State Archives of Belgium

Our collective memory!

FR | NL | DE | EN

Access modalities

Texte petit  Texte normal  Texte grand

On this web page you will find the main rules in force for access to State Archive records.
These rules are sorted by archive producer (Federal authorities, courts, tribunals, etc.).

General information

Specific Access Conditions

Legal and regulatory references

The rules are phrased in the most succinct and clear manner possible and refer to the legal framework on which they are based (law, decree, etc.). Links are provided where possible in order to enable users to directly consult the legal sources.  In some cases, the users may only consult archive documents if they produce a written authorisation issued by the competent authority. In other cases, users must fill in, date and sign a research declaration.

Access conditions are often complex

The rules governing access to archives are often very complex. When examining the legal framework for the consultation of archives in the Regions and Communities, it becomes apparent that each regional entity applies its own legal rules. In principle, all administrative documents are public, with a number of exceptions however. There are two types of exceptions: absolute exceptions that always apply, and relative exceptions, in which the interest of accessing a document is each time pondered against the need to protect it.  

Exceptions are not everlasting

The exceptions foreseen in the regional legislation cannot be invoked ad vitam aeternam to refuse the right to access records. It is therefore important for users to know for how long they apply, as non-public records are disclosed and can be accessed once the exceptions expire.

Access requests for scientific research

Researchers from universities, colleges or recognised research institutes may be granted exceptional access to administrative records even if they are still undisclosed and subject to access restrictions.

Access right and copyright

Many issues regarding access rights also pertain to copyrights. It is not true that users cannot access documents that are still protected by certain rights. In principle, copyrights do not infringe on access rights. Users can freely access archives that are public, for example, because access restrictions no longer apply or because the user holds all necessary access rights, in which case access cannot be denied on the basis of applicable copyrights. This applies to photographs, works of art and other documents that are the fruit of creative work. Access to documents subject to copyright indeed remains possible without restriction. While archive services may provide copies of documents they hold, it is the duty of the requesting user to contact any potential copyright owner or collective rights management organisation in order to clarify pertaining rights if the copies in questions are intended for publication. The author or holder of rights may actually be the archive service itself. e-Procurement