Municipal Elections FAQ

This page gives all the detail on how to register and vote in the Belgian municipal elections, which take place on Sunday 13 October 2024.

The deadline to register is 31 July 2024. Most EU citizens can sign up to the electoral list on this site immediately: www.inscription.elections.fgov.be.

For paper sign up and all other information, keep reading!

WHO CAN VOTE?

Most non-Belgians living here have the right to vote in municipal elections, but the requirements are different according to your nationality and residence status. It’s useful to distinguish three groups:

1. Belgian nationals aged 18+

Belgian citizens who will be an adult on election day are automatically on the list of voters, so long as they are registered as a resident in a municipality in Belgium. Voting is obligatory (in Brussels and Wallonia).

2. EU citizens aged 18+

Any EU citizen who will be an adult on election day can choose to vote in the municipal elections. To do so, you need to sign up for the electoral list by 31 July 2024.

Signing up is optional, but you will be expected to vote in person or by proxy once you are on the list*. Signing up to vote here has no impact on your voting rights in your home country, and no impact of your residence status, job or taxes.

3. Non-EU citizens aged 18+

Adults with a non-EU nationality can also vote in the municipal elections if they have been continuously resident in Belgium for 5 years. In practice, this means you registered as a resident in Belgium on 31 July 2019 at the latest and you have remained resident here ever since. If you want to vote, you need to sign up for the electoral list by 31 July 2024.

Signing up is optional, you will be expected to vote in person or by proxy once you are on the list*. Signing up to vote here has no impact on your voting rights in your home country, and no impact of your residence status, job or taxes.

NOTE: In 2024, the Region of Flanders is dropping the obligation to vote in municipal elections. Even if you are signed up for the electoral list, you will face no penalties if you do not to vote on the day. Proxy voting (see below) will remain available if you are prevented from voting but wish to give your vote to someone else. Voting will remain technically obligatory in the Brussels-Capital Region and in Wallonia for everyone who is on the electoral list, including non-Belgians who have signed up. See below for more information about using your proxy if you cannot vote on the day itself.

HOW DO I SIGN UP TO VOTE IN BELGIUM?

If you are an EU citizen living in Belgium and you want to vote here, you need to sign up for the electoral list no later than 31 July 2024.

There are two ways to do this:

1. Online

The 2024 elections bring a huge innovation for democracy in Belgium : non-Belgians can now sign up online! EU citizens who want to be on the electoral list can visit this site and sign up immediately: www.inscription.elections.fgov.be

Your request will be passed to your municipality (commune/gemeente), and they will send you a letter to confirm once you are on the list. In the very rare case your request is rejected, you can appeal.

To use the online electoral sign-up system you need a Belgian residence card with a chip, so that you can login to the system with itsme® or an eID card reader. You can also login using an electronic ID card from the following EU member states:

  • Croatia
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxemburg
  • Malta
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • The Netherlands

If you do not have any of those cards and the relevant app or reader, you will not be able to use the online sign-up system. Unfortunately, the “digital key” used by many holders of a Special ID Card to access public services in Belgium is not valid to access the online electoral sign-up platform. If you hold a Special ID Card and you do not have a national ID card from one of the 15 states above, you will need to register using a paper form.

2. Using a paper form

If you cannot access the online system, or prefer not to, you can use a paper form - either your municipality's local version or the generic one from the federal government. You can get the local version from your municipality (commune/gemeente) in person or sometimes on their website. Or you can download the federal government’s generic versions here:

Once you have filled in and signed the form, send it to your municipality (see the addresses here). Or you can drop it off in person.

Notes

  • You cannot send the form by email or fax.
  • We recommend that you also include a photocopy of your Belgian residence document in the envelope, but this is not a legal requirement.
  • We recommend that you sign the flap of the envelope and put a return address.
  • You can send this envelope for free without a stamp. Just write “Loi électorale” above the address of your municipality.
  • Make sure your form arrives at the municipality no later than 31 July 2024. Sending it on the last day is too late.

Your request will be assessed by your municipality (commune/gemeente), and they will send you a letter to confirm once you are on the list. In the very rare case your request is rejected, you can appeal.

I HAVE A SPECIAL IDENTITY CARD - HOW DO I SIGN UP?

If you have a Special Identity Card (SIC) through your employment with an international organisation, you can still sign up to vote in the municipal elections in Belgium. You will do this through your local municipality (commune/gemeente) as described above. The municipality knows that you are here and is responsible for your day-to-day administrative matters, even though you registered with the Foreign Affairs Ministry through your employer when you arrived. (Learn more about the SIC.)

Since your SIC does not have an electronic chip in it, you will probably not be able to access the online election registration portal. You will therefore have to register using the paper form, which you send or deliver to your municipality. Citizens of some EU states can sign up online using their national ID card. See 'How do I sign up to vote?' above for more details.

Note that these comments also apply to your spouse or any children who hold an SIC.

HOW DO I VOTE?

If you are on the electoral list, you will receive an official “convocation” by post a short time before election day. This will tell you where you need to go to vote: your polling station (bureau de vote/ stembureau). On the day itself (Sunday 13 October) you go to the polling station with your convocation and your identity document, and then follow the instructions to sign in and cast your vote. You will need to leave your identity document and convocation with the people who manage the polling station, but you will get them back once you have voted.

The exact method of voting depends on where you live.

  • In the Brussels-Capital Region, you will vote electronically using a secure voting machine.
  • In francophone Wallonia, you will vote on paper.
  • In the German-speaking municipalities of Wallonia, you will vote electronically.
  • In Flanders, the method will depend on your specific municipality. See the list here (only in Dutch, French or German).

Polling stations with electronic voting are open from 08.00 until 16.00. Those with paper voting are open from 08.00 until 14.00. Remember that voting is obligatory for all adults who are registered, so make sure to plan your Sunday around your trip to the polling station!

Whether on screen or on paper, the voting system is the same.

  • You will see a series of “lists”, each of which is one party or one group of parties standing for election as a coalition. Each list will contain a series of individual candidates, presented in an order chosen by the party/coalition. The lists are presented in a randomly-assigned order.
  • Voters in the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region will first need to choose in which language they wish to use the system: French or Dutch. But you will see see all lists, as there are no linguistic "colleges" at municipal level.
  • You may see joint lists where more than one party is standing together, even across linguistic lines. You may also see a “Mayor’s list” (Liste du Bourgmestre/Lijst van de Burgemeester) which gathers candidates from the party of the current mayor and possibly other parties too. These agreements and cartels are specific to each municipality, so you’ll need to do a bit of reading in advance!
  • You can vote for one list as a whole (block list vote), or for one or more individual candidates inside the same list.
  • You can also vote “blank” or spoil your ballot, if you so wish.
  • If you cast a block vote for a list and also vote for one or more candidates in that same list, the votes for individual candidates take precedence and your block list vote will be ignored.
  • Do not mix the lists! If you vote for more than one list, for candidates from more than one list, or for one list and candidates from another list, your vote is invalid and not counted.
  • The government has produced short videos that explain more about how to vote on paper and how to vote electronically (only in Dutch, French or German).

THERE ARE SO MANY PARTIES – WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR?

We are a government-funded organisation, so we are strictly neutral and cannot guide you in choosing which parties and/or candidates to vote for in the municipal elections. However, we can offer some general information.

The Belgian party political landscape can seem complex at first glance, especially in bilingual Brussels where both Francophone and Dutch-speaking parties stand for election. However, this should not intimidate you or stop you voting! Once you start to explore the parties’ positions and proposals, it is likely that you will find an option which matches your own values and opinions.

For an introduction in English, check out these articles from Brussels TimesPolitico and Belga.

You can also try one of the election quizzes developed by various Belgian media in collaboration with academics and the major political parties. These can give a sense of where you sit in the Belgian political landscape. Note that they were developed for regional, federal and European elections on 9 June, rather than the municipal elections on 13 October. So hyper-local issues will not appear. Smaller and newer parties are also absent from the quizzes.

  • RTBF - Test électoral: the Francophone Belgian broadcaster has a general quiz in simple language. Once you've completed the quiz and seen your results for the Francophone parties, you can click the button "Bruxelles" below the results to access further questions specifically about Brussels. This time you can also choose to compare your answers with all major parties, on both sides of the lingustic divide.
  • VRT - Stemtest: the Dutch-speaking Belgian broadcaster has a general quiz in simple language, with a slight focus on Flanders. Once you've completed the quiz and seen your results for the Flemish parties, you can click the button "Brussel" below the results to access further questions specifically about Brussels. This time you can also choose to compare your answers with all major parties, on both sides of the lingustic divide.

Note also that you may see joint lists between parties, local interest groups, or a “Mayor’s List” among the options when you go to vote. These arrangements are specific to each municipality, so try to do some reading in advance!

CAN I STILL VOTE IN MY HOME COUNTRY?

Yes! Signing up to vote in the municipal elections in Belgium has no impact on your right to vote in other elections in your home country: national, regional and local elections, as well as referendums and other votes. For those elections, your home country decides the rules and processes for citizens living abroad. Voting in Belgium will not affect those rights, and you will not be automatically de-registered from any electoral lists back home.

ONCE I’VE REGISTERED, IS VOTING OBLIGATORY?

If you live in the Brussels-Capital Region or Wallonia, voting is indeed obligatory for any adults registered on the electoral list. Once you have signed up, you are expected to vote on 13 October 2024. You can do this in person or by giving your vote to another voter by "proxy" if you are unable to attend. (Setting up a proxy vote is very easy and you can learn how to do it in the following section of this FAQ).

You also have the right to deregister before 31 July or after 13 October 2024, via the municipality where you live. If you move abroad and de-register from the municipality, you will be automatically removed from the electoral list.

If you are still on the list on election day, you need to go to the polling station or assign a proxy. If you finally decide you do not want to support any candidate or party, you can vote blank or spoil your ballot, but you need to vote. If you do not cast a vote, you could technically face a formal reprimand or a small fine. The public prosecutor (procureur) will decide whether or not to apply this fine to all non-voters. You will not be individually targeted or punished by the municipality, and your neighbours cannot "denounce" you.

NOTE: In 2024, the Region of Flanders is dropping the obligation to vote in municipal elections. Even if you have signed up for the electoral list, you will face no penalties if you do not to vote on the day. Proxy voting (see below) will remain available if you are prevented from voting but wish to give your vote to someone else. Voting remains obligatory in the Brussels-Capital Region and in Wallonia for everyone who has signed up for the electoral list.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM ABROAD, SICK OR ABSENT FOR SOME OTHER REASON ON ELECTION DAY?

Of course, there are plenty of reasons why you might not be able to vote on the day itself. Don’t worry, there’s a simple solution! You can give a friend or family member your “procuration” (proxy vote). They will then vote on your behalf, and you will not face any risk of sanctions or fines.

You can give your proxy vote for the European elections to any other Belgian or EU citizen who is also registered to vote in the European elections in Belgium. They will need to vote for themselves first, then go to your polling station with their stamped convocation proving they have voted. Each voter can only receive one procuration, so if your whole family is going on holiday you will each need to find someone different.

You give your proxy vote by using a specific form. This needs to be completed and signed by both you (mandant/volmachtgever) and the person to whom you give your proxy vote (mandataire/volmachtkrijger).

You can activate the proxy vote system for various reasons. However, you always need to get the form signed and stamped by a relevant professional who will confirm that your reason is valid.

  • Illness or injury (confirmed by a doctor)
  • Holidays or visits outside of Belgium (confirmed by the municipality – go there in person)
  • Work travel or urgent business as an employee (confirmed by your employer)
  • Work travel or urgent business as a self-employed person (confirmed by the municipality – go there in person)
  • Detention or imprisonment (confirmed by the justice institution)
  • Reasons related to studies (confirmed by your educational institution)
  • Reasons related to religious or philosophical beliefs (confirmed by the religious/philosophical institution)

If you already know you will not be able to vote, try to sort out your proxy vote in advance. Of course, if you are suddenly ill or injured, you can arrange this on the day itself.

You can find more information about proxy voting, an explanatory video and the relevant forms on this website (only in Dutch and French).

I CANNOT FIND ANYONE TO GIVE MY PROXY VOTE - WHAT DO I DO?

If you have registered for the electoral list, but you will not be able to vote for one of the valid reasons above, you are expected to find and nominate someone for a proxy vote. You might want to try asking your friends, colleagues, neighbours, etc. If you already know which party or candidate you will vote for, they might also help you find a proxy. However, if you truly cannot find another voter to vote on your behalf, you can contact your local “judge of the peace” (juge de paix/vrederechter) and explain the reasons for the situation. They will then decide if your case is valid and, if it is, release you from the risk of prosecution and sanctions for this election.

You can find the contact details of all judges of the peace in this directory. Some communes in Brussels are divided into several “cantons”, which each have their own judge of the peace. Sometimes several communes are combined into a single canton, with just one judge of the peace. If you are not sure which judge of the peace covers your home address, check the definitions.

I'VE LOST MY CONVOCATION - WHAT DO I DO?

You need to take your convocation letter with you on the day when you go to vote, so keep it safe and try not lose it! However, if you do misplace you convocation, don't worry. You can get a duplicate copy from your municipality (commune/gemeente). The municipality is open on election day until the polling stations close.

Some municipalities in Flanders offer a digital duplicate via the eBox. If you need to vote by proxy, the person acting as your proxy will need your paper convocation letter. So if you are giving a proxy and you access the duplicate via the eBox, you will need to print it out and give it to your proxy.

I'VE ALREADY VOTED IN BELGIUM FOR PREVIOUS MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS. DO I HAVE TO SIGN UP AGAIN?

No. So long as you have remained resident in Belgium, you will still be registered – even if you have moved to another municipality in the meantime. If you have spent time living outside of Belgium and then returned, you will need to re-register. If you want to check whether you are indeed on the electoral list, contact your municipality (commune/gemeente).

I'VE ALREADY VOTED IN THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS IN BELGIUM, DO I NEED TO SIGN UP FOR THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS?

Yes. There are separate electoral lists for the European and municipal elections. This gives you the flexibility to sign up for one, both, or neither of the lists. But if you want to vote, you need to make sure you are on the right list!

On this page we are explaining how to register for the municipal elections, which are taking place on Sunday 13 October 2024. The deadline to register is 31 July 2024.

Belgium is voting in European elections on Sunday 9 June. EU citizens have the right to vote in those. The deadline to register for the EU elections was 31 March 2024, and you will find more information in this FAQ.

I’VE RECEIVED A LETTER SAYING I’VE BEEN SELECTED TO HELP MANAGE THE ELECTIONS – DO I REALLY NEED TO GO?

In Belgium, the polling stations and other offices set up for election day are largely managed by voters who are selected amongst those on the electoral list. If you have been selected for this role, if is very important that you attend at the place and time stated in the letter. Otherwise, you risk prosecution and a substantial fine. If you cannot fulfil this role for valid personal reasons, reach out the contact person on the letter as soon as possible.

CAN I STAND AS A CANDIDATE FOR THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS IN BELGIUM?

If you are an EU citizen, you can stand as a candidate and even become an alderman or alderwomen (échevin.e/schepen). However, non-Belgians cannot become a mayor (bourgmestre/burgemeester).

If you are not an EU citizen, you cannot stand as a candidate even if you are eligible to vote.

You’ll find more info on elections.brussels (only in French and Dutch).

I HEARD THAT PROVINCIAL ELECTIONS ARE TAKING PLACE ON THE SAME DAY – WHAT ARE THEY AND CAN I VOTE?

In Belgium, provinces are a level of governance between regions and municipalities. They are governed by directly-elected provincial councillors. Provinces only exist in Flanders and Wallonia, so residents of the Brussels Capital-Region do not have a province and do not elect any provincial councillors.

Voters in Flanders and Wallonia will be electing provincial councillors on Sunday 13 October, the same day as the municipal elections. However, only Belgian nationals can vote in these elections.

If you are a Belgian national resident in a municipality in Flanders or Wallonia, you will be automatically signed up to vote and voting is obligatory. You will vote at the same time and place as you vote in the municipal elections.