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Final call for non-Belgians to register to vote in municipal elections by 31 July

09:11 06/07/2024

The deadline is looming for non-Belgians to register to vote in the municipal elections to be held across the country on 13 October.

While Belgian voters are automatically invited to return to the ballot boxes to elect local public officials, internationals only have the right to vote in these elections if they are already on the electoral list or have registered by 31 July.


That’s why local campaigners are stepping up their drive to encourage non-Belgians to sign up. and VoteBrussels are among the nonprofit groups staging community events and outreach actions in neighbourhoods around the city with the help of teams of volunteers.

Up to 285,000 non-Belgian citizens in Brussels have the right to vote in the 2024 municipal elections, with internationals making up one third of the population in the capital, and in some areas they even make up half.

Voting in municipal elections gives them a voice on issues that impact local services and affects their daily lives, point out campaigners.

The plea to vote is a bid to give them representation and to ensure public authorities reflect the various communities in their municipality.

“We have more local powers and more political choices in Belgium than in nearly any other European country: international voters can make major changes in their local quality of life,” says VoteBrussels. 

Res, VoteBrussels, Stand Up For Europe and other non-political organisations ran an all day voter registration drive on 4 July. They set up stands in international hotspots across the EU quarter, including Place Luxembourg, Schuman and Arts-Loi.

The volunteer groups were on a mission to inform passers-by that non-Belgians also have the right to vote, as well as those with a non-EU nationality who have lived in Belgium for at least five years.

Although there was a larger turnout of international Brusselers in the previous municipal elections, campaigners point out that the figures remained low.  “We still only reached 17%, but research shows that more people would vote if they got the right information,” explained a spokesperson.

“If you voted in the 2018 municipal elections, you do not need to sign up again. But voting in the EU elections does not mean you're signed up for the municipal elections - it's a separate list.”

Non-Belgians can sign up online at or use a paper form.


Busting the myths about signing up to vote

The Brussels.commissioners’ office, which oversees the Expat Welcome Desk, is also supporting the campaign to increase voter participation among internationals.

It has set out some key points around voting in local elections, highlighting the importance of “knowing the truth, and sharing this information with the people around you”.

There are no hidden consequences of being on the electoral roll, it says. “Signing up to vote will not affect residency, taxes, salary or the right to vote back in someone’s home country.”

Addressing concerns about Belgium’s obligatory voting system, it explains: “If you sign up, you will be expected to vote, but people need not be worried about fines or punishments.”

In practice, absent voters are not fined, while proxy voting is an option for absentee voters. “You can also ask to be removed from the list if you decide you don’t want to vote next time.”

Again, the Brussels.commisioners’ office reiterates why voting matters and how international Brusselers can play an important role in choosing leaders and policies.

“Brussels is a diverse tapestry of nationalities and networks. Sports clubs, cultural associations and national hubs can reach a lot of International Brusselers and encourage them to sign up," the spokesperson added.

Restless 4

Speak up at community event is organising a Community Night at Full Circle House on 9 July. It boasts on an open mic with a panel of inspiring community members lined up to voice their concerns, opinions and experience. The audience will also have an opportunity to air their views.

Participants are also invited to join a screening of the Euro 2024 semi-final in the bar from 21.00. 

Community Night
9 July 19.00 (doors 18.30)
Chaussée de Vleurgat 89

Photos: ©


Written by The Bulletin