According to official figures from Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, the legally resident population of Belgium was 11,492,641 on 1 January 2020, 51 % of which were women (or 5,832,577 in absolute figures) and 49 % were men (or 5,660,064), excluding the waiting register. The Belgian population has grown by 61,235 persons, or 0.54 % on a yearly basis. This growth rate is fully in line with the growth of previous years (still around half a percent). This publication concerns the legal population on 1 January 2020 and the changes in population observed in the course of 2019. The coronavirus crisis and its impact on the population is therefore not visible in these figures. The figures about the COVID-19 are available on a separate page on our website.
National population growth is mainly driven by two demographic factors:
- a positive “natural balance”, more births than deaths (+6,820 persons in 2019), which accounts for 11.0 % of the total population growth, but especially;
- the positive migration balance: more immigrations than emigrations (+55,031 persons in 2019), which explains by far the largest part of the growth rate (89.0 %).
Most of the parameters are in line with what we observed in the previous years. The underlying trend of sustained growth, which has been going on for 30 years now, is nevertheless striking.
The most striking phenomenon for 2019 is the continued decrease in the number of births: 115,565 for 2019. In 2016 there seemed to be a slowdown in the declining birth rate, with only 552 births less than in 2015. That seemed to indicate an end to the downward trend. But since the number of births dropped below 120,000 in 2017, the decline has again become more pronounced. In 2017, the number of births decreased by 2,059 compared to the year before. In 2018 there were 1,302 fewer births and in 2019 2,235 fewer babies were born.
Despite this downward trend in the natural balance, the total population continues to grow. International migration is the main driving force of the sustained population growth. In 2019, international migration accounted for 89 % of the population growth observed.
The top five nationalities immigrating to Belgium are:
- Belgians (who come back to Belgium after a stay abroad)
For people who emigrate from Belgium, almost the same top five is observed, except that Italians rank 6th and Poles 5th. However, the picture changes when looking at the balance between international immigration and emigration by nationality: the largest absolute increase is found among Romanians (+10,259), followed by Moroccans (+4,983), French (+4,067), Bulgarians (+3,743) and Italians (+2,987).
|Place of residence||Population on 1st January 2019||Natural balance||Internal migration balance||International migration balance||Statistical adjustment||Total growth||Population on 1st January 2020|
|Province of Antwerp||1,857,986||2,390||-902||10,424||-168||11,744||1,869,730|
|Province of Limburg||874,048||-175||660||2,987||-150||3,322||877,370|
|Province of East Flanders||1,515,064||-299||3,882||6,739||-131||10,191||1,525,255|
|Province of Flemish Brabant||1,146,175||610||5,497||3,732||-171||9,668||1,155,843|
|Province of West Flanders||1,195,796||-2,084||2,703||4,629||-99||5,149||1,200,945|
|Province of Walloon Brabant||403,599||173||1,716||585||-54||2,420||406,019|
|Province of Hainaut||1,344,241||-1,524||1,244||2,659||220||2,599||1,346,840|
|Province of Liège||1,106,992||-18||-650||3,395||81||2,808||1,109,800|
|Province of Luxembourg||284,638||452||774||930||-42||2,114||286,752|
|Province of Namur||494,325||-424||798||1,152||-19||1,507||495,832|
 Data are derived from the National Register. The official population figures do not take into account the waiting register of asylum seekers, which comprises people with an ongoing asylum application (Law of 24 May 1994 establishing a waiting register for foreigners who declare themselves refugees or who ask to be recognised as refugees). However, the figures published by Eurostat contain an estimate of people entered in the waiting register.
 A limited number of registrations in the National Register are late or incorrect. Therefore, the observed population growth (difference between the population on 1 January 2020 and 1 January 2019) is not 100 % in line with the balance obtained based on births, deaths and migrations. The statistical adjustment this year amounts to -616 units. This is an indication that the data are of high quality.