Leaving Belgium

Are you a non-Belgian in Ghent who is going abroad? Read here what you have to do before you leave Belgium.

The information below only applies to people who are registered in Ghent. For example, are you a student or an expat and did you receive an Annex 33, an Annex 3 or an Annex 3ter? Then you do not have a main residence (= 'domicile') in Ghent and you do not have to report your departure.

Less than 3 months abroad

If you are going 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 before 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.

More than 3 months and up to 1 year abroad

If you are going  abroad for more than 3 months, you must in principle report the reason for departure, the duration of the absence and return to the municipality before departure.

Make an appointment at the Migration Counter or your service centre. You will receive proof of the declaration (annex 18 – Certificate of departure) and you will keep your residence card.

Exceptionally, you can also report the departure by e-mail from abroad. You must then always be able to prove the effective date of departure (e.g. with an exit stamp in the passport or a stamped ticket).

You have to declare your return within 15 days by presenting the annex 18. This is possible without an appointment at the counter. The declaration of return can also be done by e-mail if you can send proof of return (e.g. entry stamp in the passport or boarding pass).

Check the validity of your residence document

If the validity of the residence document expires before 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 departure and avoid losing uour right of residence

If you do not report the temporary absence and you cannot be found at your main place of residence during an inspection, the municipality must remove you from the aliens register.

The deletion makes the residence card invalid and you can lose the right of residence.

After cancellation, you must request a re-registration and you must provide proof that you have not stayed abroad for too long.

The examination of this application may take some time. You will therefore not immediately receive a new residence card.

Moving abroad permanently

If you permanently move to another country, you need to inform the municipality of this prior to or at the latest immediately after your departure.

How do you report a departure?

Via the e-form: choose 'Final departure declaration'.

The certificate of deregistration is important in certain situations:

  • If you are Dutch and you want to re-register with a Dutch municipality, there is 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.

Copy of residence card important for non-Schengen

It is best to return the residence card only after all matters for which the card is required (for example bank transactions) have been completed.

This refund is especially important for non-Schengen nationals. At the external borders of the Schengen area, they must be able to prove that they resided legally in Belgium.

Model 8 and annex 37 are insufficient proof of legal residence, so that you risk a fine and an alert for illegal residence. For that reason, you must in principle be able to submit a copy of the residence permit together with model 8 and annex 37.