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Advance declaration on the subject of euthanasia


Under the terms of the law of May 28, 2002 concerning euthanasia, euthanasia should be understood as an act, practiced by a third party, that intentionally puts an end to the life of a person, at this person’s request.

It should not be confused with the refusal of artificial life-support, which takes on the character of omission of treatment and which is not the purpose of the law.

Why an advance declaration on the subject of euthanasia?

People can express their end-of-life intentions for situations in which they would no longer be in a condition to clearly express their wishes, for example during a coma, by drawing up what is called an advance declaration of intentions.

In this declaration, patients who are still able to express their wishes request the explicit manner in which euthanasia may be practiced.

Who can make an advance declaration on the subject of euthanasia?

All capable persons of age and emancipated minors may record, in writing, their desire for a doctor to practice euthanasia if they are no longer capable.

What are the conditions of validity for an advance declaration on the subject of euthanasia? 

  • The declaration must be made in writing, following the system of forms prescribed by law.
  • The declaration must be drawn up in the presence of two adult witnesses (or none), see below, and must be made by the petitioner in person.
  • The declaration must have been made or confirmed less than five months before the start of the impossibility to manifest one’s wishes. You should therefore think about renewing this declaration regularly.

Which people should be mentioned in an anticipated declaration of euthanasia?

The intervening parties are
  • The petitioner, the person who makes the declaration.
  • Two adult witnesses (or none), of whom at least one does not have any material interest in the death of the petitioner. They only serve the purpose of testifying to the authenticity of the declaration.
  • An unlimited number of people of trust, ranked by order of preference, whose role will be to inform the doctor about the patient’s wishes or who the doctor will be required to contact in the step preceding euthanasia.
The following people cannot be designated as people of trust:
  • The doctor who treats the patient.
  • The consulting physician.
  • The members of the medical team.
Witnesses may also be people of trust. In this case, it is necessary to designate them independently for each function, and they will have to affix their signature for each function.

Why register an advance declaration on the subject of euthanasia?

An advance declaration is also valid if it has not been registered, so long as it meets the conditions of the Royal Decree of April 2, 2003, detailed in the preceding items.

However, you should be aware that registration allows for the direct informing of the doctor who is faced with an incapacitated patient and who is in a situation where euthanasia could possibly be applied.

How to register an advance declaration on the subject of euthanasia?

You must appear personally before the Population Department, with the original of your completed declaration and your identification card, so that we can verify the identity of the signatory of the document.

The signatures must all be originals, no faxes or other processes, and must be in the right place.

EAnd if I change my mind?

The petitioner may withdraw or modify their advance declaration of intention at any time. These wishes will only be carried out if the patient is afflicted with a serious and incurable accidental or pathological affliction, if the patient is unconscious, and if their condition is deemed irreversible.

The most recent of the registered declarations takes precedence. Furthermore, since registration is optional, a more recent advance declaration that has not been registered takes precedence over an older advance declaration that has been registered.

For more information, you can consult the following website: Portail