Are there any special requirements for driving or hiring a car in Belgium?
Driving is on the right with overtaking on the left. You give priority to the right and yield if you see a sign with a red X in the middle. Give priority to trams and any disembarking passengers.
Seat Belt Laws
It's a legal requirement that passengers and the driver must wear seatbelts whilst the car under way in Belgium. An on the spot fine applies if you break the law.
Drinking and Driving
The legal limit for blood alcohol in Belgium is 59mg per 100ml of blood – less than that in the UK. If over the limit you will have your licence taken away from you for a period of time dependent on the amount you have in your bloodstream. You will still be charged and are almost certain to receive a fine, a suspension and a possible jail term depending on the severity of the case.
Must Have Documents
There's a lot of documentation required for driving in Belgium including a driver's licence, valid insurance, proof of ID, the vehicle registration document and an international drivers licence if not an EU citizen.
Residential areas - 20 km/h.
In some parts of towns where indicated by signs - 30 km/h.
On the open road - 90 km/h
Motorways – 120 km/h
Minimum Driving Age
The minimum age to drive in Belgium is 18. You can rent a car at 21 years old though some companies require you to be 23.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Safety camera warning devices are illegal in Belgium and you'll receive an on the spot fine plus the device will be confiscated if you are caught with one.
On the Spot Fines
On the spot fines are commonly used in Belgium and have four levels depending on the severity of the offence
Child Safety Rules
Children under 1.35m tall cannot travel in the front seat unless in an EU approved child restraint system. Baby seats must be rear facing and have the air bag deactivated if fitted.
A minimum of third party insurance is compulsory in Belgium and you must carry proof of it.
Rules of the Road
Standard European driving laws apply with one or two exceptions.
You must use a warning triangle and have your hazard warning lights lit if involved in an accident or if you break down.
You must have a reflective jacket in the car to use when stopping on a main road where stopping is prohibited or in case of an accident or breakdown
You must use beam deflectors if driving a UK car
You must carry a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher if your car is registered in Belgium
Other than the standard EU regulations there are no specific laws on towing. Just make sure that other road users are aware of what you are doing.
Speed cameras are prevalent in Belgium, both fixed and mobile. Fixed cameras will earn you a ticket and fine sent through the post to your home address or to the car hire company whilst mobile patrols will issue you with an on the spot fine.
Using Mobile Phones when driving
It's illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving unless connected to a hands free kit
You cannot leave an engine idling whilst stopped for any length of time. Parking must be in the direction of the traffic so facing the direction of travel on the right hand side of the road.
There are meters and ticket machines on many streets in Belgian cities. Sometimes you'll find meters in a blue zone. There, the meters override the disk and so payment must be made. There are also many municipal and private parking garages.
It’s possible to buy an International Blue Parking Disc from many shops and kiosks. There are special parking areas for holders of these and you can park there for a set number of hours. It’s often a much cheaper way to park.
Clamping is used in Belgium but for uninsured vehicles, not illegally parked ones. Overstaying your ticket is monitored by police and wardens and you'll get a ticket if caught.
Belgium follows EU guidelines on parking for holders of an EU Disabled Parking Permit but you should check details carefully when parking as some parking areas or car parks make exceptions.
Motor Way Signs
Motorway signs are blue with white writing.
Petrol - Essence
Unleaded - Sans plomb
Diesel – Gazole
Town center – Centre Ville
No pedestrians - Interdit aux pietons
Exit – Sortie
One lane road - Voie unique
Turn on your lights - Allumez vos feux (lanterns)
Driving licence- Permis de Conduite
Services (rest stops) - Aire de repos
End of no parking zone - Fin d'interdiction de stationer
Beware roadworks - Attention travaux
Note: In Flanders some of the road signs might be in Dutch.
Unleaded fuel - loodvrije benzene
Petrol station – tankstation
Highway – Grote weg
Exit – Afrit
Entrance – Oprit
Traffic lights in Belgium follow the international standard but you will sometimes find red, green and amber arrows on a right or left turn.
The Liefkenshoek Tunnel in Antwerp is the only toll road.
The emergency number is 112. For traffic information contact 0900 10 280.
What to do in an emergency
Legally you must stop and help anyone who is injured people as well as do your best to prevent any further dangerous situations from materialising, even if it means moving the car.
In an emergency, you must display a warning triangle 30m from the vehicle and have your hazard warning lights on. Call the emergency services on 112 and wait with the vehicle until they arrive. It is an offence to leave the scene of an accident where someone has been injured.
It costs about £1.32 per litre for unleaded and £1.24 for diesel.