Switching from a «special» to an ordinary Belgian ID card

After having a «carte d’identité speciale» for 2.5 years here in Belgium, I decided to switch to the ordinary (electronic) national ID card, for the following reasons:

  • the CIS is rather large and does not fit well into most wallets (the ordinary one is the size of a credit card)
  • the CIS does not offer any benefits compared to the ordinary one, once the 1-year period for VAT-free purchases has expired*
  • the ordinary ID card can be electronic, i.e. include a smart card, which (combined with a smart-card reader which you can buy for 8-10 euros, and some software that you can download from the federal government website), you can access all the e-government services here in Belgium (for tax declaration, obtaining certificates from your commune, etc)

* I confirmed this both with the relevant office here in the EP, as well as with my commune.

So, the procedure for switching from a «special» to a regular ID card is a little cumbersome, as follows:

  1. First you have to go to the office in your EU institution which gave you the CIS, and give it back. They will send it back to the Belgian Foreign Affairs Ministry, which will then send them a certificate proving that you have returned the card, called «attestation de restitution de la carte speciale». This takes approx. 2 weeks
  2. With the above mentioned certificate you can now go to your commune and ask for a normal ID card. You must bring: your national ID card or passport, your rental contract, your work contract (in our case, a certificate that you work for the institutions), and 5 photos
  3. Once you have applied for the ID card, the police need to come to your house and check that you actually live there. They had already done that 2.5 years ago for the CIS, but apparently they need to do it again. Of course they don’t tell you when they’ll come. After exactly 1 month, and as I was starting to become restless, my commune sent me an email telling me I could now go and complete the application for the ID card. The police never came to my house
  4. When you go to the commune again, you can ask for an old-fashioned or for an electronic ID card. The electronic one costs €19.2 (in 2014). Having done that, you are told to wait another 2 weeks. The PIN for the ID card is sent to you by regular post, and the ID card arrives at the commune. I am not sure why this step couldn’t have been done together with step 2 above, and save us all a little time?
  5. With the PIN code in hand, you can go and pick up (and activate) your new ID card


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