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If you are planning to stay longer than 3 months in Ghent, you will need to register with the local authorities. How you go about registering depends on which country you are from and what you’re going to be doing in Ghent. Over time, the writers at TheSquare.Gent will be creating tips pages under this overview page based on our own experiences of the different registering processes.

Why do I need to register?

Besides the fact that it is required by the authorities (everyone aged 16+), the first thing you should get familiar with is why it is useful for you to register. That is to say – what you can’t do if you haven’t registered. Each registered person gets a unique ID number during the process. It is called a rijksregisternummer (also known as nationaal nummer (NN)) and it always follows this format: your birth date followed by 5 random digits (e.g. YY.MM.DD-123.45). It is this ID that you have to provide in order to be allowed to do the following things:

  • Open a bank account
  • Sign up for health insurance, so that you pay less to visit a doctor or pharmacy 
  • Work for a Belgian employer (so they can organise your tax payments via your salary)
  • Pay taxes and other contributions if you’re self employed
  • Start your own business/become self employed
  • Get a public transport monthly/annual pass
  • Get a driver’s license
  • Travel within the Schengen zone (if you are from a non-Schengen country and your visa expires)
  • Get discounts at local museums and attractions

Have you been asked to provide a rijksregisternummer for something that we haven’t covered on this list? Let us know by email so that we can add it to the list.

Expat Experiences


Heather, an EU citizen (born in the UK) came to Ghent on a one-year secondment. She had confirmation from her company that she would work from the Ghent office of her company, but would still be a UK employee (i.e. receive a UK salary and keep paying UK social contributions). She came without any dependents.

Read about her experience here.



Dena, a US citizen, came to Ghent together with her husband and son. Her husband had got a job at a Belgian company in Ghent, and he had proof of employment from the company. Dena and her son are considered his dependents.

Read about how she registered herself and her son here.

Registration General FAQ

If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at our Registration General FAQ page. This aims to cover the big questions you might have before you start your own registration process.

Last updated: August, 2017

Note: the information on this page is based on the information found on official government and local websites, and on the experience of the authors. While we have done our best to make sure it is accurate, rules and regulations change and each individual situation might be different, so it is always a good idea to check with appropriate authorities for the latest information. Consequently, the authors do not assume any responsibility or liability for any issues or damages stemming from the use of the information found on this website.

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