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- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Death certificates
- Acknowledgement of parentage for a child
- And certain judgments that relate to or modify a person's civil status.
The information below is intended for Belgians, irrespective of whether they reside in Belgium or abroad.
Foreigners living in Belgium must apply directly to the relevant administration in Belgium or abroad. This also applies to foreigners who reside abroad and for whom a civil status certificate has been issued by a Belgian municipality or on whom a judgment has been pronounced by a Belgian court. They must apply directly to the relevant municipality or court or request the intervention of their diplomatic or consular representation in Belgium. Under no circumstances does the FPS Foreign Affairs intervene for people who are not Belgian nationals.
Belgians who have dual nationality: The FPS Foreign Affairs does not intervene for Belgians who are also nationals of the country where the certificate was issued.
For a thorough understanding of the information below:
- An extract of a civil status certificate is a summarised version of the contents of the certificate containing just the key elements;
- A literal copy, also called complete copy, certified copy or full copy, gives the entire contents of the certificate. The certified copy of a certificate/judgment often takes the form of a true certified photocopy of this certificate.
- Legalisation: the attestation of the validity of the signature on a document.
- Apostille: is a form of legalisation as described in the Hague Convention of 05/10/1961. The apostille is affixed by the competent authority of the country where the document was drawn up (for Belgian documents, this is the Legalisations Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs in Brussels – cfr. legalisation). Belgian career consulates do not therefore affix apostilles on either Belgian or foreign documents.
1. The procedure for obtaining a copy or an extract of a Belgian civil status certificate
If you wish to obtain a copy or an extract of a civil status certificate that was drawn up in Belgium, you must contact directly the Belgian municipality that drew up the certificate.
This also applies if you reside abroad and are registered with a Belgian career consulate. You cannot request these bodies or the Civil Registry service of the FPS Foreign Affairs or the local Belgian consular representation to intervene on your behalf in the procedure needed to obtain such documents.
2. The procedure for obtaining a copy or an extract of a foreign civil status certificate
1) The civil status certificate has been transcribed into the civil status registers of a Belgian municipality.
In Belgium, foreign civil status certificates can be transcribed into the civil status register of the municipality where you are domiciled, or where you first lived after your return to Belgium.
If you are neither domiciled nor resident in Belgium, the certificate can be transcribed in that order into the civil status register of:
- your most recent domicile in Belgium;
- the domicile of your relatives in the ascending line (father, mother, grandfather, grandmother);
- the municipality of your birthplace in Belgium;
- the City of Brussels.
This applies to all civil status certificates relating to Belgians who have returned to Belgium or who still live abroad.
You are strongly advised to have foreign certificates relating to a Belgian or a Belgian family member (husband/wife; child) transcribed into the current civil status registers of a municipality in Belgium.The individuals concerned, their legal representative (parent, guardian) or the Public Prosecutor can submit the transcription request to the Registrar. Under no circumstances do the FPS Foreign Affairs or the Belgian consular representations intervene in this process.
Even certificates that contain errors or inaccuracies can be transcribed. The municipal authority can then ask the Public Prosecutor to correct them.
In order to obtain extracts or certified copies of certificates that have been transcribed into the civil status registers of a Belgian municipality, please contact the relevant municipal authority.
2) The certificate has been deposited with the FPS Foreign Affairs and can currently be found in the archives of the City of Brussels
Until 4 April 2011, certain civil status certificates drawn up outside the Kingdom of Belgium for Belgian citizens who had their residence abroad were deposited in the archives of the FPS Foreign Affairs. These archives are currently managed by the Civil Registry service of the City of Brussels.
2.1. You can request a copy/extract of a certificate deposited with the Brussels civil registrar:
- at the counter: rue des Halles / Hallenstraat 4 (Zone D) - 1000 Brussels - Monday to Wednesday from 8.30am to 4pm, Thursday from 8.30am to 6pm and Friday from 8.30am to 1pm
- via e-mail: Actesspfemail@example.com
- by post: Ville de Bruxelles / Stad Brussel - Service Affaires Citoyennes / Dienst Burgerzaken - rue des Halles / Hallenstraat 4 - 1000 Brussels
- phone number for questions from the public: +32 2 279 22 11
2.2. Which foreign civil status certificates/judgments have been deposited?
The certificate or the judgment:
- concerns a Belgian citizen;
- has been drawn up or pronounced by a competent foreign authority;
- at the moment of the deposit, the Belgian citizen concerned had his residence abroad.
At the moment of the deposit of the foreign civil status certificate concerning a Belgian citizen, the person concerned or his legal representative (parent, guardian,…) has received the number assigned to the retained certificate.
2.3. Limitation of the countries for which certificates/judgments have been deposited:
- From 18/08/1988 onwards, certificates drawn up in the Member States of the Council of Europe, in the United States of America and in Canada were no longer deposited.
- From 23/02/2001 onwards, certificates drawn up in the Member States of the European Union were no longer deposited.
- From 01/10/2004 onwards, only certificates drawn up in Congo (DRC), Burundi and Rwanda were still deposited.
- From 04/04/2011 onwards, foreign civil status certificates are no longer deposited.
3) The civil status certificate has not been transcribed into a Belgian municipality and has not been filed with the FPS Foreign Affairs.
You must request yourself the civil status certificate from the relevant foreign authority.
Please inquire with this foreign authority into the procedure to obtain the civil status certificate either personally or via relatives, a lawyer or a notary on the spot.
Under no circumstances will the Registry Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs and/or the local Belgian consular representation intervene on your behalf in the procedures needed to obtain such documents.
If you are a foreigner living in Belgium, you can contact your embassy or consulate in Belgium for further information.
Confirmations of civil status issued by a foreign embassy or consulate are not regarded in Belgium as civil status certificates.
3. The procedure for obtaining a copy or an extract of a foreign death certificate
The FPS Foreign Affairs may intervene to request a foreign death certificate provided that:
- the deceased was a Belgian national;
- the deceased had dual nationality, i.e. Belgian nationality and a foreign nationality which is not the nationality of the country where death occurred.
In this case, please contact the municipality of the deceased's most recent domicile in Belgium. The Registrar of this municipality must send a request to the FPS Foreign Affairs (address: FOD Buitenlandse Zaken, Dienst Burgerlijke Stand, Karmelietenstraat 15, 1000 Brussel).
There may be a cost implication for the foreign authority to issue the certificate. If this is the case, we will ask the municipal authority to pay an advance. If after the payment of all costs (issuing of the certificate, legalisation, various charges) the balance is positive, it will be repaid.
The death certificate will not be sent directly to you, but to the Registrar of the municipal authority (in principle the municipality of the deceased's most recent domicile in Belgium) that has made the request on your behalf.
Please note that we cannot guarantee a successful outcome to the procedure or specify a timeframe for its completion.
1. What should you do with the foreign civil status certificate you have obtained?
We advise that you have the foreign civil status certificates relating to Belgians transcribed into the civil status registers in Belgium.
In Belgium, foreign certificates can be transcribed in the civil status registers of the municipality of your current domicile, or your first place of residence after your return to Belgium.
If you are neither domiciled nor resident in Belgium, you can have the certificate transcribed into the civil status registers of the municipality of:
- your most recent domicile in Belgium
- the domicile of your relatives in the ascending line (father, mother, grandfather, grandmother)
- the municipality of your birthplace in Belgium
- the City of Brussels.
Once the certificate has been transcribed, you can easily obtain copies or extracts of the certificate from the relevant Belgian municipal authority. In time, obtaining a copy or an extract of the same document from some countries could prove very difficult or in some cases even impossible (e.g. due to destruction of the civil status registers in wartime or natural disasters).
2. What conditions does a foreign civil status certificate or judgment have to meet in order to be recognised in Belgium?
Foreign civil status certificates must have been drawn up by the relevant foreign local authority in the standard form used in that country.
The literal copy of the certificate must have been issued by the foreign authority that initially drew it up or, for the certified copy of a judgment, by the clerk of the court that made the judgment with the proof that the judgment is definitive (= acquired the force of res judicata).
Where appropriate, foreign certificates must be legalised by the competent local authority and then by the competent Belgian consulate or affixed with an apostille by the relevant services of the country where the certificate was drawn up.
Certificates that have been drawn up in a foreign language must be translated by a sworn translator into Dutch, French or German, depending on the language of the Belgian municipality where the certificate is to be transcribed.
In Belgium, a list of sworn translators can be obtained from the clerk of the court of first instance. A sworn translator’s signature also has to be legalised.
3. How to obtain a marriage certificate if you got married abroad
If your marriage certificate was transcribed into the civil status registers of a municipality in Belgium, please contact this municipal authority.
4. Is a Belgian civil status certificate valid abroad?
Only the foreign authority can decide on this.
The Belgian certificate that you use abroad should, if required, be legalised/affixed with an apostille and/or translated into the language of the country where the document is to be used. Please consult this country's local authority or diplomatic or consular representation in Belgium.
For more information, consult the Legalisation section