Registration – practical aspects

Photo by marius badstuber on Unsplash

Who can register a birth?

If you are:

  • married, either parent can register the birth
  • not married:
    • the mother can register the birth alone;
    • both the mother and father / co-parent can register the birth together; or
    • the father / co-parent can register the birth alone only if he has already established an ‘acte de reconnaissance’ / ‘erkenningakte’ (declaration of ‘parentage’)

What documents do we need to bring?

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 ‘parentage’ (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.

If you:

  • 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.

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. If the baby was born between 140 and 180 days, parents who wish to have their baby registered can do so, but are not obliged to;

  • 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).

Since a change to legislation on 31 March 2019:

  • a family name can also be given, which was not the case before. 
  • the father of a stillborn baby or the co-parent who is not married to the baby’s mother, or who had not yet signed a declaration of recognition (‘acte de reconaissance’ / ‘erkenningakte’), can declare paternity / co-parentality after the stillbirth, with the mother’s agreement.

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.

More information

For more information, see: (French) or (Dutch)