Ghent - Belgium

Driving in Belgium - a short guide to Belgium

Practical information for drivers
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A short guide to the kingdom of Belgium

Driving to Belgium

   Belgium is a country that is extremely easy to reach by car, even from the United Kingdom.
   While there are no longer any direct car ferry sailings to Belgium from Dover or Ramsgate, Belgium can be reached from London even faster by taking the Eurotunnel Shuttle or  car ferries from Dover to Calais or Dover to Dunkirk. For information and online booking direct with the ferry companies, see Ferries to France.

   From Calais to the historic city of Bruges, a UNESCO world heritage site, it is just over an hour up the (toll-free) French A16  and Belgian A18 motorways. The French motorway network is directly accessible from the ferry and Channel Tunnel terminals.
   From Dunkirk, the journey is slightly shorter.
   The battlefield areas and memorials around Ypres are only about an hour's drive from Calais.
    Brussels is just under two and a half hours' drive from Calais, following the A16 / E40 route passing by Bruges and Ghent.
   The only direct car-ferry sailings between Britain and Belgium are those operated by P&O between Hull and Zeebrugge, the ferry port just north of Bruges.

Driving in Belgium

Knowing where you're going
    Take care when following roadsigns in Belgium; many Belgian towns have two names, depending on which of Belgium's two languages is being used: sometimes both will be indicated, but this is not always the case. In northern Belgium, it is the Flemish name that will be on the signs; in southern Belgium, it is the French name.
     A few Belgian cities even have three names - if you count a slightly different name used in English: thus Brussels / Brüssel / Bruxelles, or Antwerp / Antwerpen / Anvers
    While there is little confusion over Brussel / Bruxelles, things may be less evident with other pairs, such as Ypres / Ieper, Gand/ Gent,  Bruges / Brugge,  Louvain / Leuwen, Liège / Luik, Courtrai / Kortrijk, Tournai / Doornik, and others.

Fuel prices in Belgium

As of January 2014, fuel prices in Belgium are about the same as in France, a bit cheaper than in Germany. Compared to the UK, unleaded is about 8% cheaper in Belgium, and diesel about 10% cheaper.

Required items

Drivers taking their vehicle to Belgium should have the following:
  • Full driving licence.     An international driving licence is not needed for visitors with a licence from another European country, nor from North America nor Australia; but non-Eu visitors planning to hire a car or drive beyond the Belgian border may be advised to get one before travelling.
  • Passport
  • Proof of ownership of the vehicle (V5C certificate for drivers from the UK)
  • Proof of insurance (green card or insurance certificate).
  • Warning triangle and hi-visibility  jacket (as for France).
  • For vehicles from Britain and Ireland : headlamp beam deflector for night driving .

Motorways in Belgium

Driving through Belgium is relatively easy. The country has a good and extensive motorway network, and unlike in France, the motorways in Belgium are free.... for the time being at least.
   The Belgian motorway network links in seamlessly, and without border controls, to the French, Dutch, German and Luxembourg motorway systems.
  The only toll payable for the moment on the Belgian road network is the toll on the Liefkenshoek tunnel under the Scheldt river, on the north side of Antwerp. However, plans are afoot to introduce a vignette system, similar to the one used for Swiss motorways, from 2016.

Belgian speed limits:

The speed limits in Belgium are 120 km/h on motorways, 90 km/h on other roads, and 50 km/h in built-up areas, unless other limits are indicated.

Speed cameras and traffic offences :

All types of speed camera are in operation in Belgium, including fixed cameras, mobile cameras, unmarked cars, and average speed cameras. Motorists stopped by police for minor traffic offences - such as using a mobile phone while driving - may be made to pay an on-the-spot fine of between 55 €uros and 165 €uros, depending on the nature of the  offence. Serious speeding offences can give rise to considerably higher fines.


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