Belgian citizenship

According to the Nomad Passport Index 2017, Belgium has the second best passport in the world. The recognition is assessed on the basis of Belgium being the home of the European Union, and the facts that the Belgian passport allows visa-free travel to 174 countries globally and that dual citizenship is accepted. In light of these favourable factors, it is no wonder why so many foreign nationals desire to acquire a second citizenship in Belgium, which also gives automatic access to travel within, and residence in all countries of, the European Union.

The standard procedure for acquiring the Belgian nationality is via a 'nationality declaration'. The declaration is based on one of the grounds prescribed in the legislation, such as marriage to a Belgian national, social and economic integration, etc. Each of these grounds is subject to a set of eligibility criteria which the applicant must meet in order to be granted Belgian citizenship.

The most common ground for a nationality application is by way of social and economic integration. To qualify, a foreign national must satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Five years of legal and continuous residence: The applicant must have resided legally and continuously in the Belgian territory during the 5 years immediately preceding the nationality application. For the purpose of 'continuous residence', the foreign national may leave Belgium for a total maximum period of one year. However, the continuity will be considered broken if the foreign national left Belgium for more than 6 consecutive months;

  2. Right of permanent residence: The applicant must have been granted the right to permanent residence at the time of filing the application. The Immigration Office (automatically) issues the right to permanent residence to foreign nationals whose residence in Belgium has continuously been covered by a professional card or a work permit for 5 uninterrupted years; and

  3. Evidence of social integration, economic participation and language skills: Nevertheless, if the foreign national has been economically active during the relevant 5-year period, he/she is presumed to have fulfilled this criterion.

The nationality application should be filed with the local town hall and minimum paperwork is required. A smooth application normally takes four months to process.

For the avoidance of doubt, Belgian nationality does not give rise to a tax obligation unless you are considered as a tax resident in Belgium, or have Belgium-source income.

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