Getting copies of the alien files

In other articles I have explained a bit about the Antwerp alien files (immigrant files) and about the indexes through which you could find the file number of your relatives alien file (click here for the complete Table of contents). In this article it is my intention to explain how to get copies of the alien files you are looking for at the FelixArchief (Antwerp Archives).

Note: Since April 2015 much of the alien files are directly downloadable via the websites of the FelixArchief (see below). For other´s, you may still require to use the website of which has part of the collection online on its website. Read more about this collection (which originally comes from the FelixArchief collection):,Antwerp,_Police_Immigration(FamilySearch_Historical_Records). The information in this article is thus only for the records which are not yet available online (through or When you have found the file number of your relative’s alien file, you can continue to the next step which is finding out on which microfilm the file is and where to find that microfilm. This of course is on condition that the file was microfilmed since not all files were put on microfilm yet. For the files which were not microfilmed yet, there is another procedure but let’s start with finding the microfilmed files. Reminder: Before continuing, you’ll need first the file numbers, see for instructions and details on how to use the indexes in my other article: Using the indexes to the alien files at the FelixArchief. Let’s assume that we are looking for file number 163741 which we found in the indexes after searching for Abraham Timberg’s file number in the indexes. Now open in your web browser the following page: and click on the tab ‘Mijn mandje’ (translation: My basket): This will show us the next screen with a logon prompt if we did not sign in yet  (see my other article: “How to subscribe to the online services of the Antwerp Archives“): After we logged in we need to fill in the inventory number in the boxes near‘Inventarisnummer’. In the first box, before the hash-sign, we generally fill in “MA-VR” (note; you can still use MA-VR, but since it is outdated, it will automatically be changed to the number 481, you may of course as well enter 481 instead of MA-VR) when looking for alien files. MA stands for Modern Archief (Modern Archive: see for explanation A history of the Antwerp Archives (FelixArchief) and getting there) and the VR stands for VReemdelingenarchief (translation: alien archive). In the second box, after the hash-sign, you need to fill in the file number which in our case is 163741 and then click on the button ‘Toevoegen’ (translation: Add): In the case that the file is already on microfilm, we will be able to see on the next screen in which filing cabinet we can find the record we are looking for, in the case that the file is not on microfilm yet, we will get another response which I’ll discuss further down in this article (note: Since April 2015 many files are already uploaded in a digitized  format which you may download at your convenience. If the file which you´re looking for exists in a digitized format, you will see a clickable link instead of the location of the microfilm): The result of our search thus tells us that microfilm with the alien file we were looking for (file id 163741) can be found in the following location:

MICROFILMS – KAST 2 – LADE 11 – DOOS 1573816

(translation: Microfilms=Microfilms, Kast= filing cabinet, Lade=drawer, Doos=box) Note: Sometimes the file can be spread over two boxes (the first microfilm then ends with the file number and the next microfilm continues with the rest of the file). Here is such an example (box 1784147 ends with file number 175158 and the next microfilm, 1784148, starts with file number 175158 before continuing with the other file numbers on that microfilm): The filing cabinets: Each filing cabinet has a number and each drawer of these fining cabinets has a number. In these drawers you’ll find a few dozen boxes with its numbers printed on it (in our case, we are looking for filing cabinet number 2, drawer 11 and box number1573816 ). We now need to get that box and then we need to scroll through the microfilm until we get to the alien file with number 163741 (the file numbers appear in chronological order on each microfilm). You can also copy the files to the PC’s in the PC room after which you can copy it on your personal USB stick (Flash Drive) or upload it via the Internet (all PC’s have Internet access). The personnel of the FelixArchief are very friendly and usually help you getting to grips with the microfilm readers and the PC’s. One of the microfilm readers and connected PC’s in the PC room of the FelixArchief: What if the file is not available yet on microfilm? Not all files you are looking for are already available on microfilm. One such example is the file of my late paternal grandfather which I found out was file ID 233329: The text as written is as follows:

Openbaar vanaf 1/01/2039. U kan een aanvraag tot inzage indienen. Meer informatie op het nummer 03 338 94 11 of aan de leeszaalbalie


Open to the public from 01/01/2039. You may submit a request for access. For more information contact by phone +32 3 338 94 11 or check at the information desk of the reading room

If you want to request permission for viewing, you’ll need to fill in the reason in the textfield. I entered as a reason genealogy research and then I clicked on ‘Reserveren voor later’ (translation: ‘Reserve for later’) to submit it: After submitting the request, you’ll get to see the following screen in which they acknowledge having received your request: The text as written is as follows:

Reserveren van archiefdocumenten Indien u ons uw e-mailadres bezorgde, krijgt u enkele dagen voor u uw archiefstukken komt inkijken een bevestigingsmail met een overzicht van welke archiefstukken beschikbaar zijn en welke niet. U ontvangt de gereserveerde archiefstukken aan de balie in de leeszaal. Het is handig als u daarvoor uw bevestigingsmail meebrengt.


Reservation of records If you have given us your email address, a few days before you come to look into your records a confirmation email with a list of which records are available and which are not. You will receive the reserved records at the desk in the reading room. It is helpful if you bring your confirmation email with you.

The text could be confusing (i.e.: a few days before you go to the archive you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail, I believe that they should’ve stated it otherwise, this is because you have 6 months to view the files before you’ll have to submit another request to view these files), the bottom line is that you will receive an e-mail which will state that you have received permission, or in case you did not get permission, they’ll send you an e-mail with the reason why they refused the disclose of a file for your viewing. Then you can click on ‘Nieuwe Ingave’ (tranlation: New Entry) to continue working on the website of the FelixArchief or close the browser if you are done working on the website of the FelixArchief. Note: You can of course also submit mutliple files at once for viewing, just add the different numbers of the files you want to see and then submit them together: Note: You can of course also submit mutliple files at once for viewing, just add the different numbers of the files you want to see and then submit them together. After a few days you’ll receive an e-mail (in my case I ordered the documents via the website on Monday July 9th, 2012 and I received the e-mail with the authorization on Friday July 13th, 2012 which means that I had to wait only 4 days): With a PDF file attached to it: Continue reading to find out how to order the files for which you’ve received permission to see them (these records are usually not yet on microfilm). How to reserve diclosed files for viewing which are not on microfilm (yet): Whenever the file is not on microfilm yet and you have received permission for viewing a file which is not disclosed yet to the public, or a if you want to see a file which is already disclosed to the public but not on microfilm yet, you’ll need to order it via the website of the FelixArchief. First you go to the tab which is called ‘Mijn Mandje’ (just as I showed you already earlier in this article), then you fill in in the first field before the hash-sign MA-VR and in the second field after the hash-sign you fill in the file number: Then click on ‘Toevoegen’ which will show us the next screen, click on ‘Reserveren voor later’: Now you’ll have to choose the date for which you want to reserve the files and click again on ‘Reserveren voor later’: Finally you’ll see the following scren with the confirmation that your request was sent sucessfully: You should receive an e-mail with the reservation confirmation from the archives within a working day or so (Usually). Photographing the files: In case you want to photograph the files, you’ll need to sign a form which you can find here (there is no need to photograph already microfilmed files because you can simply copy them on you USB-stick (Flash Drive): If you are not able to come in person to the Antwerp Archives:In case you are not able to go to the Antwerp archives and you want to get copies of files, you can dtry the following options:

  • For files which are on microfilm: get someone to copy it for you, there is a forum where you can submit your request. Hopefully one of the visitors will volunteer to get it for you (note: I usually copy whole files even if not each paper of each file has a lot of information (sometimes it is just a cover with the number of the file), in that case I believe you’ll need to find a volunteer with a lot of patience).
  • In case the file is not disclosed yet: You can give authorization via a formulier/volmacht/etc and then

Come well prepared to the Antwerp Archives: We see from this article and from some of my previous artciles on this website that if you come well prepared to the Antwerp Archives, you’ll be able to spend much less time then would be conceivable in the pre-internet times. I for instance go the the archives with a sheet on which I printed a table at home. In this table I usually add a list of files I am looking for with the exact place were I will be able to find it at the FelixArchief. I also add other details such as names, date of births, comments, etc. In the following screenshot you can see an example:   In other articles I hope to explain more about these files and how to understand these files.

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