Driving in Belgium

Road network, traffic regulations & mandatory equipment

Although it’s true that Belgian drivers have a certain reputation and Belgium used to be notorious for poor road safety, things have improved a lot in recent years. With a little knowledge and common sense, driving in Belgium is a great way to get around.

Driving in Belgium

The Belgian road network

The extensive road network in Belgium consists of modern highways without tolls and secondary roads which, especially in the Walloon region, are sometimes poorly maintained. Together, these connect all the corners of the country.

Signs can sometimes be unclear in terms of style and color, and on secondary roads they can even be absent. In Flanders, road signs are only displayed in Dutch and in Wallonia they are exclusively in French.

Traffic regulations

When driving on Belgian roads it is useful to know some of the basic rules and regulations to help you drive safely and to avoid getting fines. These are the most important rules for driving in Belgium:

Important documents
  • It is compulsory to carry a driving licence, car registration papers and insurance documents in the car (Dutch, EU and International Driving Licences are accepted).
Priority
  • As a general rule, any driver coming from a street on the right has the right of way.
  • Buses and trams have priority.
Driving under influence
  • The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.5 g/l.
Roundabouts
  • Unless indicated otherwise, a vehicle driving in a roundabout takes precedence over a driver who wants to enter the roundabout.
Phone
  • It is illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.
  • Hands-free calling is allowed.
Traffic lights
  • When turning left at a green traffic light, be aware of oncoming traffic
  • A flashing yellow light means you should pay extra attention when driving.
  • It is forbidden to drive through a yellow light that is flashing continuously.
Running the engine
  • Keeping your engine running when stationary is prohibited. This also applies to other circumstances, such as when waiting at a crossing
Cruise control
  • A round sign with a red line through the words 'cruise control', means that you are not allowed to use cruise control until the next intersection.

Mandatory equipment

For safety reasons, in Belgium it’s mandatory to have certain tools present in your car and wear particular items of clothing when driving a motorcycle. On-the-spot fines can be issued for failing to carry these specific items:

  • Fire extinguisher & first aid kit
    For all drivers it is mandatory to have an approved fire extinguisher and first aid kit in the car. (Vehicles registered in Belgium must carry both, but this is not compulsory for vehicles registered abroad)
  • Warning triangle
    In case of a breakdown or accident, you need to place the warning triangle approximately 100 m behind the vehicle when on a highway and approximately 30 m in the case of other roads. Within an urban area, you may need to place the triangle on top of the vehicle depending on the situation. Even with the hazard warning lights on, the use of a warning triangle is mandatory.
  • Safety vest
    If you have to stop on the side of the road in the case of an accident or breakdown, you are required to wear a safety vest (reflective jacket) when exiting the car. This rule applies to both day and night time. It is recommended to carry safety vests for every person in the car.   

Note: When renting a car in Belgium, always check whether the mandatory equipment is present in the vehicle.

Motorcycles

In Belgium, all drivers (Belgian and foreign) and passengers of motorcycles must put on gloves, a jacket with long sleeves, long trousers or overalls, and boots that protect the ankles. Children under 3 are not allowed on motorcycles. Children between 3 and 8 may be carried as passengers in a special childrens seat but only on motorcycles up to 125cc.

The Belgian road network

The extensive road network in Belgium consists of modern highways without tolls and secondary roads which, especially in the Walloon region, are sometimes poorly maintained. Together, these connect all the corners of the country.

Signs can sometimes be unclear in terms of style and color, and on secondary roads they can even be absent. In Flanders, road signs are only displayed in Dutch and in Wallonia they are exclusively in French.

Traffic regulations

When driving on Belgian roads it is useful to know some of the basic rules and regulations to help you drive safely and to avoid getting fines. These are the most important rules for driving in Belgium:

Important documents
  • It is compulsory to carry a driving licence, car registration papers and insurance documents in the car (Dutch, EU and International Driving Licences are accepted).
Priority
  • As a general rule, any driver coming from a street on the right has the right of way.
  • Buses and trams have priority.
Driving under influence
  • The maximum permitted blood alcohol level is 0.5 g/l.
Roundabouts
  • Unless indicated otherwise, a vehicle driving in a roundabout takes precedence over a driver who wants to enter the roundabout.
Phone
  • It is illegal to hold a cell phone while driving.
  • Hands-free calling is allowed.
Traffic lights
  • When turning left at a green traffic light, be aware of oncoming traffic
  • A flashing yellow light means you should pay extra attention when driving.
  • It is forbidden to drive through a yellow light that is flashing continuously.
Running the engine
  • Keeping your engine running when stationary is prohibited. This also applies to other circumstances, such as when waiting at a crossing
Cruise control
  • A round sign with a red line through the words 'cruise control', means that you are not allowed to use cruise control until the next intersection.

Mandatory equipment

For safety reasons, in Belgium it’s mandatory to have certain tools present in your car and wear particular items of clothing when driving a motorcycle. On-the-spot fines can be issued for failing to carry these specific items:

  • Fire extinguisher & first aid kit
    For all drivers it is mandatory to have an approved fire extinguisher and first aid kit in the car. (Vehicles registered in Belgium must carry both, but this is not compulsory for vehicles registered abroad)
  • Warning triangle
    In case of a breakdown or accident, you need to place the warning triangle approximately 100 m behind the vehicle when on a highway and approximately 30 m in the case of other roads. Within an urban area, you may need to place the triangle on top of the vehicle depending on the situation. Even with the hazard warning lights on, the use of a warning triangle is mandatory.
  • Safety vest
    If you have to stop on the side of the road in the case of an accident or breakdown, you are required to wear a safety vest (reflective jacket) when exiting the car. This rule applies to both day and night time. It is recommended to carry safety vests for every person in the car.   

Note: When renting a car in Belgium, always check whether the mandatory equipment is present in the vehicle.

Motorcycles

In Belgium, all drivers (Belgian and foreign) and passengers of motorcycles must put on gloves, a jacket with long sleeves, long trousers or overalls, and boots that protect the ankles. Children under 3 are not allowed on motorcycles. Children between 3 and 8 may be carried as passengers in a special childrens seat but only on motorcycles up to 125cc.

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: