Driving in Belgium

Belgium has a dense network of motorways, none of which are tolled. Road conditions are excellent, service stations are plentiful. Traffic congestion in Brussels can be heavy. Signs can sometimes be unclear and on secondary roads even absent. Road signs are in Dutch in Flanders and in French in Wallonia.

The minimum age for renting a car is 21; one year’s driving experience and a credit card are required. All major car rental agencies are available at airports and major train stations, across cities and in towns, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, etc.

Driver’s licence

Drivers must have a valid license and carry it while driving. The minimum driving age is 18.

Licences issued by an EU or EEA country are recognised throughout the EU.

Some licences issued by non-EU/EEA countries may be valid for short-term stays up to three months; others may be valid for short-term stays up to six months but only in conjunction with an International Driver’s Permit issued by national automobile associations (for country-specific requirements, check with the embassy or consulate in Belgium). For longer stays, licences issued by non-EU/EEA countries that have a licence exchange agreement with Belgium can be exchanged for a Belgian licence upon registering with the commune of residence. Otherwise, a Belgian licence must be acquired by taking both written and practical driving tests; it is possible to benefit from an interpreter when taking the written exam.

Rules of the road

Traffic drives on the right. Speed limits in urban areas are 50 kph (30 mph), on motorways 120 kph (75 mph) and 90 kph (55 mph) on other national roads. Unless intersections are otherwise marked, drivers coming from the right (and turning to the right) have priority and may proceed without stopping. Buses and trams always have priority.

Third-party insurance is essential and comprehensive insurance is highly recommended. Wearing safety belts is mandatory and no child under 12 can sit in the front passenger seat if back seats are available. Drink-driving is illegal and severely punished. Mobile phone use while driving must be hands-free.

Motorcycle drivers and passengers must wear gloves, a jacket with long sleeves, long trousers, and boots that protect the ankles. Children under three are not allowed on motorcycles. Children between three and eight can be passengers only on motorcycles up to 125cc and must be carried in a special child’s seat.

More complete information is available in the Belgian Highway Code (French and Dutch) and various English guides online.