E-government and e-commerce on the rise in Belgium

E-government and e-commerce on the rise in Belgium


The Covid-19 crisis has led to a sharp increase in the digital exchange of data with the government; 51% of the population has completed and sent forms online in the past year, 11% more than in 2019 before the crisis.

However, 49% of the adult population still does not have digital contact with government services.
The problem is not so much on the supply side: only 4% indicate that there was no possibility to obtain or deliver the information online.
Lack of personal contact (18%), lack of skills (16%) and more reliance on paper forms (15%) are the most frequently cited reasons for not using e-government.

The most active users of e-government are young adults (25-34 years) and highly skilled people: 71% and 70% respectively had online contact with the government.

Older people aged 65-74 (30%) and low-skilled people (28%) use these online services much less.

Only 6% of those who do not have Internet at home seek an external solution, specifically for e-government.

Fill in and send forms via government websites (e.g. via Tax-on-web, web surveys, ...) , but not via email

Percentage of inhabitants of Belgium aged between 16 and 74 years
Total 51.4%
Brussels 56.1%
Flanders 53.6%
Wallonia 45.7%
Women 48.9%
Men 53.9%
16-24 years 37.7%
25-34 years 70.8%
35-44 years 64.2%
45-54 years 54.9%
55-64 years 43.5%
65-74 years 29.9%
Low level of education 28.0%
Average level of education 48.1%
High level of education 69.7%
Women aged 16-24 41.8%
Women aged 25-54 59.7%
Women aged 55-74 34.5%
Men aged 16-24 33.5%
Men aged 25-54 66.6%
Men aged 55-74 40.7%
Low-skilled women 26.4%
Medium-skilled women 44.1%
High-skilled women 66.1%
Low-skilled men 29.5%
Medium-skilled men 51.6%
High-skilled men 73.9%
Student 35.7%
Employed 63.4%
Employee 63.8%
Self-employed 60.6%
Unemployed 50.7%
Inactive 34.2%
Retired 34.6%
Other, inactive 33.6%
Income household quintile 1 34.5%
Income household quintile 2 44.3%
Income household quintile 3 49.0%
Income household quintile 4 63.6%
Income household quintile 5 60.3%


66% of Belgians (16-74 years) have made online purchases in the past year, an increase of 11% compared to 2019, before the Covid-19 crisis. The amounts spent and the frequency of purchases are also increasing significantly.

Clothing is the most popular product in e-commerce, over two-thirds of the shoppers surveyed indicated that they had purchased clothing, shoes and/or accessories online in the past quarter, for women this rises to 75%.

Pattern of spending online shopper
Clothing, shoes or accessories 67.7%
Delivery of meals 36.1%
Downloading or streaming movies or series 33.3%
Downloading or streaming music 27.7%
Cosmetics, beauty or wellness products 24.6%
Furniture, home accessories or garden products 24.0%
Medication or dietary supplements 21.7%
Computers, tablets, smartphones, mobile phones or accessories 21.7%
Books, magazines or newspapers (paper) 21.0%
Sports goods 19.8%

Not only are more Belgians buying online, they are doing so more frequently. 14% of shoppers bought goods or services more than ten times in the past three months. In 2019, this was only 10%.

Larger sums are also being spent in the process: 28% of respondents say they have spent 500 euros or more online on a quarterly basis, compared to 19% in 2019.

It is striking that men spend more on average, 16% of them more than 1000 euros. For women this is 10%.

Households without internet

8% of households have no internet connection. This percentage is higher in Wallonia (10%) than in Brussels (7%and Flanders (6%).

The population groups with the lowest percentage of internet connections are households with incomes in the lowest quintile (77%) and singles (84%).

The percentage of households with children of school age that have an internet connection is 99%; in 2016, 4% of these households had no internet at home.

More detailed figures can be found on the website of Statbel: https://statbel.fgov.be/en/themes/households/ict-usage-households

Methodological explanation

E-government: Fill in and send forms via government websites (e.g. via Tax-on-web, web surveys, ...)

Quintile: the first quintile group represents 20% of the population with the lowest income and the fifth quintile group represents the 20% of the population with the highest income

Online purchases: online purchases made in the three months prior to the survey

Households: households with at least one person in the age group of 16 to 74 years