Driving in Belgium


The rules of the road for drivers visiting Belgium

Whilst you probably feel comfortable driving in the UK, you might be a little apprehensive about your first time driving in Belgium. In this guide we’ll explain everything you need to know about using Belgian roads, to keep you safe and ensure you abide by the local driving laws.

You can find more general guidance for staying safe when driving in Europe with our advice for motoring in Europe hub. It’s also a good idea to ensure that you prepare for any unexpected eventualities that could happen by purchasing AA European Breakdown Cover before you go.

In this article:

Important information
Road rules
Speed limits
Traffic lights
Seat belts
Mobile phones and laptops
Lights and tyres
Electric cars
Riding a motorcycle
Towing a caravan or trailer
Roadside assistance



Country by country

Important Information for Driving in Belgium

What documents and items do I need to carry to drive in Belgium?
  • Your driving licence
  • Your car papers
  • Your insurance papers
  • Your MOT certificate
  • Your passport or ID (along with those of the other passengers in the vehicle)
  • Written permission to drive the vehicle from the registered owner if the car does not belong to you

Other items needed in Belgium

  • A reflective jacket: if you’re in an accident or you break down on a road where parking is not allowed you, the driver, must put on a reflective jacket. If you don’t, you can be fined €55 or between €60 - €1500 if you refuse to wear one and have to go to court.
  • A warning triangle
  • A UK sticker: from the 21st of September 2021 onwards, vehicles registered in the UK must display a ‘UK’ sticker when driving in Belgium, as opposed to the formerly accepted GB sticker.
Low Emission Zones

Belgium has low emission zones (LEZ) in Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp and Linkeroever, so if you’re planning on travelling within any of these cities you need to check that your vehicle meets the entry requirements before setting off.

Smart cameras will automatically detect your vehicle if you drive within a low emission zone and you must register individually for each zone.

Brussels Low Emission Zone

The Low Emission Zone in Brussels applies to cars, vans, minibuses and coaches 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across all 19 of the municipalities of the Brussels Capital Region. There are road signs which clearly indicate when you are entering and leaving the LEZ.

You can check if your car meets the criteria on the LEZ Brussels website. Some vehicles are automatically eligible for exemptions, such as motorhomes and vehicles fitted with wheelchair lifts.

If the vehicle you’re driving doesn’t meet the access criteria for the Brussels-Capital Region LEZ you can buy a day pass for €35, however you can only buy up to 8 day passes per year and per vehicle. If you fail to register your non-compliant vehicle before you enter the LEZ you could be fined €150.

Ghent Low Emission Zone

Ghent’s inner city area is a Low Emission Zone which applies 24/7 to most vehicles, with very few exemptions.

Mopeds and motorcycles, electric vehicles, hydrogen-powered vehicles and plug-in hybrids emitting less than 50 grams of CO2/km are all exempt from the entry criteria, as well as a few other vehicles fulfilling certain purposes.

The Ghent LEZ website states that permitted vehicles with foreign number plates must register in advance of entering the LEZ. If your vehicle does not meet the criteria you will have to buy a permit for either a day, a week, a month, four months, or a year. You can purchase a day pass up to eight times each calendar year.

Just like in Brussels, violating the terms of the LEZ will lead to a €150 fine.

Antwerp and Linkeroever Low Emission Zone

Vehicles with high CO2 emissions are no longer welcome within the entire city centre of Antwerp and Linkeroever without registering, buying a permit, or purchasing a day pass. The LEZ zone does not apply to mopeds or motorcycles but does apply to cars, minibuses, and other types of passenger transport.

The fine for a driver’s first violation of the LEZ is €150, this increases to €250 with the second offence and €350 for each subsequent violation.

Road Rules in Belgium

What is the legal age to drive in Belgium?

You have to be at least 18 years old to drive a temporarily imported car or motorcycle in Belgium.

What side of the road do I drive on in Belgium?

In Belgium, road users drive on the right side of the road and overtake on the left, which is the opposite to the UK and can take some getting used to.

Who has priority?

Vehicles joining a road from the right have absolute priority, even if they’ve stopped at a road junction or to allow pedestrians or cyclists to pass. This applies to all roads except motorways, roundabouts, roads with a sign that shows an orange diamond on a white background, and drivers who are trying to rejoin traffic after having mistakenly driven down a road in the wrong direction.

Trams have priority over all other road users, and if one stops in front of you to allow passengers on or off, you must stop behind it.

When approaching a crossing that isn’t controlled by lights or a traffic officer, always slow down to give way to pedestrians who are crossing or are about to cross.

Drivers should always give way to emergency vehicles, moving to the side of the road as soon as they notice they are approaching, and stopping if necessary.

How do I overtake?

As mentioned above, motorists in Belgium use the left lane for overtaking rather than the right lane.

If you’re overtaking a cyclist or someone riding a moped, make sure there’s a minimum distance of one metre between them and your vehicle.

What is ‘Zip Merging’?

Zip merging is used in Belgium in very slow-moving traffic caused by lane closures, to help the traffic flow more smoothly. If you’re driving towards the end of a lane that will merge into another, stay in the lane until it begins to close up and then merge into the adjacent lane.

Drivers in the open lane will need to give way in turns so that drivers from the narrowing lane can merge.

Speed limits in Belgium

Speeds and distances are measured in kilometres in Belgium, rather than miles like in the UK. It’s also important to note that the minimum speed on motorways is 70kmh so you must travel at a speed greater than this but lower than the upper limit.

These standard speed limits apply:

Residential areas: 20 kmh

School areas: 30 kmh - operational 24 hours a day, even when schools are closed, unless signposted otherwise.

Built-up areas: 50 kmh

Outside built-up areas: 90 kmh

Outside built-up areas in the Flanders region: 70 kmh

Motorways and dual carriageways that are separated by a central reservation: 120 kmh

On some cycle streets or at the entrance to built-up areas, a speed limit of 30 kmh may apply.

Speeding fines in Belgium

When driving through Belgium, you may pass by speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles. If you’re found to be exceeding the speed limit by up to 40 kmh you can be fined up to €2,750, and if you’re more than 40 kmh over the speed limit you may have to appear in court too.

If you’re issued with an on-the-spot fine and you’re unable to pay it, your vehicle may be impounded instead.

Since the UK's departure from the European Union, EU countries can no longer write to or send fines to UK drivers for offences caught on camera, such as speeding. However, exceeding the speed limit could still result in an on-the-spot fine and other serious repercussions, as well as endangering your safety and the safety of others.

Speed camera detectors

The use of radar detectors is prohibited in Belgium, as is the use of GPS or apps that tell drivers when they are near speed cameras. However, navigation systems that show drivers the fixed location of speed cameras are allowed.

Traffic lights in Belgium

Belgian traffic light systems are very similar to the systems used in the UK.

Red = stop, do not pass the stop line or the traffic light if there is not a line.

Amber = stop before the stop line or traffic lights, unless you’re too close to stop safely when the light changes.

Green = Continue driving.

Seat belt rules in Belgium

Everyone in the vehicle needs to wear a seatbelt, whether they’re sat in the front or the back of the vehicle.

Child seat regulations in France
  • Children under 18 who are shorter than 135cm tall need to use an appropriate child-restraint system, whether they’re sitting in the front or the back of the vehicle.
  • If you’ve got two children already sitting in the back of the vehicle with child restraint systems in place and there isn’t space for a third one, the third child is allowed to use the adult seat belt instead.
  • Children under three have to use a child seat or restraint on all journeys, except in taxis.
  • You can’t use a rear facing child seat in the front seat with a front airbag unless the airbag has been deactivated.

Drink-driving laws in Belgium

Drink-driving is illegal in Belgium and offenders who are caught can face hefty fines ranging from €1,100 to €11,000, depending on the level of intoxication. In some cases, drivers have even had their licence confiscated on the spot.

The legal limit is lower in Belgium than in the UK, with anything above 0.05% blood alcohol content being illegal. Frequent alcohol checks are made at the roadside and if you refuse to be breathalysed, a sample of your blood will be taken and tested instead.

Mobile phones and headphones

Drivers are not allowed to use mobile phones while driving, but the use of hands-free equipment is permitted.

As of March 2022, fines for using a mobile phone whilst driving in Belgium rose from €116 to €174.

Vehicle lights and tyres

Dipped headlights should be used during daylight hours if visibility is poor.

Winter tyres aren’t mandatory in Belgium, but if you’re planning a trip in the Winter when conditions will be poor, tyres with a minimum profile depth of 4mm are recommended. You can’t use snow chains if the road surface is damaged so the roads must be covered with snow or ice to use them.

Parking regulations and fines in Belgium

There’s plenty of affordable parking in Belgium that can be paid for via on-site parking metres, the rules are also clear and easy to understand. Drivers must always switch their engines off when stationary.

Brussels’ leading car park provider, the Interparking Group offers plenty of parking facilities within the city, as well as two different types of electric vehicle charging terminals.

Disabled parking

Although the UK is no longer part of the EU/EEA, UK Blue Badges are still recognised in Belgium. This means that Blue Badge holders are able to use spaces that are reserved for people with reduced mobility

Fuel Availability in Belgium

The available fuel types in Belgium include 95 and 98 unleaded petrol, diesel, and LPG, as well as lead substitute additives.

You can fill a petrol can with fuel if you need to, but you won't be permitted to take it onboard a ferry.

Fuel prices in Belgium

You can pay for your fuel using cash, a debit card, or a credit card, but make sure to check that your credit card type is accepted in Belgium first.

Electric Cars in Belgium

Where can I charge my electric car in Belgium?

Across Belgium, there are more than 7,000 normal electric vehicle charging stations and over 400 fast charging stations.

You can view a map of electric charging stations across Belgium on the Chargemap website and plan your journeys accordingly.

How do I pay for electric car charging?

You can pay for EV charging in Belgium by registering with the app relevant to the charging point you’re using and linking it to your credit or debit card.

Riding a motorcycle in Belgium

Motorcycle regulations
  • Use dipped headlights during the day
  • Crash helmets are compulsory
  • You must wear protective clothing
  • Children less than three years old aren’t allowed on motorcycles, unless they’re in a sidecar that has a suitable child seat
  • Children ages 3 to 8 are allowed to be passengers on motorcycles p to 125 cc, but only when they’re sat in a special seat

Towing a caravan or trailer in Belgium

The total size of a motor towing a trailer or caravan in Belgium must not be longer than 18.75 metres, taller than 4 metres, or wider than 2.55 metres. The load cannot be heavier than 12 tones at the drive axle and 10 tonnes at a single axle.

If you’re towing a non-commercial trailer over 3,500 kg in gross weight, you’ll need to register it before your journey, it costs £26 to register a new trailer. These types of trailers will also need to display their own registration plate and have a trailer registration certificate to show to foreign authorities if they ask to see it.

Remember, the police can impound any vehicle with an unsafe load and you need to have a clear view of the road behind you.

Speed limits for cars towing caravans or trailers

The standard legal speed limits apply for private vehicles below 3.5 tonnes, with or without trailers:

Residential areas: 20 kmh

School areas: 30 kmh - operational 24 hours a day, even when schools are closed, unless signposted otherwise.

Built-up areas: 50 kmh

Outside built-up areas: 90 kmh

Outside built-up areas in the Flanders region: 70 kmh

Motorways and dual carriageways that are separated by a central reservation: 120 kmh

Tolls in Belgium

Belgium’s motorways are toll-free for passenger vehicles, except for the Liefkenshoektunnel near Antwerp, where a €6.00 must be paid manually.

Roadside assistance in Belgium

Our European Breakdown Cover will protect you if you happen to break down anywhere in Belgium, or the rest of Europe. If your vehicle breaks down at any time from the moment you leave your home to the second you get back, you’ll have access to more than 60,000 repair and recovery operators who can help you get your vehicle back on the road or home.

Whether you’re travelling in a car, van, motorcycle, campervan, your vehicle can be covered, as well as anything you’re towing behind you - regardless of the age of the motor.

24 June 2022

European breakdown cover

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