Every month, 90 Britons on average apply for Belgian nationality
The number of Britons acquiring the Belgian nationality has dramatically increased after the Brexit referendum on 23rd June 2016. Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, has analysed various socio-demographic characteristics of the 22,949 persons of British nationality living in Belgium on 1st January 2017. This analysis highlights the differences between the Britons who have changed their nationality in 2017 and those who have not. During the year 2017, 6 % of Britons living in Belgium (1,375 persons) have changed their nationality.
As far as gender is concerned, there is almost no impact. In general, 6 % of Britons in our country have changed their nationality: 6.21 % of women (626 out of 10,073) and 5.82 % of men (749 out of 12,876). The difference is therefore not very significant
Differences with respect to age are greater. In relative terms, Britons of working age (between 17 and 65) change less nationality than young people (under 18) and older people (over 65). 864 out of the 16,281 Britons aged 18 to 65 have changed their nationality (5.31 %). This percentage amounts to 7.46 % for young people (256 out of 3,431) and to almost 8 % for Britons older than 65 (7.88 % exactly or 255 out of 3,237 persons).
We see clear differences according to the type of household. 7.45 % of Britons who are married and have children have changed their nationality (664 persons out of 8,908). This figure amounted to 7.41 % for Britons who are married and do not have children (240 out of 3,237). This figure is much higher than that for persons living alone: 163 out of the 4,726 Britons living alone in our country have changed their nationality, or “only” 3.45 %.
For actual cohabitants, children play a role: cohabitants with children change their nationality much more quickly: 6.01 % of them did it. 5.39 % of single parents have acquired the Belgian nationality. British cohabitants without children are much less likely to take the step: 3.92 % have changed their nationality (59 persons out of a total of 1,504).
The level of education also seems to have a significant impact. Britons with a university diploma change their nationality 3,5 times more than those with a lower secondary education diploma. More than 1 Briton out of 8 with a university diploma, i.e. almost 13 %, have changed their nationality (12.99 % or 528 persons out of 4,065). Only 3.54 % of Britons whose highest diploma obtained is one from the lower secondary education have changed their nationality (71 persons out of 2,006). This is 3.5 times less than Britons with a university diploma. It is also worth mentioning the large group of people whose diploma is not known (14,728 people).
Also, when a household member has already taken steps to change nationality, the risk that another household member also changes nationality is much greater. Out of the 636 Britons who, on 1st January, were living in a household where a member had already acquired the Belgian nationality, 77 followed, i.e. 12.11 %. That is twice the overall average (6 %).
Even more striking is the fact that most Britons do not take this step alone. 42 % of the Britons who have applied for the Belgian nationality in 2017 belonged to a household where several persons had also applied in that same year.
Finally, it is not surprising that the duration of stay and the fact that a person was born in Belgium or not also seem to play some kind of role, although these differences are not as pronounced as those related to the level of education. A stay of 10 years in the country seems to be some kind of threshold. Almost 8 % of the Britons over 18 who have been in the country for 10 to 20 years change their nationality (7.94 %). For those who have been in the country for more than 20 years, this figure is also around 8 % (7.97 %). When the stay is shorter than 10 years, the percentage of Britons who change their nationality amounts to 5.16 %. Just over 9 % of Britons born in Belgium have changed their nationality (9.09 % or 341 out of 3,750). This percentage amounts to almost 6 % for those born in the United Kingdom (5.94 % or 898 persons out of 15,124, or a level equal to the average). As for Britons who were not born in Belgium nor in the United Kingdom, this percentage amounts to 3.34 %, or 136 out of 4,075).
 According to the extraction of the National Register at our disposal, 1,381 Britons took Belgian nationality in 2017. 6 of them persons were found not to be living in Belgium on 1 January. They are therefore not included in our analysis.
Change of nationality.
The acquisition and granting of the Belgian nationality are complex legal matters. However, Statbel’s approach for the calculation of nationality changes is very simple: someone changes his/her nationality when his/her nationality as registered in the national register changes.
Therefore, we only take into account the people for whom a nationality has already been registered. Persons who acquire the Belgian nationality when no previous nationality has been registered are not included in these statistics. Also, we only take into account the persons domiciled in our country.
This definition, although without any real legal content, covers a large number of legal categories from the Code of Belgian Nationality (naturalisation, acquisition by declaration, etc.). The condition of having a previous nationality means that a number of situation are not included in this statistic. This is largely the case, for example, when the Belgian nationality is granted based on the nationality of the father or the mother (Art. 8 of the Law of 4 December 2012 and previous laws). Usually, no previous nationality is registered in this case.
The nationality is registered in the national register under “information type 031”. For more information about the acquisition of the nationality and the “information type 031”, please visit the websites of the FPS Home Affairs - Directorate General for Institutions and Population and of the FPS Justice.