Gent is the largest and capital city of the East Flanders province, located in the Flemish region in the northern part of Belgium. It has a population of nearly 247,147 people living in a total territory of 156.18 square kilometers. Gent is the second largest municipality in Belgium.
Although the majority of the population is Belgian, the region's close proximity to the Netherlands and its adoption of Dutch as its official language means that there is also a significant Dutch population living in the city. The language is sometimes referred to as Flemish, and has a number of different dialects. Although Gent is located in East Flanders, it does not use the traditional East Flemish dialect, but has developed its own called the Gent dialect that has some of the characteristics of French, particularly in pronunciation. As Gent is an international city, many people also speak English.
Like most of Belgium, Gent has a marine west coast or oceanic climate, which is characterized by mild temperatures throughout the year and evenly spread precipitation. The warmest months of the year are July and August, where the temperature has an average high of 22°C (72°F), although the temperature can drop to 14°C (58°F).
Of the winter months, the coldest is usually February, which has average temperatures of between 1°C (34 °F) and 6°C (42°F). On average, expatriates moving to Gent can expect 221 days of rainfall every year, and although it is mostly evenly spread across the 12 months, January has the most rainy days. Snow is uncommon, but has been known to fall during January and February.
As Belgium is a member of the European Union, EU/EEA citizens will not need a visa to enter Belgium or move to Gent for less than 90 days. If they wish to stay in Gent for longer than 90 days, they must register with their local commune within ten days of moving to Gent. They will then be granted a temporary residence permit that lasts for three months, after this has expired; EU/EEA expatriates can apply for a Belgian identity card and will be officially registered as a foreign Belgian citizen.
However, citizens of non-EU/EEA countries will need to apply for a visa and residence permit before they move to Gent through their local embassy or consulate. They will then need to register at their local commune within ten days of moving to Gent, and within two weeks will receive a foreigner identity card. For more detailed information on the different types of visa, please refer to our article on Moving to Belgium.