it possible for me to hold dual citizenship in Belgium?

Dual citizenship allows you to be a citizen of both Belgium and another nation. If you accept citizenship of another nation, the Belgian authorities will not ask you to relinquish your Belgian citizenship.

If you acquire citizenship in Belgium, you should examine the specifics first, as certain nations do not allow dual citizenship. Some countries will force you to choose between Belgian citizenship and your original nationality.

How can I obtain a Belgian passport?

After you have obtained your Belgian nationality and citizenship as a foreign national, you can apply for a Belgian passport. If you live in Belgium, you must file this with your local municipality. If you are outside the nation, you can also apply at your nearest embassy.

There are additional fees to pay because obtaining a passport is a different process from obtaining citizenship. A basic adult passport will cost roughly 65€, and much more if you need it quickly.

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