Advice for Driving in Belgium
16 October 2018
Tips, Checklist & Legal Requirements
Belgium is a popular travel destination, well known for its museums and cultural attractions. As it can be easily accessed from other countries in Europe, it’s often the case that visitors drive to their destination, either with their own vehicle or a hire car. If you’re intending to visit Belgium and plan to drive while you’re there, it might be worth reading our handy guide to get to grips with the rules and regulations. Use the checklist at the bottom of the page to ensure you have what you need for driving in Belgium!
If you wish to drive in Belgium, the following items are required:
- · Valid UK driving licence
- · Insurance documents
- · Vehicle documents
If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may also be requested.
Belgian roads are generally in good condition and are well lit at night, including the motorway network. Traffic is fast and Belgium’s road incident rate is high, mainly due to speeding. In 2011 there were 7.8 road deaths in Belgium per 100,000 of population, compared to the UK average of 3.1 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2011.
If your vehicle breaks down and you are on the hard shoulder of the motorway, you must now wear a fluorescent jacket. It is also now mandatory to carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.
If you wish to use a mobile phone, you must use 'hands free' equipment; talking on a mobile phone while driving is not allowed and will incur a heavy fine.
Speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles are operational throughout the country, and the following speed regulations are in place(km/h) unless otherwise stated by traffic signs:
Urban roads (31 mph).
Non-urban roads - Dual carriageway (56 mph).
Motorways / expressways - Dual carriageway (74 mph).
There is a speed restriction of 30 km/h in school areas, which is valid 24 hours (even when schools are closed). The start and finish of these zones are not always clearly marked.
Fines have increased dramatically (e.g. up to € 2,750 for exceeding the speed limit by 40 km/h). If you are unable to pay an on the spot fine, your vehicle may be impounded.
The following regulations are imposed for drivers of large vehicles:
- · If raining, hailing or snowing, vehicles of 7.5 tonnes or over may not overtake on motorways, highways or roads with a minimum of four lanes.
- · Vehicles of 3.5 tonnes or over are not allowed to use the left lane on roads with more than three lanes.
- · Exceptions are made when traffic approaches a fork in the motorway and vehicles have to move to the left or right hand lanes depending on their destination.
Drinking and Driving
Do not drink and drive, frequent alcohol checks are made, in daytime as well as at night. A maximum of 0.22 mg/l is allowed. A blood sample will be taken if you refuse to be breathalysed. Fines are heavy depending on the degree of intoxication and range from € 1,100 to € 11,000. In certain cases driving licences have been confiscated immediately.
Getting to Belgium
There is one ferry route between Belgium and the UK: Zeebrugge - Hull and it's served by P&O Seaways. There are daily crossings with an estimated duration of around 15 hours.
The price of a return ticket is dependent on a number of factors including the time and date of travel, the vehicle size and the number of occupants and whether you require the use of a cabin or club lounges.
General Driving Advice
There are some rules for driving in Belgium that you should take great care to obey. These include the 'priority to the right' rule, which was tightened up in March 2007. Drivers must give absolute priority to vehicles joining a road from the right, even if they have stopped at a road junction or stopped for pedestrians or cyclists.
Exemptions to this rule include:
- · Motorways
- · Roundabouts
- · Roads sign-posted with an orange diamond within a white background
- · Drivers who are attempting to join a road after having driven down a street in the wrong direction.
Additionally, trams have priority over other traffic. If a tram or bus stops in the middle of the road to allow passengers on or off, you must stop.
It is important to note that signage in Belgium can be a little confusing, due to both the languages of French and Flemish being spoken in the country. You should therefore make a note of destinations that differ in each language, in case they are signposted in the two different languages along the route.
To summarise, here is our driving in Belgium checklist:
- Ensure you have the necessary documents with you while driving: Valid UK driving licence, insurance documents, and vehicle documents.
- You must now wear a fluorescent jacket if your vehicle breaks down on the motorway.
- You must also carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.
- Using a mobile phone while driving is forbidden, you can only use “hands-free” equipment.
- You must adhere to speed limits.
- If you are planning to drive a vehicle of 3.5 or 7.5 tonnes and above, be aware of respective road regulations.
- Do not drink alcohol before driving.
- Be aware of sign post languages. As both French and Flemish are spoken in Belgium, different areas will use alternative names for the same location.
The team at Eurobreakdown.com hope you can use this information to stay safe on the roads of Belgium, and wish you well on your next trip!
Driving through Belgium to another destination? You might like to read our guides to:
Need breakdown cover for Belgium? Eurobreakdown.com can provide you with comprehensive single trip breakdown cover or annual multi trip breakdown policies with a best price guarantee.
Reference: The statistics mentioned on this page were sourced from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Annual Report 2013 and, to the best of Eurobreakdown.com’s knowledge, are correct at the time of publication (May 2014).
For general European driving tips click here