If you wish to drive in Belgium, you have to inquire, beforehand, on conditions related to obtaining a driver's license. Find out all that you need to know in this article.
Whether you are going to work or settle in Belgium, you will probably have to move from one region to another. Buying or renting a car might be an ideal means of transport if you are relocating there with your family. Of course, you will need a valid driver's license to be allowed to drive in the country.
Note that the country recognizes three different types of driver's licenses: Belgian driver's licenses, European Union drivers' licenses and drivers' licenses which are issued in some non-European Union countries.
Foreigners holding a European driver's license initially have to register with the nearest Foreigners' Register to their place of residence on their arrival in the country. They can then decide to exchange their national driver's license for a Belgian driver's license. However, this step is not mandatory, but it can be useful in case of loss or theft of your national driver's license.
Documents to be produced for the exchange are:
- you foreigner's identification number
- your passport
- 20 euros (in cash or bancontact)
- a copy of your national driver's license.
Non-European foreigners are required to apply for the exchange at the National Identity Documents Service by producing an identification passport size photo with a white background, their national driver's license along with a sworn translation, as well as fees that apply, amounting to 26 euros. You could have to wait for a maximum of two months before obtaining your Belgian driver's license.
Obtaining a Belgian driver's license
If you do not yet have a driver's license, you can apply for one once you are in Belgium. However, you have to be aware of specific regulations. In fact, candidates have to follow 12 hours theoretical courses if they have failed the B category theoretical examinations twice (some exceptions may apply). The provisional driver's license, which will be valid for 36 months, must bear the monitor's name. Note that the candidate is allowed to change his learning method only once. Once the provisional driver's license has expired, the candidate has to follow practical courses during 6 hours. Candidates are not eligible to a new provisional driver's license before three years following the latter's expiry date.
Good to know:
The candidate can only take part in the practical driving examinations during his theoretical examination's validity, that is for three years.
Foreigners applying for an A category driver's license must be at least 18 years old and have passed the highway code test and be aware of road traffic regulations. Note that candidates must have scored at least 41 correct answers out of 50 questions to be accepted.
The candidate may choose to take his driving tests freely. He will then obtain a provisional driver's license which will be valid for 36 months. A minimum of 3 months driving apprenticeship is required with a monitor of their choice. However, the monitor must be holding a valid driver's license since at least 8 years. If you prefer to register with a traditional driving school, you will be eligible to a provisional driver's license which will be valid for 18 months. This will also include 20 hours of practice. You can pass the practice test after having practiced for a minimum of three months.
Candidates having failed the practical test twice will have to take practical courses for 6 extra hours.
Fees apply according to the following:
- theoretical test: 15 euros.
- provisional driver's license issue: 27 euros (plus municipal tax where it applies)
- for a car or motorcycle driver's license: 36 euros (complete practice exam costs)
- issuance of driver's license: between 20 and 35 euros (depending on the municipality)
- driving courses: about 500 euros (for an average of 10 hours).
Roads and signs
Belgium has a good road infrastructure like most European countries. However, local authorities are less likely to invest in road development projects, despite the country's status as a major commercial and economic hub. Finally, there is no toll on Belgian roads and highways.
Road signs in Belgium generally indicate directions. These are painted blue on common roads and green on highways. In some regions, particularly in the Flemish regions, city names are indicated in Dutch.
Mandatory equipment in your car
Besides the presence of at least one retro-reflective vest in your car in Belgium, you will also need to have a fire extinguisher on board, a first aid kit and replacement bulbs. Remember, also, the famous warning triangle.
In urban areas, speed is limited at 50 km/h in the city center and at 120 km/h in the outskirts. On motorways and highways which consist of four or more lanes, the speed limit is indicated in both directions. Outside urban areas, speed is limited at 90 km/h.
Pedestrian and bikers rights
Bikers have their own road sides in Belgium, in accordance with the Highway Code. Hence, they can ride in the middle of the road, in the wrong direction and take the right direction at traffic lights.
Car drivers are not allowed to park their vehicles on bike lanes. Moreover, they are not allowed to go beyond 30 km/h on bike lanes, let alone take over cyclists on the road.
As regards pedestrians, they have priority over motor vehicles.
You are not allowed to accelerate your vehicle if it is in the neutral mode. Moreover, turn off your vehicle if it is not running so as to avoid wasting fuel and pollute the environment.
FPS Mobility and Transport www.mobilit.belgium.be
FPS Mobility and Transport - List of countries whose drivers' licenses are recognized in Belgium www.mobilit.belgium.be/nl/wegverkeer
FPS Mobility and Transport – The Highway Code www.belgium.be
Driver's license in Brussels www.brussels.be