Last year, 1381 Britons became Belgian nationals, Flemish newspapers reported on Friday, quoting data from the Belgian Statistical Office, Statbel.
According to the Statbel figures, the number of Britons seeking Belgian nationality has increased tenfold since Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.
After Brexit, Brussels has seen a steep surge in nationality requests from British residents. The UK’s departure from the European Union has yet to be technically started, but British residents in Brussels are wasting no time in looking into the possibility of becoming Belgian citizens in order to remain in the EU.
Delphine Bourgeois (a member of the Mouvement Réformateur, the French-speaking Belgian Liberals), Alderwoman for European affairs in the Brussels “commune” of Ixelles, told New Europe:
All in all, there are some 200,000 Brits living in Belgium. It appears that many of them are very worried by the consequences of the Brexit, and some started asking for Belgian citizenship. I was very touched by the disappointment of our British residents after the results of the referendum were announced. For the British who have lived here a long time, this was something that previously seemed unthinkable. Some people have the feeling they have lost a family member.
Most of the applications come from Britons who have been resident in Belgium for years and want to acquire Belgian nationality because of the uncertainty about the aftermath of Brexit.
To become Belgian nationals, they have to submit an application in the municipality where they reside and pay the sum of 150 euro. They also need to prove that they have been residing legally in the country for at least five years and that they are “socially integrated”.
Applicants can prove their “social integration” mainly by showing that they are working in Belgium. They can also take an integration course, but only 30 did so in 2017.
Britons who are awarded Belgian citizenship may keep their British nationality.