4 Can or must the matrimonial property regime be registered?

4.1. Do one or more matrimonial property registers exist in your country? Where?

Matrimonial property regimes and legal cohabitation contracts in Belgium are registered in the central register of marriage contracts, which is a national database provided for by law. This digital register is managed by the Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries.

4.2. Which documents are registered? Which information is registered?

All marriage contracts and acts of amendment (modification of the matrimonial property regime or change to another regime) entered into since 1 September 2011, and legal cohabitation agreements entered into after 1 September 2015, drafted by a Belgian civil law notary are registered in the central register. Furthermore, all marriage contracts entered into between 1 September 1981 and 1 September 2011 have also been registered for those contracts of which both parties were still alive. Lastly, judicial decisions which contain an amendment to the existing marital property regime or cohabitation agreement are registered. The register does not contain the acts themselves, but only metadata. For example, the register indicates when the persons involved concluded a marriage contract or act of amendment and what matrimonial property regime was chosen. The details of the parties as well as the identification of the person who has drawn up the act or has custody of it are also registered. The act and its actual content thus remain confidential.

4.3. How and by whom can the information in the register be accessed?

Civil law notaries, diplomats with a notary function, bailiffs and registrars of the court can consult the register. Other public authorities may have access as well but only insofar as a consultation is necessary for the execution of a specific public service. The parties to the contract also have access to the data that relates to themselves. Third parties need to show a legitimate interest, and access needs to be requested at the Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries.

4.4. What are the legal effects of registration (validity, opposability)?

By registration in the central register of marriage contracts, the contract may be relied on against third parties.

4.5. Can a matrimonial contract concluded in a foreign state according to foreign law be registered in your country? If yes, under which conditions or formalities?

[This information is valuable in respect of third parties, see art. 28 of the European Regulation (EU) 2016/1103 of 24 June 2016. When a matrimonial contract is registered in your country it can be invoked against third parties. An interconnection of matrimonial property registers in Europe is not existing and therefor the registration of the matrimonial contract must be undertaken in all countries separately, where the spouses have property or conclude contracts. Only then the spouses can invoke their matrimonial contract against third parties in that country.]

A foreign matrimonial contract can only be registered if it complies with the requirements for recognition according to Belgian law, and it is laid down in the minutes of a Belgian notary, see Art. 1395, par. 3 Civil Code. This type of procedure is for publication reasons only.