Entitlement and Registration

Find out about the social welfare entitlements for EU and non-EU citizens in Belgium, how to register with the authorities and information on the social identity card...

Belgium has reciprocal social security arrangements with many countries. Under these arrangements EU citizens and many from outside the EU, including the United States, can claim and be awarded many of the same benefits as Belgian citizens.

However, conditions apply and in almost every case newcomers must be correctly registered with their local town hall (maison communale/stadhuis). They must also have the correct documentation:

  • Passport
  • Visa or work permit
  • Temporary or permanent residency card
  • Other documents such as birth and marriage certificates are commonly requested

For those newcomers with work contracts, many of the formalities of registering within the Belgian system will be taken care of by the employer.

Anyone else, for example the unemployed or retired people, should go to their local Public Social Welfare Centre (CPAS/OMCW). There is one in every municipality and they are listed in the telephone directory.

Carte SIS

Once the person is affiliated to a social security organisation, they will receive a Carte SIS (Social Identity card). This electronic card contains the person's name, social security identification number, birth date and validity period of the card. The identity details and status of an individual are held in a central databank which can be accessed by any arm of the social security system.

This card is then used for all procedures with social security institutions. Employers use the card in communication with the authorities. It is also required when picking up medication from a pharmacy or when seeing a doctor, for example.