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Legalisation of birth certificate in Belgium



I'm going to submit my application for the Belgian nationality. Among the required documents, there's the birth certificate. According to website of Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs (, it must be translated and legalised in my country of origin (Vietnam). However, when I came to my local commune in Belgium, one of the staff said I could have my certificate translated (she's a sworn translator) and legalised in Belgium.

Has anybody followed the procedure this way before? Whom could I contact to confirm this advice?

Thanks a lot


a) It needs to be less than 6 months old, so you need a BC issued recently.
b) You get it translated here by a sworn translator, and the translation will need to be certified (the translator does this)
Your choices for Vietnamese are limited:

Jul 30, 2019 11:49

Does it mean I'd need to ask for a new copy of my BC (issued in Vietnam and in Vietnamese), have it sent to Belgium (e.g. by post), and have all the translation and legalisation done here, and that's okay. Correct?

Jul 30, 2019 13:23

There are two different issues.
Certificates (including Birth Certificates) issued by many countries have to be "apostled" (basically a certification to an internationally accepted standard by the authorities in the issuing country) before they will be accepted by the Belgian authorities. I would anticipate that Vietnam is one of the countries to which the rule applies (it might well apply to the UK post-Brexit), but only your commune can tell you.
Once you have the certificate, issued within the last six months and, if necessary, apostled, and assuming that it isn't in French, it has to be translated into one of Belgium's three official languages and that translation has to be legalised with a Belgian court stamp (effectively showing that it has been translated by a translator officially authorised to translate between the two languages concerned). The translator will organise this for you.

Jul 30, 2019 13:56

There's a list of countries where birth certificates are accepted. It is some bilateral agreement between Belgium and the different countries. I don't know where you get the list from, you have to check with the commune. EU countries are on the list, a friend of mine from Mexico said it was on the list (he got naturalised as well). I'm from SEA as well, my country wasn't on the list.

Only if your country is on the list can you directly bring it here to be translated by someone with a court stamp. Otherwise:

1. Have your country issue a birth certificate
2. Take the birth cert to the ministry of foreign affairs of your country to get it stamped
3. Get a list of approved translators from the Belgian embassy in your country
4. Take the birth cert that was stamped by the ministry of foreign affairs to the translator to get translated
5. Take the translated document and original to the Belgian embassy to get another stamp.

Only then will the Federal authorities in Belgium accept it.

This was my experience from 4 years ago, but things may have changed since. Always listen to your commune, go back again and hope to talk to someone else and see if they give the same answer.

Jul 30, 2019 14:35

If the BC is recently issued, is it considered equally original as the "first" original one (which was issued many years ago)?

Is it also possible to have my BC apostled in my country, then do the translation and legalisation parts in Belgium?

Jul 31, 2019 00:23

Your first question. From my experience they are generally not interested in the "first" original one issued many years ago. They want one recently (within the past 6 months) issued by your country.

From my understanding no. There is a chain of trust based on what I explained.

1. The federal government here trusts the belgian embassies. Hence the need for the stamp from the belgian embassy in your country.
2. The belgian embassy only trusts the ministry of foreign affairs of that country. This is because that is the only ministry that they interact with. They do not go directly to the ministry in charge of issuing birth certificates since that is largely an internal matter. This is the reason why you need to go to the ministry of foreign affairs to get the stamp there.
3. The translators act as support for the embassy. The embassy is only allowed to receive documents in one of the three official languages. Hence the need for the translation service to be done only by approved translators by the Belgian embassy.


If you're wondering how other countries (like mexico) do it. In the bilateral agreements both parties agree on the format, language, security features etc of the BC. So when the commune receives a foreign BC, it recognises it immediately because it is part of a standard format. In the case of countries such as Vietnam, internally if your ministry decides to change the format and language of the BC, no one else outside of Vietnam would know how to detect a real / fake BC. Hence why the stamp needed by the ministry of foreign affairs, since they should know what the updated BC looks like.

Jul 31, 2019 07:39

But I stress, do go back to the commune to ask. I can only speak from my experience. Things may have changed since.

Jul 31, 2019 07:39