The main requirements are that you're at least 18 years of age, have had your principal residence in Belgium for the last three years, and have ‘genuine attachments’ to the country, such as a job, friends and family, investments and (probably most ‘attaching’ of all) debts. You must complete the relevant forms and provide translated and verified copies of your birth certificate, proof of residence in Belgium and any other documents supporting your case, then submit them to the administration of the commune where you live.
Your dossier is processed by the Service des Naturalisations and your case is assessed by the national House of Representatives (Chambre des Représentants), who conduct further investigations if necessary. Eventually, your request for naturalisation becomes part of a legislative act which is then published in the Moniteur belge, the official journal of the national legislature. From the date of publication, you’re officially Belgian and entitled to the same rights (and subject to the same obligations) as other Belgian citizens. Your children under the age of 18 automatically also become citizens, provided they live with you.
If you marry a Belgian citizen or your spouse becomes naturalised while you’re married, you can apply for naturalisation after you’ve been living together in Belgium for three years. The procedure is a simplified version of the full naturalisation process, and if you were married in Belgium you can use the same birth certificate you provided for the registration of your marriage, which saves you translation and verification fees.
For more information on the naturalisation process, visit the Belgian Camera of Representatives website.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in in Holland, Belgium & Luxembourg. Click here to get a copy now.