These are birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, acknowledgement of parentage for a child and certain judgements that relate to or modify a person's status.
The information below is intended for Belgians whether they live 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 live abroad and for whom a civil status certificate has been drawn up by a Belgian municipality or on whom a judgement 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 still are still nationals of the country where the certificate was drawn up.
For a thorough understanding of this information:
- An extract of a civil status certificate is a summarised version of the content of this certificate containing just the key elements.
- A literal copy, also called a complete copy or certified copy or full copy, gives the entire contents of this certificate. The certified copy of a certificate/judgement 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). Belgian consulates do not therefore affix apostilles on either Belgian or foreign documents.
- C.C. : Civil Code.
The procedure for obtaining a 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 the Belgian municipal authority that drew up the certificate.
This also applies if you reside abroad and are registered with a Belgian consulate. You cannot ask these bodies or the Registry Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs or the Belgian consulate to intervene on your behalf in the procedure needed to obtain such documents.
Before embarking on any process to obtain a civil status certificate drawn up abroad, you should ensure that
the civil status certificate has been transcribed into the civil status registers of a Belgian municipal authority (Article 48 of the Civil Code).
A civil status certificate relating to you and drawn up abroad can be transcribed into the civil status registers 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 into the civil status registers of the municipality of your most recent domicile in Belgium or the municipality where one of your ancestors (mother, father, grandfather, grandmother) were domiciled or the municipality of your birthplace in Belgium or, in the absence of any of the aforementioned, in the City of Brussels.
This is the case for all civil status certificates relating to Belgians who have returned to Belgium or 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 individual themselves, 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 consular posts intervene in this process.
Certificates that contain errors or inaccuracies can be transcribed. The municipal authority can then ask the Public Prosecutor to correct them.
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.
The civil status certificate has been filed with FPS Foreign Affairs in Brussels.
Until 4 April 2011, certain civil status certificates drawn up outside Belgium relating to Belgians who were resident abroad were filed in the archives of the Certificate Filing Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs.
When the foreign civil status certificate relating to a Belgian was filed, the number under which the certificate was stored was given to the person concerned or their legal representative (parent, guardian, etc.).
Which foreign civil status certificates/judgements were filed?
Certificates or judgements:
- Relating to a Belgian.
- Drawn up or handed down by a competent foreign authority.
- The Belgian concerned was resident abroad when it was filed.
- (certificates/judgements containing obvious errors or those that contravene Belgian law are not filed)
Country restrictions for filed certificates/judgements:
In some cases, the Law of 14 July 1966 on certain civil status certificates drawn up outside Belgium provides for the filing in the Service's archives of civil status certificates (or judgements) drawn up abroad and relating to Belgians that are resident there.
On 18/08/1988, the decision was made that certificates drawn up in the Member States of the Council of Europe, the United States of America and Canada would no longer be accepted for filing.
On 23/02/2001, the decision was made that certificates drawn up in the Member States of the European Union would no longer be accepted for filing.
On 21/09/2004, the decision was made that certificates drawn up in the Congo (DRC), Burundi or Rwanda would no longer be accepted for filing.
From 04/04/2011, no foreign civil status certificate can be accepted for filing.
To obtain extracts or copies of certificates filed with the FPS Foreign Affairs, please write to the following address:
SPF Foreign Affairs
Rue des Petits Carmes 15
You can also send your request by fax to +32.2.501.84.69
Or by email to email@example.com.
Only requests submitted by the persons stipulated in Article 48 of the Civil Code will receive a reply.
No enquiries will be taken by telephone. Copies or extracts of foreign civil status certificates or judgements are issued free of charge.
To help us assist you, please make your request using the attached form (DOC, 28.5 Kb). One form must be completed for each certificate type requested.
Request forms must be signed and dated.
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 the civil status certificate from the foreign authority.
Under no circumstances will the Registry Service of the FPS Foreign Affairs (C 3.2) or the local Belgian Representation intervene on your behalf in the procedures needed to obtain such documents.
- You can obtain the civil status certificate yourself, by submitting either an online or written request to the relevant local authority (i.e. the civil status office that issued the certificate and not the local Belgian Representation) or, during a stay abroad, by asking the relevant local authority.
- Where appropriate, friends or relatives abroad or a notary or local lawyer could submit a request on your behalf. In principle, they can also handle the legalisation and payment of all costs (i.e. the costs of issue and of legalisation).
If you are a foreigner living in Belgium, you can contact your consulate in Belgium for further information.
Confirmations of civil status issued by a Belgian consulate are not regarded as civil status certificates.
The FPS Foreign Affairs may intervene to request a foreign death certificate provided that the deceased was a Belgian national or had dual nationality, i.e. Belgian nationality and a foreign nationality which is not the nationality of the country where the death occurred.
If you satisfy the conditions to be able to request our intervention to obtain a death certificate, please contact the deceased's most recent municipality in Belgium. The Registrar of this municipality must send a request to the FPS Foreign Affairs (address: FPS Foreign Affairs, Service de l’état civil, Rue des Petits Carmes 15, 1000 Brussels).
There may be a cost implication for the foreign authority to issue the certificate. If this is the case, we will ask you to pay an allowance to cover these costs. If after the payment of all costs (issuing of the certificate, legalisation, various charges) there is a balance in your favour, the balance will be repaid.
The certificate obtained will not be sent to you directly, but to 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 also note that we cannot guarantee a successful outcome to the procedure or specify a timeframe for its completion.
3.1. 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 (Article 48 of the Civil Code).
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 or the municipality where your ancestors were domiciled or the municipality of your birthplace in Belgium or, in the absence thereof, in the City of Brussels.
Once the certificate has been transcribed, you can easily obtain copies or extracts of the certificate from the relevant Belgian 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).
3.2. What conditions does a foreign civil status certificate or judgement have to satisfy 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 judgement, by the clerk of the court that made the judgement with the proof that the judgement 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. Please find more information under LEGALISATION/APOSTILLE.
For additional information about the legalisation of documents and legalisation by Apostille (Convention de la Haye 05/10/1961) please see the Legalisation of documents section.
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 foreign sworn translator’s signature also has to be legalised. Please find more information under LEGALISATION/APOSTILLE.
3.3. 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.
3.4. 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. Consult this country's local authority or diplomatic or consular representation in Belgium.
For additional information about the legalisation of documents and legalisation by Apostille (Convention de la Haye of 05/10/1961) please see the Legalisation of documents section.