Belgium is wedged between Germany, Netherlands and France, and is famous for lace, diamonds, Hercule Poirot and inventing French Fries. Even if you are not visiting Belgium, you may pass through on the way to the Netherlands or Germany, and it has some slightly different driving requirements.
There are three main languages spoken: Dutch (58%), French (31%) and German (11%), so you may see signs in one or more of these langauges. Belgium also hosts the EU 'capital' in Brussels, but also has one of the few monarchies left in Europe.
When driving in Belgium, you will need to ensure you bring both parts of your driving licence - the Photocard plus the Paper Counterpart (D740). If you do not have a Photocard yet, only the paper copy is required, but you will need Photo ID, such as a Passport
You must be the holder of a full driving licence (not a provisional), and have passed your test. Even if you have already passed your full test, you must be at least 18 years old.
If your visit is for less than 90 days, you will not require an International Driving Permit. If you are intending to drive in Belgium for more than 90 days, apply for the International Driving Permit through the Post Office. The international driving permit is in addition to your driving licence, so you will need to carry both copies.
While a photocopy may be useful if your licence is lost, you should carry the original with you.
You should carry your vehicles Registration Certificate (V5C) with you, which should be updated to show your correct details. For security reasons, it's best NOT to leave the Registration Certificate in the vehicle while it is parked - it makes it harder to a thief to resell the vehicle if they do not have the documentation.
While a photocopy may be useful if your Registration Certificate is lost, you should carry the original with you.
It is compulsory to have at least third-party insurance for Belgium, as for the UK. Most UK insurance policies will allow an element of European driving, often for a limited period.
Before leaving the UK, it is a good idea to contact your insurer, and check what your existing cover allows. You should request a 'Green Card' which is an internationally recognised form of proof of insurance. You should carry proof of insurance with you while driving. You may also need to arrange insurance for any trailers.
If your existing insurance does not provide European cover for the period required, most insurance brokers will have a suitable policy covering Belgium, and will provide Green Card.
Your headlights will need to be adjusted to ensure that they do not dazzle oncoming users.
Standard halogen headlights and Autobulbs Xenon HID Conversion kits can be modified by the use of a stick on Headlight Beam Adaptors. Vehicles with factory fitted Xenon HID headlights may find there is an adjuster either on the headlights themselves or on the dashboard - check your manual for details. If there is no adjuster, you may need to visit a dealer for them to make the adjustments, and again to change them back after your visit.
Reflective Jackets or vests are a legal requirement - you should have one for each passenger in the vehicle. At the moment this does not apply to motorbikes or trikes. The jackets should comply to the EN471 standard. In the event of a breakdown or accident, anyone outside the vehicle must wear one of the reflective jackets.
There is a requirement for every vehicle to carry a fire extinguisher. It is recommended that you also carry a first aid kit, but it is not mandatory - they are generally a useful safety item to carry in your vehicle if you have the space.
A Warning Triangle is also required. In the event of an accident or breakdown, the triangle should be set up by the side of the road, at least 50 meters in the direction of of the traffic. If you have broken down in the outer lane of a dual carriageway or motorway, or attempting to place the warning triangle would place you in danger, do not use it. Remember to collect your warning triangle before leaving!
Children under 12 years old must use an appropriate booster seat or modification - this includes two seater vehicles. All passengers must use seat belts if fitted
You may have a number plate that already has a valid 'GB' mark. If you do not, you will need to apply a GB sticker to the back of your vehicle.
It is recommended (but not required) that you carry a spare bulb kit suitable for your vehicle. While HID bulbs last longer than their halogen counterparts, it makes sense to carry at least one spare Xenon HID bulb suitable for your headlights.