Driving in Belgium – basic information for people who moved from UK to Belgium

After you move to Belgium, you will probably want or need to drive. Driving in Belgium varies from the pleasant, well maintained rural roads to the nightmare traffic jams around the major cities, and extensive roadworks – not so different from Britain. However, there are some physical and administrative differences you will need to accommodate.

To start with your British driving license will suffice – but it is a good idea to obtain a European license as soon as possible – it’s easier if you have to deal with police. The local town hall will issue you with one for a small fee. You will need your official ID Card, your complete British license  plus two passport type photographs, and the fee in cash. If you are a pensioner and approaching the age of 70, in Britain you have to renew your license very three years – not so in Belgium, your new license will last 11 years.

You will also need to register your vehicle with the VRA before you can legally drive it on the roads.

It is obligatory to have at least third party insurance – and to have it in the vehicle.

Driving in Belgium

When you move to Belgium you will find that driving is very similar to Britain – with one notable exception – “Priority from the right”. This may crop up often when least expected. On main roads you will notice yellow diamond signs, this means you have priority, but when the yellow diamond has a black line through it – beware, traffic may suddenly emerge from the right. And, of course, you drive on the right!

I have noticed that drivers tend cut corners and roundabouts can be baffling.

What you must carry in the car – documents

  • Driving licence
  • Insurance certificate
  • Vehicle registration documents
  • Passport/proof of identity
  • Proof of payment of road tax and car radio tax where applicable

What else to carry in the car

  •  A warning triangle. In the event of an accident or breakdown, the triangle must be placed 30 metres behind the vehicle on ordinary roads, and 100 metres on motorways, to warn following traffic. It must be visible at a distance of 50 metres
  • A first aid kit
  • A fire extinguisher, which must be accessible from the driver’s seat
  • A reflective vest.

Tyres

Winters can be hard in Belgium, and you may wish to use winter tyres when the ice comes. It is not obligatory in Belgium, but it is a legal requirement in the neighboring countries of Germany and Luxembourg.

ROADS

Motorways (Autoroute/Autobaan)

Motorways are signposted with a white E on a green background. There are service stations and SOS phones. They are well lit and mostly toll free.

National roads

National roads are marked with the letter N and a number

Speed Limits

Belgium has about twice the number of accidents than in Britain, and speed traps are common, and may be invisible. Fines are heavy, and often need to be paid on the spot.

Speed limits are as follows, unless otherwise indicated:

  • Built-up areas: 50 Km/h (30 Km/h in school areas – valid all day)
  • National Roads: between 70 Km/h and 90 Km/h
  • Motorways: 120 Km/h

In Built-up areas, the speed limit comes into effect at the white background signboard bearing the community’s name. Radar speed traps are common.

Accidents

The legal limit for drink driving in Belgium is 0.5 milligrams of alcohol per millilitre of blood. If you have an accident, what you do depends upon its severity.

In all cases

  • Stop
  • Put on the reflective jacket
  • Switch on hazard lights and place red triangle 30M behind vehicle (100M on motorways)
  • Exchange details: registration number, insurance, name and address.
  • Do not sign anything unless you are very sure
  • If the owner is absent, report it to the nearest police station
  • Fill out the accident form if possible, only sign if all agree and sign. Send this to the insurance company within a week.

Witnesses may be helpful. The police are very efficient. Photographs or sketches are useful

Conclusion

When you move to Belgium, you will find driving much like in the UK. The extensive road network varies from rutted tracks to pleasant, well maintained roads, and the traffic may be horrendous round Brussels at rush hour but pleasantly light in rural areas.

Anyhow – check the prices for removals to Belgium and get your quotation for free.

by Michael Pawlicki

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