The healthcare system in Belgium is funded by mandatory health insurance to allow everybody to have access to healthcare services and such. The Belgian healthcare system is based on the principle of equal access and freedom of choice. Belgium offers the whole population its broad healthcare benefits package and services. The federal government and regional government share both responsibilities to maintaining and improving the country’s services to its patients.

Most healthcare professionals working in Belgium are concentrated in three sectors: the doctors, the nurses, and the assistant nurses. There are over 150,000 nurses and 100,000 assistant nurses who are actively practicing their profession and providing services in Belgium. The government in Belgium takes vigilant measures in providing and improving the working conditions and environment for healthcare professionals. There are a lot of national associations and unions of nurses all around Belgium, two French associations, two Dutch associations, and one German association. Despite the large population of nurses all around the country, there is really no single association governing these professionals.

Over the past years, the population of nurses practicing the profession in the country has grown and is very diverse, coming from Belgium itself and others coming from other countries as well. To know more about how to become a nurse in Belgium, check the steps enumerated below.

Steps to Become a Nurse in Belgium

1. Obtain a Nursing Degree or Certification

Students can be nurses in Belgium through the following: a bachelor’s degree in nursing and certification in nursing. The certification in nursing includes practical nursing training largely based on apprenticeship and practice. Students who get this certification usually train as psychiatric nurses or as geriatric nurses. As for the students who finish a bachelor’s degree in nursing, their education is considered at a higher technical level, and the admission criteria are very similar to that used in every college or university. The nursing programs take four years to finish, consisting of 2,300 hours of practical training which corresponds to 240 ECTS credits. After taking a bachelor’s degree or a certification, students can decide whether to further their studies or not. All nurses can undertake specialization and/or any complementary training by applying or enrolling in a master’s program.

2. For International Students, Meet the Admission Requirements and Attend a Bridging Program

For students who have already previously obtained a diploma in nursing, they will only obtain a professional bachelor’s degree by attending a bridging program or any shortened educational pathway at any Belgian Institution that provides a nursing program. This is a crucial step for foreign students to become a nurse in Belgium.

Belgium has three communities, namely the Flemish, the German, and the French-speaking communities. International students are required to be able to communicate in either Dutch, German, or French based on the location of the institution they chose and wish to attend.

The admission requirements may vary depending on your nationality and the country you are coming from. The institution will require the submission of a copy of the applicant’s diploma and/or educational qualifications for verification.

3. Apply for Recognition as a Nurse in the Country

Once students have finished their studies and have obtained their degrees, they have to register for them to be able to practice and work as professional nurses. Belgium is divided into ten provinces, and all these provinces apply the same rule. In order to register and become a nurse in Belgium, the applicants must present their diploma or certificate to the provincial authority or a Medical Commission in the province. Once registered, they are required to pay a small fee, and they can already practice the profession in the area. The registration lasts for three years, and nurses have to renew after.

4. For Foreign Nurses, Apply with Ministry of Public Health

For nursing registration in Belgium, applicants will need to apply with the Ministry of Public Health. This is to recognize and verify the qualifications of the applicant via the National Academic Recognition and Information Centre (NARIC). The NARIC was set up all over the European Economic Area, and there are two NARIC in Belgium. The duty of NARIC is to provide information or access higher education information within the country and even abroad. To register or know more information regarding the NARIC, please visit the NARIC website.

5. Prepare All Requirements for the Application of Registration

For the application of registration of nursing in Belgium, the applicant must complete and submit the following requirements:

  • Diploma in nursing
  • At least B2 level of language proficiency in Dutch, French, or German
  • Minimum of 900 hours of clinical training which corresponds to 60 ECTS credits (this should include theoretical and practice with each part comprising of 450 hours, or 30 ECTS credits each)

To know more about the certificate of recognition, whether you hold a foreign qualification and are qualified to work as a professional nurse in Belgium, please visit Flanders education and training website, an official website of the Flemish Government.

6. Get a Working Visa to Work as a Nurse

Applicants must get a visa to be able to work as a nurse in Belgium. Application for admission is required to be submitted to the Federal Public Service Health. The basic requirements for the application to become a nurse in Belgium include:

  • Accomplished application form
  • Passport, identity card, or any other proof of identity
  • Copy of diploma, certificate, or title
  • Copy of registration or recognition of their profession
  • An extract of the applicant’s criminal record not older than three months
  • A certificate of good professional conduct
  • Proof of proficiency in Dutch, German, or French
  • Curriculum Vitae

Applicants are not required to submit the original copies of these documents. The Federal Public Service Health shall contact the applicant if necessary.

7. Submit the Application to the Federal Public Service Health

After completing all the required documents, the applicant must submit all the documents to the Federal Public Service Health. Upon receipt of the documents, they shall be checked by the Federal Advisory Board and then forwarded to the Ministry of Health for the decision. If the decision is positive, a royal decree shall be issued and will authorize your practice of the nursing profession.

8. Await the Decision of Your Registration as Nurse

This is the final step to become a nurse in Belgium. Once the Federal Public Service Health has approved the application and has issued the applicant’s visa, the applicant will then wait for the decision of the Ministry of Public Health regarding his or her application for registration as a nurse in Belgium. Once the Ministry gives its approval, the applicant may proceed to register the same way Belgian nurses registered in provincial medical commissions or authorities (Please see step 3).


I hope that you found this article on the steps to becoming a nurse in Belgium informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs in Europe!

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