All Belgian embassies and consulates to issue new biometric passport

date: 01 March 2013

Starting today, 1 March, all passports issued by our embassies and consulates abroad will contain the fingerprints of their holder. All Belgians living abroad must go to their embassy or consulate in person when they need to renew their passport.

Other possibilities to provide this service to Belgians abroad

The old procedure (passports without fingerprints) allowed Belgians living abroad to submit their application by post. This change is therefore significant for them.

The FPS Foreign Affairs is aware of the possible difficulties and has provided multiple solutions to make the procedure easier for Belgians living abroad:

  • Approximately 40 posts have received a ‘mobile kit’, which is a type of suitcase that contains the materials necessary for the registration of a passport application. This way, consuls can organise periodic visits to the regions that are far away from the post and in which many Belgians are living.
  • Belgians living abroad can submit their applications for a new passport at another location, for instance at another diplomatic or consular post than the one at which they are registered but which is closer to their residence, or to which they are going for some other reason (tourism, business, etc.). They can also go to a Belgian provincial administration office on a trip back to Belgium.
  • Soon, you will be able to register your fingerprints, photos and signature long before submitting your application for a new passport, for instance when you visit a city where an embassy or consulate is located.

A progressive roll-out for the purpose of the announcement

With 117 posts that must be equipped and more than 380,000 Belgians to be informed, the FPS Foreign Affairs has opted for a gradual introduction of the new procedure for passport applications. Therefore, the majority of the posts started issuing the new biometric passport between June 2011 and December 2012. Today, the embassy in Kingston (Jamaica), recently relocated to new premises, was the last post on the list and therefore closed the long process of the transition to biometrics in the Belgian representations abroad.

And in Belgium?

The FPS Foreign Affairs, together with the FPS Home Affairs, is currently conducting a ‘pre-pilot’ phase in Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, making it the first Belgian municipality to issue the new passports with fingerprints. During the first quarter, a dozen other municipalities will gradually start to participate in the process as pilot municipalities. In the course of the second quarter of 2013, all of the municipalities should be issuing the new biometric passports.

All passports without a fingerprint issued up to that point will naturally remain valid without limitations for the entirety of their period of validity.