Customs regulations and required documents
Personal effects import regulations
Customs Classification The Combined Nomenclature of the European Union integrates the HS nomenclature and supplements it with its own subheadings with an eight-digit code number and its own Legal Notes created for Community purposes. In order to get exhaustive regulations and custom tariffs rates regarding their products, exporters shall refer to the TARIC code and its database, which includes all applicable customs duties and all customs trade policy measures for all goods.Import ProceduresCustoms procedures include, apart from importing with payment of duties, the following tax exemption procedures: release for consumption, transit or temporary admission, customs warehousing, inward processing, processing under customs control.
As part of the “SAFE” standards set out by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the European Union has set up a system of import controls (Import Control System- ICS), which aims to secure the flow of goods at the time of their entry into the customs territory of the EU. This control system is part of the Community Programme eCustoms, which requires operators to pass an Entry Summary Declaration (ENS) to the customs of the country of entry, prior to the introduction of goods into the customs territory of the European Union.
The Single Administrative Document (SAD) is the official model for written declarations to customs. The SAD describes goods and their movement around the world and is essential for trade outside the EU, or of non-EU goods. Goods brought into the EU customs territory are, from the time of their entry, subject to customs supervision until customs formalities are completed.
Since 1 July 2009, all companies established outside of the EU are required to have an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number if they wish to lodge a customs declaration or an Entry/Exit Summary declaration.
The TARIC (Tarif Intégré de la Communauté) is available to help determine if a licence is required for a specific product. Furthermore, the European Commission maintains a trade helpdesk with information regarding import restrictions of various products.
For more information please visit the European Commission Portal on Taxation and Customs Union.
Importing SamplesSamples are acceptable to Belgium and exempt from all Duty and VAT. A Certificate of Origin will not be required for import – only a standard Air Waybill or Bill of Lading and Commercial Invoice will be needed.
Belgium is part of the ATA Carnet convention.
Imported samples of commercial value owned by individuals abroad also may be granted exemption from customs charges. Security is required in the amount of duty and tax chargeable, plus an additional 10%. Samples are allowed to stay in Belgium for up to one year. Such samples are not permitted to be sold, put to normal use (except for demonstration purposes) or utilised in any manner for remuneration.
These quantities can be seized if customs are satisfied that they are of a commercial nature.
Free Import quantities when travelling from outside EU
Over 17 years olds can bring (in personal luggage) the following quantities:
The passengers can combine the first two types of alcohol as long the alcohol volume does not exceed 100%.
Over 17 years old that belong to the following categories:
The passengers can combine the first two types of alcohol as long the alcohol volume does not exceed 100%.
Note that the consideration of what constitutes frontier countries lies entirely with EU and the list outlined above may change.
When travelling by air or sea , over 17 years old can bring tobacco products for personal use only the following:
Each amount specified in above points will amount to 100% of the total allowance for tobacco products.
When travelling by land, over 17 years old can bring tobacco products for personal use only the following:
Each amount specified in all the points will amount to 100% of the total allowance for tobacco products.
Personal items of non-commercial nature worth up to 430 euro when travelling by air or sea
Personal items of non-commercial nature worth up to 300 euro when travelling by land
Personal items of non-commercial nature worth up to 150 euro for travellers under 15 years of age.
Non-commercial item are of an occasional nature and consist exclusively of goods for the personal or family use of the traveller, or of goods intended as presents. The nature and quantity of the goods must not be such as to indicate that they are being imported for commercial reasons.
Anyone wishing to import their vehicle in to Belgium will be asked to provide the following documentation to the customs authorities :
No import tax will be payable if these conditions are met.
Registration of the vehicle is then handled by the DIV. It records the vehicle as on the road in Belgium and also issues the number plate (plaque d’immatriculation/inschrijvingsplaat). In Belgium, the licence plate remains the property of the owner and can be transferred to another vehicle in the event of a sale/purchase. Again, this process is handled by the DIV. In order to register a vehicle in Belgium, and therefore to receive a licence plate, the following documentation must be presented to the DIV:
Note: Copies of documents are not accepted. As long as all these documents are in order, the licence plate will be issued within a few days, and will be sent in the post if a postal application has been made. If application is in person then the licence plate can be issued on the spot by the DIV office. The plate then needs to be attached to the rear of the vehicle, and a second one needs to be made up for the front, at the owner’s cost. It is also possible to fill in the application on Internet, on WebDIV. It then needs to be printed out and brought to the insurance company, who will finalise the registration online. The number plates and certificate will then arrive quickly by mail.
Scooters and mopeds also need to be imported and registered correctly. The DIV needs the same documentation as for cars, including customs clearance, VAT clearance, original registration documents and a certificate of conformity.
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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.
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.
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.
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.