Day care, schooling and family-related Issues

Living in Europe | Day care, schooling & family related issues | Belgium


Belgium actively advocates a healthy work-life balance

As you may well know from your own experience, domestic life can easily suffer when both halves of a couple or both parents in a family work.

It is therefore particularly important to strike a healthy balance between work, leisure and family life.

Belgium has adopted many measures to facilitate this, including :

  • Maternity, paternity and parental leave.
  • Birth grant, to help with initial costs incurred when a baby is born.
  • Child benefit; foreign researchers with children who are living with them are entitled to a monthly allowance to give them a helping hand.
  • High quality childcare facilities (crèches and child-minders).
  • Free schooling for all children as from the age of two and a half..

Family- and child-related policies, childcare and education fall within the competences of the Belgian language communities, namely the Flemish (Dutch-speaking) Community, the French-Speaking Community and the German-speaking community.

Social Security
Belgium has a very extensive social security system and foreigners are also entitled to certain benefits.

If you are planning to live, work or study in Belgium, your social security entitlements (such as child benefit, pension, reimbursement of medical costs, sickness benefits) will depend on whether you are paying social security contributions in Belgium, whether there is a bilateral social security agreement between Belgium and your home country and on European legislation. Check out  Coming2belgium , a special online tool developed by the social security institutions, to find out what you are entitled to under the Belgian social security system.


Birth grant, adoption grant and child benefit
Women who give birth in Belgium are entitled  to receive a birth grant.  If you adopt a child, you are entitled to receive an adoption grant. Almost all children living in Belgium are eligible for child benefit, until 31 August of the year during which they turn 18. Under certain conditions, children aged over 18 can continue to receive child benefit (eg. if they remain in full-time education).  Child benefit has to be paid into a bank account in the mother’s name.

For precise questions regarding birth or adoption grants and child benefit, researchers should contact their employer’s human resources department or their Euraxess Service Centre.


Childcare facilities
Pre-school childcare in Belgium (in crèches and with childminders) is generally of a very high standard.  We advise you to opt for childcare facilities that are approved and regularly monitored by the authorities :“Kind en Gezin”, in the case of Dutch-speaking childcare facilities, the “Office National de la Naissance et de l’Enfance” (ONE) in the case of French-speaking childcare facilities.

Some crèches and childminders are partly subsidized and how much you pay will depend on your income, others are private and are generally more expensive. If you would like to send your child to subsidized childcare, it is important to apply well in advance as places are limited and there are often waiting lists.

Information about local childcare facilities (both crèches and childminders) can be found on the website of the town hall of your municipality of residence.

You should also check with your host institution whether they offer childcare facilities.


Looking for help and advice about childcare?

Dutch-speaking childcare
If you would like to send your child to Dutch-speaking childcare in Brussels or in Flanders, you should contact ' Kind en Gezin' (Child and Family), the Flemish agency competent for responsible for:

  • Public health, welfare and family policies in the Flemish community
  • registration and monitoring of child care facilities;
  • optimal support for parents-to-be and parents of young children;
  • organisation of baby clinics;
  • the criteria to be met by adoption agencies


French-speaking childcare
If you would like to send your child to French-speaking childcare in Brussels or Wallonia, you should  contact the Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance (ONE – Birth and Childhood office), a public institution responsible for

  • birth and childhood policies in the French-Speaking Community
  • registration and monitoring of childcare facilities
  • optimal support for parents-to-be and parents of young children
  • organisation of baby clinics;
  • organization of adoption.

Naturalisation procedure
One way of acquiring Belgian nationality is through naturalisation.

Naturalisation is a concessionary measure granted by the House of Representatives. In contrast to the declaration procedure or the normal choice of nationality, in this case foreigners have no right to Belgian nationality, but the House of Representatives may nevertheless grant it to them as a concession. For further information about the procedure and conditions to be met see


Belgian nationality through marriage
A foreigner who marries a Belgian does not automatically receive Belgian nationality. To be elgible for Belgian nationality, you must be living with your Belgian spouse when you submit your application.  Depending on your residence rights, you may also need to have been living together for a certain number of years. For further information and conditions to be met see


Primary and Secondary education
Throughout Belgium, free schooling is available for all children as from the age of two and a half.  Primary and Secondary education is one of the competences of the language communities.

All primary and secondary education in local schools is in one of the local languages : Flemish (Dutch) in Flanders, French in Wallonia and either Dutch or French in Brussels.  In Wallonia, a certain number of local schools offer English or Dutch immersion programmes, and in Brussels a certain number of local schools offer Dutch immersion programmes.

Higher education
In September 2004, the higher education landscape in Belgium  changed considerably following the implementation of the "Bologna process", a European reform aiming to harmonise qualifications between different member states and to encourage student mobility throughout the European Union. See   

Higher education in Belgium is one of the competences of the language communities.

For a clear explanation of how education systems are organised in the Flemish community, see  

Information about Flemish (Dutch-speaking) schools in Flanders and Brussels can be found at 

Your local Euraxess service centre may be able to assist with finding school places.

An overview of study programmes, universities and non-university higher education institutions is available at


For a clear explanation of how education is organized in the French-speaking community, see overview

Information about French-speaking schools in Brussels and Wallonia can be found at  

Your local Euraxess service centre may be able to assist with finding school places.

An overview of study programmes, universities and non-university higher education institutions is available at

International schools

International schools are privately run and receive no funding from the Belgian authorities.  They are therefore very expensive, with fees ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 euros per child per annum.  International schools can be found in Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Leuven, Tervuren and Waterloo.  Some international schools offer education at primary level, others at both primary and secondary level. Your local Euraxess Service Centre will be able to give you further information.

European Schools

There are five European schools in Brussels and one in Mol (close to Antwerp :  
Each school offers primary and secondary education in several of the languages of the Euroepan Union.

As the European schools are primarily intended for the children of employees of the European institutions, it is very difficult (if not impossible) for researchers to obtain places there for their children.