Up until today the Belgian authorities create foreigners files for al 'foreigners' entering the territory. During the 19th century this was the responsability of the 'Vreemdelingenpolitie' or 'Sûreté Publique' who cooperated with the communal governments in order to keep track of all foreigners coming to Belgium.
Each file contains a 'Bulletin de renseignements', a document with specifics concerning the migrants place of birth, age, marital status, profession, etc.. The 'Sûreté Publique' followed the foreigner during his or her entire stay in the country, which causes some files to cover serveral decades. Files can contain expulsion papers, identity papers and run-ins with judicial authorites. However they also provide glimpses of more personal information: ego-documents contesting certain governmental decisions, detailed information about travel intineraries and even fotographs and personal letters.
Thinking about consulting the Foreigners Files for a personal or scientific research project? Visit our Archives page ( Virtual Research Environment) and find out more about how you can find the files you need and where you can find them!