Marriage and legal cohabitation

Marriage and legal cohabitation

Emmanuelle Halabi, your lawyer specialising in family reunification in Brussels


Two people can get married in Belgium as long as one of the future spouses is:

  • Belgian,
  • Legally resides in Belgium,
  • has been habitually resident in Belgium for more than three months (article 44 of the Code of Private International Law, hereinafter CODIP).

Belgium recognises and authorises same sex marriage.

The notion of habitual residence is a matter of fact independent of the legality of the stay/residence.

It can be demonstrated by a range of supporting documents such as a tenancy agreement, utility bills, etc.

Future spouses wishing to get married in Belgium must make a declaration of marriage by submitting the required documents to the registrar in the municipality where one of the future spouses is registered (or pending) on the Registres de la Population des Etrangers (NB: aliens register) at the time of the declaration.

Once all the documents have been submitted, the registrar must issue an acknowledgement receipt to the future spouses. The declaration of marriage will be issued in the same month that the acknowledgement receipt is issued.

In there is any doubt as to the validity and authenticity of the submitted documents, the registrar must inform the future spouses and take a decision within three months following the issue of the acknowledgement receipt. If no decision is taken in this time period, the declaration must be officially recorded.

If the registrar considers that not all the required documents were produced or were not valid or authenticated, he/she may refuse to record the declaration of marriage. The reasons for this refusal must be sent to the future spouses within the declared deadline. The future spouses can file an appeal with a court of first instance within the month following notification of the refusal.

Legal cohabitation

“Legal cohabitation” refers to a situation in which two persons have made a declaration within the meaning of article 1476 of the Belgian Civil Code.

Several conditions must be met to make a declaration of legal cohabitation i.e. the two parties must:

  • be 18 years of age,
  • not already be married or in a legal cohabitation with another person,
  • freely consent to the cohabitation.

Belgium recognises and authorises same sex marriage.

Cohabitation starts and may be terminated by making a declaration to the registrar in the community where the couple legally reside.

To learn more

Checks, refusal to perform the marriage and appeals

Annulling the legal cohabitation or marriage

We specialise in helping future spouses at each stage of the marriage or legal cohabitation procedure i.e. compiling the application and applying for residency after the marriage ceremony or declaration of legal cohabitation. We can also represent you should you need to file an appeal before the Family Court following the refusal of marriage or legal cohabitation, or should you need to annul an existing marriage or legal cohabitation.