Home Moving to Belgium Visas & Immigration Family reunion visas in Belgium: joining a relative or partner
Last update on August 19, 2020
Written by Nivard Bronckaers

If you have a relative or partner living in Belgium, see if can apply to live and work with a family reunion visa for Belgium.

If you want to move to Belgium to join a family member or partner, different conditions apply depending on your nationality, the nationality of your family member, and the family connection. This guide explains how to apply for a Belgian visa to join your family in Belgium:

EU/EEA/Swiss citizens and their family members

EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

If you’re from the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) or Switzerland, you can freely join your relative in Belgium without the need to apply for a Belgian visa. However, you must follow certain rules regarding registration as a foreigner. You must register at your local Belgian commune in order to get a foreigner’s residence card. For more information, see Expatica’s guide for EU/EEA and Swiss nationals moving to Belgium.

Family members of EU/EEA/Swiss nationals

If you’re not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland but your relative or partner is, you may be eligible to join them in Belgium. In general, spouses, registered partners, and children under 21 of EU/EEA/Switzerland nationals are entitled to a residence visa for the purpose of family reunion in Belgium.

However, your relative in Belgium must register at the local commune; this can be done on the basis of employment, looking for a job, study purposes, or sufficient resources. Your relative must also have adequate health insurance and sufficient financial resources to support both themselves and you. Dependent parents can also join EU/EEA relatives working or looking for work but not those who are studying in Belgium.

When applying from outside of Belgium, you will typically need to apply for a long-stay D visa at the Belgian embassy or consulate in your home country. Then, within eight days of arrival in Belgium, you will need to register at your local Belgian town hall in order to be issued with a residence permit (F card). Under some circumstances, if you’re already legally residing in Belgium under another Belgian visa, it will be allowed to apply at your local Belgian town hall. Your residence card is valid for five years and renewable.

You can find out where your local office is by clicking on this list of communes throughout Belgium.

Family members of an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen

If neither you nor your relatives are from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, then you can apply for a family reunion visa based on the status of your relative living in Belgium. Typically, if you are the spouse, registered partner or unmarried child up to the age of 18, you can join or accompany your relative in Belgium if your relation has authorization to stay in Belgium or has settled there permanently.

Which family members can join you in Belgium?

Relatives that are eligible for a family reunion visa in Belgium are:

  • your spouse or civil partner (with whom you are still in a relationship);
  • unmarried dependent children, including adopted children, aged 18 years or under, of either you or your spouse/registered partner;
  • dependent children or a person over 18 years old who has disabilities for whom you, or your spouse/registered partner, is a legal guardian.

If you plan to get married, read about getting married in Belgium.

How to apply for a family reunion visa in Belgium

As a general rule, apply for family reunification at the Belgian embassy in your home country. Complete an application form and supply supporting documentation including:

  • a valid passport;
  • evidence of your relationship, such as a marriage or civil partnership certificate, or a birth certificate;
  • a medical certificate;
  • adequate health insurance;
  • proof that you have somewhere to live;
  • proof of sufficient means of support.

Unless your documents are in Dutch, French, or German (and sometimes English), you must translate them. Translations must be done by a recognized translator and in some cases legalized or apostilled, which is when your foreign documents are certified as authentic by the appropriate authority in your home country, or have an Apostille seal if your country has signed up to the Hague Convention.

If you already live in Belgium, you can start the family reunification process in Belgium. In such cases, file your application for the long-term visa D at your local municipality. Please note that travel restrictions will apply during this six months procedure. See a list of communes in Belgium to find where to apply.

However, you may need to leave Belgium and apply from your home country.

When your relatives arrive in Belgium

When relatives arrive in Belgium they have eight working days to visit their local municipal administration offices/town hall (maison communale/gemeentehuis) in the commune where the family will all be living. This is in order to be registered in the foreigner’s registry and obtain a foreigner’s identity card, which acts as a Belgian residence permit. You can find out where your local office is by clicking on this list of communes throughout Belgium. Typically, this residence permit is linked to the status of your relative and has the same length of validity as their residence permit.

Besides registration, you will also need set up the necessary aspects for living in Belgium, such as a bank account, health insurance and more. See the necessary steps in our checklist for after you move to Belgium.

Working in Belgium

As a general rule, EU/EEA and Swiss citizens – and their family members – do not require a work permit in order to be employed in Belgium. However, third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens) and their family members typically require a Belgian work permit.

Most relatives of non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals can obtain a Belgian work permit on the basis of their own employment; otherwise, they can do so on the basis of their relative’s status in Belgium. The type of Belgian work permit they require and any specific conditions depend on the type of work they find.

For more information, see Expatica’s guides to work permits in Belgium or finding a job in Belgium.

Leaving Belgium

In general, you must leave Belgium if your relative leaves Belgium permanently. As with any rule, however, exceptions can apply.

For more information

Updated by immigration lawyer Nivard BronckaersFragomen Worldwide