Hitting the road in Belgium: what to anticipate
Although Belgium is not the world’s biggest country, a car might come in handy here. Read all about what you need to have and do (or not) if you plan to merge with Belgian traffic.
Documents and tools you need
When you stay in Belgium for more than 6 months and you want to drive a car, you need a valid driver’s license, car registration and insurance documents. These documents have to be in the vehicle at all times. In addition, you should always have a caution triangle, a first-aid kit, a recent fire extinguisher and a high-visibility vest on board.
By the way, like all citizens of a continental European country, Belgians drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Is it necessary to exchange my driver’s license?
You are allowed to drive on Belgian public roads if you have a valid European national driver’s license.
- If your driver’s license is about to expire, you have to apply for a new one.
- Did you receive a Belgian identity card (e-ID)? Then you should apply for a Belgian driver’s license.
- In case of loss or theft, your driver’s license will be replaced by a Belgian one.
You can apply for a Belgian driver’s license at the local administration center.
If you do not have one yet, you can take a driver’s test in Belgium.
Low-emission zones (LEZ) in 3 Belgian cities
The cities Mechelen and Willebroek plan to introduce LEZ in 2021, and Wallonia (the French-speaking part of Belgium) is considering turning its whole territory into a LEZ from 2023 onward.
How to get a car?
Next to a driver’s license, you also need a car, of course. You can import your own car or buy one. Renting or sharing a car is also possible.
Importing a car
Are you bringing your own car? Then you have to import it. Here’s how:
- Pass by Belgian customs (paying import tax is not necessary if certain conditions are met);
- Pass by the Belgian vehicle inspection station;
- Sign an insurance contract in Belgium (unless your current contract is valid for Belgium too). Tip: contact the national green card bureau/information centre to ask which insurers offer car insurance in Belgium;
- Register your car at the Belgian Vehicle Registration Service (DIV – Dienst voor Inschrijvingen van Voertuigen) in order to get your license plate.
It is recommended to take care of all this as soon as you are officially registered as a Belgian resident. The official deadline is 6 months after your registration.
It would be clever to start the procedure online before your departure. For the transport of your car to Belgium, you are allowed to use temporary transit plates. You can apply these plates in the country where you bought the car.
Buy a (new) car in Belgium
Would you prefer to buy a car in Belgium? As an EU citizen, you are free to buy a car anywhere in the EU. After you’ve bought a car, you have to take the same steps as required with an imported car, except for the customs part.
Renting a car … or sharing?
If you do not have your own car, you can rent one. An increasingly popular concept in Belgium is car sharing. You find car-sharing providers not only in cities like Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven and Mechelen, but also in smaller towns and even in rural areas.
Driving is not for free: taxes
The Belgian government levies different kinds of car taxes:
- registration tax: after registering your car at the Belgian Vehicle Registration Service (DIV – Dienst voor Inschrijvingen van Voertuigen), you will receive the rear license plate in the post mail for 30 euros. You have to order a front copy yourself.
- circulation tax: one-off tax for the purchase of your car (new or used). The amount is based on the engine power.
- road tax: annual tax, also based on the engine power.
For more information, also check the official EU website.
Importing your car to another EU country, and completing the paper work that comes with it, is not an easy job. Here at Link2Europe, we would be happy to help you.