New to Belgium?
Are you an Irish citizen who has recently moved to Belgium, or is planning to? Then the following information may be of use to you.
Residency and Entry Requirements
You should be aware that whilst you are in Belgium, you are legally obliged to carry your passport or Belgian ID (Residence Permit) card with you at all times.
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. A longer stay will require you to apply for a residence permit at your local commune.
Please note that an Irish passport card is not an alternative to getting a Belgian residence card.
If you intend to stay for more than three months you must register with the local Commune or Town Hall within eight days of arrival. Procedures vary by Commune so it is best to check what documentation is required in advance. A valid passport and three passport photos are generally required. Some communes may request a birth certificate or proof of your civil status (single, married, divorced, widowed). A nominal tax, which varies according to the commune, may be levied, so bring some cash along when registering.
Once your initial application is made, the commune notifies the local police who send one of its officers around to make sure you are living at the address you have given and that your name is on the doorbell. A residence permit valid for three months is then issued. This will be renewed for a further three months if proof of employment or self-employment and registration with the relevant social security scheme can be produced. A permanent identity card, renewable every five years, is then issued and the person’s name entered on the local population register. You should carry this card with you at all times. If you move from Belgium you should also de-register with your Commune and return the card.
Children under 12 must be registered and receive a “name card” from the Commune authorities, which they should carry at all times when not with their parents. As of the age of 12 they need to apply with the commune to obtain their own Belgian ID, which they should carry at all times when not accompanied by their parents. As of the age of 16 the Belgian ID should always be carried.
Irish citizens and their spouses do not need work permits to work in Belgium.
Police Records from Ireland
The issuance of Police Certificates is a matter for An Garda Síochána. 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. The Embassy cannot provide Police records.
Driving (and Licence Renewal)
Under Belgian Law, all motorists must hold a valid Driver's Licence. The holders of Irish licences are not required to exchange their driver's licence and may drive without restriction. However, the driver's licence must be registered with the commune they are residing in, i.e. provide a copy of their licence to the Local Commune when registering. The Commune 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 Driver's 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 in Ireland.
The Embassy has no role in the renewal or replacement of driving licences.
English Speaking Lawyers
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.
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.
You can find a notary public by clicking here. Select 'Annuaire' and enter your postcode and preferred language choice.
For practical information on living and working in Belgium, you can consult the non-exhaustive list of sites below. You will find information on these sites on Irish and expatriate associations and organizations in Belgium.
Irish Club of Belgium
European Commission Citizens Signpost Service
Brussels Commissioner - Expat Welcome Desk
Irish Theatre Group
Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe
Children's GAA Club
Irish Universities Alumni Association
Advice to emigrants
Cross Care Migrant Project also provide advice to emigrants.
It is recommended that anyone intending to move to Belgium does as much research as possible.