Departure from Belgium
Are you a non-Belgian in Ghent who's going abroad? You can find extra information on your departure from Belgium on this page.
- Staying abroad for less than 3 months
- Staying abroad for more than 3 months and up to 1 year
- Moving abroad permanently
The regulations below only apply to people who have their official place of residence in Ghent. Students, expats or other non-Belgians who are registered in Ghent based on annex 33 or annex 33ter and consequently do not have their main place of residence (='domicile') in Ghent, do not have to report their departure.
If you go abroad for less than 3 months, you do not have to inform the local authorities of your departure and return.
If the validity of the residence document expires prior to the expected return date, an early renewal can be applied for (provided that all residence requirements are met at that time). Once the validity of the residence card has expired, you run the risk of being denied re-entry to Belgium if you are not an EU/EEC citizen.
If you temporarily go abroad for more than 3 months and return to Belgium afterwards, you always have to report this to the local authorities prior to your departure. Tell them why you want to leave, how long you will be away and when you will return.
You receive a copy of the statement (annex 18 - Certificate of departure) and you can you keep your residence card. Upon your return you have 15 days to register again using annex 18.
Check the validity of your residence document
If the validity of the residence document expires prior to the expected return date, an early renewal can be applied for (provided that all residence requirements are met at that time).
Once the validity of the residence card has expired, you run the risk of being denied re-entry to Belgium if you are not an EU/EEC citizen or a Swiss national.
Report your absence to avoid loss of residence card
If you do not report your temporary absence and you cannot be found at your main place of residence during an inspection, the local authorities have to remove your name from the aliens register. The residence card will then become invalid and you may lose your right of residence.
In that case you will have to apply for re-registration and provide proof that you have not stayed abroad for an overly long period of time. It may take some time to process such an application. This means you do not get a new residence card right away.
If you permanently move to another country, you need to inform the local authorities of this prior to or at the latest immediately after your departure.
How to inform the local authorities?
- Complete the Declaration of Permanent Departure from Belgium form.
- Email this form to the Migration Counter or to the competent service centre.
- You will receive an email to confirm receipt of your declaration (Model 8 - Certificate of deregistration from the national register).
You can also personally present this document to the counter together with your residence card and a valid passport photograph. Apart from the Model 8 certificate, you will receive an Annex 37 (Certificate of collection) and a copy of your residence card.
It is advisable to settle any matters (e.g. bank transactions) for which the card is needed before returning it.
The certificate of deregistration is very important in certain situations:
- If you are Dutch and you want to re-register with a Dutch municipality, there's a good chance you will be asked to present Model 8 - Certificate of deregistration from the national register.
- You may also need Model 8 - Certificate of deregistration from the national register to complete certain customs formalities for the export of goods at the airport upon departure.
Are you a non-Schengen national?
It is particularly important for non-Schengen nationals to return the residence card as they have to be able to provide proof of their legal stay in Belgium when they want to cross the external borders of the Schengen area. Model 8 and Annex 37 are insufficient proof of a legal stay in Belgium.
If you only present these certificates, you may be fined or an alert may be issued for you related to an illegal stay. This means you are in principle required to present a copy of your residence document together with the Model 8 and Annex 37 certificates.