An approach was developed to identify surface soils affected by historical dredged sediment disposal in the alluvial plains of the Upper Scheldt, the Sea Scheldt and the Leie river. Dredged sediment-derived soils were identified based on field observations, comparative granulometric analyses and chemical analyses. Criteria developed were based on a comparison between reference data from 102 aerobic soil samples of areas known to be affected by dredged sediment disposal and 104 samples from undisturbed alluvial soils along the studied rivers. A comparative grain size analysis with optical laser diffractometry between the A and C horizon proved useful for the identification of levelled-up sites. The chemical soil characteristics that were most useful in identifying dredged sediment-derived soils were CaCO3, sulfur (S), organic carbon (OC) and phosphorus (P) contents, electrical conductivity (EC), and the C/P and C/S ratios. Criteria for concluding the origin of an investigated soil were specific for the studied area, but the approach presented may provide useful guidelines for developing criteria valid for different regions.