Belgium

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Risk level(s)

Risk level(s)

Belgium - Exercise a high degree of caution

Exercise a high degree of caution in Belgium due to the current elevated threat of terrorism.

Learn more about the safety and security situation.

Safety and security

Safety and security

Crime

Violent crime is uncommon. However, petty crimes (for example, pickpocketing and purse snatching) occur at major transportation hubs and tourist sites. 

Organized gangs have been known to target the following areas:

  • the Grand Place (Grote Markt) in Brussels
  • public transportation and airports
  • the main railway stations in Brussels (Gare du Midi [Zuidstation] and Gare du Nord [Noordstation])
  • Antwerp

Tactics used by criminals

Pickpockets often target passengers boarding or disembarking public transportation or international train lines, including the Paris–Brussels–Amsterdam and Brussels–London routes. Never leave your luggage unattended.

Be cautious if approached by anyone asking odd questions, spilling food or drink, or telling you someone else has spilled something on your clothes. These are distraction tactics used by thieves. Carry a minimal amount of cash when you go out.

Ensure that valuables in vehicles are kept out of sight at all times. Thieves, often on motorbikes, have been known to break a car window while the car is stopped at a traffic light and snatch valuables from the front or back seat.

Always be suspicious if someone offers to help you with a flat tire. These individuals may have punctured the tire themselves and seize the opportunity to steal a bag or other valuable objects while you are distracted.

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities.

In Belgium, separate attacks causing multiple deaths and injuries have taken place. The attacks were indiscriminate and targeted public places. While the deadliest attacks occurred in Brussels in 2016, the likelihood of an attack elsewhere in Belgium cannot be ruled out. Further attacks elsewhere in Europe are also likely.

Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places. Be particularly vigilant if attending sporting events and during religious holidays and other public celebrations, as terrorists have used such occasions to mount attacks.

Public alert system

The Government of Belgium maintains a public alert system on terrorism and communicates threat level changes online and through local media (including social media).

Enhanced security measures

Expect enhanced security measures and an increased police presence.

Events may be cancelled and places such as shopping centres, markets, and sport arenas may close without notice.

There is also a heightened potential for police raids to take place with little to no warning. If you are in an area where a police raid is being conducted, remain indoors and close all windows and blinds. Monitor local media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Road safety

Roads are in reasonable condition and roadside assistance is available.

Be aware of the “priority to the right” system, whereby drivers must give way to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections. This is often a surprise to foreign drivers and results in accidents.

Visibility is frequently obscured by rain and fog.

Demonstrations

Demonstrations take place frequently. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations.

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

General safety information

Ensure your personal belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times, particularly on public transportation.

There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe. Some countries have already experienced disruptions to transportation services, including at ferry ports and railway stations, and have seen major delays at border crossings. The situation also heightens the potential for demonstrations that could turn violent without warning, particularly at railway stations and other transportation hubs. If you are travelling in the region, monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities, and contact your transport carrier to determine whether the situation could disrupt your travel.

There has been a significant increase in the number of migrants and refugees entering Europe. Some countries have already experienced disruptions to transportation services, including at ferry ports and railway stations, and have seen major delays at border crossings. The situation also heightens the potential for demonstrations that could turn violent without warning, particularly at railway stations and other transportation hubs. If you are travelling in the region, monitor local news and follow the advice of local authorities, and contact your transport carrier to determine whether the situation could disrupt your travel.

Air travel

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

Entry/exit requirements

Entry/exit requirements

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.

We have obtained the information on this page from Belgian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.

Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.

Schengen area

Belgium is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.

If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.

Passport

Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.

Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.

Regular Canadian passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.

Passport for official travel

Different entry rules may apply.

Official travel

Other travel documents

Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.

Useful links

Temporary border controls

The Belgian government may reintroduce internal border controls at short notice and Canadians may be required to pass through immigration controls when entering Belgium, even if arriving from another Schengen area country.

Visas

Tourist visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days

Business visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days

Student visa: Not required for stays up to 90 days

Work visa: Required

Canadians must obtain a resident visa for stays exceeding 90 days.

Other requirements

Customs officials may ask you to show them a return ticket, proof of the purpose of your visit or proof of sufficient funds for your stay. If you are planning to stay in private accommodations, you must report your intentions to the municipal authorities (commune [gemeente]) upon arrival in Belgium.

Children and travel

Learn about travel with children.

Yellow fever

Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).

Health

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.

Measles: outbreak

Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.

You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.

Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements

Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

Risk

  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.

Country Entry Requirement*

  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.

Recommendation

  • Vaccination is not recommended.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.

About Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada

Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Health care is excellent in Belgium. The responsiveness of emergency services is generally very good. If you are referred to a medical facility for treatment you should inform your insurance/medical assistance company immediately.

Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.

Travel health and safety

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

Laws and culture

Laws & culture

You must abide by local laws.

Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.

Canada and Belgium are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Council of Europe). This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Belgium to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Belgian authorities.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Belgium.

If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of Belgium, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.

General information for travellers with dual citizenship

Driving

You should carry an International Driving Permit.

You must be at least 18 years of age to drive a car in Belgium.

Speeding causes many accidents. Strict laws are in place to improve traffic safety. Belgian police use speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles throughout the country. Fines for exceeding the speed limit are very high and police can collect them on the spot. Vehicles may be impounded for failure to pay.

Penalties for drinking and driving are strict. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.05%. Convicted offenders can expect to pay heavy fines and their driver’s licence may be confiscated immediately.

The use of a cellphone while driving is prohibited, unless fitted with a hands-free device.

Driver’s licence

A Canadian driver’s licence and an IDP are no longer valid once you have obtained residence status in Belgium. Before it expires, you may exchange your Canadian driver’s licence to a Belgian licence if it was issued by Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario or Quebec.

You can exchange the licence in the municipality where you reside.

If you hold a driver’s licence from another province, check with that province’s licence authority to find out if they have established reciprocal recognition with Belgium.

To obtain a Belgian driver’s licence, you must pass courses and tests, and you can expect to wait 6 months to a year to be able to drive legally and unaccompanied.

Identification

Carry adequate identification, such as a passport or a residence permit, at all times. Keep a photocopy of your passport in case it is lost or seized.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

Money

The currency of Belgium is the euro (EUR).

Credit cards are widely accepted and automated banking machines are widely available.

If you are carrying more than €10,000 or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs upon your entry or exit to the European Union. The sum can be in cash, cheque, money order, traveller’s cheque or any other convertible asset. This does not apply if you are travelling within the European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.

More information about cash controls - European Commission

Natural disasters and climate

Natural disasters & climate

Belgium has a temperate climate with little variation from one region to another.

Assistance

Assistance

Local services

Emergency services

Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

Consular assistance

Brussels - Embassy of Canada
Street AddressAvenue des Arts 58, 1000, Brussels, BelgiumTelephone32 (2) 741-0611Fax32 (2) 741-0619Emailbru@international.gc.caInternetwww.belgium.gc.caServicesPassport Services AvailableTwitter@CanEmbBeLux

For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Brussels and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.


The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.

The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.

If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.

Learn more about consular services.

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