25,000 "bogus residents" scrapped from the official registers

Last year, some 60,000 people were taken out of Belgium's official register, among them 25,000 Flemings. The figures mostly don't concern people who died or who failed to notify the government about a departure abroad, but people whose official place of residence is unknown.

In Belgium, every resident has an identity card which includes an official address. The identity cards are issued by the local municipalities in cooperation with the federal government.

Every year, thousands of people have to be scrapped from that official list of residents because it turns out that they are not living at the address where they are supposed to live. Their number has seen a 60 percent rise over the past five years.

Sometimes people die without the local authorities being informed. If somebody else registers at the same address, the previous occupant is scrapped. However, the figures also concern people who have become homeless, who have to spend a long time in gaol or who have decided to go and live abroad without informing their municipality.

However, most cases concern so-called residence fraud. People who can draw a benefit from supplying a fake address, for example because thay have back debts, give an address where they are actually not living. This makes it almost impossible for creditors to find them. In Belgium, a whole business has emerged where people can arrange fake addresses.