BelgiumOfficial Name: Kingdom of Belgium
Must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
2 pages minimum
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays under 90 days
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
10,000 Euros or equivalent
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
10,000 Euros or equivalent
Embassies and Consulates
27 Boulevard du Régent (the Consular Section is at 25 Boulevard du Régent)
Telephone:+(32) (2) 811-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(32) (0) 2-811-4000
Fax: +(32) (2) 811-4546
Belgium is a highly developed and stable democracy with a modern economy. Tourist facilities are widely available. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Belgium for additional information on U.S.- Belgian relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Belgium is a party to the Schengen Agreement. This means that U.S. citizens may enter Belgium for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. We recommend that your passport be valid for at least six months whenever you travel abroad to avoid unintended travel disruptions. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket. For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.
Visit the Embassy of Belgium website for the most current visa information. If you need additional information about entry requirements, including visas for employment or study in Belgium, you can contact the Embassy of Belgium at 3330 Garfield Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202)333-6900, fax (202) 338-4960; or the Belgian Consulate General in Atlanta, Los Angeles, or New York. Detailed contact information can be found on the Embassy of Belgium website.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Belgium.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
While Belgium has historically been largely free of major terrorist incidents, two terror-related events have occurred in the past year. In May 2014, a gunman opened fire at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, killing four people. In January 2015, Belgian counter-terrorist units foiled what was described as an imminent terror attack, when they killed two gunmen and wounded another in a shootout in the town of Verviers, near the German border. Belgian authorities have arrested dozens of suspects in counter-terrorism actions over the past two years. As with other countries in the Schengen area, Belgium maintains open borders with its neighbors, allowing the possibility of terrorist operatives entering/exiting the country with anonymity. Belgian law enforcement and security officials, in close cooperation with neighboring countries, maintain an effective anti-terrorism effort and a welcoming environment for tourism and business..
Security messages issued regarding demonstration and strikes will now be posted on the Embassy’s website. Prior police approval is required for all public demonstrations in Belgium, and police are present to ensure adequate security for participants and passers-by. Nonetheless, spontaneous demonstrations do take place in Belgium from time to time in response to world events or local developments. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. You should avoid them if at all possible. Be alert and aware of your surroundings, and pay attention to what the local news media have to say. In general, larger public demonstrations are announced on the Demonstrations page within the U.S. Embassy Brussels website.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Belgium on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Although Belgium remains relatively free of violent crime, low-level street crime such as robberies, purse snatchings, and pickpocketing is common, particularly in major cities. Thieves often operate in teams, and usually distract a target by creating a random commotion in a public space or by bumping into or shoving the target, especially in crowds. Usually, an accomplice to get the target’s attention by speaking to that person or asking to sign a petition while the partner carries out the theft. Be alert to distractions.
Criminals commonly operate in transportation hubs like the metro (subway) and train stations, notably the Gare du Midi, the primary international train hub in Brussels. Restaurants, bars, and hotels are also common targets. Don’t sit next to doors where thieves can reach in and grab a bag that is placed on a chair or on the floor next to it. On trains, don’t place valuables on overhead racks. Exercise good security and safety practices when selecting and checking into hotels. Ensure that rooms have door and window locks. When possible, select a room above the ground and first floors.
Theft from vehicles is a common problem. Do not leave anything visible that might attract attention, even while driving. Always drive with your windows up and the doors locked, as thieves sometimes target cars stopped at traffic lights. Items left on the front passenger seat of a car are particularly vulnerable. Theives may break in and steal the item from the passanger seat before you have time to react. If doors are locked, thieves may smash the window and grab valuables. Use parking garages when possible, as they are generally more secure than street parking. When a parking garage is not available, look for a spot near a street light.
There have been instances of small groups of young men that prey on unwary tourists, usually at night in the Brussels metro (subway). These thieves typically seek small, high-value items such as smart phones and MP3 players. You should carry only a minimum amount of cash, credit cards, and necessary personal identification (see Special Circumstances, below, for acceptable forms of identification). Avoid against wearing expensive jewelry and watches.
Scammers have victimized U.S. citizens around the world, including in Belgium. See our website on International Financial Scams to protect yourself while traveling. A common internet scam is for a distressed U.S. citizen travel to be stranded in Belgium in need of funds to pay for customs fees. These are confidence schemes. U.S. citizens have lost tens of thousands of dollars in such scams. Funds transferred in response to such offers are rarely recovered. U.S. citizens in the United States who have been victimized by Internet crime should report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. U.S. citizens present in Belgium who have been victimized should contact the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels (Telephone 011-32-2-811-4057). Depending on the circumstances, the Regional Security Office can then direct you to the appropriate Belgian, U.S., or international law enforcement agency.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Belgium is 101 for emergencies requiring police assistance. For all other emergencies, please dial 112.
The Belgian “Commission for financial assistance to victims of intentional acts of violence” provides financial compensation, under specific circumstances, for victims of crime and for those who have suffered injuries and consequent losses caused by such incidents. The Commission also provides for dependents or immediate family members of homicide victims. For more information, contact the Commission by phone at 32 2 542-7208; 32 2 542-7218; 32 2 542-7224; 32 2 542-7229, or 32 2 542-7244; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; or visit the Ministry of Justice website (French, Dutch, and German only).
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Belgium, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own, and criminal penalties will vary from country to country. Persons violating Belgian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Belgium are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. If you break local laws in Belgium, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Belgium, you have the right to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the U.S. Embassy of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the Embassy.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: We are not aware of any special circumstances for this country.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a women traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals enjoy full rights in Belgium. The LGBT community is protected by anti-discrimination laws, and there are no legal or governmental impediments to the organization of LGBT events. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Belgium you may review Section 6 of the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report. For further information on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Belgium, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. Although Beligan law requires that any new building with public or community space has to be accessible for persons with disabilities, many existing buildings as well as public transportation systems are less adapted to individuals with disabilities. General information on the accessibility of tourist accommodations, public transportation, museums, and other tourist facilities can be found on the Belgian Tourist Office's website.
High-quality medical facilities are widely available in Belgium. The large university hospitals can handle almost every medical problem. Hospitals may not necessarily have staff members who are fluent in English. The Embassy's Consular Section maintains a list of English-speaking doctors. Equivalents for most, but not all, U.S. medications are available through local pharmacies with a prescription from a Belgian physician. Travelers to Belgium are encouraged to bring a sufficient supply of prescription medications for the duration of their stay.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Decease Control (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Belgium, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Belgium’s road network is generally well built and maintained. Sufficient lighting exists on major highways, but on rural roads it is often insufficient or nonexistent. Belgian rules for right-of-way differ from those in the United States, and new drivers should thoroughly understand these rules before driving in Belgium. For instance, traffic coming from the right generally has priority at uncontrolled intersections, even if coming from a smaller street. The maximum speed limit on Belgian highways is 120 kilometers (72 miles) per hour, but is not always posted. The maximum speed in urban areas is normally 50 km (30 miles) per hour, but in central Brussels it is 30 km (19 miles) per hour. While Belgian authorities strictly enforce speed limits, many Belgians still drive significantly faster than the posted limit. Claiming ignorance of the speed limit may not prevent you from getting a significant fine for speeding, and your vehicle may be impounded if you can’t pay the fine on the spot. Belgian police also conduct breath analysis checks for alcohol use, particularly at night and during major holidays. The legal limit for operating a motor vehicle is .05 percent blood alcohol content.
Roadside assistance and information on road conditions are available in English from Touring Mobilis, telephone 02 286-3040. Belgian police will also provide information on road conditions, telephone 02-642-6666. Emergency services are efficient and responsive. For police emergencies, dial 101 by phone within Belgium. For all other emergencies, dial 112.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Belgium’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Belgium’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.