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Belgium travel guide

About Belgium

The “boring” tag is laughable – Belgium, pretty and creative, is one of Europe’s most underrated travel destinations. Beer, chocolate and moules-frites might be the starting points for many first-time visitors, but while you’ll eat and drink well, the country’s other selling points are no less weighty.

Medieval cities like Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent play home to some stunning architecture, while a military legacy that covers everything from Waterloo to WWII holds its own interest. It’s compact, easy to travel around and boasts no fewer than 60 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. On top of that it hosts riotous festivals like they’re going out of fashion and has a world-class arts heritage, to boot.

What Belgium isn’t, however, is straightforward. Divided into three regions − Flanders (the predominantly Dutch-speaking north), Wallonia (the predominantly French-speaking south) and the capital region of Brussels – it’s still very much split down linguistic lines. Even Belgians themselves will often refer to their homeland as an “artificial country.” In many ways, this only makes the place more fascinating.

Flanders is filled with museums and medieval architecture, its countryside studded with white-washed hamlets and paved with miles and miles of cycling paths. Its North Sea coastline offers opportunities to try land boarding or kitesurfing. Wallonia, meanwhile, follows a slower pace. Steeped in folklore, its main towns have a faded French elegance and are ideal jumping-off points for exploring the rolling hills of the Ardennes. In both halves of the country, there are some genuinely beautiful landscapes.

Brussels itself is a blend of Art Nouveau mansions and gleaming skyscrapers, art galleries and flea markets, “fritkot” chip stands and Michelin-starred restaurants. Made up of 19 communes − from the chic Ixelles district to up-and-coming Anderlecht − it’s a city with many faces. Each quarter offers a different take on the personality of “Europe’s capital,” which is apt in itself: in Belgium, very little matches the monochrome preconception.

Key facts


30,528 sq km (11,787 sq miles).


11,267,910 (2016).

Population density:

363 per sq km.




Constitutional monarchy. Federal state comprising three autonomous regions.

Head of state:

King Philippe since 2013.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo since 2020.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Belgium set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Belgian Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Belgium.

If a country is classified as very high risk for COVID-19, the Belgian government may restrict travel. See COVID-19 measures from the Belgian government for further information. There are currently no very high risk zones.

Children aged 17 and under

Adults travelling to or from Belgium with children aged 17 and under may be asked to provide proof of their relationship to the children they are accompanying at border control. This applies to:

  • parents
  • guardians
  • anyone exercising parental authority

Carry documents with you as proof, for example a birth certificate or court order, particularly if you have a different surname to the children.

If you’re resident in Belgium, see living in Belgium for recommendations on documents to carry if travelling with a child.

Travelling through Calais

If you’re travelling through Calais, check the travel advice for France.

Passport validity requirements

To travel to Belgium, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.

To enter Belgium (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:

  • have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
  • have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Checks at border control

Make sure you get your passport stamped.

If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Belgium). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.

If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.

Read about passport stamping if you live in Belgium.

At Belgian border control, you may also need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

Visa requirements

You can travel without a visa to the Schengen area (including Belgium) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This applies if you travel:

  • as a tourist
  • to visit family or friends
  • to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events

  • for short-term studies or training

If you’re travelling to Belgium and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries in the 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.

To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you must meet the Belgian government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with the Belgian Embassy.

If you stay in Belgium with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Belgium guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Belgium. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Taking food into Belgium

You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions such as powdered baby milk, baby food and special foods or pet feed required for medical reasons.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Belgium

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Belgium.

Terrorism attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by foreign nationals such as:

  • on public transport
  • in national and international transport hubs
  • in international institutions
  • in places of worship
  • in other places visited by foreigners

You should be vigilant in public places and follow the advice of local authorities.

There have been some high-profile terrorist attacks across Belgium. The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). Previous incidents have included fatal attacks against civilians and law enforcement:

  • On 16 October 2023, two people were killed and one seriously injured in a terrorism related shooting incident in Brussels

  • in 2022, a police officer was killed and another injured in a suspected terrorist incident in Brussels

  • in 2018, 2 police officers and a passer-by were killed in a shooting in the city of Liège in a suspected terrorist incident

The Belgian authorities have successfully disrupted various attack plans, making a number of arrests in recent years. The Belgian Government has set the national threat level at 3 ‘Serious’. You can expect to see an increased police presence, and additional safety measures may be in place. Be aware of your surroundings and follow the advice of local authorities.

Demonstrations and strikes

Demonstrations and strikes often take place in major cities, particularly in transport hubs and around the Schuman area (EU quarter) in Brussels.

Most demonstrations are peaceful, but there is a risk of unrest or violence. There has also been violence following major sporting fixtures. If you’re in areas where demonstrations or large gatherings are taking place, remain vigilant and move away quickly if there are signs of disorder.

Demonstrations in the Schuman area of Brussels can affect access to the British Embassy and the British Consulate General.

Strike action can cause travel disruption across the country and affect international travel. For regular updates on any disruption, check local news and follow advice given by your travel provider.

For information on travel in Belgium, visit:

For international travel, visit:

Blocked roads and travel delays

Since mid-January, protests by farmers are taking place across Belgium. Action has included blocking major roads and delaying traffic, including on the edges of large cities. Monitor the media, avoid protests, expect delays on some major roads and follow the advice of the authorities.

Security Awareness

In the event of a security incident or any emergency, or if police carry out security operations at short notice, follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.

You can:

  • find information on the Belgian Crisis Centre website
  • follow the Crisis Centre accounts on Twitter/ X or Facebook to follow official information in the event of a major national incident
  • sign up to BE-Alert to receive emergency alerts via SMS
  • look for the official communication and social media channels of local police for the area you are in.


Protecting your belongings

Theft and pickpocketing is common in crowded areas. Take care of your belongings and passports, particularly at train stations in Brussels.

If you are a victim of theft, contact the nearest police station and get a police report. If you lose your passport, you can also contact the British Embassy in Brussels.

Public transport

Take extra care in major railway stations and on public transport, particularly late at night. Thieves, pickpockets and muggers operate in busy areas, particularly:

  • at Brussels Gare du Midi/Zuidstation (Eurostar terminal) and Brussels Gare du Nord
  • on international trains, mainly Paris-Brussels and Amsterdam-Brussels
  • in busy areas of central Brussels, including Schuman (the EU quarter)

There have been cases of violent crime around Brussels Gare du Midi/Zuidstation and Brussels Gare du Nord. Be aware of your surroundings.

Never leave luggage unattended. Luggage has been stolen from the racks at the end of carriages in high-speed trains (TGV and Thalys), usually just before the doors close.

Only use official, licensed taxis. Do not use taxis that you have not hailed.

Thieves, usually on motorbikes, can break a window and snatch valuables from the front or back passenger seat when a vehicle is stationary at traffic lights. If you see anything suspicious, report it to local police authorities.

Organised crime

There are regular incidents of violent crime among organised crime gangs involved in drug trafficking, particularly in Antwerp, Brussels and other large cities. The risk mostly affects those involved in drug crime, but remain vigilant if you suspect illegal activity. Follow the advice of local authorities.

There have been reports of truck and van drivers being approached at parking lots or service stations by organised crime groups and asked to smuggle products to the UK (‘window tapping’). If you see anything suspicious, report it to local police authorities.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

By law, you must always carry identification with you, such as your passport or a national ID card.

Laws on clothing

It is illegal to wear clothing that hides your face partially or completely (for example, the burka and niqab) in public places. You risk a fine of up to 137.50 euros and detention for up to 7 days. There is no exemption for tourists.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs are serious offences and can lead to a minimum 3-month prison sentence or fine.

Visiting battlefields

When visiting WW1 battlefields in north-west Belgium, stay on the footpath and be cautious if you see anything that looks like shells or munitions. Unexploded shells have recently been uncovered. Move away from the site and report incidents to the police.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Belgium, see information on driving abroad.

Belgium’s accident rate is high, mainly due to speeding.

Low emission zones

There are low emission zones in Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp. You need to pre-register foreign vehicles on the Brussels , Ghent or Antwerp websites.

Driving regulations

Driving laws differ from those in the UK. Be aware that:

  • speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles are used by police
  • speeding can result in an on-the-spot fine
  • using a mobile phone while driving is illegal, unless you are using hands-free equipment

If you receive a fine, you can consult the federal justice service for information. See detailed government information on driving laws in Belgium (in Flemish and French only).

Licences and documents

When driving in Belgium, always carry:

  • your driving licence
  • your car papers

  • your insurance paper
  • your MOT (‘contrôle technique’) certificate
  • your passport or ID and those of your passengers

For information on requirements for residents, see living in Belgium.

Electric scooter regulations

The maximum speed limit for riding an electric scooter is 25km/h and riding with a passenger is illegal.

It is illegal for people aged 15 and under to use electric scooters, except in a few designated areas such as pedestrianised, private residential and recreational areas, and segregated cycle paths.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, contact the Belgian Embassy.

Healthcare facilities in Belgium

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Belgium.

There is a fee for non-emergency medical consultations and prescriptions. You may be able to recover this money through your travel insurance.

There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Belgium.

COVID-19 healthcare in Belgium

Wearing a face mask in healthcare facilities is advised for immunocompromised patients and those with respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing or sore throat).

See Belgian government information on protecting yourself against COVID-19 and what to do if you test positive in Belgium.

Health insurance cards

Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC, it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.

The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Belgium nationals. If you do not have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.

It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. An GHIC or EHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.

GHIC and EHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Belgium

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)

You can also download the 112 Where Are U app, the official European emergency number app, which helps the emergency services identify your location.

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider

  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated. when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you’re in Belgium and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Brussels.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

Risk information for British companies

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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