Signing up to vote in Belgium

Internationals make up more than 20% of the Leuven population. And many aren’t aware that they could be voting. In 2018, less than 10% of the almost 9500 eligible internationals registered to vote.

Only a couple of thousand votes determine the outcome of the elections in Leuven, so if all the internationals voted, it could have a decisive effect on who wins.

Before you can vote, you have to register— signing up online can take as little as 2 minutes. Be quick; the deadline is Wednesday, 31 July.

International House Leuven
27 June 2024

AttentionIn brief: If you have been here for five years or you are an EU citizen, you can vote in the local elections. But you must sign up before 31 July. Online it takes less than five minutes via this website.

The basics about registering to vote in the local elections

Who can vote in the local elections?

  • To vote, you have to be 18 or older.
  • EU nationals can vote as soon as they arrive.
  • Non-EU citizens can vote if they have been here legally for five consecutive years.

In Leuven, as of 16 June 2024, only 8.6% of eligible EU voters and 4.9% of eligible non-EU voters had registered. Encourage your international friends to sign up and be heard locally.

Do I have to register to vote?

  • Yes, internationals have to sign up if they want to be able to vote in the local elections. (Belgians get registered automatically.)
  • In Belgium, voter registration must be completed 90 days before the vote.
  • So, in 2024, you must have signed up by 31 July 2024.

What are the deadlines for voting in the local elections?

  • Sign-up by: Wednesday, 31 July 2024
  • Vote on: Sunday, 13 October 2024

How do I sign-up to vote?

There are two ways:

  • Online using your eID card or Itsme account via this website.
    Tip: If you don’t have an Itsme account or an eID reader, you can use the Digipunt computers at the library to sign-up.
  • Using a form and posting or emailing this to your 'stad' or 'gemeente', e.g. for Leuven you can download the forms here.
    Tip: Attach a photocopy of your ID to your form.

Is the sign-up process complicated?

Absolutely not. We tested this in the IHL office and using an Itsme account; we completed the process in 2 minutes. Our test subject said, "That was incredibly easy, probably the simplest paperwork task I have ever done in Belgium!"

4 Steps to voting in Belgium

  1. Sign up to vote by 31 July 2024
    You can do this online or via a form from your stad or gemeente (e.g. Stad Leuven).
  2. Start researching
    The final candidates won’t be available until September, but you can start learning about the political parties in your area, or take the national “Stem-test” to learn about parties that match your priorities.
  3. Keep your voter invitation safe
    This will reach you by post in the weeks before the elections - so keep a close eye on your mail. You must take this letter with you on the day.
  4. Go to your polling station on 31 October
    Be sure to check your invitation so that you turn up at the correct polling station they are usually very close to your home address.

FAQs and misconceptions

Can I be fined if I don’t vote?

No, you won’t get fined. Flanders has removed the obligation to vote. BUT: you must show up at your allocated polling station on the day.

What if I can’t go to the polling station?

You can request a proxy vote and ask someone to vote for you.

Can I still vote in my home country?

Yes! You can vote in the municipal elections and still vote in your home country.

Will registering affect my residence status or finances?

No! Voter information is confidential.

I’ve been asked to help at the polling station. Is this compulsory?

Yes! This is a little like jury duty: You have to do it or have a very good reason not to. If you cannot fulfill the role, you must contact them within 48 hours of receiving the summons. Practically speaking, the chances of a non-native Dutch speaker being asked to work at the polling station are very low.

Who can I vote for?

  • The final list of candidates will only be available in September.
  • You can get an overview of the Flemish parties via VRT’s one-minute explainers or even their “stem-test” which helps you find parties that align with your priorities by asking you some simple questions (in NL). All available on VRT's election page.
  • Be aware that the options in the municipal elections might be different from the national level, e.g. there may be coalitions or independent candidates.
  • You’ll receive plenty of pamphlets in the post. You can use these to learn about your local candidates.
  • IHL will continue to share information and find impartial ways to help you learn about the local candidates.

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This page was last updated on: 27 June 2024