Irish citizens, as EU nationals, have the right to live, work and travel in Belgium. Irish citizens may enter and visit Belgium for a period of up to three months.
If you intend staying longer than 90 days, you must apply for a Belgian residence permit at your local municipality (gemeentehuis / maison communale).
You should be aware that whilst you are in Belgium, you are legally obliged to carry your passport (or passport card) or your Belgian residence permit at all times once issued. Please note that an Irish Passport Card is not an alternative to registering for a Belgian residence card.
Irish citizens living in Belgium are strongly encouraged to register their details via Citizens' Registration with the Department of Foreign Affairs so that we can contact you or your family in case of emergency. Registration with the DFA is not an alternative to registering at your local municipality.
If you intend staying in Belgium longer than 90 days, you must register at your local municipality. Registration is obligatory; and to do this you must have an actual place of residence. Procedures can vary by municipality so it is best to check what documentation is required in advance.
You can expect to be asked for the following:
- Your Irish Passport Book (please note: Belgian authorities tend not to accept documents other than your Passport Book as proof of citizenship.)
- Passport photos
- Rental agreement
- Documentation to provide you can support yourself financially (e.g. employment contract)
- Proof of health insurance (apply for your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving Ireland)
Belgian Police will then visit you at home to verify your address. If you are not there you will be given an appointment to attend in person at the local police station. Police will provide you with a statement of registration and this will enable you obtain your Belgian residence card (E card). The card costs approximately €30 and is valid for 5 years.
The length of time the registration process takes varies by municipality. This can be from a number of weeks to several months in certain areas.
If you leave Belgium, you need to inform your municipality and return your residence card.
Employees of EU institutions & international organisations
Those working for the EU institutions, international organisations or seconded national experts and their families have the option of registering via a simplified procedure through their employer. More information is available from the Brussels Commissioner.
To access the healthcare system in Belgium, you must register for health insurance. It is mandatory for residents to register with a health insurance scheme via a mutuality (mutuelle/ziekenfonds) of your choice.
Being subscribed to a mutuality entitles you to a partial refund of medical and dental costs.
Registration with a mutuality can take a number of months and it is advisable to bring your Irish European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when moving to Belgium.
If you are asked to provide an E104 and U1 from Ireland to show details of your Irish social insurance contribution record, this can be obtained from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Details of how to apply are available here. The document cannot be obtained via the Embassy.
Social Security in Belgium
An English language guide to the Belgian social security system is available from FPS Social Security.
An extensive guide to the Belgian social security system is also available from the European Commission here .
Further information is available in the Social Security section of Belgium’s official information portal.
Community Health Service, a non-governmental organisation that supports the English speaking population of Belgium, can provide a list of English speaking doctors and other medical professionals.
The Embassy of Ireland cannot offer medical advice, recommend individual doctors or pay for medical consultations.
Out of Hours GP services
An out of hours (evenings, weekends, public holidays) on-call medical doctor/general practitioner service is available in Belgium for non-urgent medical assistance. Contact details are available from FPS Health.
In Brussels, on call doctors can be found by contacting the Garde Bruxelloise / Brusselse Wachdiense.
Further contact details for medical professionals or general information can be obtained via the 24-hour Community Help Service helpline on +32 (0) 2 648 4014 (available in English).
You can search for the duty pharmacist in your locality by entering your postcode on the Belgian Pharmacists' Association website.
Under Belgian Law, all motorists must hold a valid driving licence. The holders of Irish licences are not required to exchange their driving licence and may drive without restriction.
However, your driving licence should be registered with the commune you are residing in, i.e. provide a copy of your licence to the local municipality when registering. The municipality will retain a copy on file; should the original be lost or stolen, it will then be possible to obtain a Belgian replacement.
If you live in Belgium and need to renew you license, you should contact your local town hall.
If your Irish driving licence has been lost/stolen, you may need to a Letter of Entitlement in order to get a replacement Belgian Licence. In this instance, you will need to contact the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS) in Ireland.
The Embassy has no role in the renewal or replacement of Irish driving licences.
Find out more about European driving licences on Europa.eu.
Should you need legal advice in Belgium, contact details for lawyers providing a service through English are available on the following websites:
If you are in Flanders, lawyers affiliated to the Flemish bar can be found here.
If you are in Wallonia, lawyers affiliated to the Walloon bar can be found here.
Those located in Brussels can use either website but if you are involved in legal proceedings it is advisable to first ascertain in what language these are being conducted in and choose representation accordingly.
The Embassy cannot offer legal advice, recommend individual lawyers or pay for legal consultations.
A notary public offers various services in non-contentious personal or business matters. Examples of services offered by notaries in Belgium include: drawing up a power of attorney, arranging a will, legalising documents and witnessing a signature.
Public Notaries can also be found on the European Directory of Notaries.
You can also find a notary public on Notaire.be. Select 'Annuaire' and enter your postcode and preferred language choice.
In certain circumstances, you may be asked to produce legalised sworn translations of English language certificates or documents into Dutch or French.
You should check with any translator you use that they are sworn translators authorised to provide legalised translations.
Sworn translators can be found in the Directory of Sworn Translators.
When requesting a birth, adoption or marriage certificate, Belgian authorities usually request a recently issued certificate (usually with a date of issue in the past 3 months).
If you were born, adopted or married in Ireland, original certificates are available from the General Registrar's Office.
If presenting a certificate to Belgian state authorities, you can request a Multilingual Standard Form (MSF) in French / Dutch / German to accompany your certificate from Ireland.
Orders for certificates accompanied by an MSF must be made via email to the GRO (and not via the HSE's certificates.ie service). Instructions on ordering a certificate with an MSF can be found here.
Irish Birth/Adoption/Marriage certificates are not available from the Embassy.
The Embassy can only provide certified photocopies of Irish birth, adoption or marriage certificates on production of an original certificate. There is a fee of €40 per document. You should first ascertain if this is acceptable to your municipality. We cannot provide translations of certificates.
The issuance of Police Certificates is a matter for An Garda Síochána (Irish Police). You are advised to contact the Garda Station in the area in which you last resided in Ireland.
Addresses of Garda Stations can be found here.
Please note that the Embassy cannot provide Police clearance certificates or apply for these on your behalf.
Belgium.be – portal for official information and public services in Belgium
Flanders.be - the official website of the Flemish government
Wallonia.be – information on living and working in Wallonia
Be.Brussels – official portal of the Brussels Capital Region
Brussels Commissioner - administrative assistance service for Brussels
Expatica Belgium – a useful information portal on many aspects of life in Belgium
Expats in Belgium – information portal on living and working in Belgium
Community Help Service– a non-profit support service and helpline for the English-speaking expatriate population of Belgium
Cross Care Migrant Project - a Dublin based NGO providing information and advocacy support to Irish emigrants