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 square kilometres
Currency: Euro (EUR) € = 100 cents

Coronavirus update

Please be aware that driving in Europe may be restricted at the moment.

Check the Foreign travel advice section of the GOV.UK website for up to date advice on all European countries.

Despite being just a short hop across the Channel, driving in Belgium is very different to driving in the UK. If you’re planning a trip, there are things you need to be aware of ahead of your journey. 

To make your trip to the Continent as safe and effortless as possible, we’ve put together a guide to everything you need to know before you go, from required documents to rules of the road.  

Driving a rented vehicle? Jump to the advice for driving a hire car in Belgium section.

RAC European Breakdown Cover (Basic and Comprehensive) provides a wide range of benefits should you breakdown in Belgium to ensure you stay safe. 

To supplement this, RAC also offers travel insurance. Cover will include medical expenses, baggage, personal money and belongings, among many other benefits.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered from just £7 this winter. Plus, get a full refund if Covid-19 restrictions prevent travel.†

Advice for driving in Belgium

driving-abroad-in-belgium-advice

In an emergency

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 or French.

Driving licence laws in Belgium

Visitors must be aged 18 or over and hold a full, valid driving licence to legally drive in Belgium. Riders of mopeds or motorcycles up to 125cc must also be aged 18 or over. 

Driving licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted. International driving permits are recognised but not required unless you’re staying for more than 185 days. 

Things to take when driving in Belgium

Documents for driving in Belgium

Vehicles from the UK can be temporarily imported into Belgium for up to six months in any period of 12 months. In order to stay on the right side of the law, the following documents should always be carried:

  • Full, valid UK driving licence
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • V5 registration document

Do I need a GB sticker for driving in Belgium?

Yes, you will need a GB sticker on your car to drive in Belgium unless it’s equipped with EU number plates, which show the country code in a circle of stars on a blue background. 

Driving in Belgium packing checklist

In addition to required documents, drivers in Belgium are required by law to carry the following items:

  • Reflective jackets (must be worn if you’re 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 for driving on the right, so your lights don't dazzle motorists coming the other way
  • First-aid kit and fire extinguisher (vehicles registered in Belgium must carry both, but this is not compulsory for vehicles registered abroad)
  • Motorcyclist protective clothing (all riders, including foreigners, must wear protective clothing – i.e. gloves, a jacket with long sleeves, trousers with long legs and boots protecting the ankles)
  • Green Card – this is no longer a requirement, but it could be useful to back up your insurance documents and show you've got the minimum legal level of cover. To find out more, contact your insurance company

Rules of the road in Belgium

Overtaking and passing

In Belgium, motorists drive on the right and overtake on the left. When overtaking a cyclist or moped rider there should be a distance of least one metre between them and the overtaking vehicle.

Situations where it is prohibited to overtake include:

  • At level crossings featuring the St Andrew’s cross sign, which may not have gates or light signals
  • At intersections where right-hand priority is a must
  • At any other intersections for drivers who have to give right of way
  • If the other vehicle being overtaken is also overtaking a vehicle with more than two wheels. An exception is when there are three or more lanes for traffic in the direction of travel
  • If the vehicle being overtaken is approaching a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist crossing at locations where traffic is not controlled by police or traffic lights
  • In adverse weather, HGVs are unable to overtake on dual carriageways and motorways. However, they can pass agricultural vehicles like tractors or other vehicles using a lane for slow-moving transport
  • Goods vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes cannot overtake on routes outside built-up areas where there are two lanes for traffic in the direction followed. However, like HGVs, they can overtake farming vehicles and others using a special lane for slow-moving vehicles
  •  

A driver can use the side of a footway if the size of a carriageway makes passing difficult. However, this is only allowed as long as pedestrians are not put in danger.

Who has priority?

All vehicles coming from the right have priority. However, it should also be noted that trams always have priority, whether they are on the left or right.

Drivers need to slow down or completely stop in a built-up area if a bus has indicated that it intends to leave a stop. In addition, any vehicles emerging from a path or track need to give way to those on the surfaced road.

When it comes to emergency vehicles, drivers must move to the side and give way as soon as they are aware of their approach. If it is required, they should also stop.

Vehicles already present on roundabouts also get priority and the junctions tend to feature ‘give way’ signs. Finally, drivers approaching a crossing not controlled by lights or a traffic officer should give way to pedestrians who are on it or about to step onto it.

Warning of approach

Warning signals should only be given briefly and the use of a horn is only allowed if there is no other way to avoid an accident.

However, audible warnings can be used outside built-up areas to signal to others that you plan to overtake. During the night, flashing headlights should be used instead of a horn, except in cases of danger.

Towing

On a standard driving licence, motorists are allowed to tow a trailer with a maximum authorised mass of 750kg, including the trailer and its load.

Seat belts

If seat belts are fitted to your car, they must be worn by both drivers and passengers. 

An on-the-spot fine for failing to wear a seat belt is set at €116. 

Traffic lights

The international three-colour traffic light system is used in Belgium.

Green, amber and red arrows are used at some intersections.

Belgian speed limits

Belgium uses the metric system for all road signs, meaning speed limits and other road signs including distance are indicated using kilometres and metres. 

Residential areas 20km/h
In built-up areas50km/h max (30km/h around schools)
Outside built-up areas90km/h (in the Wallonia and Brussels Capital region) 70km/h (in the Flemish region)
Motorways 120km/h

Special speed restrictions apply to certain classes of vehicles, including vehicles with trailers, so check local restrictions before travel. 

Speeding fines in Belgium

Speeding fines in Belgium range from €53 to €866 for non-residents depending on the speed at which offenders are caught, or the road on which they’re driving. 

Speed camera detectors

Navigation systems which highlight the presence of speed cameras are permitted in Belgium. However, any equipment that actively searches for such devices or impacts on police equipment is prohibited. 

Specialist Breakdown Cover for Caravans and Motorhomes

RAC Arrival offers best in market UK and European cover for caravans, motorhomes and trailers.

Travelling with children in Belgium

driving-tips-for-belgium

Car seats

Children under 135cm in height must be seated in a child seat or child restraint while travelling. However, if there are already two child restraints/seats installed in the rear seat of a car and there is no room for a third, a child aged three or older can travel in the rear seat of the vehicle using a seat belt. 

Children aged under three cannot travel in a car unless appropriately restrained. 

Child restraints must be correct for the weight of the child and also be an approved type. Rear-facing child seats cannot be used on a front seat with an airbag unless it is deactivated.

Bike helmet law

Helmets are not compulsory for cyclists in Belgium.

Driving a camper van and towing a caravan in Belgium

A vehicle with a trailer or caravan must not exceed 18.75 metres in length, 4 metres in height and 2.55 metres in width.

Loads mustn’t exceed 12 tonnes at the drive axle and 10 tonnes at a single axle.

Please note: The Department for Transport advises that A-frames are not legal for use by UK campers and caravanners abroad. In practice, this could mean towing your car while it’s fixed to a trailer.*

Penalties and fines in Belgium

On-the-spot fines

The police may impose on-the-spot fines to visitors who infringe traffic regulations - such as driving in a bus lane or speeding at less than 10km/h over the limit. 

Minimum and maximum fines

Fines range from €53 to €473 depending on the offence committed, although for certain, more dangerous offences such as dangerous driving, the fine could be fixed at a higher amount following a court appearance. 

The payment of fines must be made in euros, either in cash or by debit or credit card.

Confiscation of vehicles

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

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

The Cross-Border Enforcement Directive

An EU cross-border directive came into effect in the UK in May 2017. This is aimed at tracking down people who commit traffic offences in cars that are registered in an EU member state different to where the offence was committed.

This means if you commit a driving offence abroad, the crime will effectively follow you back home to the UK where you can still be prosecuted.

Parking in Belgium

Regulations

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

It 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.

Paid parking

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

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 that 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. 

Drink-driving law in Belgium

Legal limit

The present legal limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.05% of alcohol in the blood.

For commercial drivers, the limit is lower: 0.02%.

Random breath tests

Anybody driving, about to drive or involved in an accident may have to undergo a breath test on the spot.

If the test is positive (i.e. shows there is between 0.05 and 0.08% of alcohol in the blood), you’re not allowed to drive for at least three hours and your driving licence is withdrawn for that period.  

If the alcohol level is 0.08% or more or if you refuse to undergo the test, you’re not allowed to drive for at least six hours.

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol range from an on-the-spot-fine of €179 and three-hour driving ban to €1,260 and possible suspension of your licence for 15 days.

Tolls in Belgium

Motorways in Belgium are currently toll-free except for vehicles of 3.5 tonnes or more.

Service areas in Belgium

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 in Belgium

Unleaded petrol, diesel and LPG are readily available throughout Belgium.

Although most petrol stations are closed nightly from 20:00 to 08:00 and often all day on Sunday, stations on motorways and main roads are open 24 hours a day, including Sundays. Some petrol stations have automated pumps that accept credit or debit cards.

Driving a hire car in Belgium

Not all of the information in the guide above will be relevant to those looking to rent a hire car in Belgium.

Though it might be a good idea to read through everything anyway, here are the most important things to know for drivers of rental vehicles:

Rental information

  • The minimum age to hire a car is 19, although this can vary depending on the provider and model of car
  • You need a full, valid UK driving licence and usually a second proof of ID (passport)
  • Check with your car rental company beforehand to find out the minimum term you must have held your license for, as this can vary
  • Some companies may require you to have a credit card
  • You may not be able to drive outside of Belgium unless planned in advance - check with your hire company first
  • Make sure you get car hire excess insurance before your trip to protect yourself from unexpected costs. It's almost always cheaper to do this with a separate insurer and in advance

Hire car driving tips

  • The national speed limit on motorways in Belgium is 120km/h (74 mph). On a main road outside a built-up area it's up to 90km/h (in the Wallonia and Brussels Capital region), or 70km/h (in the Flemish region). For built-up areas it’s between 30km/h to 50km/h. Residential areas are 20km/h
  • Dial 112 in an emergency
  • If seat belts are fitted to your car, they must be worn by both drivers and passengers.
  • The blood alcohol content limit for drivers of private vehicles is 0.05%. That's lower than the 0.08% in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but the same as Scotland

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Driving in Belgium FAQs

  • Can I drive my car in Belgium?

    Yes, although you should always familiarise yourself with the local laws before you set off, especially as Belgium is made up of three different regions – Wallonia, Flemish and Brussels. You must have a valid UK driving licence and make sure you have the right insurance and breakdown cover for your trip.

    Getting to Belgium by car is relatively simple for UK residents. The quickest option is to board the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle train from Folkestone. Or you can take the ferry from Dover to France and make the short drive across the border into Belgium.

  • What side of the road do they drive on in Belgium?

    Unlike in the UK, motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road in Belgium and overtake on the left – which can take some adjustment if you’re used to driving on the left.

  • Can you drive in Belgium with a UK licence?

    Yes, you can legally drive in Belgium with your UK-issued driving licence without the need to apply for an International Driving Permit, unless you intend to stay for longer than 185 days.

  • Do I need a Green Card to drive in Belgium?

    While carrying a Green Card is no longer a legal requirement, many motorists choose to take one for extra proof of insurance. It’s advisable to check with your insurance provider before travel to ensure you will be covered.

  • Is driving in Belgium dangerous?

    Belgian roads are well organised and connected, and the highway system is among the best-lit in Europe, which makes driving at night less hazardous.

    Somewhat surprisingly, though, Belgium has one of the highest road accident rates in Europe, so you will need to exercise caution when driving there.

  • Do I need a GB sticker for Belgium?

    You will need to display a GB sticker on the rear of your car unless it has EU number plates with the country code in a circle of stars on a blue background.

  • Do I need headlamp converters in Belgium?

    Yes. Depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually. This is so you don’t dazzle oncoming traffic when driving on the right side of the road at night.

  • Do I need a fire extinguisher to drive in Belgium?

    While a vehicle registered in Belgium must carry a fire extinguisher, this is not compulsory for vehicles registered abroad.

  • What age can you start driving in Belgium?

    To legally drive in Belgium, you must be 18 years or older and in possession of a full valid driving licence.

  • Are there any toll roads in Belgium?

    There are currently no toll roads in Belgium. However, you will have to pay if you want to use the Liefkenshoek Tunnel in Antwerp.

  • Does Eurotunnel go to Belgium?

    Eurotunnel Le Shuttle doesn’t go directly to Belgium. It takes 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais, followed by a 40-minute drive to the Belgian border.

UK Government travel advice

See up-to-date travel advice

 


Source: 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 (November 2020).
 
*https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/helpandadvice/travelplanning/eurotraveladvice/europeancampingguide/page5/

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: [email protected]

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: [email protected]

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover

† Comparison based on RAC Arrival against standard level of cover from other major providers as of 06.02.20

† Price for 1 day cover for up to 9 people travelling in a vehicle up to 1 year old in Zone 1. For more information visit rac.co.uk/breakdown-cover/european-breakdown-cover