Road Conditions and Safety:
- Belgium?s road network is generally well-built and maintained.
- Adequate lighting exists on major highways, but on rural roads it is often insufficient or nonexistent.
- Roadside assistance and information on road conditions are available in English from Touring Mobilis, telephone 02 286-3040. Belgian police will also provide information on road conditions, telephone 02-642-6666.
- Emergency services are efficient and responsive. For police emergencies, dial 101 by phone within Belgium. For all other emergencies, dial 112.
- Traffic coming from the right generally has priority at uncontrolled intersections, even if coming from a smaller street.
- The maximum speed limit on Belgian highways is 120 kilometers (72 miles) per hour but is not always posted.
- The maximum speed in urban areas is 50 km (30 miles) per hour, but in central Brussels it is 30 km (19 miles) per hour.
- While Belgian authorities strictly enforce speed limits, many Belgians still drive significantly faster than the posted limit. Claiming ignorance of the speed limit may not prevent you from getting a significant fine for speeding, and your vehicle may be impounded if you can?t pay the fine on the spot. Automated radars with cameras are common and violators are issued citations through the mail.
- Belgian police also conduct breath analysis checks for alcohol use, particularly at night and during major holidays. The legal limit for operating a motor vehicle is .5 grams of alcohol per liter of blood (.05 percent Blood Alcohol Content).
- You must use your seat belt while driving in a vehicle.
- Bicycling is very common in Belgium, for both recreational and more traditional transportation purposes. Wear helmets at all times and follow vehicle travel rules (stopping at lights, crosswalks, etc.). Follow bike paths when available.
Public Transportation: Brussels and most major cities of Belgium have extensive and efficient public transportation systems. Trains, buses, and ferries connect Brussels with other major cities in Belgium and with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands. Traveling by train is considered to be safer than driving.
See our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of the Belgian national authority responsible for road safety.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Belgium?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Belgium?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Belgium should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.
High-quality medical facilities and services are widely available in Belgium. The large university hospitals can handle most medical problems. Equivalents for most, but not all, U.S. medications are available through local pharmacies with a prescription from a Belgian physician. The responsiveness of emergency services is also generally excellent.
For emergency services in Belgium, dial 112.
Ambulance services are widely available.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor?s prescription. Check with the Belgian Federal Public Health Service to ensure the medication is legal in Belgium.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of doctors and hospitals. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Individuals establishing a business or practicing a profession that requires additional permits or licensing should seek information from the competent local authorities prior to practicing or operating a business.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Belgium.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: While in Belgium, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different than in the United States.
- Belgian law requires that any new building with public or community space must be accessible for persons with disabilities.
- Many existing buildings as well as public transportation systems are less adapted to individuals with disabilities.
- General information on the accessibility of tourist accommodations, public transportation, museums, and other tourist facilities can be found on official tourism sites for Belgium?s three major regions: Brussels, Wallonia, and Flanders.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Terrorism: Terrorist groups and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. citizens abroad, including possible attacks in Europe. Terrorists are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack ? including knives, firearms, rudimentary IEDs, and vehicles ? to more effectively target crowds. Frequently, their aim is unprotected or vulnerable targets, such as:
- High-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, concerts, etc.)
- Hotels, clubs, and restaurants frequented by tourists
- Places of worship
- Shopping malls and markets
- Public transportation systems (including subways, buses, trains, and airports/scheduled commercial flights)
For more information, see our Terrorism page.
- Low-level street crime including robberies, smash and grab car robberies, purse snatchings, stealing electronics, and pickpocketing is common, particularly in major cities, in public areas such as restaurants, the Brussels metro at night, buses/trams, and all train stations. Thieves often operate in teams, by bumping into or shoving the target, especially in crowds. Be alert to distractions.
- Theft from vehicles is common. Always drive with your windows up and the doors locked, as thieves sometimes target cars stopped at traffic lights. Thieves may smash the window and grab valuables. Use parking garages when possible, and if you must use street parking, look for a spot near a street light. Do not leave anything visible on the seats, floor, or dashboard.
- Theft of bags on trains has increased, particularly the Brussels-Amsterdam route. Thieves often target light bags placed overhead. Keep bags with cash, valuables, and travel documents close to you, rather than in the overhead shelf on trains.
- Carry only a minimal amount of cash, credit cards, and necessary personal identification.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and watches.
Demonstrations occur frequently. They may take place in response to political or economic issues, on politically significant holidays, and during international events. Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
- Police routinely monitor protestors and demonstrations.
- Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly become violent. Check local media for updates and traffic advisories.
- Monitor the Embassy website for demonstration alerts.
- Common internet scams include confidence schemes, in which friends, family, or others receive a message that a U.S. citizen traveler is stranded in Belgium and in need of funds to pay for customs fees.
- U.S. citizens in the United States who have been victimized by Internet crime should report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Check ATMs or other machines for skimmers or removeable readers. When possible utilize bank ATMs. In bars and restaurants, have the card swiped in front of you and do not let it be taken away.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at 101. For all other emergencies, please dial 112. Contact the U.S. Embassy at +(32) (2) 811-4000. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crime.
The Belgian Commission for Financial Assistance to Victims of Intentional Acts of Violence provides financial compensation, under specific circumstances, for victims of crime and for those who have suffered injuries and consequent losses caused by such incidents. The Commission also provides for dependents or immediate family members of homicide victims. For more information, contact the Commission by phone at 32-2-542-7208; 32-2-542-7218; 32-2-542-7224; 32-2-542-7229, or 32-2-542-7244; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; or visit the Ministry of Justice website (French and Dutch only).
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the United States
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passpor
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Traveling Through Europe: Belgium is a party to the Schengen Agreement. If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.
- Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. If you plan on transiting a Schengen country review our U.S. Travelers in Europe page.
- You will need sufficient proof of funds and a return plane ticket.
- For additional information about visas for the Schengen area, see the Schengen Visa page.
Visit the Embassy of Belgium website for the most current visa information.
The Government of Belgium does not recognize the 12-page U.S. emergency passport, issued by U.S. embassies and consulates overseas, as a valid travel document for visa-free entry into Belgium. If traveling on this emergency passport, you may be refused boarding and/or entry by immigration officials. Only direct transit through Belgium for a destination in the United States is permitted with an emergency passport. You should check entry requirements of any other country of destination to make sure the emergency passport is accepted for entry.
HIV/AIDS RESTRICITONS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Belgium.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Belgium for information on U.S.?Belgium relations.