About the ICR
The Individual Credit Register contains information about:
- all consumer credit and mortgage loans contracted in Belgium by natural persons for private purposes and
- all defaults on such loans (the so-called “blacklist”).
Consumers cannot submit data to the ICR themselves.
What is the ICR’s added value?
The ICR is a tool used to fight consumer over-indebtedness in Belgium. It was established, amongst other reasons, to prevent consumers from taking on too much debt.
How does it work?
The ICR is important at two different points in time:
- Upon the conclusion of a new loan (or credit) agreement
Lenders doing business in Belgium are required to assess consumer creditworthiness and whether the individual can meet their payment obligations. To this end, they are obliged to consult the ICR before extending a loan or granting credit. The idea is to ensure that lenders are able to form a complete picture of the prospective borrower's existing indebtedness. The lender can then better assess the credit risk and avoid overextension.
- When over-indebtedness arises
An over-indebted consumer can petition the competent labour court for a collective debt settlement. The court will then appoint a debt negotiator to draw up a payment plan. As long as these proceedings are pending, the debtor is not allowed to incur additional indebtedness (and therefore cannot enter into new credit agreements or take out additional loans). It is important that creditors be aware of this fact. Therefore, the ICR also contains information on such proceedings.
Who submits which data and when?
Consumer data are submitted to the ICR exclusively by lenders:
- New credit agreements: within two working days from the conclusion of a new credit agreement or loan, the lender must submit to the ICR data on the borrower’s identity and the key features of the credit (or loan) agreement.
- Payment defaults and delinquencies: within eight working days, the lender must submit to the ICR data on the amount in arrears, the date of delinquency as well as reimbursement.
- Collective debt settlements: within 24 hours from recordation in the Central Records Register (Central Register of Records of Attachment and the Assumption, Assignment, Collective Settlement and Contestation of Debts), the following data must be submitted to the ICR:
- the start and end date of the debt settlement plan;
- the name of the court and the judgment number;
- the name of the debt negotiator;
- if applicable, the start and end date of the out-of-court or court-supervised settlement;
- if applicable, revocation/rejection of the collective debt settlement plan.
Data retention period
Data are kept in the ICR for the entire term of the loan or credit agreement.
Data on agreements that are performed without incident are deleted from the ICR within three months and eight days from the end of the agreement.
In the event of default, however, the following retention periods will apply:
Data may be kept for longer periods in anonymised form. This is the case when the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) processes data for scientific or statistical purposes or for the performance of other activities pursuant to the Act of 22 February 1998 (on the fundamental organisation of the Bank).
The legislature has entrusted management of the ICR to the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) in its capacity as a neutral third party between lenders and borrowers. The ICR is managed in accordance with a strict statutory framework, with due respect for the privacy of all parties involved.
The legislature has established a steering committee composed of representatives of the following groups:
- the Data Protection Authority;
- the FPS Economy;
- the National Bank of Belgium.
The committee can exercise the following types of powers:
- advisory powers, such as advising on the organisation and the operating budget of the ICR, and
- decision-making powers, such as approval of the annual accounts, technical guidelines and agreements on the exchange of information concluded with credit registers in other countries.
The activity of the steering committee is governed by the royal decree of 29 October 2001.
Since 2004, the National Bank of Belgium has also been responsible for managing a separate database (or register) of unregulated records (abbreviated ENR in French). This register contains information only on payment defaults under credit agreements and financial commitments that do not fall within the statutory scope of application of the ICR. This concerns, for example, defaults on loans extended by unregulated institutions (such as shops offering instalment sales).
The National Bank of Belgium manages this database pursuant to an agreement concluded with participating lenders. The latter are thus able to obtain information on individuals reported to be in arrears of payment.
This database is distinct from the Individual Credit Register (ICR), which has a statutory basis.
The purpose of the two is however the same: to combat consumer over-indebtedness. The operating rules, registration criteria and retention periods are the same as for the ICR.