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Driving in Belgium: speed limits, laws and requirements

As one of our closest European neighbours, driving to Belgium from the UK is common.

There are some key differences when it comes to the rules of the road and what’s expected when driving in Belgium.

Here’s everything you need to know before you head across the Channel to the Belgian roads.

View of a street in Brugge, Belgium

 

Driving in Belgium checklist

First up, you need to know what kit and documentation you should take with you.

Some of these items are a legal requirement.

Those that aren’t, are recommended to help keep you safe. For example, in the event that you might end up breaking down.

If you happen to be driving into France before entering Belgium, you also need to know about the French driving laws.

 

Documents you need for driving in Belgium

  • A valid and current UK driving licence.
  • Evidence that you have valid car insurance for your trip.
  • Proof that you own your vehicle such as the V5 registration certificate. If you've lost this you should be able to replace the missing paperwork without too much hassle.
  • If you’re using someone else’s car, you’ll need written confirmation from the owner that you are allowed to drive the vehicle.
 

Safety equipment

These items may already be part of your breakdown kit, but you should take the following items:

  • A reflective jacket to wear during a breakdown.
  • A warning triangle to warn other cars from a distance.
  • Fitted headlight beam deflectors so you don’t dazzle oncoming drivers. You may also need to adjust your headlights to reflect the fact you’ll be driving on the right in Belgium.
  • Children under 135cm tall (roughly 4’5”) should travel in a child seat or restraint, appropriate for their weight.
  • Cars registered in Belgium by law should carry a first-aid kit and a fire extinguisher. This isn't essential for cars from overseas, but it’s still a good idea.

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Belgium driving laws

In Belgium, vehicles drive on the right and overtake on the left. This is the case for the rest of continental Europe too.

The main driving laws in Belgium are:

  • All vehicles coming from the right have priority unless you’re on the motorway or at a roundabout. You also have priority over a vehicle coming from the right if you’re on a priority road. An orange diamond sign with a white background means priority.
  • Drivers should slow down or stop to let buses pull out if they're indicating to do so.
  • Trams should always have priority on Belgium roads.
  • You should only use a horn in built-up areas to avoid an accident, and it's used as a last resort to get attention.
  • All passengers should wear seatbelts. The current on-the-spot fine for failing to wear a seatbelt is €116 (£100).
  • If you're using a rear-facing child seat in the front passenger seat, the passenger airbag must be deactivated.
  • You're allowed to use a hands-free mobile phone while driving, but not a handheld mobile phone.
  • Drivers from overseas should be 18 or over.
  • You need at least a third-party car insurance.
 

Belgium drink-driving limit

Drink-driving laws are stricter in Belgium than in most of the UK, so it's important you understand the limits.

The legal maximum blood alcohol level in Belgium is 49 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the legal maximum blood alcohol level is 80 milligrams.In Scotland it’s 50 milligrams.

The authorities make regular checks on drivers.

As is the case in the UK, the best advice is simply never to drink alcohol if you are planning to drive a car.

Potential fines and penalties for drink-driving depend on the severity of the offence.

According to the European Transport Safety Council, these offences include:

Blood alcohol content (mg) Fine Driving ban
50-80
€179
3 hours
80-100
€420
6 hours
100-120
€578
6 hours
120-150
€1260
6 hours
150+
€1260
At least 15 days. Licence withdrawn on the spot
 

Belgium speed limits

For a long time, Belgian police have operated a clampdown on speeding. Speed traps, speed cameras and unmarked cars are in operation across the country.

Breaking the speed limit on any given road could mean a hefty fine of up to €2,750, and you could face a court appearance.

For comparison, the 50km/h limit in urban areas given in the table below is just over 30 mph. The 120km/h motorway limit is the same as 74 mph.

Road type Speed limit
School areas
30 km/h
Urban areas
50 km/h
Outside built-up areas
90 km/h
Dual carriageways with central reservation
120 km/h
Motorways
120 km/h (minimum 70km/h)
 

Belgium road tolls

Driving a car along motorways and other high-speed roads across Belgium is toll-free.

There are currently tolls in place, but they only apply to goods vehicles like vans and lorries with a weight of more than 3.5 tonnes.

 

Parking in Belgium

In many urban areas across Belgium, parking is in designated ‘blue zones’.

To use these, you need to buy a parking disc from a petrol station, garage, or police station. You use these discs to show what time you've arrived in a parking spot.

You can normally get up to 2 hours’ free parking in a blue zone. Car drivers that don’t have a disc or have exceeded their 2-hour limit may get fined.

Elsewhere you might have to pay for parking using a pay-and-display machine or similar.

If you’re parked illegally or have exceeded your allotted parking time, you shouldn’t expect to be clamped in Belgium. Clamping is reserved for uninsured cars.

If you're a disabled badge holder in the UK, your badge should be recognised in Belgium.

 

Driving in Belgium after Brexit

The UK is no longer part of the European Union, while Belgium remains a member.

UK citizens may travel to countries in the Schengen area without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

The Schengen area covers the EU, including Belgium as well as some non-EU European nations like Switzerland and Norway.

To visit Belgium, you need to have at least 3 months left on your passport after your scheduled departure date.

Our guide on European travel may give you more information on travelling in the EU.

 

Do I need a GB or UK sticker for driving in Belgium?

Cars registered in the UK should display the letters 'UK' when driving in Belgium, this has changed from 'GB'.

You might need to display a UK symbol clearly at the rear of your vehicle if it has:

  • A GB identifier with the Union flag
  • A Euro symbol
  • A national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
  • Numbers and letters only - no flag or identifier
 

Do I need a car insurance green card?

As of August 2021, drivers from the UK no longer need to take a ‘green card’ proof of insurance when entering Belgium.

 

Do you need a vignette in Belgium?

In 2015, the vignette system was replaced.

Now, heavier vehicles of at least 3.5 tonnes pay road tolls based on distance travelled.

 

Do I need a fire extinguisher driving in Belgium?

Cars registered outside Belgium aren't required to carry a fire extinguisher, but domestic vehicles are.