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Expat Q&A: Municipal elections 2024 - Why you should vote

Expat Welcome Desk
11:25 07/05/2024
In collaboration with the Expat Welcome Desk (Commissioner’s Office)

October 2024 brings another chance for International Brusselers to elect their representatives. This time we are choosing councillors at the level of the municipality (commune/gemeente), and most non-Belgians have the right to cast a vote.

Local government in Belgium is small but mighty, and the politicians running your municipality have a big impact on your daily life. Non-Belgians could swing the results in many areas, but they do not often use their vote because they do not get the right info on time. Don’t miss out on your chance to speak up – make sure that you’re on the electoral list today!

  • Municipal elections are taking place on Sunday 13 October 2024.
  • Belgian citizens are automatically on the list of voters, but non-Belgians need to sign up.
  • The deadline to sign up as a voter is Wednesday 31 July 2024.

All EU citizens resident in Belgium have the right to vote in the municipal elections, as do non-EU citizens who have been here at least five years. In the famously cosmopolitan Brussels-Capital Region, these international voters could have a huge impact – so long as they sign up and vote!

Real impact

Some 36.9% of Brusselers are not Belgian nationals. That amounts to hundreds of thousands of potential voters. In some municipalities, the percentage reaches 50%, so International Brusselers could hold half of the votes. Results at the municipal level are often shifted by a few hundred votes, so activating all potential voters could clearly make a real difference in the outcomes.

In the municipal elections of 2018, thousands more International Brusselers voted than in previous elections. This was partly thanks to active campaigning by civil society and government actors across the Region. Nevertheless, only 17% of eligible non-Belgians signed up for the electoral list in 2018. This is despite research showing many more people would want to vote if they got clearer information and guidance. So, we have plenty of room for improvement this time and the campaign is now underway!

Increasing the sign up rates by just a few percentage points will bring thousands of new voters into the system. This would raise the voice of International Brusselers at local level and make the results more representative of the population in our beautifully diverse city-region. This is why it is so important to make sure everyone with the right to vote knows when, how and why they should do it.

Big issues for daily life

It is clear that International Brusselers can have a real influence in these elections. But why should they use it? It is tempting to think that these are “only” local elections, so there is no point in getting involved. But that would be a mistake.

Municipalities in Belgium have a lot of power and independence compared to their equivalents in other countries. They make many decisions about public space, mobility and planning. They also manage street cleaning, schools and social services. And the town hall is your first port of call for all kinds of administrative procedures, from parking permits to nationality applications. If you care about daily life in your street, it really matters who is in charge at the municipality!

How to sign up – online or by post

If you want to use your vote and you are not already on the list, then sign up today! The deadline is 31 July 2024, but there’s no reason to wait. It is a very simple process, and most people can now sign up online: If you cannot access the online platform, you'll need to sign up with a paper form, but this takes just a few minutes to fill in and you can send it off with no need for an appointment. You will find all the instructions about how to sign up online or on paper in our FAQ.

No need to worry

International Brusselers are sometimes worried about the impact of signing up to vote here in Belgium, but there is nothing to fear! Voting in Belgian municipal elections will not affect your right to vote back in your home country – in fact, your home country will not even be informed that you have signed up to the electoral list here. Likewise, using your right to vote will have no consequences for your tax situation or residency status in Belgium.

And what about obligatory voting – a common source of concern and confusion for International Brusselers? Again, there is really no need to worry. All voters on the electoral list will indeed be expected to vote on Sunday 13 October, but you can deregister at any moment until 31 July. If something happens later which stops you voting (travel, illness, family emergency, etc.), there is a very simple system to give your “proxy vote” to a friend. Again, all the information is in our FAQ, and you can contact the Expat Welcome Desk with any questions about your personal situation.

Learn more at our webinar!

Do you want to learn more about why and how to vote in the municipal elections? Join us for a free webinar, where experts will talk you through all the issues:

  • The place of International Brusselers in local democracy
  • Reasons you should vote
  • How to sign up
  • How to use your proxy vote if you cannot attend in person
  • Your questions

DATE:    Tuesday 28 May 2024
TIME:    12.00 -13.30
PLACE:  Online (via Webex)


  • Moderator: Amélie Bovy, Senior legal advisor, Expat Welcome Desk
  • Thomas Huddleston, International expert on citizenship and diversity, Collaborator with the University of Liege
  • Bryn Watkins, Project and Communications Manager,


This webinar is free and open to all, but you need to register before Friday 24 May to We will send a link to access the webinar shortly before the session.

More information

Detailed information about the rules and processes in our FAQ.

You’ll find all the information about the municipal elections from the regional government on (in French and Dutch).

The Expat Welcome Desk is a free service that advises internationals on the practicalities of daily life in the Belgian capital, from accommodation and residence permits to employment rights and taxation, among a number of topics.

Written by Expat Welcome Desk in collaboration with The Bulletin