Your step-by-step admin guide to pregnancy and birth in Belgium

It might seem like you have a lot of admin and paperwork to deal with when expecting a baby, but if you know what’s expected of you and when, the task needn’t be overwhelming. On this page, we got through the main tasks you’ll need to tick off as your pregnancy progresses.

While many of the topics below are applicable to everyone, others are written with those employed or self-employed in the Belgian system in mind. If you work for an EU or international institution, make sure to check with your own HR department on your rights and obligations in terms in terms of leave and allowances etc.

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Early pregnancy

If you're an employee you should tell your employer you’re pregnant as soon as possible.  You are then immediately protected against being made redundant (for any reason relating to your pregnancy), and remain protected until one month after your postnatal leave ends. You can hand your HR department a letter and ask that they sign it, or you can send a registered letter.

If you are expecting:

  • a single baby, you must tell your employer you are pregnant at the latest 7 weeks before the estimated due date.
  • more than one baby, you must tell your employer that you are pregnant at the latest 9 weeks before the estimated due date.

DID YOU KNOW? Your employer cannot ask you to do overtime while you are pregnant, plus you have the right to attend prenatal medical appointments during working hours, with no impact on your salary, provided these can’t take place outside work hours.

Whether you're an employee or self-employed, you don't need to decide yet exactly what your post-birth leave will look like. But it's a good idea to get familiar with your options – especially as this can influence the timing of when you'll need daycare!

  • If you're an employee, maternity leave is 15 weeks (17 for a multiple birth) but some mums decide to add an extra month or months using:

Read our article about crafting your ideal post-birth leave if you're an employee

  • If you're self-employed, you're entitled to between 3 and 12 weeks of paid maternity leave (13 weeks for a multiple birth).

Read about maternity leave for self-employed mums

If you are planning to go back to work after your baby is born it's time to think about what kind of childcare you’ll be needing, and when. If you need a spot in a creche or with a childminder, you need to start looking now! Daycare places in Brussels are at a premium!

Communal creches may have stricter rules about when you can officially request a place, and in French-speaking creches you have to wait until the beginning of the fourth month of pregnancy. In Dutch-speaking creches you can request a place as soon as you discover you're pregnant.

With private creches, you can also request a place as soon as you discover you're pregnant.

Read more about finding daycare for your baby

Note: You don’t need to inform your health insurance fund (‘mutuelle’ / ‘ziekenfonds’) yet about your pregnancy, whether you’re an employee, self-employed or unemployed. This comes later, around one month before you stop working / before your due date.

From 6 months

Apply for your ‘birth allowance’ ('prime de naissance' / 'kraamgeld') from one of the family allowance funds. At The Village, our family allowance fund of choice is INFINO. The birth allowance is a one-off payment of around €1300 per child (in Brussels, the amount for subsequent births is less), paid by the state. You’ll receive the amount at the earliest two months before your estimated due date.

Read more about applying for your birth allowance

If you and your partner are not married, it's a good idea to think about already making a ‘declaration of parentage’, so you don’t have to deal with this when registering your baby’s birth.

Read more about declaring parentage

If you have 'top-up' hospitalisation insurance, whether via your employer or privately, make sure to check what coverage you have for pregnancy- and birth-related costs, and find out what documents you need to fill in and when.

Many cover ALL maternity-related costs incurred in the month before the birth and up to three months after the birth. And there may be other advantages worth knowing about!

Read more about hospitalisation insurance and what's often covered

Check the pre-admission requirements with your hospital, so you know what documents you need to fill in and when.

If you’re on a waiting list for a daycare place, confirm with them that you still need the place. They will let you know whether they can definitely welcome your baby, whether you are still on the waiting list, or whether they have refused the request.

Read more about finding daycare for your baby

Send a medical certificate indicating your estimated due date and the start date of your maternity leave to your health insurance fund – they will then send you the relevant paperwork in relation to your maternity leave rights and payments.

If you're self-employed, you'll also need to provide details of the 'mandatory' and 'optional' leave you plan to take.

Read more about maternity leave and maternity benefits

As from 20 weeks of pregnancy, if you live in Brussels or Flanders, you can apply for maternity assistance ('kraamzorg') after the birth of your baby – think of this as an extra pair of hands. You can benefit from the care from 1 month before the birth to 3 months after. The cost is based on your taxable income.

In the event of a difficult pregnancy, you are entitled to help from six months onwards, subject to a doctor's prescription.

To arrange kraamzorg care, you can contact:

NOTE: If you haven’t already told your employer, you must do so 7 weeks before your due date for a single baby and 9 weeks before for twins!

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Last weeks of pregnancy

If you haven't already done so, confirm the start of maternity leave with your employer, ideally one month before you plan to stop working. Remember that one week of maternity leave is considered as ‘mandatory’ prenatal leave, and can only be taken before the birth. You can start your maternity leave a maximum of 6 weeks (8 weeks for multiples) before the expected due date.

Be warned that if your baby is born early, before the planned start of your maternity leave, you essentially ‘lose’ the one mandatory week of leave.

Read more about maternity leave and maternity benefits

If you're self-employed and meet the conditions to receive paid maternity leave, you’re entitled to 105 hours of service cheques ('titres services' / 'dienstencheques') that you can use to pay for household help (e.g. cleaning, ironing, cooking) after the birth of your baby.

You apply for this via your social security fund – procedures differ slightly between funds, so check with your own.

Read more about your entitlements as a self-employed mother

Fathers / co-parents who are employees or self-employed are entitled to 20 days of paid birth leave. For employees, there's no formal procedure for applying to take birth leave. Some may ask to see a copy of the birth certificate (‘attestation de naissance’ / ‘geboortebewijs’).

Employee fathers / co-parents need to request a form from their health insurance fund (‘mutuelle’ / ‘ziekenfonds’) and send it back with a copy of the birth certificate. While self-employed fathers / co-parents need to liaise with their social insurance fund (‘caisse d’assurances sociales’ / ‘sociaal verzekeringsfonds’).

Read more about birth leave for dads and co-parents

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After the birth

Register your baby's birth at the commune in which they were born – check in advance with the commune which documents you will need. Some hospitals have a special counter where you can do this. If you and your baby's co-parent are not married, and you have not declared parentage before the birth, you'll both need to be present to register your baby. Otherwise, your partner can do it alone.

Read more about registering the birth and about citizenship and passport applications if you're baby is not Belgian

If for whatever reason you didn't request the birth allowance before the birth, you can also request it after the birth. The rules for the timing of requests after the birth vary per region, so make sure not to miss out!

Read more about applying for the birth allowance

Within one month of the birth, send your baby's birth certificate (‘extrait d’acte de naissance’ / ‘geboorteaangifte’) to your health insurance fund for the calculation of the end date of your maternity leave, to register your baby with your fund, and to receive the various advantages your health insurance fund offers, such as a welcome bonus, free domestic help vouchers etc.

Read more about mutelle bonuses

If you want to take advantage of breastfeeding breaks when you return to work:

  • inform your employer of this two months before you go back to work – it’s best to do this via a registered letter, or to ask written confirmation that they have received your request.
  • inform your health insurance fund, who will provide you with a document ‘attestation mensuelle portant sur l’indemnité pour les pauses d’allaitement’, or the equivalent in Dutch.

Read more about breastfeeding breaks

If you're an employee, within 8 days of resuming work/unemployed status, send your mutuelle the document ‘avis de reprise de travail ou de chômage’/‘attest van werkhervatting of werkloosheidshervatting’ (notice of resumption of work or unemployment).

If you're self-employed, you don't need to inform your health insurance fund when you resume work.

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