Archives resources in Belgium
Belgium has a national portal providing access to its civil and parish archives. This site is available in English, but of course genuine documents are not.
The history of Belgium is made up of successive annexations from 1482 to 1830, before becoming an independent state. The archives inevitably reflect these successive periods of Belgian territory, namely:
- Spanish Netherlands
- Austrian Netherlands
- French period
- Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Declaration of the independence of Belgium
Note that during the French period, civil status is based on the French model, but also on the revolutionary calendar. French becomes the administrative language and all acts are therefore written in French. However, some of the digitized acts are sometimes written in Flemish. It is generally a translation of acts probably copied after this period.
As for France, before 1795, it is essentially the parish archives that are authentic ...
The main difficulty you will face in your research in Belgium is related to the Belgian administrative division and in particular to its drastic simplification in 1977. It is not always easy to find the name or the location of an old municipality today merged. But past this obstacle, the archives are relatively complete and the digitization of good quality (because recent).
The digitization of the archives is still in progress and some digital images are not always available.
- Death and marriage certificates are public after 50 and 75 respectively;
- Birth certificates, the 100-year confidentiality rule applies;
- Census registers only become public after 120 years.