International Driving Permit Belgium
What is the difference between an International Driving Permit (IDP) and an International Driver’s License (IDL)?
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
In comparison, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
How does an IDP work in Belgium?
You are allowed to use a driving license issued by a country in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) without the use of an international driving permit. You may also use your driving license without an IDP if the country that issued your driving license has a bilateral agreement with Belgium or has a traffic code that adheres to the Geneva or Vienna conventions on motor traffic. These countries must also be signatories to at least one of the two conventions. If any other government-issued your driver’s license, you might use your foreign driving license in Belgium with the use of an IDP.
How do you apply for an IDP in Belgium?
You can apply for your IDP on our website.
How long does it take to get an IDP?
If you have submitted all the information and documents necessary, you will be sent your valid digital international driver’s permit within 2 hours. If you choose the Express Order option on the website, you will be shipped the digital version in just 20 minutes. The official printed IDP will be sent to your chosen address. It will take 2 to 30 working days to be delivered, depending on your chosen delivery method and location.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
There have been three International Motor Traffic Conventions in Paris (1926), Geneva (1949), and Vienna (1968). The conventions were organized and authorized by the United Nations. During each convention, many countries were contracted to honor international driving permits. Countries acquired to the first two conventions honor IDPs for one year, while those that were signatories to the latter convention honor IDPs for three years. The United Nations has authorized institutions in each country to issue international driver’s permits.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Belgium
Functionality as an ID
An international driver’s permit is helpful when you want to keep your passport and national identity card under lock and key. You can use your IDL as an identification document, as the United Nations legally recognizes it. You can also use your IDL to transfer information to the authorities of the destination country if your identification documents are not in a language that is internationally recognized.
Quicker traffic authority stops.
Some countries promote tourism by allowing tourists to drive on their roads without international driver’s permits. However, it is still advisable to carry an IDP as the traffic authorities of the destination country may not be able to process your driver’s license. Having an international driver’s permit ensures that any traffic police officer can take down your details and send you on your way.
Car rental companies
Car rental agencies are not well-equipped to translate documents or process a renter’s information if it is in another language. While the country you are visiting might not require the use of an international driver’s permit when driving, rental agencies will rarely allow you to rent a vehicle if you don’t have an IDP. Carrying an IDP when you go to rent a car may save you hours, if not days, of delays.
Laws requiring an IDP
Belgium is contracted to the Geneva (1949) and Vienna (1968) Conventions on Motor Traffic. It allows you to drive on its roads with just your foreign driver’s license if it was issued from the EU or the EEA. You can also drive if the country that issued your license has a bilateral agreement with Belgium. Please contact your motor-traffic department to know whether your country has a bilateral agreement with Belgium. If the country that issued your license has ratified the Geneva or Vienna Motor Traffic Conventions, you will also be able to drive without an IDP. If you are from any other country, you must have a valid foreign driver’s license and a valid international driver’s permit.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Belgium
Short-term visitors vs. residents
You cannot get a Belgian driving license until you have lived in the country for 185 days. You can start the application process for a license, but the license itself will only be granted after this period. The period of stay only starts being registered in Belgium when you register with the government that you have started your visit in Belgium. You may also apply for a residence permit after the allotted 185-day period.
How long can I drive with a foreign driving license?
If your license was issued from the EU or the EEA, you could drive for up to two years after registry in Belgium, after which you have to exchange your license for a Belgian one. You can use your EU license indefinitely if you don’t register in Belgium. Suppose your license was issued from a country with a bilateral agreement with Belgium or a country that has ratified either the Geneva or Vienna Motor Traffic Conventions. In that case, you can drive for as long as the bilateral agreement states or as long as the particular convention upholds. If you have a license from any other country, you can use your foreign license for up to three years in Belgium as long as your driving license is valid and you have a valid international driver’s permit.
When should I get a Belgian Driver’s License?
Belgium’s driving licensing policy is quite liberal and people-centric. The most trouble you will receive with its policies is the need to renew your foreign license and international driving permit. If you are planning on living in Belgium for prolonged periods or using it as a second home, you should exchange your license for a Belgian one. If you have a foreign driving license in a language that the traffic authorities in Belgium have a hard time with, you might find that your life is easier with a Belgian driving license irrespective of the allotted periods under Belgian law.
Renewing Your IDP or Original Driver’s License While in Belgium
Renewing your International Driver’s Permit
You can renew your IDP on our website.
Renewing your original driver’s license
You may need to renew your license if you are on a prolonged stay in Belgium. Most countries will have an internet portal that can be used to renew a driving license. However, some countries might have other requirements, such as a vision test or a medical certification. If this is the case, you must return to your country of origin. Please make sure you keep at least a month for this procedure if you are new to it, as there might be unforeseen hiccups during this process.
Car Rental in Belgium
Requirements for car rental
You can rent a car in Belgium if you are 21, though there may be a surcharge if you are below 25. Most car rental agencies require you to have your license for one year, while some may require two years. You must have an international driver’s permit if you are not from the EU or the EEA. This is irrespective of whether the country that issued your license has a bilateral agreement with Belgium. In most cases, you will also be required to use a credit card for payment registered in the driver’s name. You should also present your passport or national ID as a form of identification if you don’t have an IDP.
Deposit and costs for car rental
A rental car deposit for the average car will range from €300 to €1,000. If you use a credit card, this deposit will be blocked off for the rental duration. The daily rental for a vehicle will range from €15 to €60, and a 4-door sedan will cost about €225 per week. The Belgian rental prices are generally low compared to other European countries through extras such as GPS will have an additional daily cost, and luxury vehicles will cost considerably more.
All motorists in Belgium should have fire and 3rd party insurance. Third-party insurance covers damage to people, property, and animals outside of the vehicle in an accident. It does not cover any injury to the driver, passengers, or the rental car. Just like in other European countries, it is recommended that you get theft insurance and Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) in addition to the mandatory insurance requirements. Unless you plan on driving a sports car at incredible speeds, Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) absolving you of any liability is not required for this country.
Belgium has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. However, we recommend you purchase a travel insurance package to cover any eventuality on your trip. Some points to consider when getting travel insurance are given below:
- The insurance cover should include hospital stays.
- Losses incurred due to canceled or lost deposits should be covered.
- Any financial losses incurred due to lost or damaged baggage should be covered.
- If possible, the excess charges not covered by your rental car insurance should be covered.
- Any emergency dental work due to pain or medical necessity should be covered.
- To be thorough, the cost of the traveler’s funeral while on the trip should be covered.
Driving and Safety in Belgium
Where can you get a driving handbook with the road rules?
You can download a copy of the highway code in French at https://www.code-de-la-route.be/textes-legaux/sections/ar/code-de-la-route and in Dutch at https://www.wegcode.be/wet.php?wet=1. These are official Belgian driving handbooks issued by the government, and you should check bookstores in metropolitan areas if you require a handbook in English. You will receive a free handbook when registering for a course at any licensed driving school in Belgium.
Overtaking on Belgian roads
As Belgian motorists drive on the right-hand side of the road, you are expected to overtake on the left side unless it is impossible. Before overtaking, check all your mirrors and ensure sufficient space in front of the vehicle. It is illegal to overtake on some roads when there is poor visibility.
Turning and right of way on Belgian roads
You have priority over lesser roads when you are on a major highway. When two similar roads intersect, motorists going straight and turning right have priority. Motorists turning left should wait until there is sufficient space in oncoming traffic.
If there are no road markings on rural roads or lesser urban streets, you must slow down to the point where you can immediately come to a stop. When entering a roundabout, you should match the traffic speed already moving, and motorists already in the roundabout have priority over motorists entering it.
Speed limits on Belgian roads
On Belgian roads, you can only go at 30 km/h (19 mph) in school zones. You may go at 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban and built-up areas. You can go 80 km/h in the regions that are not built up. The speed limit for expressways and motorways is 120 km/h (75 mph), and you may not go below 70 km/h (44 mph) on highways.
Tips for driving in Belgium
- People drive on the right-hand side of the road.
- You should be 18 to drive in Belgium.
- The driver and passengers should wear seat belts.
- Children below 18 under 135 cm should wear a suitable booster seat and seatbelt. Children should be in the back unless the back is already filled with children.
- Dipped headlights should be used if there is poor visibility during the day.
- You may not drive your vehicle outside of marked roads and tracks.
- You may not use a mobile phone without a hands-free device when the engine is running.
- Drivers on the road should slow down if a bus signals to merge into traffic.
- The use of a phone in built-up areas is prohibited unless necessary.
Drinking and driving
You are not allowed to have a blood-alcohol level over 0.05%. If you are caught with a blood-alcohol level between 0.05% and 0.08%, you will be banned from driving for 3 hours and fined €150. If you refuse to pay spot fines, you will be prosecuted and required to pay up to €3,000 if convicted. If your blood alcohol is over 0.08%, you will be given a spot fine of €550 and be banned from driving for 6 hours. If your blood alcohol level is above 0.15%, you can be made to pay up to €15,000 and have your license suspended for up to 5 years. If your license is probationary, you are not eligible for spot fines and will be prosecuted for much higher punitive measures.
Top 3 Places to Visit in Belgium
Bruges is a romantic city with medieval architecture. The canal tours are scenic, and the canals are some of Bruges’ best features. Some of the older houses along the Dijver Canal are now museums worth looking at. Burg Square has many historical buildings, of which the Halle is the most imposing with its 83m belfry. You can enjoy some ecclesiastic architecture by visiting the Basilica of the Holy Blood on Burg Square, as it combines Romanesque and late Gothic styles. Many visitors to this beautiful town make it a base for visiting some of the less-visited villages neighboring it.
Upper Meuse Valley
This valley is home to some of the most idyllic small towns, dramatic limestone cliffs, and beautiful, healthy forests. You may use some of the much-used forest trails during your trip there. As with much of Belgium, this area is home to several historical sites, including the Namur Citadel, which gives a beautiful panoramic view of the surroundings. There are a host of well-maintained museums and a peaceful but vibrant nightlife in the central Old Town. Make sure you visit the 18th-century Cathedral of Saint Aubain and the Church of Notre Dame on your visit.
Brussels: The Heart of Europe
Brussels is the capital city of Belgium and the political capital of Europe, and it is home to Belgium’s royal family and the lawmakers of the EU. Brussels also has a well-restored Old Town and many new and old cafes and eateries. You can visit the majestic Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville de Bruxelles) and its medieval guild houses on your visit. You should visit the Rue de l’Etuve, Saint-Michel Cathedral, the Palais Royale, The Mont des Arts, and the EU headquarters.
Can I drive a vehicle with a foreign license in Belgium?
You may drive indefinitely if your license is from the EU or EEA. If your country is a signatory to the Geneva or Vienna conventions, the time limits are as determined during the respective convention. You may drive for up to 3 years with an international driver’s license and a valid foreign driver’s license.
Can I use my EU driver’s license in Belgium?
You may use your EU driver’s license indefinitely in Belgium. You can only drive for two years with an EU license after registering in Belgium, after which period you should exchange it for a Belgian one.
How long will my International Driving Permit be valid in Belgium?
Belgium was contracted to the Geneva and Vienna Motor Traffic Conventions in 1949 and 1968, so you may use your IDP for one year.
How long will transferring my license to a Belgian one take?
You can exchange your license for a Belgian one within eight weeks.
On which side of the road do you drive in Belgium?
In Belgium, vehicles drive on the right side of the road.
Do you need a foreign license printed in English to drive in Belgium?
No, but it is recommended that you have an IDP if your driving license is not in English.