Belgian nationality law

citizenship is based on a mixture of the principles of jus sanguinis and jus soli. In other words, both place of birth and Belgian parentage are relevant for determining whether a person is a Belgian citizen. It is regulated by the Code of Belgian Nationality.
In some circumstances citizenship is granted to children born in Belgium to non-Belgian parents; however, this is not the case if the parents are temporary or short-term visitors.

Birth in Belgium

A person born in Belgium is a Belgian citizen if that person:
Effectively this means that:
Access to Belgian citizenship depends on one's date of birth:

Before 1 January 1967

Belgian citizenship is acquired by:
Belgian citizenship is acquired by:
Belgian citizenship is acquired by:
Where a person is born outside Belgium and the Belgian parent who was born abroad does not submit a "déclaration d'attribution/toekenningsverklaring" within a period of five years following the child's birth, a late declaration is allowed provided the child does not have another.
If the child risks becoming stateless due to the other parent not being able to transfer their nationality, or the country of birth not granting nationality, the child will acquire Belgian nationality automatically. If the child then acquires another nationality before age 18, Belgian nationality is lost.

Naturalisation as a Belgian citizen

Before January 1 of 2013 after three years of legal residence in Belgium any person aged 18 or more years, could apply for a naturalisation.
Since 1 of January 2013, naturalisation has only been granted as an exceptional act resulting in appreciation that the applicant possesses exceptional merits in the fields of sport, culture, or science. No residence period is formally required.
The process of "declaration of nationality" is essentially a form of naturalisation without formality.

Belgian citizenship by declaration

Unlike naturalisation, declaration of Belgian citizenship is a right of those legal aliens who respond to certain criteria defined in Nationality Code of Belgium.

Nationality declaration

From the age of 18 a person can obtain Belgian nationality by signing a nationality declaration if that person meets one of the following criteria:
The integration requirement applies to all the previous criteria except those who were born in Belgium and those who are handicapped, invalid, or retired. Being integrated is defined as knowing one of the three national languages and being duly 'socially integrated' and 'economically active'.
The nationality declaration can only be signed in front of the registrar in the applicant's municipality in Belgium. This declaration cannot be approved by a Belgian embassy or consulate.

Opting for Belgian nationality between 18 and 22 years of age

Effective January 1, 2013, the option procedure was abolished by the Act of 4 December 2012.
A person aged between 18 and 22 can sign a declaration indicating opting for Belgian nationality if that person meets one of the following criteria:
All applicants must also meet the following criteria:
Residence abroad can be equated with residence in Belgium if one can prove that one has genuine ties with Belgium.

Belgian citizenship by marriage

Since 1 January 1985, marriage does not give any direct claim to Belgian citizenship. However, a spouse may request Belgian nationality after the marriage has taken place.

Belgian citizenship by adoption

From 1 January 1988, children adopted by Belgian citizens generally acquire Belgian citizenship on the same basis as those born to Belgian citizens. Different rules apply for adoptions completed prior to 1988.

Loss of Belgian citizenship

A person at least 18 years old who voluntarily obtained another nationality before 9 June 2007 automatically lost their Belgian nationality. A person at least 18 years old who voluntarily obtained the nationality of Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain or the United Kingdom between 9 June 2007 and 28 April 2008 automatically lost their Belgian nationality. A person who voluntarily obtains another nationality after 28 April 2008 will no longer lose their Belgian nationality, regardless of the nationality acquired.
It is also possible to lose Belgian citizenship in the following circumstances

Residence overseas

A Belgian citizen born outside Belgium on or after 1 January 1967 will lose Belgian citizenship at age 28 if:
Previously, to avoid losing ones Belgian nationality a person not only had to make a déclaration de conservation/behoudsverklaring between the ages of 18 and 28, it also had to be made again every 10 years.


A Belgian citizen aged 18 and over may renounce Belgian citizenship by declaration lodged with the Belgian authorities.


A child under 18 will lose Belgian citizenship if a responsible parent loses Belgian citizenship. Exceptions include cases where:
Children aged under 18 also lose Belgian citizenship if adopted by a non-Belgian, and the child acquires another nationality upon adoption. An exception applies if one of the adoptive parents is a Belgian citizen.
A child who has acquired Belgian citizenship on the grounds of being stateless, who acquires another nationality before age 18, loses Belgian citizenship.

Deprivation of Belgian citizenship

Belgian nationality can be withdrawn if a person has acquired Belgian citizenship through one of the provisions for those with non-Belgian parents AND the person is "in serious breach" of his or her obligations as a Belgian citizen.

Resumption of Belgian citizenship

A former Belgian citizen may resume Belgian citizenship by declaration after a 12-month period of residence and have an unlimited stay in Belgium, which means a B, C, D, E, E+, F or F+ card is required. Residence abroad can be equated with residence in Belgium if the person can prove genuine ties with Belgium.
The conditions under which the person lost his Belgian nationality and the reasons for wishing to regain it will be taken into account.
Children aged under 18 automatically acquire Belgian citizenship if a responsible parent resumes Belgian citizenship.

Dual citizenship

Since 28 April 2008, Belgian law permits all Belgian nationals to voluntarily obtain any other nationality without losing their Belgian nationality.

Citizenship of the European Union

Because Belgium forms part of the European Union, Belgian citizens are also citizens of the European Union under European Union law and thus enjoy rights of free movement and have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament. When in a non-EU country where there is no Belgian embassy, Belgian citizens have the right to get consular protection from the embassy of any other EU country present in that country. Belgian citizens can live and work in any country within the EU as a result of the right of free movement and residence granted in Article 21 of the EU Treaty.

Travel freedom of Belgian citizens

Visa requirements for Belgian citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Belgium. In 2015, Belgian citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 170 countries and territories, ranking the Belgian passport 4th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.
The Belgian nationality is ranked fourteenth in Nationality Index. This index differs from the Visa Restrictions Index, which focuses on external factors including travel freedom. The QNI considers, in addition, to travel freedom on internal factors such as peace & stability, economic strength, and human development as well.