Driving advice for every country in Europe

Find up-to-date driving laws and advice for any country in Europe before you visit, including any accessories you may need to purchase. Don't forget the RAC provides European breakdown cover while you're driving in Europe.

Driving in Belgium

Belgium
Population: 10.4m
Area: 30,528 sq. km
Currency: Euro (100 cents) - EUR (€)

Essentials

Driving licence

Driving licences issued abroad can be used in Belgium only by visitors who have reached the minimum ages required for holders of Belgian licences for the same category of vehicle.

A foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive a motor vehicle in Belgium until the age of 18yrs old.

Going away? Remember to take Travel Insurance with you.

Important documents

Vehicles from the UK may be imported into Belgium for up to 6 months in any period of 12 months. When driving in Belgium the following documents should be carried:

Full, valid driving licence* 

  • Proof of insurance (third party or above)
  • Proof of ID (Passport)
  • Proof of ownership (V5C Certificate) 

Visitors driving in Belgium are required by law to carry the following items. Hefty on-the-spot fines can be issued for failing to carry specific items:

  • Reflective jackets (must be worn if involved in a breakdown or an accident or alongside a road where stopping or parking is prohibited)
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with four wheels or more)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
  • First aid kit & fire extinguisher (vehicles registered in Belgium must carry both, but this is not compulsory for vehicles registered abroad)
  • Motorcyclists: Motorcyclists riding in Belgium, including foreigners, must wear protective clothing, i.e.: gloves, jacket with long sleeves, trousers with long legs or overall, and boots protecting the ankles.

Children under three are not allowed on motorcycles. Children between three and eight may be carried as passengers in a special seat, only on motorcycles up to 125cc.

Rules of the road & regulations

Rules of the road

Overtaking & passing

When overtaking a cyclist or moped rider there should be a distance of least one metre between them and the overtaking vehicle.

 Among the cases where it is prohibited to overtake, the following require special mention:

  • At level crossings displaying the St. Andrew's cross sign, not equipped with gates or light signals
  • At intersections where right hand priority is applicable, and at any other intersection for those drivers who must give right of way
  • If the driver to be overtaken is himself overtaking a vehicle with more than two wheels, except when there are three lanes or more for traffic in the direction followed
  • When the driver to be overtaken is approaching a pedestrian crossing (or stopping at a pedestrian crossing) or a crossing for cyclists and motorcyclists at places where traffic is not controlled by a policeman or by traffic lights
  • Overtaking is not allowed on traffic ramps.
  • In case of rain, snowfall or other adverse weather conditions, heavy goods vehicles (7.5 t and over) may not overtake on motorways or dual carriageways.  However, they may overtake an agricultural vehicle (tractor) or any vehicle using a special lane for slow moving vehicles.
  • Outside built-up areas, goods vehicles over 3.5 t may not overtake on roads where there are two lanes for traffic in the direction followed. However, they may overtake an agricultural vehicle (tractor) or any vehicle using a special lane for slow moving vehicles.

When the size of the carriageway makes passing difficult, the driver may use the side of the footway provided that pedestrians are not put in any danger.

Priority

Priority must be given to all vehicles coming from the right, except where the driver coming from the right is driving the wrong way in a one-way street.

However, vehicles on rails (trams) always have priority over all other users, whether on the right or on the left.

In built up areas, a driver must slow down or stop for bus drivers who have indicated that they intend driving away from the bus stop.

Vehicles coming out from a path or dirt track must give way to road users on a surfaced road.

Road users must immediately move to the side and give way as soon as they are warned of the approach of an emergency vehicle by means of the special siren.  They must stop if necessary.

Priority at roundabouts must be given to vehicles already in the roundabout. All roundabouts in Belgium are signposted with "give way" signs. 

Priority at pedestrian crossings

When approaching a pedestrian crossing where traffic is not controlled by traffic lights or by a traffic officer, drivers must slow down and give way to pedestrians already on the crossing or who are about to step on it.

Zip merging

On roads with several lanes of traffic in the same direction, in congested road conditions, drivers driving on a lane that is coming to an end or where traffic is to be interrupted must continue driving until they get to the point where the lane starts to close up, and then merge into the adjacent lane, where traffic will continue.

Drivers driving on the lane that remains open must give way, in turns and just before the other lane ends, to drivers merging in.

If there are lanes closing on both sides of a central lane, priority when merging must be given first to one vehicle on the right lane and then to one vehicle on the left lane.

Warning of approach

Warning signals must be as brief as possible.

Audible warnings such as using the horn should not be given unless there is no other way of avoiding an accident.

Outside built-up areas, the horn may be used as a warning to road users of the intention to overtake

Between nightfall and dawn, except in the case of imminent danger, you should flash your headlights instead of using the horn.

Seat belts

Any person must wear a seat belt whenever one is fitted on the front and rear seats in all vehicles registered in Belgium or abroad.

Travelling with children

A child less than 1.35 metres in height travelling in a car, van or lorry, must be seated in a child seat or child restraint.

Where a child restraint/seat is not available, a child aged three years and over, measuring less than 1.35 metres, must travel in the rear seat of the vehicle using a seat belt or other safety device attached to the seat.

If the child is under three years old, they may not be transported in a vehicle without a child restraint/seat, except in a taxi.

Speed Limits

The following national speed limits apply:

Useful numbers:

  • 112 - Here's a really important bit of knowledge; you can dial 112 from anywhere in Europe and an operator will connect you to an emergency service in the country you're visiting. Operators can answer your call in their native language, English, and French. 
RoadsSpeed limits
Motorways120 kph (75mph)
Outside built up areas90kph (56 mph) (Wallonia and Brussels Capital region), 70 kph (43 mph) in the Flemish region
Built up areas50 kph (31 mph)
Residential areas20 kph (12 mph)

Unless otherwise indicated by the appropriate sign, vehicles must observe a minimum speed limit of 70 kph on motorways, except when traffic is congested or conditions are dangerous.

Vehicles which cannot reach a speed of 70 kph (43mph) on straight level stretches must not use motorways.

Certain zones, indicated by appropriate signs, have a speed limit of 30 kph. (19 mph). The speed limit around all schools is 30 kph.

On roads with humps, drivers must approach with care and at a moderate pace so as to pass over them at a speed not exceeding 30 kph.

A car navigation system with maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras is permitted, but equipment which actively searches for speed cameras (such as radar) or interferes with police equipment is prohibited.

Penalties

On-the-spot fines

The police may impose on-the-spot fines to visitors who infringe traffic regulations - such as not indicating when turning, or speeding at less than 10kph over the limit. On-the-spot fines are usually a minimum of €50.

Traffic offences

There are four categories of road traffic offences -

Level 1 (carrying €55 on-the-spot fine):

  • Not wearing a seat belt
  • Parking offence not causing a danger
  • Driving in a bus lane
  • A driver who leaves his vehicle in the case of a breakdown or an accident on a motorways and doesn't wear a reflective safety vest

Level 2 (carrying €110 on-the-spot fine):

  • Using a hand-held mobile phone when driving
  • Parking offence causing a danger to others, for example on a pavement, in a disabled bay, near a junction
  • Non-observance of the orange traffic light

Level 3 (carrying €165 on-the-spot fine):

  • Infringement of passing rules (such as passing on the right side)
  • Not stopping at a red traffic light
  • Overtaking when prohibited

Level 4 (carrying €450 on-the-spot fine):

  • Dangerous overtaking, in a bend or near the top of a hill
  • Crossing a railway crossing when prohibited by lights
  • Reversing or doing a U-turn on a motorway

Speeding offences 

Fines for exceeding the speed limit in built-up areas (50 km/h), "Zones 30", near schools (30 km/h), in residential zones and pedestrian-priority zones -"zones de Rencontre" (20 km/h), are as follows:

Exceeding the speed limitPenalties
From 1 to 10 kphOn-the-spot fine of 50 EUR
From 11 to 30 kphOn-the-spot fine of 50 EUR for the first 10 km/h + 10 EUR per additional km/h
By more than 30 kphCourt appearance*: fine from 80 to 4,000 EUR and suspension of driving licence from 8 days to 5 years

* For non-residents, on-the-spot fines up to 825 EUR are possible.

Exceeding the speed limitPenalties
From 1 to 10 kphOn-the-spot fine of 50 EUR
From 11 to 40 km/hOn-the-spot fine of 50 EUR for the first 10 km/h + 5 EUR per additional km/h
By more than 40 km/hfrom 80 to 4,000 EUR* and suspension of driving licence from 8 days to 5 years

* For non-residents, on-the-spot fines up to 825 EUR are possible.

Confiscation of vehicles

The police can confiscate a vehicle which is not insured. They can impound a vehicle under certain circumstances, e.g. if the load is unsafe or if the driver tests positive for alcohol.

In certain circumstances, a tribunal can order the seizure or the confiscation of a vehicle which has been involved in a serious offence.

Parking

Parking regulations

Any stationary vehicle must have its engine switched off, unless absolutely necessary.

Any stationary vehicle (for the time necessary to load or unload persons or goods) or parked must be left on the right-hand side of the road, except in the case of a one way street when it can be parked on either side (but see also below).

Paid parking

Paid parking is regulated by parking meters or automatic parking machines; methods of payment and parking conditions are specified on the machines in question.

Where these exist inside blue zones, parking discs must not be used, except when the parking meter or ticket machine is out of action.

Enforcement of parking regulations

Wheel clamps are sometimes used to immobilise vehicles which are not legally insured. They are not used to penalise drivers who have illegally parked their vehicles.

Disabled parking access

Foreign disabled permits are recognised in Belgium.

Special parking places are reserved for the disabled. These are indicated by sign 'E23', with the addition of the international symbol.

Badge holders may also park without time limit where parking time is otherwise restricted by road signs, in blue zones and by parking meters. 

Traffic lights & road signs

Traffic lights

The international three-colour traffic light system is used.

Green, amber and red arrows are used at some intersections

Drink/drug driving

Legal limit

The present legal limit is 0.05% of alcohol in the blood (ie: 0.5g of alcohol per litre of blood) or 0.22mg per litre of exhaled air. For commercial drivers, the limit is lower: 0.2g of alcohol per litre of blood.

Alcohol

Anybody driving, about to drive or presumed to be the author of an accident (even as a pedestrian), may have to undergo a breath test on the spot.

Level of alcohol in bloodPenaltyIf prosecuted
Between 0.05% and 0.08%Driving ban for three hours, on-the-spot fine (or deposit) of 150 EURA fine ranging between 200 to 4,000 EUR
Between 0.08% to 0.10%Driving ban for six hours - possible suspension of licence for 15 days (with possible extension on request from the Ministry) and an immediate payment of 400 EURA fine from 1,600 EUR to 16,000 EUR and a suspension of licence from eight days to five years
Between 0.10% and 0.12%Driving ban for six hours - possible suspension of licence for 15 days (with possible extension on request from the Ministry) and an immediate payment of 550 EURA fine from 1,600 EUR to 16,000 EUR and a suspension of licence from eight days to five years
Between 0.12% and 0.15%Driving ban for six hours - possible suspension of licence for 15 days (with possible extension on request from the Ministry) and an immediate payment of 1200 EURA fine from 1,600 EUR to 16,000 EUR and a suspension of licence from eight days to five years
From 0.15% or moreA deposit of 1200 EUR, immediate suspension of licence for 15 daysA fine from 1,600 EUR to 16,000 EUR and a suspension of licence from eight days to five years

If the alcohol level is 0.08% or more or if the driver refuses to undergo the test, he is not allowed to drive for at least 6 hours.

Roads & fuel

Belgian motorways are currently toll-free except for vehicles of of 3.5 tonnes or more.

Service areas

There are service areas with a petrol station, restaurant, shop, showers and toilets, and sometimes a motel. Rest areas have picnic facilities.

Availability of fuel

Unleaded petrol, diesel oil and lubricating oil are readily available throughout Belgium.

The fuel SP95-E10, which contains up to 10% of ethanol and 90% of unleaded 95 petrol, is available. This fuel can be used in 60% of petrol-driven cars, especially in recent models. 

It is worth checking whether your car can take it before visiting Belgium.

Means of payment

Credit cards are generally accepted at petrol stations.

Automatic petrol pumps

Automatic petrol pumps are found in some large towns. These require you to insert a credit or debit card before fuel is dispensed.

Emergencies

Emergency telephones linked to an SOS telephone network are installed at 2 km intervals along the motorways.

Vans or motorhomes weighing over 3.5 tonnes

If you're driving a van or motorhome weighing over 3.5 tonnes, there are some additional rules you should be aware of:

  • You mustn't use the left-hand lane on roads with more than three lanes (unless the lanes are filtering off in different directions)
  • You should never exceed 90kph (56mph), even on motorways

Useful guides and maps

Michelin - National Map Benelux
Michelin Motoring Atlas: Europe

UK Government travel advice

See up-to-date travel advice

 


*Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1.
RAC European Breakdown cover arranged and administered by RAC Financial Services Limited (Registered No 05171817) and provided by RAC Insurance Ltd (Registered No 2355834). Registered in England; Registered Offices: RAC House, Brockhurst Crescent, Walsall WS5 4AW. RAC Financial Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in respect of insurance mediation activities. RAC Insurance Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

 
Source: All information in this document is sourced from the AIT (Alliance Internationale de Tourisme) & the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) and, to the best of the RAC’s knowledge, is correct at the time of publication (May 2016).

 

Embassy Brussels

Office: Embassy Brussels
Street Address: Avenue d’Auderghem 10
ZIP Code: 1040
City: Brussels
Country: Belgium

Telephone: (+32) 2 287 62 11
Fax: (+32) 2 287 62 50
Email: public.brussels@fco.gov.uk

British Consulate Brussels

Office: British Consulate Brussels
Street Address: Avenue des Nerviens 9-31
ZIP Code: 1040
City: Brussels
Country: Belgium

Telephone: (+32) 2 287 62 11
Email: consularsection.brussels@fco.gov.uk