Stateless persons

A stateless person is a person who is not considered a national by any State – according to the nationality law of that state.  This person may have a country of habitual residence but may not necessarily have the same rights as a person with that country's nationality.

How to apply for the status ?

Belgian legislation does not currently provide a specific administrative procedure or authority for recognising individuals as stateless persons.

The law regarding simplification, harmonisation, computerisation and modernisation of provisions of civil law, civil process law and notaryship, as well as regarding various provisions with regard to justice, the so-called Potpourri V Law, was approved by the Chamber of Representatives on 6 July 2017.

From now on, this law explicitly assigns disputes regarding nationality and the status of statelessness to the family court. This used to be the competence of the Court of First Instance.

Only the family courts, established in the seat of a court of appeal (in the jurisdiction of which the applicant has his/her place of residence or, for lack thereof, where the applicant finds himself), are competent to process cases regarding recognition of the status of statelessness.

The law came into force on 3 August 2017.

The applicant must provide evidence that confirms his statelessness. This can be for example:

  • evidence from the embassy with which the stateless person has ties stating that he does not have the nationality of this country
  • the nationality laws of the countries with which the person has ties.

The countries with which the applicant-stateless person has ties could be among others:

  • country of residence
  • country of birth
  • country where family members have nationality.

If recognition as a stateless person is refused, the applicant can lodge an appeal with the Court of Appeal.

Residency in Belgium

During the procedure of recognition as a stateless person, the individual will not have a right to reside in Belgium unless he simultaneously submits another residency procedure (regularisation, an application for international protection,...).

Recognition as a stateless person does not provide an automatic right to longer residence in Belgium unless the recognised stateless person has a right to reside in Belgium on the basis of another procedure.

The recognised stateless person who legally resides in Belgium may have been issued a 'deportation ban'. This gives the recognised stateless person a (very) temporary residence permit.

If the recognised stateless person wishes to reside (longer) in Belgium, he must submit a regularisation application (article 9b of the Aliens Act) to the Immigration Office (IO).

If the decision regarding the regularisation application is positive, as determined in article 9b of the Aliens Act, the recognised stateless person will be granted a longer residence permit.

What does the CGRS do for recognised stateless persons?

The CGRS has no authority to grant the status of recognised stateless person.

However, the Public Prosecutor or the court may request information from the CGRS as part of the procedure regarding recognition of the status of statelessness.

The role of the CGRS is limited furthermore to issuing documents upon request by the recognised stateless person. If the recognised stateless person, for administrative issues, cannot rely on the services of the country with which he is linked, the CGRS can offer him administrative assistance.

The CGRS issues documents (birth, marriage or death certificates) to recognised stateless persons as long as they

  • can prove their identity and
  • provide a certificate showing there is no ongoing appeal against the decision to be recognised as a stateless person.