Belgium Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Belgium
How safe is Belgium?
Threat level: Low-Medium
Belgium is currently in a state of high alert due to the heightened and ongoing threat of terrorism and it is advised to remain vigilant when travelling. The country has seen a recent decline in tourism due to this threat.
Further terrorist attacks remain a potential threat, with targeted areas likely to be towards foreign travellers, tourist attractions, busy bars and coffee shops. Take particular care if attending sporting events, religious holiday celebrations and other public festivities.
Caution should be taken if travelling to Brussels and local news sources monitored. Road closures and vehicle check points can be expected in some areas, due to recent attacks in the city. For specific security threat information with regards to Brussels, see our: Brussels Travel Advice.
On the 20th of November 2018, a knife attack occurred in Brussels outside a police station near the Grand Place, a policeman was stabbed but his injuries were not life-threatening. The knife attacker is reported to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” before launching his attack.
On the morning of the 29th of May 2018, a male identified as Benjamin Herman, 36, attacked and shot two Police Officers and a third man in Liege, East Belgium. Herman, it is understood, was released from prison in the days before the attack took hostage a woman in a nearby school before being shot dead by Police. There are reports that Herman shoutted "Allahu Akbar" before or during the attack.
On the 25th of August 2018, two soldiers were attacked by a knifeman in Brussels, near the Saint Catherine neighbourhood. The attacker was shot dead by the police and this attack was treated by authorities as terror-related.
On the 20th June 2017, a Morrocan man, was shot and killed at Brussels Central Station following a small explosion.
23rd March 2017, in the Sint-Michielskaai area of Antwerp, Police arrested a person, who tried to drive his vehicle down De Meir at pedestrians. After a police chase through the town, the suspect was stopped and arrested. No injuries occurred but when the police searched the vehicle, knives and other weapons were found. The 39-year-old, a French resident of North African origin, has been charged with attempted terrorist murder, also illegal possession of weapons. The event comes a day after the nation held a Remembrance service for the Brussels attacks, that killed 32 people on March 22nd, 2016.
There was a machete attack on police officers in the southern city of Charleroi, at the beginning of August 2016, in which two female police officers were injured. Police shot dead the man at the scene. It is thought that the attacker was an illegal immigrant and that the attack was terror-related. Although, there is no immediate threat to the area, residents are advised to be on their guard and report any suspicious activity to the police.
On the 22nd March 2016, two explosions occurred at Zaventem International Airport in Brussels and at Maelbeek metro station, killing 25 people and further injuring over 300.
Since these attacks, enhanced security measures have been set up with the increased presence of the police. There have been a numerous amount of police raids in the Brussels region and further security operations are likely to take place in the next few months. If a police raid is being conducted, it is advisable to remain indoors and close all windows and blinds. Be cautious when travelling to Belgium, of any unusual activity and report anything that seems suspicious.
Until recently, Belgium did not have a history of terrorism and was classed as a very safe country. The overall crime rate in Belgium is of the same level as most European countries.
Petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and mugging are still a common occurrence at major public transportation places and popular tourist sites. Be particularly aware and look after your belongings in certain areas near the Grand Place/Grote Markt in Brussels and main railway stations in Brussels and Antwerp. Thieves often work together in small groups, targeting large gatherings by bumping into or shoving such victim. Never leave your luggage unattended and be alert to any unusual behaviour.
Belgium's International Relations
Belgium have been prominent advocates of European integration and have strong international links with other European organizations such as the European Union and NATO.
As a federal state, the Communities and Regions have their own foreign relations and are able to conclude treaties on their own accord. Australia and Belgium in particular retain a growing bilateral commercial relationship that share similar approaches to many international issues.
Travelling around Belgium
Road areas are in reasonable condition and in general, roads are well built and maintained. Be aware that In Belgium, they have a system of priority to the right, whereby drivers must give way to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections. To foreign drivers this may not be their custom and so must take extra caution as many accidents occur from this.
Road safety in Belgium is quite dangerous. Accidents often occur by fast drivers not taking much care of other road users. In 2013, there were 720 road deaths in Belgium, which is a considerable amount and so, please be vigilant when driving.
Public transport in Belgium is very good and not too expensive. It is considered to be safer than driving, as most major cities in Belgium have extensive and efficient public transportation systems.
Emergency services in Belgium
Emergency services operator: 112
Police emergency: 101
Red Cross ambulance: 105
Fire emergency: 100
Medical emergency: 100
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Time now in Brussels:
Consular information for Belgium
US Embassy Brussels
Bd du Regentlaan 25
Telephone: +32 2811 4000
British Embassy Brussels
Avenue d’Auderghem 10
Telephone: +32 2287 6211
Visa requirements for Belgium
Although Belgium is a Schengen area,(the Schengen Area is an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and any other type of border control at their mutual borders), in light of recent events, the Belgian government has reintroduced internal border controls at certain border crossings.
Passport holders are only exempt from entry and long-stay visa requirements if they are from: Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA), Andorra, Monaco and Switzerland. Please check for other passport holders.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Belgium are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get a Tetanus vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Visitors from EU Member State countries should carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), as it entitles travellers to reduced cost or free medical treatment in Belgium.
Healthcare is of a particularly high standard in Belgium. Make sure to obtain health and travel insurance in order to cover all costs overseas. If you’re visiting Belgium from an EU Member State, then you should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before your trip.