The Immigration Office may decide to hold an individual at a detention centre in order to implement their removal from the territory. If they are intercepted, the police will arrange for the transfer of the individual to a detention centre specified by the Immigration Office.

Family units are an alternative to detention for families with minor children.

Foreign nationals detained in prison and without the right of residence in Belgium can be returned directly from the prison or transferred to a detention centre.

When a foreign national in irregular stay is returned from a detention centre, family unit or prison, this is always referred to as a forced departure, even if the individual wishes to return to their country.

When a foreign national in irregular stay is transferred to a detention centre, they are given information about assisted voluntary return. They are also informed of the various stages of the forced return procedure.

Every detention centre has information brochures translated into various languages, which are given to the residents. The return coaches support the residents during their stay in the centre and offer psychological support in accepting their return.

In prison, foreign nationals are informed by the return coaches.

The return can be arranged via:

  • car if it is a neighbouring country
  • train
  • a scheduled flight with or without an escort from the IO and/or federal police
  • a special flight

All persons subject to removal must be in possession of a valid travel document.

Advantages of an immediate departure:
- Fewer reimbursements for those who wish to return to Belgium or fewer costs for the guarantor or employer. Read more on this subject in the section on Reimbursement of removal costs
- Possibility to choose a preferred destination
- Shorter stay in the detention centre
- Return without police escort

Disadvantages of a repatriation with a police escort:
- A longer stay in the detention centre
- Impossible to choose the preferred destination: the individuals are repatriated to the capital of the relevant country
- Higher costs to be reimbursed if they wish to return to Belgium. Read more on this subject in the section on Reimbursement of removal costs.