Safety and Security
Please do not leave your belongings –especially, money, passport and phone – unattended at any time in public areas. Be especially careful at train stations particularly Gare du Midi / Zuidstation in Brussels.
You should be extra vigilant in Brussels at major railway stations, on the metro, buses and trams,(generally running from 05.00 to 01.00) and particularly in the vicinity of the Schuman area (the EU quarter) and of the Gare du Midi/Zuidstation, which is a major international train station including the Eurostar terminal and the terminus for buses from Charleroi airport.
As with any major city, crimes such as mugging, bag-snatching and pickpocketing are not uncommon. Such incidents are particularly distressing when abroad and therefore you should at all times exercise care and vigilance. Ensure that your travel documents are in a safe place at all times. Take only the minimum amount of cash, credit cards and personal ID necessary when you go out. It is generally a good idea to leave your passport in the hotel safe. But be aware you need ID on you at all times in Belgium, so if you are leaving your passport in a safe, bring another form of ID (e.g. driver’s license).
In the event of theft, contact the nearest police station and obtain a police report, which is necessary when applying for a replacement passport or insurance claim.
The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before travelling to Belgium. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Irish Citizens should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for repatriation of remains.
You should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) free of charge which entitles you to emergency medical treatment. This card is NOT a substitute for travel insurance. See www.ehic.ie for further details. The EHIC replaces the Form E111, which is no longer valid.
Irish citizens do not require a visa to enter Belgium.
It is advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you. During your stay you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
LOCAL LAWS & CUSTOMS
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Belgium are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Pedestrians should be aware that “the green man” signal does not mean that cars will automatically stop. Also, many of the zebra crossings are not accompanied by light systems. The custom is that the motorist should stop to allow any pedestrian cross at the zebra crossing as and when they choose to use the zebra crossing. Caution is advised in all cases and at all times as some motorists will be more vigilant than others.
Belgian roads are generally in good condition and are lit at night, including the motorway network. Traffic is fast and Belgium’s accident rate is high mainly due to speeding. Speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles are operational throughout the country. Fines have increased dramatically (eg up to € 2,750 for exceeding the speed limit by 40 kms/hr). Visitors to Belgium will have to pay on the spot. Vehicles may be impounded if they are unable to pay.
Drivers should also be aware of the ‘priority to the right’ rule: drivers must stop for traffic joining from the right, except on motorways, roundabouts, and roads sign-posted with an orange diamond within a white background.
Trams have priority over other traffic. If a tram or bus stops in
the middle of the road to allow passengers off or on, you must
Do not drink and drive. The legal blood alcohol level for drivers is 0.5%. Drunk drivers will be breathalysed. A blood sample will be taken from those who refuse to be breathalysed. Fines, depending on the degree of intoxication, range from € 1,100 to € 11,000. In certain cases driving licences will be confiscated immediately.
Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, and will incur a heavy fine. The use of "hands free" equipment is allowed.
There is a speed restriction of 30 kms/hr in school areas, which is valid 24 hours.
In non-emergency cases, if you require an English speaking doctor call the Community Help Service (02 648 40 14).
A H1N1 Virus (Human Swine Flu)
For information, please consult the following web-site that gives information on the Swine Flu : www.influenza.be
DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR MISSIONS IN BELGIUMTop