Driving in Belgium

roads in Belgium
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Updated 2023-09-29 13:44

If you're moving to Belgium, you might be interested in learning about getting a driver's license. Read on for more details.

Belgium has three types of driving licenses: Belgian, EU (a driving license obtained in one of the EU member states), and third-country (obtained in countries outside the EU).

Exchange a European driving license for a Belgian one

First, you need to register on the Aliens Register in your city in Belgium. Once this is done, any expat with a European driving license can exchange it for a Belgian one. You can do this at the services for driving licenses in your city of residence.

Exchanging your European driving license for a Belgian one isn't mandatory anymore. However, it can be advantageous if you lose your foreign driving license.

Documents for the exchange:

  • ID paper obtained in Belgium;
  • Passport;
  • Recent identity photograph;
  • A fee of €20 (cash or Bancontact);
  • Double-sided copy of the foreign driving license.

Exchange a foreign driving license (outside Europe) for a Belgian one

Any foreigner from outside Europe living in Belgium long-term must exchange their driver's license for a Belgian one once they receive their identity card. The request has to be made at your local commune. It usually takes two months to obtain your Belgian license.

Documents needed:

  • A fee of €25 (exact price depends on where you live);
  • Identity photographs;
  • Foreign driving license;
  • A translation of the foreign driving license, made by a sworn translator if the license is (even partially) in another language other than Dutch or French;
  • Residence permit.

There are agreements with certain countries where you can exchange your foreign driving license for a Belgian one. If your home country isn't on the exemption list, you must take a driving test within one year.

If you're only in Belgium temporarily, you can use your international driver's license there.

Getting a driving license in Belgium

In Belgium, although not all motorized vehicles require a license, there are different categories of driver's licenses: 

  • Category AM: Mopeds with a maximum speed of more than 25 km/h and no more than 45 km/h;
  • Category A: Motorcycles;
  • Category B: Cars;
  • Category C: Trucks;
  • Category D: Buses;
  • Category G: Agricultural vehicles.

If you don't have a driving license yet, you can get one in Belgium. New conditions apply regarding Category B:

  • After failing the theory examination twice, candidates need 12 hours of theory lessons (exceptions apply);
  • Instructors' names have to be mentioned on any temporary license (valid for 36 months);
  • Candidates can change their teaching method only once during the validity of their temporary license;
  • Once a provisional license has expired, candidates can obtain a new one only after three years;
  • Candidates can take a practice exam only while holding a valid theory exam (good for three years).

Candidates for category B driving licenses have to be 18. They have to pass the theory exam on traffic regulations and be aware of laws related to the police and road circulation. To obtain the theoretical examination, candidates need 41 correct answers out of 50.

A practice exam is naturally added to the theoretical one.

Where to take a driving test in Belgium

Candidates can take a driving test in the private sector. Thus, they obtain a temporary driving license, valid for 36 months. The teaching period is a minimum of three months with an instructor. The latter must hold a driving license for more than eight years.

Candidates can also choose traditional schools. They obtain a temporary driving license valid for 18 months. The teaching period includes 20 hours of practice. The examination can be taken after a minimum of three months.

Be aware that candidates who fail the examination twice must take six more hours of practice.

Costs of a driver's license in Belgium

  • Theoretical exam: from €15 to €87, depending on the type of driving license (additional €50 for a translator in some places);
  • Temporary driving license: €27 (sometimes an additional communal tax);
  • For a car or motorcycle license, the entire practice examination costs €30 to €50;
  • Delivery of driving license: between €20 and €35, depending on the city;
  • The average cost for ten lessons in a driving school is approximately €1,000.

If you wish to take a driving test for trucks or need another driving license for your job, costs vary. You can find additional information on the Group for certified companies in automobile control and driving tests (GOCA in French).

Roads in Belgium

As in many European countries, roads in Belgium are pretty well maintained. However, despite its density and the fact that the country is a trading crossroad in Europe, many reports stipulate that Belgium is the worst member state in investing in its roads. There are no motorway fees in Belgium.

In this country, they drive on the right-hand side, like most other European countries.

Mandatory equipment and documents for a car in Belgium

A reflective vest, an extinguisher, a first-aid kit, and a box of new bulbs are compulsory in cars. A warning triangle is required as well.

In addition to these things, these documents must always be in your car:

  • License;
  • Registration;
  • Vehicle insurance.

Speed limits on Belgian roads

In cities, the speed limit is anywhere between 30 to 50 km/h.

Outside towns, the speed limit is 90 km/h:

  • On public highways with four or more lanes. Two lanes are dedicated to one direction of traffic. These lanes are separated by road markings.
  • On any other public highway

Outside urban areas, the speed limit is 120 km/h:

  • On motorways;
  • On public highways divided into four different lanes or more (two lanes dedicated to one direction of traffic). Those lanes are not separated by road markings.

Parking in Belgium

You can apply with your municipality for a card to park your car within a certain distance of your house. The rules will vary depending on where you live; for example, you get one free application per family in Brussels.

In the city, you'll usually have to pay to park. There are parking meters, as well as blue zones. If parking in the blue zones, you must use a special disc. You can buy them at places like the supermarket.

Cyclist and pedestrian rights in Belgium

In Belgium, cyclists have their own traffic signs, giving them some freedom over traffic regulations.

Therefore, they can:

  • Cycle in the middle of a lane;
  • Take a one-way street in the prohibited direction;
  • Turn right when the light is red.

It's illegal to park on cycling lanes with a car and to drive at speeds exceeding 30 km/h on cycling streets. You can't overtake cyclists, either.

Important:

Pedestrians have priority over drivers.

Useful links:

FPS Mobility and Transport

FPS Mobility and Transport - List of countries whose driver's licenses are recognized in Belgium

FPS Mobility and Transport: The Highway Code

Driving license in Brussels

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