EU Special ID-Card Holders May Obtain Belgian Nationality
| Wout Van Doren

EU Special ID-Card Holders May Obtain Belgian Nationality

Read our latest blog on Belgian citizenship requirements by Wout Van Doren and Ana Correia Horta

Belgium’s highest civil court, the Cour de Cassation/Hof van Cassatie, recently ruled that EU citizens may obtain Belgian nationality based on their Special ID-Card.  

Background

The Belgian Nationality Code provides that all applicants must prove uninterrupted legal residence in Belgium for at least five to 10 years during the period immediately preceding a Belgian nationality application.

Special ID-Cards are typically granted to EU officials, diplomats, international civil servants and their family members. However, it is not listed among the specific documents that may be accepted as proof of legal residence for this application, as determined by the Royal Decree of 2013.

Ruling

The question of whether a Special ID-Card can constitute proof of legal residence for the purposes of applying for Belgian nationality has been questioned numerous times and has even led to contradictory jurisprudence seemingly running along the linguistic divide. The French language division of the Brussels Court of Appeal ruling in favour and the Dutch language division of the same court ruling against.

In December 2020, the Cour de Cassation/Hof van Cassatie stepped in to clarify the matter once and for all. The Court held that the time spent by EU citizens and their family members in Belgium as holders of the Special ID-Card can count toward the calculation of the period of legal stay required to secure Belgian nationality.

Impact

EU citizens and their family members who hold a Special ID-Card can no longer be refused Belgian nationality simply because of the type of residence permit they hold. This ruling is a major victory for the EU expat community in Belgium that hold Special ID-Cards and intend to apply for or have been refused Belgian nationality on the basis of this permit – in particular, for UK Special ID-Card holders who applied for Belgian nationality in light of Brexit.

Fragomen can advise impacted individuals on how to leverage this important judgement to secure ongoing procedures for acquisition of Belgian nationality or even re-submit applications if these were unjustly refused.

For additional information, contact Wout Van Doren, Associate, at [email protected] and Ana Horta, Associate, at [email protected]. You can also reach out to [email protected].

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