Your baby's birth must be registered within 15 calendar days at the commune in which he/she was born, not the commune in which you live. For example, if your baby was born in Ixelles hospital, but you live in Schaerbeek, you need to register the birth in Ixelles.
If you are:
- married, either parent can register the birth
- the mother can register the birth alone;
- both parents can register the birth together; or
- the father can register the birth alone only if he has already established an 'acte de reconnaissance' / 'erkenningakte' (declaration of paternity)
You will usually need the following documents with you, though check in advance with your commune to avoid a wasted trip:
- the 'constat de naissance' / 'geboorteverklaring' (declaration of your baby's birth) - you will receive this from the hospital
- your identity card(s) or passport(s) if you are not official 'residents' of Belgium
- your marriage certificate (if relevant)
- declaration of paternity (if relevant)
In some communes, you may be able to register the birth while you're still in the maternity unit - check this in advance with your hospital, so that you can have the necessary documents with you.
What happens next?
The commune in which you register the birth will give/send you at least two 'attestations de naissance' / 'geboortebewijzen' (birth certificates - these are 'short' birth certificates). If you are part of the Belgian social security system, you will need to send these certificates to:
- the family allowance agengy to request monthly family allowance payments
- the 'mutuelle' / 'ziekenfonds' to register your baby as a 'dependent' and to so that they can calculate the exact maternity leave entitlement based on your baby's actual date of birth
Some communes provide additional certificates free of charge, while others may ask you to pay a fee per additional certificate.
- are Belgian residents, a few weeks after the registration, you will receive a notification to tell you that your baby's identity documents (i.e. Belgian ID card) can be collected from your own commune.
- are not Belgian residents (e.g. you or your partner work for an organisation such as NATO), you will need to apply for special ID cards via your employer.
- need to apply for citizenship of another country for your baby, you will also need to request an 'extrait litteral du registre aux actes de naissance' / 'eensluidend afschrift uit het geboorteregister' (a full birth certificate) from the commune where you register the birth.
Under Belgian law, if the parents of a baby are not married, the father can declare his paternity provided the mother agrees. To do this, both parents need to sign an 'acte de reconaissance' / 'erkenningakte' (declaration of paternity).
This declaration can be made:
- as of the sixth month of the pregnancy (based on the expected due date as indicated on a medical certificate from the gynaecologist)
- at the time you register your baby at the commune (provided the mother is also present)
- any time after the birth (after the age of 12, the child also needs to give his/her agreement)
The declaration can be made at the commune in which you live, or at the commune in which you baby will be, or was born. Both parents need to bring their:
- identity cards; and
- birth certificates
If an unmarried father declares his paternity before the birth, or at the time the birth is registered, the baby automatically receives the father's last name. If the declaration is made after the birth, the parents have one year to decide whether or not to give the child the father's last name.
As mentioned above, in the case of stillbirth, it is currently not possible for an unmarried father to declare paternity after the birth of his stillborn baby.
Note: procedures can vary slightly between communes, so it's best to check in advance with your own commune.
Babies stillborn or who die shortly after birth
In the case of stillbirth, you may still have to register your baby's birth and death. This will depend on when your baby was born.
Under Belgian law, if a baby is stillborn after a pregnancy that lasted:
- less than 180 days, the birth does not need to be registered;
- 180 days or more, the birth needs to be registered at the commune in which the baby was born. The commune issues an 'acte de déclaration d'enfant sans vie' / 'akte van levenloze geboorte' (declaration of stillbirth).
It is not currently possible for an unmarried father to declare paternity after the birth of his stillborn baby.
If a baby dies before his/her birth has been registered, both the birth and death have to be registered at the commune in which the baby was born. Your local commune will be able to provide you with details of the procedures and documents needed.
For more information, see: