Who can marry in Belgium?
You can get married in Belgium when either you or your partner:
- has Belgian nationality;
- has legal residence in Belgium;
- has had his/her usual place of residence in Belgium for more than 3 months. You have to prove that you have been living in Belgium, even if you do not have legal residence status.
Other conditions for marrying in Belgium
- Both partners have to be unmarried or divorced (when a marriage has legally ended).
- The partners cannot be close relatives (for example: brothers and sisters cannot marry).
- Both partners must be 18 or older. It is possible to marry from the age of 16 onwards if the parents and the court agree to it.
If you do not have Belgian nationality, most often the law of your home country applies. For example: an Afghan woman of 16 can marry in Belgium without court agreement.
Same-sex marriage (between 2 men or 2 women) is an exception to this rule.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Belgium since 2003.
If one of the partners has the nationality of a country that recognizes same-sex marriage, the law of that country applies. In this case, the law of the country of the other person does not apply. For example: a man from Uganda, where same-sex marriage is forbidden by law, can marry a Belgian man or a man from another country that recognizes same-sex marriage. Ugandan law does not apply in this case.
If you want more information about same-sex marriage, contact the Legal Helpdesk of the Integration and Naturalisation Agency or a lawyer. You can contact Holebifoon to find a lawyer who has experience in these matters.
In Belgium, everyone is free to decide who he/she wants to marry. Forced marriage is forbidden by law.
A person who forces somebody else to marry against his/her will can be punished with a prison sentence of up to 2 years. Even if the marriage does not actually take place, the coercion can still be punished. The coercion can be physical or psychological (threats or emotional pressure).
An arranged marriage is when parents or other family members choose a partner for their child. When both spouses-to-be fully agree to the marriage, this is a legal marriage.
Another legal form in which partners can be together is a registered partnership (wettelijk samenwonen). This gives some legal protection, but is not equal to marriage. It sets out the rights and duties of the partners towards the shared family home and other possessions. It is easier to end a registered partnership than a marriage.
For more information on registered partnership, you can contact the Legal Helpdesk of Kruispunt Migratie Integratie or a lawyer.