Fire and rescue services
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Belgium's National Terrorism Threat is level two of four. This means a threat exists. Some sensitive locations are at level three and have serious and credible threats.
Recent attacks include:
More attacks may happen at any time.
Crowded places may be the target of an attack, such as:
Belgian police continue to conduct anti-terror operations. These may occur with little or no warning.
If you're in the area of a police operation:
Enhanced security arrangements are in place at the Australian Embassy in Brussels. Visitors must pass a security screening. Don't bring luggage with you.
To protect yourself from terrorism:
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
The Belgian Government provides information in the case of emergencies through the Belgian Crisis Centre (available in French, Dutch or German) and social media (Facebook and Twitter). You can also register to be notified in an emergency situation through the Belgian Public Alert System (Be-Alert).
Crimes such as theft, mugging, pickpocketing and bag snatching are common in urban and tourist areas. Theft on board intercity and international trains are also common.
Hotspots for crime include:
Thieves often work in teams of two or three. They distract victims, including by:
To stay safe from crime:
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
Demonstrations are common, often directed at:
Belgium often hosts large international meetings. Heads of state, senior government and business figures may attend.
Before and during these meetings, authorities often increase security measures around Brussels or other parts of Belgium. This may disrupt travel.
To avoid issues:
Severe weather can affect your travel. Monitor local media for updates.
If you plan to visit an affected area:
Register with the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System to receive alerts on major disasters.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in Belgium. Take enough legal medicine for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
Health risks in Belgium are broadly similar to those in Australia. However, Belgium is currently experiencing an outbreak of measles. Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date before you travel.
The standard of medical facilities is high.
Belgium and Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement. You can get subsidised treatment in the Belgian public health system, including:
To access the reciprocal health care agreement, you must present your:
You may need to pay at the time of treatment and get reimbursed from a Belgian health insurance fund ('mutuelle').
The reciprocal health care agreement does not cover treatment in:
If you're a private patient, you'll need to pay for any treatment, services or medicine you receive.
The reciprocal health care agreement doesn't replace the need for travel insurance.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Laws relating to drugs are similiar to those of Australia.
You must carry your passport or a Belgian government-issued ID at all times.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
Belgium is a part of the Schengen area, along with many other European countries.
You can enter Belgium without a visa in some cases. In other situations, you'll need a visa.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Increased security measures are in force at international airports and train stations.
Carry your passport when you enter or exit Belgium, even by road or rail.
Contact your airline or travel agent for updates or check-in requirements.
To prepare for travel and border conditions:
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
Belgium's currency is the Euro.
ATMs are widely available.
If you're travelling between Belgium and a non-EU country, declare currency of 10,000 euros or more or equivalent. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
If you don't declare currency or give incorrect information on entry or exit, you'll be fined.
You don't need to declare currency if you're travelling to or from another EU country.
For short visits, you'll need both:
Car rental companies may require both documents.
You must be at least 18 years old to drive in Belgium.
If you register as a resident with a local commune, you'll need to change your Australian driver’s licence for a Belgian licence.
Communes usually require the date of issue of your Australian licence. If your licence doesn't show this, contact your state or territory licensing authority for an official notice that states the date of issue.
Unless otherwise signposted, drivers must give way to vehicles approaching from:
This is the 'priority of the right' system. Understand this system so you avoid road accidents.
Instances of road rage are common. Learn local road rules before you drive.
Traffic infringements can carry serious penalties, including:
Check that your travel insurance policy covers you when riding a motorbike.
Always wear a helmet.
Targets for unlicensed taxis include high-traffic destinations, such as:
Rideshare options are available.
Pickpockets operate on intercity and international trains.
Pay close attention to valuables and your passport on trains and other forms of public transport.
Check Belgian Rail for bookings and any service interruptions.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
See Belgium's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Contact the nearest police station if it isn't an emergency.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Level 7, Avenue des Arts/Kunstlaan 56
1000 Brussels, Belguim
Phone: (+32 2) 286 0500
Fax: (+32 2) 286 0576
Facebook: Australian Embassy, Brussels
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
Enhanced security is in place at the Australian Embassy in Brussels. Visitors must pass a security screening. Don't bring luggage with you.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
Be the first to know official government advice when travelling.