How to Find a Family Doctor

The general practitioner (GP) or huisarts or huisdokter is your first point of contact for all types of medical care in Belgium. Consequently, one of the first things you want to do after arriving in Leuven is find a GP.

International House Leuven
12 January 2024

Finding a GP/Family Doctor

After signing up with an HIF the next step you should do quickly after arriving in Belgium is to find a GP. If you find a GP when you arrive, then you will always have somewhere to go when you are sick last minute or need medical advice.

You are free to choose the GP that you want. You can find one via one of these 2 websites (please note that not all doctors are listed on these websites):

At your first appointment you can choose to start a Global Medical File (Globaal Medisch Dossier or GMD) at that GP and designate them as your official GP (‘vaste huisarts’ in Dutch). Don’t worry you're not signing a contract and can change GPs whenever you like. This just makes it easier for them to access your files and keep your medical history all in one place.

Your GP will always be the first step if you have a question or want to see a specialist. For example if you hurt your ankle while playing sports and need to go see a physical therapist, then you will first need to visit your GP to get a referral for a physical therapist, this way you can get some of the costs reimbursed. Otherwise you will be left to pay everything yourself.

You GP can help you with:

  • Skilled to treat wide range of medical conditions (s.a. flu, infections, cuts, stitches, dermatological problems etc.)
  • Monitor chronic problems s.a. high blood pressure, diabetes, allergy, etc.
  • Takes care of gynecological problems and questions s.a. contraception, pregnancy, infections, etc.
  • Monitors newborns and children
  • Take care of early detection and preventive examinations (cancer, heart and blood vessels, blood collection, etc
  • Provide counseling of psychosomatic complaints
  • Where you go when you are sick and cannot go to work, if this happens you need to contact your GP to get a doctor’s note (‘doktersbrief’ or ‘ziekattest’ in Dutch), this often will require a visit to their office

Conventioned vs. Non-Conventioned GPs

In the Belgian health care system there are agreements about the cost of health care. These agreements are made between health insurance funds and health care providers.

GPs and specialists can choose if they follow the agreement or not.

If they agree, they follow the convention (in Dutch geconventioneerde artsen). In that case your personal part in the medical cost is minimal.

If they do not agree to follow the agreement, they have the possibility to charge higher fees (niet-geconventioneerde artsen).

GPs adhering to the standard federal fees have this information displayed in their waiting rooms and on their website. Several health insurance funds have an online tool to check whether GPs and specialists follow the convention or not. Your health care provider can also inform you about this.

Where to go on weekends or after office hours?

  • For medical problems during the evenings or on weekends that can't wait but are not life threatening, go to the after-hours medical service call 1733 (unless you have an international phone provider, then call +32 2 524 98 89).

Helpful Dutch vocabulary

  • huisarts or huisdokter = GP/ General Practioner/Family Doctor
  • vaste huisarts = your official GP
  • Globaal Medisch Dossier or GMD = Global Medical files
  • doktersbriefje or ziekteattest = Doctor’s note/sick note
  • geconventioneerde artsen = Drs that follow the convention, meaning that fees are regulated
  • niet-geconventioneerde artsen = Drs that don’t follow the convention and can charge higher fees
  • Spoeddienst = emergency room

Other helpful links and resources

Something wrong or unclear on this page? Let us know.
This page was last updated on: 2 April 2024