Belgium - Consular Information Sheet
May 11, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Belgium is a highly developed and
stable democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. A visa is
not required of American citizens for business or tourist stays
of up to 90 days. For further information concerning entry requirements,
travelers may contact the Embassy of Belgium at 3330 Garfield
Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 333-6900 or
one of the Belgian Consulates General in Atlanta, Chicago, Los
Angeles, or New York. The web site of the Belgian Embassy in the
United States is http://www.diplobel.org/usa/default.htm.
Belgian law requires that everyone carry some form of official
identification at all times, which must be displayed upon request
to any Belgian police official. A U.S. passport suffices for these
DUAL NATIONALITY: U.S. citizens who are also Belgian citizens
under Belgian law may be subject, while in Belgium, to certain
aspects of Belgian law such as mandatory voting. Those who may
be affected should inquire at a Belgian Embassy or Consulate regarding
their status. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S.
Government efforts to provide protection abroad. For additional
information, please see the Consular Affairs home page on the
Internet at http://travel.state.gov
for our Dual Nationality flyer.
SAFETY/SECURITY: Belgium remains largely free of terrorist
incidents. Belgian law enforcement and security officials in close
cooperation with neighboring countries maintain a solid anti-terrorism
effort maintaining a peaceful environment for tourists and business.
However, Belgium’s open borders with its Western European neighbors
allow the possibility of terrorist groups to enter/exit the country
with anonymity. Since October 1998, the Animal Liberation Front
(ALF) has conducted several arson attacks in the Antwerp area
targeting fast food restaurants that serve meat products. The
attacks have occurred after closing hours and have caused no injuries.
Several ALF members were arrested in December 1999 in connection
with these attacks.
CRIME INFORMATION: Belgium remains a relatively safe country,
and anti-American sentiment is rare. Visitors should take reasonable
precautions because street thefts, purse snatchings, and pickpocketing
are occurring more frequently particularly in the major cities.
In Brussels, crime continues to increase annually with pickpocketing
and purse snatching being the most common. These crimes are prevalent
in the public transportation system (subway, bus and tram) and
at Brussels’ three major train stations, the North Station (Noordstation
or Gare du Nord), the Central Station (Centraal Station or Gare
Central) and especially at the South Station (Zuidstation or Gare
du Midi). The latter station is a primary international train
hub, and travelers are advised to pay particular attention to
their personal belongings when traversing it. In addition, car-jacking
incidents involving expensive cars remains a significant crime
Travelers to Brussels should be aware that small groups of young
men have been known to prey on unaware tourists. Tourists are
advised to never leave valuables unattended in vehicles, and should
keep car doors locked when driving. Travelers are also advised
to leave expensive jewelry, financial records, address books,
and other personal effects at home or stored in a safe place during
their visit. Travelers should carry only a minimum amount of cash,
credit cards and personal identification.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Brussels,
Belgium. The emergency numbers for the police and medical assistance
are 101 and 100, respectively, and for cellular phones 112. Visitors
to Belgium requiring additional information should contact the
Consular Section at the American Embassy (telephone: 322-508-2387).
U.S. citizens may also refer to the Department of State's pamphlet
A Safe Trip Abroad
for ways to promote a more trouble free journey. The pamphlet
is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet
or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are widely available
and the large university hospitals can handle almost every medical
problem. Hospitals in Brussels and Flemish-speaking Flanders will
probably have English-speaking staff; however, hospitals in French-speaking
Wallonia may not have staff members who are fluent in English.
The Embassy’s Consular Section maintains a list of English-speaking
doctors. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or
medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of
dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate
cash payment for health services.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States although some hospitals in Belgium
will accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield, depending on the plan. U.S.
Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical
services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require
medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with
your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies
overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available
via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC’s Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Belgium is provided for general reference
only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Belgian urban highways are generally well built and maintained
with extensive lighting systems, but rain and fog often reduce
visibility. Rural roads are less likely to be illuminated at night.
Belgian rules for right-of-way differ from those in the U.S.,
and new drivers should thoroughly understand these rules before
driving in Belgium. The maximum speed limit on Belgian highways
is 120 kilometers (72 miles) per hour, but it is posted only at
Belgium’s borders and on roads leaving major airports. Claims
of ignorance may not prevent a significant fine for speeding,
which can also lead to the vehicle’s being impounded if the driver
is unable to pay the fine on the spot in Belgian Francs. Belgian
police also conduct breath analyzer checks for alcohol use, particularly
at night and during major holidays.
Roadside assistance and information on road conditions are available
in English from Touring Assistance at tel: 070-344-777, which
is a free call within Belgium. Belgian police will also provide
information on road conditions at tel: 02-642-6666.
For specific information concerning Belgian driver's permits,
vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact
the Belgian National Tourist Organization offices in New York
at tel: 212-758-6130 or via the Internet at http://visitbelgium.com.
For information about international driving permits, please contact
AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of Belgium’s Civil Aviation
Authority as Category 1 - in compliance with international aviation
safety standards for oversight of Belgium’s air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
the FAA’s Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Belgian customs authorities enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from Belgium of a variety of items. It is advisable to contact
the Embassy of Belgium in Washington or one of Belgium’s consulates
in the United States for specific information regarding customs
requirements. The web site of the Belgian Embassy in the United
States is http://www.diplobel.org/usa/default.htm.
Belgian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA
(Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary
admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or
goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters,
located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue
of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the
ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, call
(212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to email@example.com, or visit
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Belgian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs
in Belgium are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail
sentences and heavy fines. Dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government
efforts to provide protection abroad.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: While most forms of monetary transactions
are available (cash, credit cards), U.S. money orders cannot be
negotiated in Belgium. Personal checks may only be cleared through
a bank at which a person holds an account. Banks and exchange
facilities may refuse U.S. dollar denominations of $50.00 and
$100.00 if they are not equipped with devices to identify counterfeit
currency. Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s) are widespread in
Belgium and they accept most U.S. ATM cards to withdraw funds.
Travelers seeking to purchase Belgian Francs are likely to find
a favorable exchange rate at banks than at money exchange facilities
located at tourist locations, train stations and airports.
CHILDREN’S ISSUES: For information on international adoption
of children and international parental child abduction please
refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting Belgium are encouraged to register at the
Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium and
obtain updated information on travel and security within Belgium.
The U.S. Embassy is located 27 Boulevard du Regent, 1000 Brussels.
The Consular Section is located at 25 Boulevard du Regent. The
telephone number from the U.S. is 011-32-2-508-2111. Within Belgium,
the telephone number is 02-508-2111. The Embassy’s fax number
is 02-511-2725. The Consular Section’s fax number is 02-513-0409.
The American Citizen Services Unit of the Consular Section is
open from 1:30 to 4:30 P.M. Monday through Friday, except for
American and Belgian holidays. Further information can be obtained
at the Embassy’s web site http://www.usinfo.be.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet for Belgium, September
15, 1999, and eliminates the Y2K Information.