The draft bill was approved in the lower house of parliament and won support from all the major political parties on both sides of the country's linguistic divide.
The vote was a rare show of unity in the divided country, whose prime minister resigned just days ago over a spat between the French and Dutch-speaking communities over the demarcation of voting boundaries surrounding the capital, Brussels, which is located in Flanders (EurActiv 27/04/10).
136 out of the 138 MPs present voted to ban the veil.
The ban will apply to garments that completely hide a person's face and will be enforceable in all public places, meaning not only schools or public administrations but also in parks and on pavements.
Sanctions for wearing such veils in public will range from a fine of 150 euros for a woman seen wearing the veil to 15,000 euros and up to a year in jail for those who force a woman to wear it.
According to its supporters, the bill is intended to promote women's rights and prevent a split between the Islamic community and the rest of Belgian society.
However, most Belgian Muslims see the measure as discriminatory and feel that their entire community is being stigmatised, rather than the very few women who wear the burqa.
Critics argue that it could violate EU law on freedom of expression and say the bill could be challenged before the European Court of Human Rights.
The Senate vote is considered a mere formality, but Belgium will soon be without a parliament - the two chambers of the assembly are due to be dissolved next week - and it is uncertain when the next parliament will be sworn in.
Other critics worry that the move to ban the burqa in Belgium is part of a wider trend of hardening anti-Islamic sentiment across Europe.
In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he will go ahead with a ban on the burqa, which could come into effect this summer. In Switzerland, voters recently backed a ban on minarets. Other countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland have seen rising support for anti-Islamic parties in recent years.