Expats moving to Belgium from countries from within the European Economic Area (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein) are not required to exchange their driver’s licence. However it is recommended to register national licenses with the driving license department of the local town hall in case of loss or theft. If a licence from an EEA country is lost or stolen the replacement will be a Belgian driving licence for those who have taken up residency. It is also possible to exchange an EEA license for a Belgian equivalent.
Reciprocal arrangements are in place with numerous other non-EEA countries that permit a driver to exchange their driver’s licence for a Belgian equivalent, but the individual must be registered within a municipality.
For those moving to Belgium from counties without such agreements, there is a requirement to pass the driving examination – comprising a theory and practical test. The Examination Centre (SBAT) can arrange English versions of the theory exam, although it is recommended to book well in advance. Non-EEA nationals can check the government website for licence validity: www.mobilit.fgov.be
A driver’s licence from another country can gain non-EEA residents one year’s grace before the need to pass a Belgian driving test. However, when driving in Belgium, the person must carry their license at all times, together with the International Driving Permit (IDP), which contains a translation of the license.
Further information on registering for an international driving licence or exchanging a licence can be found in the Town Hall (Maison Communale/Stadhuis) of most towns. A Belgian driving licence or one from an EU country will be needed along with passport photograph, proof of ID and money to cover the fee of the applications. An international driving licence has a lifetime of three years.
Processing times for Belgian driving licences tend to be around two weeks, so at the point of exchanging licences you will be given a temporary issue licence.
A few final points
The minimum age for driving in Belgium is 18 years, so, if you are 17 you will not be permitted to drive in Belgium, even if you can do so legally in your home country.
If you are driving a vehicle that belongs to someone else you must carry a letter of authorisation from the owner giving you permission to drive.
All cars in Belgium must carry a warning triangle to be used in case of a breakdown.
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