Brexit: All British citizens in Belgium must apply for new 'M Card' in 2021
The Belgian interior ministry has sent a letter this week to every British citizen on the population register, with details of the practical steps they should take after the Brexit transition period comes to an end on New Year's Eve.
The letter, signed by state secretary for migration Sammy Mahdi, explains Britons' rights under the Withdrawal Agreement - and what you need to do in 2021 to safeguard them.
All UK nationals and their family members will have to apply for a special new status at the commune where they reside. This can be done anytime between 1 January and 31 December 2021, but the interior ministry recommends you apply as soon as possible in the new year. It is writing to all communes to explain the new procedure that town hall staff should follow.
Throughout 2021, the rights of all UK nationals registered as living in Belgium before the end of the transition period remain protected.
Once you apply for the new status, you will receive a certificate confirming that the application has been lodged. This can be used to prove your residence rights - including unlimited access to the Belgian labour market - until your application is approved.
Once the application for the special new statue is approved, Brits in Belgium will be issued with a new electronic residence card, called the M card. This is renewable every five years - or every 10 years if you have permanent residence in Belgium.
All current residence cards (E/E+/F/F+) for British citizens will cease to be valid on 31 March 2022. When travelling, Brits will need to use the "all passports" lanes at border control, and will have the same entry and exit rights as now.
More information, in English, can be found on the Brexit section of the Belgian interior ministry website.