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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

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 card (E or E+ 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 Belgian residence card at your local municipality.

Please note that an Irish Passport Card is not an alternative to registering for a Belgian residence card.

If you intend staying in Belgium for more than three months you must present at the local municipality within eight days of arrival. Procedures vary by municipality so it is best to check what documentation is required in advance.

Generally, a valid passport, passport photos, your rent contract and evidence you can support yourself (e.g. work contract) are needed. Some communes may request a birth certificate or proof of your civil status. There is a charge for obtaining a residence card so bring some cash along when registering.

Once your initial application is made, the municipality notifies the local Police who will call to your address to ensure you live at the given address and that your name is displayed on the doorbell.

A residence card (E card) is usually issued in the weeks following the Police visit but it should be noted that waiting times vary throughout the country. The residence card is then renewable every 5 years.

If you leave Belgium, you should de-register with your commune and return the card.

Heath insurance is obligatory in Belgium. 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.

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 Doctor Anytime and Doctena websites allows you to search for medical doctors by medical specialty, your preferred language choice and location.

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).

Duty Pharmacies

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.

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 frequently request a recently issued certificate (usually with an issue date in the past 3 months).

Irish Birth/Adoption/Marriage certificates are not available from the Embassy.

If you were born, adopted or married in Ireland, original certificates can be ordered on Certificates.ie

The municipality may also request you provide a translation, by a sworn translator, into Dutch/French. Details of how to find a sworn translator can be found in the Sworn Translators tab.

You can avoid translation requirements, if presenting to the Belgian state authorities, by ordering a Multilingual Standard Form (MSF) in the language of your choice to accompany your certificate. To obtain this, you must order your certificate directly from the General Registrar’s Office.

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