Structure of the Population

On 1 January 2020, Belgium had 11,492,641 inhabitants

On 1 January 2020, Belgium had 11,492,641 inhabitants

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[1]. 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 COVID19 are available on a separate page on our website.


National population growth is mainly driven by two demographic factors[2]:

  • 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:

  1. Belgians (who come back to Belgium after a stay abroad)
  2. Romanians
  3. French
  4. Dutch
  5. Italians

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
Belgium 11,431,406 6,820 0 55,031 -616 61,235 11,492,641
Brussels-Capital Region 1,208,542 7,719 -15,722 17,799 -83 9,713 1,218,255
Flemish Region 6,589,069 442 11,840 28,511 -719 40,074 6,629,143
Walloon Region 3,633,795 -1,341 3,882 8,721 186 11,448 3,645,243
German-speaking Community 77,527 45 65 316 -4 422 77,949
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

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

Age pyramid
Total population
Age group
Marital status

Purpose and brief description

The structure of the population contains statistics relating to the population and the characteristics of this population. This includes the number of inhabitants and the following characteristics: sex, age, place of residence, civil status, nationality and households.

These statistics concern the residential population, as recorded in the National Register of Natural Persons (RNPP), on 1st January of the reference period in question. The Belgian population is composed of Belgians and non-Belgians admitted or authorised to settle or stay on the territory, but does not include non-Belgians who stay on the territory for less than 3 months, asylum seekers and non-Belgians in an irregular situation.

The characteristics of the population are available in the RNPP that is managed by the FPS Home Affairs. The RNPP is an information system and ensures the registration, the storage and the communication of people’s identification data. These data are collected by the municipalities (and the Immigration Office for some categories). The information in the National Register is organised in “information types (IT)”, i.e. the various parts of the legal information. The structure of the population is determined based on these information types. Statbel is authorised to receive every year some ITs from the National Register in order to fulfil its statistical mission.


Sex: is one of the basic data that is immediately collected at the first registration and is part of IT000. Remark: in the case of a sex change, the old file of the person is totally cancelled and a whole new file is created. Therefore, a person who changes his/her sex will have, from the day of the official modification, this new sex from birth.

Age: the date of birth is, just like the sex, collected at the time of the first registration and is part of IT000. The age is calculated as the age that the person, based on the date of birth, has on 1st January of the reference year concerned.

Place of residence: the municipality of the main residence is available under IT001. The actual address of the residence (postal code, street code, house number and box number) is available under IT020. The main residence is defined by the RNPP as follows: the place where the members of a household composed of several persons usually live, regardless of whether those persons are related or not, or the place where a single person usually lives.

Statistical sector: the statistical sector where one lives is determined based on the address (IT020) mentioned in the RNPP. To this end, a coupling with other databases is used. These databases contain all addresses coupled with their geographical coordinates: for example CRAB (Flanders), URBIS (Brussels) and PICC (Wallonia). These coordinates are then used to determine in which statistical sector an address is situated.

Civil status: the civil status is collected under IT120. There are four different statuses in our statistics: unmarried, married, divorced and widowed.

Nationality: the nationality is available under IT031. The nationality refers to the nationality of the person on 1st January of the reference year. It should be noted that persons with dual nationality are only counted once. In case one of these nationalities is the Belgian one, they are considered as people with the Belgian nationality and the second nationality is not taken into account.

Variations on the variable nationality are the first nationality and the country of birth. The first nationality is also registered under IT031. This IT contains the whole history of nationalities for everyone. The first nationality is the nationality that one has when first registering in Belgium. The place of birth is collected under IT100. This IT contains information on the municipality where one is born. However, when one was born abroad, the country code in question is filled in.

Households: information regarding households are collected in two separate ITs: IT140 contains the reference persons of households and IT141 contains the relations of all household members towards the reference person. This last IT also contains information indicating whether this is a private household or a collective household. Statbel has developed an algorithm that determines, based on this information a) the type of household and b) the position of each household member within the household. Moreover, the household size can also be derived. More information on the determination of the household type and the position is available in the metadata “Households: types and positions”.


Six-monthly ; Yearly

Timing of publication

Results available 6 months after the reference period