Driving in Belgium
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.
When driving in Belgium the following documents should be carried:
• Full, valid driving licence* (with paper counterpart)
• International Driving Permit (1926, 1949, 1968) (Available from)
• 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 warn if involved in a breakdown or an accident or alongside a road where stopping or parking is prohibited)
• 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.
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 1m between them and the overtaking vehicle.
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 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.
• 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.
• Warning of approach
Warning signals must be as brief as possible. Audible warning should not be given unless there is no other way of avoiding an accident. Outside built-up areas, audible warning devices 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, audible warning signals should be replaced by flashing headlights.
The following national speed limits apply:
Motorways Other roads
Normal traffic conditions 120km/h 90km/h
Unless otherwise indicated by the appropriate sign, vehicles must observe a minimum speed limit of 70 km/h on motorways, except when traffic is congested or conditions are dangerous. Vehicles which cannot reach a speed of 70 km/h on straight level stretches must not use motorways.
In residential areas the maximum speed is 20 km/h.
Certain zones, indicated by appropriate signs, have a speed limit of 30 km/h.
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 km/h.
A car navigation system with maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras is permitted, but equipment which actively searches for speed cameras or interferes with police equipment is prohibited.
• On-the-spot fines
The police may impose on-the-spot fines to visitors who infringe traffic regulations.
• Traffic offences
There are 4 categories of road traffic offences –
• Not wearing a seat belt
• Parking offence not causing a danger
• Driving in a bus lane
• 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
• Infringement of passing rules
• Not stopping at a red traffic light
• Overtaking when prohibited
• 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
• 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 regulations
Any vehicle standing must have its engine switched off, unless absolutely necessary.
Any vehicle standing (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 left 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
• 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.
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.
If the test is positive (i.e. shows there is between 0.05% and 0.08% of alcohol in the blood), the person is not allowed to drive for at least three hours, their driving licence is withdrawn for that period.
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 12t +.
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.
• Means of payment
Credit cards are generally accepted at petrol stations.
• Automatic petrol pumps
Automatic petrol pumps are found in some large towns.
Emergency telephones linked to an SOS telephone network are installed at 2 km intervals along the motorways.