Belgium : driving rules and customs

If you're heading abroad for your holidays, or just popping over for a shopping or business trip, driving in another country can be a great experience. But you need to make sure that you are familiar with local rules and customs, and that you have everything you need.

Speed limits in km/h

Speeds in red apply to Flemish region only
motorcycles 50 90 / 70 120 120
cars 50 90 / 70 120 120
towing vehicles 50 90 / 70 120 120
vans over 3.5t 50 90 / 70 90 90
trucks over 7.5t 50 90 / 70 90 90
buses 50 90 / 70 90 90
   
   

Driving age

The minimum permitted age for driving a vehicle is 18 years; this increases to 21 years for rental cars.

   
   

Mobile phones

It is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone. The use of hands free equipment is permitted.

   
   

Alcohol limit

The blood alcohol content limit is 0.5, reducing to 0.2 for professional drivers.

   
   

Speed camera detection

Devices showing the locations of speed cameras are legal in Belgium.
However those that actively search for cameras and interfere with their use are not - if you are caught with one, you will be fined and the device will be confiscated.

   
   
 

Seat belts

All occupants must wear a seat belt if one is provided in the vehicle.

   
   

Child restraints

Any child aged below 12 years, or below 135cm in height must be in a suitable car or booster seat.
If you have three children in the back seat, then the child in the middle seat doesn't require a car or booster seat, as long as they can use a standard three-point seatbelt.

   
   

Headlights

The use of headlights is mandatory whenever visibility is reduced by heavy rain, snow or fog.
Motorcyclists must use their headlights at all times.

   
   

Horns

When in urban areas, it is illegal to use your horn unless it is an emergency.

   
   

Pedestrian crossings

Pedestrians have right of way when using an urban crossing point that isn't controlled by signals.
In residential areas where speeds are below 20 km/h, pedestrians have right of way at all times.

   
   

Winter weather

The use of winter tyres and snow chains is not necessary in Belgium.

   
   

Cruise control

You must turn off cruise control when travelling through motorway roadworks or congestion.

   
   

Roadside parking

When parking at the side of the road, you must face in the direction of travel.
Parking whilst facing oncoming traffic (i.e. on the opposite side of the road) is prohibited.

   
   

Zip merging

Where two lanes merge into one due to a lane ending or an obstruction, zip merging applies.
Traffic in the affected lane must remain in there right up to the point the lane ends, then move over.
Those in the open lane must give way in turns, allowing traffic to move across.

 

Motorway breakdowns

If you should be unfortunate enough to suffer a breakdown or accident on the motorway, you'll need to use the nearest emergency telephone to alert the police.

Telephones are located every 2km, with frequent markers pointing towards the nearest one. Do not contact your breakdown company until you have contacted the police. If you cannot get to a telephone, call 112 from your mobile phone.

You'll also need to make sure everyone has exited the vehicle, standing behind the barrier, and wearing a high visability vest. A warning triangle needs to be placed 30m behind your vehicle, and make sure the hazard lights are turned on.

   
   

Motorway ameneties

Rest areas, providing parking, picnic tables and children's play equipement, are found roughly 20km apart. Some larger rest areas may offer toilets, a shop or a cafeteria.

Service areas providing a additional minimum of food, are to be provided every 40km. Fuel facilities may be up to 60km apart.

In order to provide the best mix of facilities across the network, Belgium categorises its roadside ameneties into four categories:

class parking picnic
tables
play area toilets
& showers
restaurant shop fuel hotel conference
suite
1
2
3  
4

Signage provided before you reach the services will advise of what is available on-site, and the distance to the next amenety offering the same facilities. Here's what the symbols mean:

Public telephone Petrol station Hotel or motel Restaurant Cafeteria
       

Tourist information