Which is the worst Bureau des Etrangers in Brussels?

Which is the worst Bureau des Etrangers in Brussels?

As a non-Belgian, the initial phase of your time in Brussels is dominated by trying to work out what to do at the Bureau des Étrangers and why the whole process is so time-consuming and reminiscent of the fifth circle of hell.

When we knew we were moving back to Brussels Mr B made me promise up and down that we would avoid living in 1000 (central) Brussels at all costs. His previous experience left him scarred and furious at the mere thought. His number one piece of advice to transferring colleagues remains to learn from his mistake.

I’ve written before about the fact that Mr B has to go to the Commune once a year to renew his work permit and residency card. This is his punishment for being non-European.

We hear wild tales of competent, efficient, nay even pleasant Communes in Brussels but I want proof, people proof.

If you have a Commune to praise, let me know. If you have a Commune to damn leave your tale of woe below and await sympathy.

PS I warn you in advance that I hold no truck with Belgians or those smug expats who tut when you complain about Communes and exhort you to remember that the bureaucrats are “doing their best” or “work under ‘difficult conditions”. With few exceptions they are not and they do not. Men who clamber into the crumbling sewerage system of Bombay and clean it out by hand work ‘under difficult conditions’. Belgians have no excuse.

4 responses

    • Yes weird and very frustrating but understandable given the limited budget of the Commune we’re in I’m afraid. They were still using that system last year but it was much better organised than our first few visits (not hard really). We’re hoping a company that is doing on Mr B’s ID and work permit renewal will work out this year and save us from having to go through it all again. The Woluwes are lovely, lucky you!

      PS your post on dentists in Brussels is very timely so thanks!

  1. When I lived in Brussels, I had to go to the bureau in the 1000–dreaded every moment of it, and I’ve got nothing but bad memories of having to go downtown. I’d heard that the outer communes east of 1000 and 1050 were better. That was one of the few downsides of living there.

    • For sure, it seems the further out you go the better you get. We had friends who moved to a tiny town in Flanders and got champagne when they came to register their move!

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