BELGIUM – Massive Increase in Registration Fees for Foreign Nationals in Antwerp
Effective 1 May 2013, foreign nationals (including EU nationals) in the district of Antwerp will be required to pay EUR270 when registering for the first time – an increase of more than ten-fold. Belgian nationals registering for the first time will be charged a fee of EUR20, to cover the costs of issuing the electronic residence card, only.
The following communes are managed by the Antwerp immigration administration located at 2600, Berchem, and therefore any foreign national moving to one of these communes will be required to pay the new fee:
Background to the Decision
The decision to charge a significantly large fee to foreign nationals in Antwerp has been taken by the mayor, Bart De Wever, who says that the previous fees did not cover costs, and additionally, that other EU countries charge similar fees for registrations.
However, the move has attracted strong criticism, both from other districts in Belgium, and from the European Commission, which has pointed out (as quoted in the EU Observer) that Directive 2004/38/EC on free movement clearly states that all documents linked to residence of EU citizens and their family shall be issued free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on national.
The new fee, which will be charged to all nationals other than Belgians, discriminates between Belgians and other EU nationals and therefore is a potential breach of the EU directive – it is currently under review for this reason.
Exemptions from the Fees
The new fee of EUR250 will not be charged for:
- foreign students visiting Belgium in the context of an international collaboration;
- foreign nationals who have successfully concluded the asylum procedure;
- non-EU nationals who have obtained an unrestricted right of stay in another EU member state.
- Note the new, high fee for first time registrations for non-Belgian nationals in the district of Antwerp and budget accordingly