Consular services abroad: an overview


Published on 21 April 2021
 

Consulat général de Belgique
© Shutterstock
 

You are a Belgian living or travelling abroad. What consular services can you turn to?

Our consulates are at the service of Belgians living abroad or travelling there. An overview of the addresses of the Belgian consulates and embassies can be found on our website. Since 2014, the Consular Code has described in very precise terms exactly what is meant by these consular services.
 

Administrative support

In the first place, our consulates provide the same administrative support as the municipalities in Belgium. In other words: issuing identity cards, travel passports and certificates (of place of residence, nationality, etc.), participation in federal and any European elections, changes to your marital status and so on. There is one important condition, however: this support can only be provided to Belgians who are registered in the consular population register!
 

Notarial affairs

Diplomatic and consular officials also have a certain authority in respect of notarial affairs concerning property and family law. These include powers of attorney, marriage contracts, inheritance, gifts or wills. Please note: Belgians residing in an EU country should contact the local authority for notarial affairs.
 

Nationality and legalisation of foreign documents

Furthermore, you can also contact the consular services for all manner of affairs concerning your (Belgian) nationality. A consulate can also take care of the legalisation of foreign documents. This extends solely to a confirmation of the authenticity of the signature, the capacity of the signatory and, where applicable, the identity of the seal or the stamp.
 

Consular support

Embassies, consulates and honorary consulates can provide support in some situations in which a Belgian is involved, as stipulated by the Law on Consular Support. These include death, serious accidents, serious crime, worrying disappearance, arrest or custody, extreme emergency situations, serious consular crisis and international kidnapping of children where the child and/or one of the parents is Belgian. The law also stipulates the cases in which no claim can be made for consular support.

If Belgium has no representation in the country where you need help, you can contact any other representation from an EU country. The support they will provide is limited to the same emergency situations as described in the Law on Consular Support.
 

No private affairs

Our consular officials will distance themselves from private affairs.  This means a compatriot abroad cannot count on intervention in financial matters (unpaid hotel bills, fines, medical expenses, etc.). A consulate will not ensure preferential treatment in a hospital or prison either, nor manage private affairs such as booking a hotel, finding a residence or a job, or extending a visa.
 

Own responsibility

Furthermore, we would like to point out that a compatriot must also take their own responsibility. In the first instance, the compatriot should seek help from family, their employer, insurance provider, healthcare fund or tour operator. If the situation is serious and you are unable to find any help yourself, you may call upon the Belgian embassy or consulate in the context of consular support.

 

Find out more:

All the necessary information on our services can be found on our website:

Consular services abroad

A few testimonies on the repatriation of Belgians during the corona crisis in 2020 can be found here:

How do you repatriate 11,266 Belgian citizens?

Stuck in Cape Verde: An adventure with a shine

Yoga and meditation in quarantine

“We had to make the Belgians feel they were not in this alone”

“Guiding Belgians personally at the airport, that's satisfying”