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Driving in Belgium?

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Kelly Powell

Living in Belgium, from USA

"I loved moving to Brussels. But after a while I felt homesick. On InterNations I met a bunch of people from the US. That helped a lot."

Maria Lombardi

Living in Belgium, from Italy

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Belgium at a Glance

Driving in Belgium

Although Belgium is not exactly a big country, driving allows you to make use of its modern, toll-free road network and to see the local sights at your own convenience. The InterNations guide gives you a succinct introduction to the most important aspects of driving in Belgium.

If you plan on living in Belgium as an expat, you are probably keen on driving in Belgium too. Owning a car allows one to easily travel through this beautiful country. Despite the fact that Belgium is a fairly small nation, where the distance between two points is never more than 300 km, most Belgians own at least one car per household.

Road Infrastructure in Belgium

Belgium’s 154,012 kilometers of roads follow an orderly network. Belgian roads are labeled and differentiated by letters of the alphabet. A-roads connect major cities and international destinations and usually radiate out from Brussels. B-roads are shorter routes between other, slightly smaller cities. R-roads are ring roads that form around large cities, and N-roads connect secondary cities and towns. Provincial roads abound in Belgium; however, they rarely have signposts.

There are no toll roads in Belgium, aside from the Liefkenshoek Tunnel in Antwerp. The Belgian highway system is purportedly among the best lit in Europe, which eases driving at night.

If you are planning on driving in Belgium’s capital, be very cautious concerning the traffic, as congestion in Brussels is terrible. Don’t be surprised if you spend a fair amount of time waiting in traffic. Additionally, the city is reportedly quite dangerous to drive in.  This is mainly due to the fact that many Belgians drive at extreme speeds. A 2012 nationwide study conducted by the Belgian Institute for Road Safety reports that in built-up areas less than one in ten Belgians adhere to the maximum speed limit. Although highways have a standard speed limit of 120 km/h the study announces that 40% of drivers go much faster. 

Brussels’ R0 Ring is apparently a nightmare concerning traffic; however, the Agency for Roads and Traffic is presently working on improving this congestion.

Compared to its neighbors France, Germany and Netherlands, Belgium has the highest road death rate per capita amongst all three, thus having one of the highest in Western Europe.  

How to Get a Driving Permit in Belgium

Persons with a valid driver’s license that was originally issued in a European Union member state can go on driving in Belgium with their normal license until it expires. It is recommended to trade it in for a Belgian license though, as this simplifies things for the police and can serve as a form of identification.

If your license was issued in a non-EU country, you are allowed to drive with an international driving permit for visits that are up to six months in duration. However, if you intend to visit the country for a longer time or if you establish resident status, you need to apply for a local license for driving in Belgium. The country has a license agreement with some nations, so their citizens are able to simply trade their license in for a Belgian one. Citizens from most other countries must take both the written and practical driving test in order to legally drive in Belgium.

To find out which non-EU countries need to meet which requirements, visit the Federal Public Service of Mobility and Transport and check their list of countries whose citizens qualify for swapping their national permits for driving in Belgium.  

The application for a Belgian driver’s license takes place at the town hall in the municipality you are registered in. You need to supply a completed application form, proof of residency, your original license, an application fee, and passport photos. After that, there are no more obstacles to driving in Belgium.

 

 
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