Friday, 23 July 2021

⑪ The Day of Declaring a Legal Cohabitation in Belgium

Declaration of Legal Cohabitation within 8 Days Upon Arrival in Belgium

A newcomer has to declare their arrival to the commune within eight days of arrival in Belgium. The acceptable timeline to declare a legal cohabitation in Belgium is within three months. If you declare it at a much later time nearing to the third month, your application might be rejected. The fastest way to speed up the cohabitation visa process is to sign the legal cohabitation contract officially when declaring your arrival at the same time.

Please ask to sign the legal cohabitation agreement if you want the police to come to your place quickly. Otherwise, the police would not come if not for the sake of legal cohabitation. How long does it take to get the Orange Card? It is about 2 to 3 months’ time under normal circumstances. Therefore, sign the legal cohabitation agreement as soon as possible once you arrive.

The declaration of the legal cohabitation Belgium must not exceed three months. Note that it is also the duration limit of the Schengen short-stay visa. Then, the Orange Card might come effectively within three months before your travel visa expires.

Newcomer Online Registration

I arrived in Belgium on 14 July 2016. My partner made an appointment online one week before going to Districtshuis Antwerpen the next day (15 July 2016) after my arrival in Belgium. From my opinion and experience, the advantage of having an online registration is time-saving. You have the option to make an appointment as early as possible.

It also prevents people from sitting on the file and delaying the cohabitation visa process if you go in person. The online registration creates a record which many admin staffs monitor and send emails. Therefore, the follow-up is close. I received emails from different people for the past few months. The handling of my case was speedy.

  1. If you are residing in Antwerp, you or your partner can register for you as a newcomer in the Stad Antwerpen website before arriving in Belgium.
  2. To make an appointment for declaring a legal cohabitation, select “Huwelijk en Samenwonen (Marriage and Cohabitation)” as an option for the appointment.

Not all communes provide this registration service online after I run through random checks for some cities. It would be a good idea to make the appointment before the foreigner comes over to Belgium to speed up the process.


Documents Required to Bring When Declaring Legal Cohabitation Belgium

I brought along my passport, Certificate of Celibacy and my Health Insurance. The lady at the counter made a copy of my passport. She was searching for the Visa C sticker on my passport by flipping the pages many times. I told her that it was not necessary for Singaporeans to apply for Schengen Travel Visa.

She asked to see the original copy of the Certificate of Celibacy to prove that I was not married. I gave her the duplicate copy and she returned me back the original copy. She did not ask for the Health Insurance at this stage. When I made an enquiry in the Districtshuis in 2014, the staff asked me for the Health Insurance.

All communes that I know of ask for the Certificate of Celibacy on the spot when declaring a legal cohabitation. Make sure to have the certificate translated by a sworn translator if the copy is not in English, French, Dutch or German language by that time. English is not an official language in Belgium but the authority accepts it.

Stadhuis Keeping My Visit Record For 1.5 Years

I was shocked when suddenly, she whipped out the cohabitation questionnaire dated 9 December 2014. Two years ago, I enquired about the legal cohabitation Belgium procedure. But, my partner and I had no intention to go through it yet. The Stadhuis gave me a questionnaire at that time to fill up.

It was astonishing that they had stored my record for so long especially when I came to Belgium as a tourist. During the enquiry in 2014, the staff took my passport and key inside the system. I thought it was just a routine administration and think nothing much of that.

From the moment I laid my eyes on the backdated questionnaire, I knew it was in my favour without planning this in advance. It counted as 1.5 years contributed to the number of years of knowing each other. Remember that a couple has to prove to the authority that they know each other for two years.

It is a very critical component to judge the durability of the relationship. Many cohabitation visa applications were not successful because they were not able to prove the 2-year period. Leaving this 1.5 years record behind was the best proof. It was no wonder that they had processed my case so quickly in the end.

Tip: Make an appointment to go the Stadhuis if you are in Belgium for a holiday. Make an enquiry about the cohabitation visa procedure even if no intention to sign the legal cohabitation agreement yet. The idea is to get the commune to key in your passport number inside the system and leave a trail behind. When you decide to apply for the cohabitation visa later, the personal particular on the commune database may come handy. Just like it happened to me.

Signing Legal Cohabitation Belgium Agreement

The lady asked my boyfriend to fill up the Cohabitation Visa Questionnaire (in Dutch) on how we met and maintained our relationship. Click on the link to find out what are the ten simple questions on the survey form. I have translated them into English.

After which, both my partner and I signed a Declaration of Legal Cohabitation contract (Verklaring Wettelijke Samenwoning). It is a statement to declare that we wish to live together at the same residential address.

The signing of the agreement did not imply an approval of the cohabitation instantly. The Stadhuis collected back the legal cohabitation contract. I received it five weeks later by post after the Gemeentehuis approved on 16 August 2016.

Informed of Police Visit after Legal Cohabitation Belgium Declaration

The lady informed us that she would arrange for the Police to come and investigate. She did not mention whether the Police would contact us or we had to make the first contact. This police procedure is to make sure that the relationship is not fake. Moreover, it is a national concern in Belgium over the years especially in Antwerp where the hits were the highest.

Thanks to these people who made the application for legal cohabitation difficult over the past few years:-

In 2011, there was a decline in fake marriages after some intervention. There were rejections of 4,964 marriage application as a possibility of sham marriages. The statistic was the lowest reported as compared to the previous years.

Rejected applicants were Moroccans, Turkish, Algerians and Tunisians believe in trying to obtain the Belgian Nationality by getting married. They found an easier way out by applying for legal cohabitation as the checks were less demanding. Antwerp was one of the target city back then.

No Problem Going on Holiday before Receiving Orange Card

We mentioned going to France the next day for a 3-weeks holiday and would return to Belgium around July/August. It was not a problem to travel within the first 90 days of the visa. We worried that the police would come when we were not in Belgium.

The lady gave us a contact number to call. She said that we might need to make an appointment to go down to Districtshuis Deurne. It is the Foreigners’ Office in Antwerp and deals with foreigners and issues relating to immigration and visa in Antwerp. The whole process at the Districtshuis Antwerpen lasted approximately 30 minutes.


Call to Districtshuis Deurne

After the declaration of legal cohabitation in Belgium, my boyfriend called the telephone number immediately. The person over the phone said we did not have to go to Deurne Districtshuis at this stage until further notice if there is a need. We just had to send an email to them detailing about how we met, maintained our relationship over the years and showed proof of our relationship.

If the relationship requires further verification after our document submission, they would call us for an interview. In the meanwhile, the person gave us an email address to send all the information over. Email seemed to be the preferred communication method in Antwerp unless one has a problem to do that.


Get ready the Certificate of Celibacy, passport, Belgian eID on the day on declaring the cohabitation visa. All communes want the Single Status Certificate before they can proceed further.

Get it translated into the language of the city where you stay if it is not in Dutch, French, German or English. English is not an official language in Belgium, but it is acceptable as specified on the website. My official documents submitted were all in English.

About Live in Belgium

Hello, my name is MissSJ. I am a Singaporean. I am living with my Belgian partner since July 2016 in a cosmopolitan city, Antwerp. However, I had been travelling to and fro Belgium since 2011 as a tourist. The creation of this blog is to document my new journey in Belgium which I would like to call 'home'. Join me in discovering fascinating Belgium from the eyes of an expat.


  1. Hello, I just want to ask some things regarding this cohabitation. What if someone is staying here illegally and wanted to apply a cohabitation with a Belgian boyfriend, is it possible? Also, what are the requirements needed if you’re illegal for the said cohabitation? Are there also some requirements that are needed to meet to be able to apply for Cohabitation?

    • Hi Jhennyveeh, it is likely that you may be asked to leave the country since you have been staying here illegally. There were people leaving comments here that they were not allowed to apply for cohabitation because they have overstayed. You can apply, and also consider seeking help from a lawyer for your more complicated issues. Here is a checklist for you to prepare the documents needed for cohabitation.

    • I applied while I was illegal. Before applying, we got a lawyer. He told us that the commune would give me a negative reply, and that’s what happened. Right now, we are appealing. The lawyer has asked for our pictures, neighbors, friends and family recommendation letters with a copy of their passports. We have been in a relationship for two years and lived together for 1 year seven month. I moved in with my boyfriend while my asylum procedure was still running, but unfortunately, I got a negative answer. Now, I pray that the lawyer to do his best.

      • Hi Sandy, thanks for sharing your story. My good friend in Belgium was also staying illegally in Belgium for 5 years. She then married a Belgian man and eventually got approval. The process was smooth even though she was fearful of the outcome. She also said that many of the illegal people who came from her country were caught staying illegally and repatriated. At the end of the day, it also boiled down to who you meet in handling your case, and a little bit of luck.

    • It’s quite difficult. But my application goes smoothly without rejection. I was illegal. I got my orange card exactly 5 months.

  2. Hi MissSJ,

    I have a different situation that I would like to query upon. I am a non-EU citizen living in Europe for the past 5 years on a student visa. I have lived 3 years in Germany and 2 years in Belgium now. I am studying in Belgium and plan to be here for one more year to complete my Masters. However, due to the immigration rules, I am not allowed to stay in Belgium after my studies to find work and even finding a job is hard due to the strict rules regarding hiring non-EU employees.

    I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend who is Finnish (EU citizen) for the past 2 years. We met in Germany and had a long-distance relationship for 1 year. She recently moved in with me in Belgium. We have been living on the same address for the past 10 months now. She is a student at VUB and works part-time, so she doesn’t have a stable income as she is a student.

    My question to you is: is it possible or a good opportunity to apply for the cohabitation process for us? And since she doesn’t earn a fixed income, what are the chances of my visa getting renewed even after completion of my studies? Because if I have a Belgium Orange Card, the rules of non-EU employee don’t apply to me and I can very well find a job. I would love to hear a reply from you as I think you are qualified to answer this. Btw my commune is Etterbeek, Brussels 1040.

    • Hi Shivam, there is a likelihood to be rejected at the second stage, which is the family reunion process. However, it is no hard trying as I think signing the legal cohabitation paper will not be a problem.

      If the first application gets rejected, all you have to do is re-apply immediately. During the period of re-application, you can stay in Belgium. Once she hit the minimum income requirement , you will get your F Card eventually.

  3. Hi MissSj

    I found your blog and information really helpful to your readers. I am wondering if you could help me with information though. Here is my situation:

    I am a Filipina (non-EU citizen) currently an Aupair in the Netherlands which give me a valid Schengen visa to stay in Europe for a year. My visa will expire on the 22nd of January 2019 in The Netherlands.

    I just got married a few days ago with a wonderful German guy who has a stable income and currently renting his own place in Brussels. We are planning to move together the first week of January 2019. What could be the steps I needed to do to legally stay together with him in Brussels? 🙂

    Thank you so much in advance.

    • Hi Mae,

      The moment you move to Brussels, you have to go to the City Hall to report your arrival within 8 days. Inform them that you just got married in The Netherlands. They may ask you to submit the following documents for the first process of family reunification in Belgium on the same day or for the next appointment. That depends on what your City Hall wants. Get the documents translated if necessary.

      1. Your Marriage Certificate
      2. Certificate of Celibacy in the Philippines to prove that you are not married before
      3. Birth Certificate
      4. No Criminal Record

      You will also expect a police visit or interview from the city hall after declaring your arrival. As your husband is an EU citizen, he may have to get his Belgian residence card first before they will process your application.

      After your first appointment at the City Hall, the family reunion process will take place accordingly. Later, you have to submit your proof of relationship also. Here is a checklist for more reference.

  4. Hello MissSJ,

    It is lucky for me reading your articles at this point because my boyfriend and I have been going through the legal cohabitation process for almost 3 months. We got the bewijs van wettelijke samenwoning document on Oct 16, 2018. Then they informed me to go to the Districthuis Deurne on Nov 21st. When I went there on Nov 21st, they gave me a document from immigration centre saying that my tourist visa had already expired on September 25, 2018 and asked me to leave the country within 7 days.

    Actually, we started the cohabitation process on August 28, 2018. The police officer came on September 4th. Then, we got an interview letter saying that the date of the interview is on Oct 15th, 2018. They couldn’t change the interview date so I had to stay in Belgium for the interview without any notification from the immigration center until now.

    My question is, do you think I can still stay in Belgium? Since we had started the family reunion application online and haven’t got back from them. And will they deny our family reunion request? My boyfriend has a great job. We have over 2 years relationship. Is there anything I can do to extend my visa?


    • Hi JJ, I was surprised to read that they asked you to leave this week. Most people know that as along as a family reunion procedure is running, you can stay in Belgium. It was written somewhere on the official site too.

      Many applicants receive an Orange Card only after 3 months when their visa expires. Nowadays, there is a delay in getting the Orange Card. However, they continue to live in Belgium without an Orange Card legally. You do not need any extension on your passport if the timeline exceeds 3 months even though you do not have an Orange Card yet.

      You should write an official email to Deurne office instead of asking one person at the counter. Ask them why do you need to leave as you have already declared your cohabitation in August within 90 days of your arrival. The legal cohabitation declaration and the letter of proof that you received on October 16 would automatically lead to the next family reunion process because you are a foreigner.

      If I were you, I would stay in Belgium. You may get police visit during this period asking you to leave the country immediately. Explain to them that you are in the legal cohabitation process. The police know it better if you can show them all your documents. You have done all the correct things within the time frame and so, what is their concern? There will be some arguments for you so you should think through how to explain.

      I advised you to email to Deurne because a group of people are looking at the email. Therefore, every explanation that they give you is transparent and black and white. If you have to leave the country, they must give you an even more convincing reason because all of us who went through this process stay in Belgium without a need for the visa extension.

  5. Hello, please I wish to know if it is possible to apply for legal cohabitation with my boyfriend but we have dated just for two months, and we don’t have proof of two years in a relationship. Could that be accepted?

    • Hi Ayuk, I would advise you to wait until you have 2 years of relationship before applying for a legal cohabitation. Two months in a relationship is too short. You do not have substantial information to prove a serious relationship with such a timeframe.

      • Hello, thanks for your reply. I live and have a student permit in Belgium. I am already in Belgium with a long stay visa. We have been living together in the same address for two months. Does that mean that I cannot apply for legal cohabitation?

        • Hi Ayuk, the criteria to apply for a residence permit through a legal cohabitation in Belgium is one year of living together. Since you have a student visa, I would still propose you to try a few months later so you will not get a rejection from the start for not fulfilling the criteria.

          The commune might accept your legal cohabitation in the first part. But, you will not get approved for the residence permit because of not meeting the criteria. Well, you can always try to apply for it and see where it ends up. After all, you have a student visa. Therefore, you have nothing to lose.

  6. Hallo there,

    First of all many thanks for creating this website. I have a question about the following quote:

    “There is no limit on how many times you can apply for the visa after rejection. You can STAY IN BELGIUM with each application but take note that you cannot travel out of Belgium with an Orange Card all these while.”

    Do you need to submit the Certificate of Celibacy during the second time you apply for the visa? Since the one you use during the first attempt will be expired by then.

    I was also wondering why you need the Certificate of Celibacy when you apply for the visa? Since you already presented this during the signing of your cohabitation contract that seems double work. Also on the website of Dienst Vreemdelingenzaken, it is not listed as a requirement:

    • NL: De Partner Bewijsstukken Artikel 40ter (Partner’s Copies of Evidence)

    Many thanks!

    • Hi Ambrose, you do not need to give the certificate of celibacy if you have to reapply the whole procedure. It will start from the family reunification stage where you will get an Orange Card.

  7. Nassar Abdallah


    It’s so useful info I’ve got here!! Thank you very much!!

    I have 2 questions about our case, me and my girlfriend. She is Israeli and doesn’t have any residence here yet. I’m recognised in Belgium as a refugee since 2 years ago and have an ID card type B.

    Last year we applied for legal cohabitation, and it was accepted in January 2018. Then, we thought that she could ask for a visa D easily. Instead, we were informed by the city hall that she has to leave the country at the end of the month. Later she went back to Israel and had to wait 3 months to be allowed to get back here legally by tourist visa. So now she’s here again, and we’re going to apply for visa D for next week….

    1) Do you think our application will be ok if I had started my job just 3 months ago (permanent contract) with a salary of 1650 +/- nett, concerning that I’m a refugee resident here??

    2) I had an IBO contract (18 weeks) with the same employer before I got the fixed job. Would that be useful to present it in our file??

    Thanks in advance ?

    • Hi Nassar,

      Your refugee status will not affect the family reunion process in any way. Do not worry about this!

      Declaring a legal cohabitation will always be accepted as I have not read from anyone who has not done it successfully. However, it does not mean getting a residence card for your girlfriend is easier.

      1) You have the required minimum nett salary for a family reunion procedure. Since you just started the job not long ago, your chances of getting a residence card will be low. Another criterion is that you have to work continuously for 12 months as proof of job stability. Having a stable job is a critical component whether your girlfriend can get a long-term visa.

      2) Yes, please present the IBO contract in your file. That is very important to let the Immigration Office knows that you have been actively looking for a job in the first place. It also tells them that you do not want to use the social welfare fund.

      I would also suggest you include a separate piece of paper to explain your willingness to continue working for the current employer as an assurance for self-sustainability so as not to burden the social security. It may be extra work but always helpful if you can provide your work plan in Belgium. Hopefully, the authority can buy your idea and give you the card.

      If your girlfriend get a refusal of visa, do not despair. You can always reapply again. By the time you apply for the second round, you would have already met the criterion of 12-months of continuous working. Try not to change job while applying for the visa as it might affect the decision. Good luck to you! 🙂

      • Hello, It’s me again.

        Thanx for your reply! You were right the chance to get residence her was too low because I’ve just started my job in May.

        Today we received a rejection from the municipality, the reason is that I don’t have a proof of 12 months of working.

        My girlfriend has one month to leave Belgium back to Israel her homeland, we don’t know what to do!!! Any advice? Do I have to ask a lawyer to take up this case ??

        Kind regards,

        • Hi Abdullah, go back to the commune before the dateline of your girlfriend’s departure and make a fresh family reunion application. Once the process starts, your girlfriend can stay in Belgium and do not have to go back to Israel. Do not choose the option to appeal as the procedure is more troublesome because the applicant has to go back to the commune to get a stamp every month.

          As long as you do not meet 12 months of working in Belgium, your following application(s) will also be rejected until you hit 12 months of working. The only advantage is that your girlfriend can stay in Belgium and be with you while the family reunification process is ongoing each time. Alternatively, she can go back to Israel first and then return 6 months later when you have worked continuously for one year.

          I would not advise you to engage a lawyer for your case because it is rather straightforward that you have not met the working criteria. A lawyer would not change this fact, so it is just a waste of money. If you decide to get a lawyer, and later you get the visa, it may not be due to the effort of the lawyer, but merely because you have met the criteria eventually, with or without the lawyer. A lawyer is helpful to handle more complicated cases. You can consider it carefully as ultimately, it is your own decision.

          • Hello again,

            Latest update: After getting a rejection for our application to get residency, my girlfriend, Luna got one month to leave Belgium back to her homeland. We refreshed the application at the municipality and applied again 2 days ago.

            Now Luna is supposed to leave the country within a week! The problem is that the municipality refused to give her prolongation to stay here! Is that right?? They also didn’t give her an Orange Card in the previous process and not even now!

            I had asked a lawyer two weeks ago. She said (as you also told me) that Luna can stay if we reapply again. But how will she be here legally if she doesn’t have permission to stay temporarily till the end of the procedure?

            We’re looking forward to hearing your suggestions!

            Kindest regards!

            • Hi Nassar,

              Normally, when the cohabitation process is running, one can continue staying to wait for the Orange Card even when the visa has expired. But for your case, Luna has to leave the country even before receiving the Orange Card which I have not heard before.

              There will be no extension on the visa on the passport as far as I know if the cohabitation procedure is running. Many people stay ‘illegally’ if they did not receive their Orange Card within 3 months of their visa, but nothing happened to them. Furthermore, I think the town hall may not be empowered to handle the visa extension. Only the Immigration Office can do that.

              Referring to your first application in January 2018, why did Luna have to leave the country when you applied for family reunification? So far, no one will be asked to leave while waiting for their Orange Card. Could it be an issue that you did not know?

              Since you are not a Belgian nor an EU citizen, there may be a possibility that she has to complete the family reunion process in her country. Because I know of some partners of non-EU living in Belgium had to wait for an answer in their countries. You have to ask the municipal office can Luna continue to stay in Belgium while waiting for an Orange Card.

              The procedure may have changed now since you have less than 12 months of working. The town hall may have rejected Luna’s application outright even before giving an Orange Card in July. Also, the current document submission is too near to her visa expiry. The Orange Card is given only months later and not immediately upon Luna’s application.

              Due to the urgency of your case, I suggest you make a trip to the municipal office next week and also call the Immigration Office to clarify the doubt if Luna can continue to stay. It will ease your biggest worry. You can also consult a lawyer, but it will not change the fact about your working timeline.

              If she still receives a rejection later due to you not working long enough before getting the Orange Card, it seems better that Luna goes back to her country and returns to Belgium next year when you have worked for at least a year.

  8. Hi MissSJ, sorry I have so many doubts about the process, and you are the only one that had an idea about this.

    I am going to Belgium in December to live with my boyfriend. We are planning to sign the cohabitation just the week that I arrive. I have a Schengen visa, so I can stay for 3 months.

    My question is if we sign the cohabitation paper and for example, he doesn’t have a job, I don’t gonna receive the orange card? or just sign the cohabitation, I would get the orange card and be able to start the process?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Dixiana, the commune will probably ask you to go for an interview before assessing the situation. Usually, it is possible to sign the cohabitation paper. You can get your boyfriend’s parent as a guarantor, and things will be much easier from there.

      • I already did one year of Dutch and I am doing by myself with some books. He is looking for jobs because he finished college 2 months ago, but the Townhall in Brugge told us that he just needs to have a job. They don’t say anything about how much salary or contracts or time working. We asked and they say just need to have the job. Every case is different. So I hope he would find a job soon!

        • I would say the entire legal cohabitation procedure for foreign partner has two parts:-

          1) Sign a legal cohabitation contract in the town hall of where you stay.
          2) Submit your relationship proof to the Immigration Office in Brussels to take a decision of your stay in Belgium via your Town Hall.

          The Immigration Office has stated a minimum nett salary of €1,476.32/month (as of now). Moreover, the amount increases frequently. In my case, they did not tell us the minimum income as well. Not all staffs in the Town Hall are aware of the minimum salary changes.

          Once you give the Town Hall the documents that they need such as Certificate of Celibacy, they will approve Step 1. When you have submitted your documents to the Immigration Office, and you do not meet the criteria for the minimum income and work continuously for 12 months, they are likely to reject your residence permit in Step 2.

  9. Hi Miss SJ,

    Thank you very much for your detailed post. You seem to be well informed about this process (better than the authorities?!) and I hope you can give me some guidance too.

    I am an American citizen and my bf and I applied for legal cohabitation, submitted proof of a lasting relationship and I received my orange card. So far so good. However, because of my bf’s studies, we have left Belgium to another Schengen country about 3 months ago, right after receiving the orange card. Traveling for a few days to Brussels (we registered with Ixelles) would not be a problem.

    What should I expect now? Would I get a post mail if my application is approved (it should be)? I will be leaving for the states about 2 weeks before the orange card expires, and I will be returning to yet another EU country a few months later.

    How long will the process of getting the card take after I get the application approved? If I would go ahead of time, would that help in any way speed up the process?

    I am starting to get a bit worried about all this as I know I am not in the best situation because of my travel plans.

    Thank you for your patience in reading all this!

    • Hi A, thanks for your compliment. I am not better than the authority, it is just that I have read a lot of case studies from forums regarding cohabitation in Belgium. Of course, people are also sharing with me their issues so that is how I increase my awareness with time.

      You may or may not receive any notification of your F Card approval. If you do not receive email or letter while waiting, it means that your application is approved. While holding your orange card, you can apply for a Return Visa for your travel plan, subject to the approval of the authority.

  10. Hi dear, Fion here, do I have to register as a newcomer before I apply the legal cohabitation? Is that compulsory to register as a newcomer? Thanks

    • Hi Fion, I do not know if it is compulsory to do that in Antwerp as my boyfriend registered for me one day before my arrival in Antwerp. I think there is no harm doing it as most of my emails came from the reference numbers of the newcomer’s registration.

  11. Hi MissSJ,

    First of all, I would like to commend you on how awesome and detailed your blog is! A couple of questions that I want to ask you though but before that, a brief background of myself and my boyfriend.

    I am a Filipino citizen, I have traveled to Europe multiple times for work as well as vacation with my boyfriend. We have been together for almost three years, having said that we thought about applying for the said cohabitation visa. He resides at Mechelen, so my first question is would Mechelen have the same process as Antwerp?

    Second question that I have is, what if the visa provided to me only has a one-month validity, would there be any issues if the wait time is 2-3 months? Lastly, let’s say all gets approved, will I be able to travel back to the Philippines with the orange card or do I need to get a new schengen visa?

    Thanks in advance!


    • Hi Cee,

      The procedure in Mechelen is a bit different. The submitted documents are more or less the same. I have a friend who has gone through the process in Mechelen the same time as me.

      1) She took around 5 to 6 months to receive her orange card.
      2) She had two police visits and a long grilling interview.
      3) Submitted all her documents by hand one time. Email is not allowed in her case whereas, in Antwerp, we use email to send all documents two times.
      4) She took one year to receive her F-Card (Belgian eID).

      You have to declare your legal cohabitation within your 1-month visa validity. Once the procedure is in place, even if you do not receive your Orange Card after your visa expiry date, you can still stay in Belgium.

      You cannot leave Belgium anymore to your country if you have declared your legal cohabitation and when your visa has expired. You can do that only when you get your F Card, or when the authority has rejected your cohabitation visa application.

      The only exception to leave the country is when a family member is sick or on compassionate ground. In short, you have to be grounded in Belgium for a year and do not need anymore Schengen Visa since you cannot leave. So, be prepared mentally.

      Hope I have answered your questions. Good luck to you!

  12. Hi Ms SJ, I’m Malaysian and would like to take a Dutch course in Antwerpen, where can I take the course. I will stay about three months because of the visa travel. My bf is Belgian and we decided the apply for the cohabitation visa but I am not qualified due to not having enough period of staying together for one year. Please give me advise and some tips what can I do now? (We have known each other for two years.)

    • Hi Fion,

      Welcome to Antwerp! 🙂 You can register in Atlas by email or in person to get the first appointment. For your case, there is no subsidy for the Dutch course as you do not have a Belgian National number yet (until you get an Orange Card). Atlas might offer you Dutch courses in Linguapolis at the University of Antwerp. The course fee is around €550/term.

      If you are only staying for 3 months, you may not have enough time to get your turn to attend one term which is around 8 to 10 weeks. There is usually a waiting list. Check with Atlas. As far as I know, the Government institution – CVO only offer the course to residents here. Alternatively, you can look for private Dutch classes which will cost more.

      To apply for cohabitation, you DO NOT have to stay together with him for one year. You can declare the legal cohabitation NOW if you have the Certificate of Celibacy with you, photos and other proof of relationship to justify two years of knowing him. Getting married is also another alternative if you do not have enough proof of two years.

      Whether you want to declare cohabitation at this point or not, you can always make an appointment in Stadhuis Antwerpen to “ask some questions”. The purpose is to get the Stadhuis to record your passport number and evidence that you have “asked” to apply for cohabitation in 2017. Read my case here. It may give you some idea and advantage in future if you apply it next year.

      • Hi, I have gone in the website you send to me about the Dutch course but I can’t get the go in and search the class and who can I contact to, the info some are written in Dutch I can’t understand please help. Thanks.

        • Hi Fion, have you checked out my article about Civic Integration Programme regarding Dutch courses and Inburgering (Integration) in Antwerp and how to go about with your registration and what to expect during the interview?

          Atlas House has a page in English which you can read. From their website, you can send an email to request your appointment. Alternatively, you can go down personally to their counter. Atlas takes 5 to 7 days to reply back email. Therefore, making an appointment in person is faster than writing an email.

          There is no way you can search the Dutch course schedules in Belgium for Government institutions (CVO). You can only know the next commencement date on the day of your appointment in Atlas. Then, you choose the date, time and location that you want to go.

          • Hi, I’m not having any visa yet. Still can contact atlas to apply Dutch lesson?

            • You need at least an Orange Card to get a subsidy from the government to attend the CVO school (Centre for Adult Learning). On the day where you get the Orange Card, you can ask for the Dutch course from Deurne staff. They have person-in-charge to talk to you about this. If you want to go Linguapolis in Antwerp University, you can contact Atlas as well. The other option is to attend private schools.

              In Antwerp, you will get your Orange Card in 2 to 3 months’ time which is one of the fastest that I know. If you want to study Dutch at a lower cost, I advise you to wait for your Orange Card and maybe do some self-study online.

  13. Hi MissSJ,

    I read lots of useful information on your website about legal cohabitation. Thank you! Still, I have a concern that nobody from the Antwerp district house seems to be able to answer me.

    I am living in Antwerp with my student visa (C card) but is going to expire on 31 Oct. My bf now holds a work permit and has an appointment in early Oct to change his student ID card to work ID card (B card). We want to wait until he has his new ID card to apply for the legal cohabitation. But by that time, it would be almost the end of my student visa.

    Would that be a problem if i apply the legal cohabitation two weeks before my student visa expires? and can i stay in Belgium even the orange card issue after the visa expires?

    or we could provide his work permit while applying the legal cohabitation instead of waiting for the ID card?

    thank you for your kind attention!!!


    • Hi Gabriella,

      Antwerp District House could not answer your question because they are not from the Immigration Department. They merely verify your Certificate of Celibacy, passport and also carry out the declaration of legal cohabitation. Districtshuis Deurne might be a better choice to send your questions to them. They will take about 5 days to reply back.

      From your comment, I have already spotted a few factors that would affect your chances of getting a cohabitation visa approval.

      1) Yes, it would be a problem to apply for a legal cohabitation nearing your student visa expiry date. I had read a case recently where a lady submitted her request two weeks before the expiry of her work/student visa in Antwerp. The District House rejected the application because the timeline was too short for processing the request.

      2) Does your boyfriend fulfil these two criteria below?

      a) Work continuously for 12 months
      b) Min. income €1,428.32 as of 1.9.2017

      I can read that he did not fulfil criteria 2a) since he has just found a job. The Belgian Immigration is very strict with the income stability. The only possible solution is to get a guarantor in Belgium to pledge for you financially.

      I would suggest you in declaring a legal cohabitation now before it gets too close to your expiry date. The most probable outcome is that you will not get the approval due to not fulfilling criteria 2a) or both. At least, you get to stay in Belgium and be with him.

      The next step is to keep on (re)applying the visa (don’t appeal) until your boyfriend meets criteria 2. I know of people who apply for the visa and stay in Belgium for 2 to 3 years as their partner did not meet the minimum income requirement.

      There is no limit on how many times you can apply for the visa after rejection. You can STAY IN BELGIUM with each application but take note that you cannot travel out of Belgium with an Orange Card all these while.

      Hope my suggestion help and best of luck to you!!

      • Hi MissSJ,

        Thank you so much for your response. Your answer is very clear and I understand it might be a problem for me to get the legal cohabitation at this stage.

        I would apply the legal cohabitation anyway just as you said so that I get to stay with my bf. I will apply the first week of Oct because I am waiting for my certificate of absence of marriage.

        About the criteria, he meets the criteria 2b) but not the 2a). I read the Brussels legal cohabitation website but it did not state the criteria 2a). I wonder it might be because Antwerp and Brussels have different policies over this issue?

        Finally, my sister is married to a Belgian citizen. I am thinking maybe my brother-in-law could be my guarantor. He is a guarantor for my sister already. He has a house under his name and both my bf and I were living in his house for half a year. I am thinking he might need to provide:

        1. his house contract
        2. his three-months payslip
        3. a letter of him stating he will be my financial guarantor

        ** He happens to be a financial guarantor of our rental contract of the flat we are living now in Antwerp

        Look forward to your advice. Thank you!


        • Hi Gabriella,

          Your situation sounds more hopeful now since you mentioned having a guarantor in Belgium now.

          The minimum income stated inside is nationwide and applies in every city of Belgium. Click on the red link inside What if my Belgian/EU partner does not fulfil the minimum income of €1,428.32 for one year? It will bring you to the French site of Belgian Immigration Office stating the minimum income.

          PS: The minimum income changes every few months in Belgium. Each time it happens, the declared amount will only increase.

          For the Letter of Guarantee, you can provide the Title Deed of the House as an attachment though it is not a requirement. State inside the letter that since he is the owner of the house and can provide accommodation to you and your partner (if necessary). It would ease both your financial burden in terms of housing.

          If you are not going to stay in his house, then he would not need to submit the Title Deed unless he is being asked for the contract later. Provide the following when submitting your brother-in-law’s Letter of Guarantee:-

          1. Last 3 months payslips
          2. Income tax assessment
          3. A document from Government Body stating the gross or net income

          The Letter of Guarantee works even better if it is notarized. Bank statement of your brother-in-law might be required to prove that he has the means to support you financially.

          Lastly, you can only sign a legal cohabitation agreement when you receive your Certificate of Celibacy. The Districtshuis Antwerpen will collect this copy on the spot. All other documents can wait.

          • Hello MissSJ,

            Thank you so much for your information. Sorry for my late reply. I have made an appointment to do the legal cohabitation next week. I also did a complete file and put all photos and related information on Google drive just as you suggested. Just one more question, how do we have the letter of guarantee notarised? is it this department?

            Thank you!

            • Hello Gabriella,

              Make sure that you have legalised your Certificate of Celibacy during submission with your Embassy in Belgium when you declare your legal cohabitation. If the Certificate of Celibacy is not in Dutch, French, German or English, you have to get the copy translated.

              Bring along your passport. You can bring along your documents in case they ask for more. But I doubt they do that in Antwerp.

              You do not need to submit your proof of relationship at Antwerp Districtshuis during the signing of cohabitation contract. The Stadhuis will give a paper on that day and ask you to call or email your documents over to Deurne Districtshuis.

              Regarding the link that you had provided, it is not the department that you should go. Legalisation or Apostille on documents is only on official documents issued by the governmental institutions to prove the authenticity.

              Check out Diplomatie Belgium for Notary Expertise. Click on the link below the page for Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries. You can also google “Notary Public in Antwerp or Belgium” to get a list of law firm performing the notary service. Call them to ask questions and compare quotes.

              Alternatively, when you declare your legal cohabitation in Stad Antwerpen, ask the people there whether they can recommend you any notary or websites to check out. Discuss with them on your Letter of Guarantee and seek their advice. However, be prepared that they might not be able to advise you further on this issue.

              • Hi MissSJ,

                As always, your reply is very detailed and helpful. One thing is that I am from Hong Kong that does not have an embassy in Belgium (only a China one). I already got the Certificate of Celibacy from HK gov and with Hong Kong high court apostille.

                I believe that could do?

                • Hi Gabriella,

                  I have checked for you from Diplomatie Belgium Search Criteria.

                  For Hong Kong, you need an Apostille Stamp instead of a legalisation on the document which you have already done it. 🙂

                  If you change the search criteria above to Singapore, you will see that legalisation is needed (instead of a stamp) which was what I had done in my country. Whether to legalise or stamp an official document is an agreement between the other country and Belgium.

                  You can relax now since you have got the Certificate of Celibacy stamped!!! 🙂 I wish everything goes well for you. Do let me know if you need other information later. Good luck!!!! 😀

  14. Hi,

    I was on your website and read a lot about cohabitation in Belgium. Thank you for putting out a lot of helpful information. We have asked immigration and communes but none of them seems to have clear answers. From your readers and experience, I would just like to ask if you know if it’s possible to declare cohabitation there in Belgium with a Schengen tourist visa. Would it be the same process as the one you went through or do I have to leave once my 90 days are over?

    • Hi Irene,

      You have to declare the legal cohabitation ONLY in Belgium. Yes, you come in with a tourist visa like how you usually travel to Europe.

      When you apply for a legal cohabitation, you have to sign a legal cohabitation contract at the commune with your partner. It is not the same as declaring your arrival in Belgium. Your procedure would be more or less similar to what I have gone through, but the steps might be different.

      Once you sign the legal cohabitation paper within 90 days (the best is within a week asap), you do not have to leave Belgium. On the contrary, you are grounded in Belgium and cannot leave the country.

      If they do not issue you an Orange Card within 90 days after your declaration, you can still stay as long as you are waiting for the result. The authority will ask you to leave Belgium only if your cohabitation visa is rejected.

      • Hi MissSJ! I’m from the Philippines. I’ve been visiting Belgium and staying there for 3 months every 6 months for the past year. As you know, long distance relationship is really difficult. So, my boyfriend and I have been thinking about it for the last few months. We have decided to cohabit.

        We plan to apply for it when I return next month on my tourist visa. We’ve been reading a lot of information on the internet. He has called the immigration a few times. They always give him different answers each time. I was just worried that we might have missed the opportunity to apply for a Cohabitation Visa here in the Philippines since time is running short.

        Thank you so much for the information you have shared. I will be visiting your website a lot more the next few months.