According to Belgian law, you must always have some form of identification with you.
Possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs are serious offences.
It’s illegal to wear in public places (parks, buildings, public transport, on the street etc.) clothing that hides a person’s face largely or completely. People wearing such clothing (e.g., the burka and niqab) risk a fine of up to €137.50 and/or detention for up to 7 days. There is no exemption for tourists.
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons.
Safety and security
Demonstrations often take place in Brussels, including around transport hubs and the Schuman area. While the vast majority of demonstrations are peaceful, there is a risk of isolated incidents of unrest or violence. If you’re in and around areas where demonstrations are taking place, remain vigilant and move away quickly if there are signs of disorder.
Some demonstrations can affect access to the British Embassy and the British Consulate General and cause travel disruption in central Brussels. For regular updates on any disruption, you can check local news, the Belgian Railways website (train and metro travel) and the HERE map website (road travel).
Petty crime rates are similar to the UK, but on the increase. You should take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.
Take only the minimum amount of cash, credit cards and personal ID necessary when you go out. As far as possible leave jewellery, other valuables and documents in a secure place like a hotel safe. Avoid carrying money, bank/credit cards and your passport in the same bag or pocket. Leave a photocopy of your passport and itinerary with a contact in the UK. Enter next-of-kin details into the back of your passport.
In the event of theft, contact the nearest police station and get a police report. If you lose your passport, you should also contact the British Embassy in Brussels. If you have difficulty reporting the theft of your cards to your UK card issuer, you can ask the Belgian group ‘Card Stop’ (telephone: +32 (0) 70 344 344) to send a fax to your UK card company to block your card. Alternatively, if you have Belgian issued bank/credit cards, Card Stop will be able to block them.
Be vigilant and take extra care in major railway stations, and on public transport, particularly late at night. Thieves and muggers operate around the Brussels Gare du Midi/Zuidstation (Eurostar terminal), Gare du Nord and Schuman (the EU quarter). Pickpockets also operate on international trains, mainly Paris-Brussels and Amsterdam-Brussels.
Never leave luggage unattended. There have been reports of luggage being stolen from the racks at the end of carriages in high-speed trains (TGV and Thalys), usually just before the doors close.
If you travel by taxi, use official, licensed taxis or a pre-booked minicab. We recommend that you avoid hailing taxis on the street, and do not use taxis that stop but were not specifically hailed.
Do not leave valuable items visible in your car, even when you are in it. Keep car doors locked and windows secure at all times. It is increasingly common for thieves, usually on motorbikes, to break a window and snatch valuables from the front or back passenger seat when the vehicle is stationary at traffic lights. Car jacking, especially of up-market vehicles, remains a risk.
When visiting former WW1 battlefields in North West Belgium, stay on the footpath and exercise caution if you see anything that looks like shells or munitions. Unexploded shells have recently been uncovered. Move away from the site and call the police emergency number 112 to report any incidents.
Traffic is fast and Belgium’s accident rate is high mainly due to speeding. In 2019 there were 646 road deaths in Belgium (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 5.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.
Licences and documents
To drive in Belgium you must have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you’re driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may also be required.
If you’re living in Belgium, check the Living in Guide for information on requirements for residents.
Low emission zones
There are low emission zones in Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp. You can find more information on the Brussels Low Emission Zone website, Ghent Low Emission Zone website and Antwerp Low Emission Zone website.
Speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles are in operation throughout the country.
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, and drivers who are attempting to join a road after having driven down a street in the wrong direction.
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.
There is a speed restriction of 30 km/h in school areas, which is operational 24 hours (even when schools are closed), unless indicated otherwise. The start and finish of these zones are not always clearly marked.
Fines have increased dramatically (up to € 2,750 for exceeding the speed limit by 40 km/h and a possible court appearance for exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h). If you are unable to pay an on the spot fine your vehicles may be impounded.
Don’t drink and drive; frequent alcohol checks are made. Less than 0.05% alcohol in the bloodstream is allowed (a lower level than in the UK). 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.
Using a mobile phone while driving is not allowed; the use of ‘hands free’ equipment is allowed.