Consulates, too, benefit from digital civil registry; From Napoleon's quill to the 21st century

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Elaboration of DABS

The development of DABS required many partners. From top left, clockwise: municipalities, consulates, federal government services and IT partners.

In 1796, the French introduced the civil registry on Belgian territory. Thanks to the official records of birth, marriage and death, the government was able to manage the country more effectively. For Napoleon, this meant a better overview of conscripts and more efficient taxation.

Since then, the municipalities and the consulates keep many millions of deeds, which amount to reams and reams of paper! Genealogists know all about it. But those physical archives take up space, can go mouldy, and cost stacks of paper and ink.

Without pen and paper

Since 31 March 2019, Belgium boasts a modern alternative, worthy of the 21st century: a central "Database of Civil Status Records" that keeps track of all deeds. When a birth, marriage or death occurs, pen and paper are now surplus to requirements. Civil servants prepare digital deeds and sign them electronically with their identity cards. Citizens do not need to place their signatures.

Thanks to DABS, citizens have to do far less travelling. This means they no longer have to travel to their place of birth to get an extract of their birth certificate. This can be done simply in their place of residence or via an e-portal. Extremely useful for Belgians abroad!

Citizens will also be less likely to have to submit an extract to the town hall or court. After all, officials can look up records themselves. We use the term 'only once' principle: once a deed is in the database, all civil servants can pick it up there.

The registries of the family courts, the public prosecutors' offices and other court services are also connected to DABS. In the event of a change of name or a divorce or parentage ruling, for example, the digital certificates are automatically updated. The National Register is also automatically amended when a deed is changed.

Millions of euros in savings

DABS also ensures a faster flow of data and thus greater legal certainty. Thanks to this, a divorce, for example, can be processed six weeks faster than before. Safety has also been given a boost. Because the extracts are uniform everywhere and can be centrally verified, they are less susceptible to fraud.

Please note that the old, paper records from local registers will also be transferred to the new database. A total of 589 municipal and 102 consular registers will be integrated.

Since the launch of DABS, more than 800,000 deeds have been signed, approximately 15 million copies and extracts have been made and more than 900,000 automatic updates have been issued in the National Register. Our consulates have signed approximately 8,000 new deeds. DABS has also led to savings of several million euros for citizens, companies, municipalities and the federal government.

Yet, there is room for further improvement of DABS. In the future, citizens will be sent extracts in their e-box or they will be able to identify themselves using eID or itsme. The database will also get a new look and feel.