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Country Specific Info.

The United States State Department produces Consular Information Sheets with health, safety and other country information for every country in the world. They are one good source of information, though you should look at multiple sources of information and take your own personal situation into account when selecting a country to study in.

The latest Consular Information Sheet for Belgium is below. We do not take responsibility for this information or edit it in any way. You can access the State Department travel site directly at: https://travel.state.gov/travel/

March 26, 2018

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Brussels

27 Boulevard du Régent (the Consular Section is at 25 Boulevard du Régent)
B-1000 Brussels
Belgium
Telephone: +(32) (2) 811-4000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(32) (0) 2-811-4000
Fax: +(32) (2) 811-4546
UScitizenbrussels@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Belgium for information on U.S.–Belgium relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Belgium is a party to the Schengen Agreement. Visit the Embassy of Belgium website for the most current visa information.

Transiting Schengen Countries:

Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay if you plan on transiting a Schengen country.
You will need sufficient proof of funds and a return airline ticket.
For additional details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see our Schengen fact sheet.

HIV/AIDS RESTRICITONS: 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

Terrorism: Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.

Demonstrations occur daily. Large, public demonstrations take place for a variety of political and economic issues.

Demonstration organizers must obtain prior police approval, and police routinely oversee participants.
Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.
Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations.
Check local media for updates on the situation and traffic advisories.
Demonstration alerts are posted on the U.S. Mission’s website.

Crime:

Low-level street crime including robberies, smash and grab car robberies, purse snatchings, and pickpocketing is common, particularly in major cities, in public areas such as restaurants, the Brussels metro at night, and the Gare du Midi. Thieves often operate in teams, by bumping into or shoving the target, especially in crowds. Be alert to distractions.
Theft from vehicles is a common problem. Always drive with your windows up and the doors locked, as thieves sometimes target cars stopped at traffic lights. Thieves may smash the window and grab valuables. Use parking garages when possible, and if you must use street parking, look for a spot near a street light.
Carry only a minimum amount of cash, credit cards, and necessary personal identification.
Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and watches.

U.S. citizens have lost tens of thousands of dollars in scams, in Belgium. See our website on international financial scams to protect yourself while traveling.

Common internet scams include confidence schemes
Friends, family, or others receive a message that a U.S. citizen traveler is stranded in Belgium and in need of funds to pay for customs fees.
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.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams..

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to the local police at 101. For all other emergencies, please dial 112. Contact the U.S. Embassy at +(32) (2) 811-4000. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

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 commission.victimes@just.fgov.be or commissie.slachtoffers@just.fgov.be; or visit the Ministry of Justice website (French, and Dutch only).

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

help you find appropriate medical care
assist you in reporting a crime to the police
contact relatives or friends with your written consent
explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
provide a list of local attorneys
provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States
provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
support in cases of destitution
help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
See the State Department's travel website for Worldwide Caution, Travel Advisories.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you 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.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our web page on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

Faith-Based Travel Information
International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
Human Rights Report – see country reports
Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Belgium.

See our LGBTI travel information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights Report for further details.

Persons with Mobility Issues: While in Belgium, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States.

Belgian law requires that any new building with public or community space must 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 official tourism sites for Belgium’s three major regions, Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders.

Students: See our students abroad page.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for women travelers.

Health

High-quality medical facilities and services are widely available in Belgium. The large university hospitals can handle almost every medical problem. 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. The responsiveness of emergency services is also generally excellent.

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that the U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Obtain supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescriptions medication in its original packing, along with your doctor’s prescription.
Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obtain travel insurance that covers illness, injury, death, and medical evacuations.

For further health information, go to:

World Health Organization (WHO)
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety:

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.
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.

Traffic Laws:

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 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. Automated radars with cameras are common and violators are issued citations through the mail.
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 .5 grams of alcohol per liter of blood (.05 percent Blood Alcohol Content or BAC).
You must use your seat belt while driving in a vehicle.
Bicycling is very common in Belgium, for both recreational and more traditional transportation purposes. It is strongly advised to wear helmets at all times.

Public Transportation: Brussels and most major cities of Belgium have extensive and efficient public transportation systems. Trains, buses, and ferries connect Brussels with other major cities in Belgium and with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands. Traveling by train is considered to be safer than driving.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the website of the Belgian national authority responsible for road safety.

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.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Belgium should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https:homeport.uscg.mil, and the NGA broadcast warnings website and select “broadcast warnings.”

Shepherd University Study Abroad Office