The validity of your driver’s license in Belgium depends on your country of origin. Some foreigners in Belgium must exchange their licence for a Belgian one, some may exchange it if they wish, and others will need to take a full driving test (theory and practical) in order to get a Belgian driving licence.
EU driver’s license holders
People with a valid EU driver’s license can continue driving in Belgium with their normal license until it expires. However, if you are moving to Belgium, it is recommended that you trade your licence in for a Belgian one, as this simplifies things should you be asked for your licence by the police and can also serve as a form of identification.
Non-EU driver’s license
If your license was issued in a non-EU country, you are allowed to drive in Belgium with an international driving permit for visits of up to six months. However, if you intend to visit for a longer period of time, or if you want to establish a Belgian resident status, you need to apply for a local license to be allowed to drive in Belgium.
Note: The minimum age for driving is 18 years in Belgium. People under the age of 18 with a valid US driver's license may not drive in Belgium until they are 18. After this point, the US license becomes valid again.
Fortunately, Belgium has a license agreement with certain countries so that their citizens are able to simply trade their license in for a Belgian one. However, citizens from most other countries need to get their Belgian driver’s license by taking both the written and practical driving test in order to legally drive in Belgium.
Getting your Belgian driver's license
To apply for a Belgian driver’s license or to exchange your licence for a Belgian one, you need to go to the town hall of the city you are registered in. To get the process started, you can register at your local commune office (French site, with limited English translation).
Passing the driving tests
People moving to Belgium from countries without agreements, need to pass the driving examination – a theory and practical test. Both of these tests must be done at an official test centre. You can take courses for both the theory and practical test to get a better understanding of how driving in Belgium works.
The examination centre (SBAT) can arrange an English versions of the theory exam, but it is recommended that you book well in advance.
In order to obtain a Belgian driving licence, a driver must fulfill a number of conditions:
- Pass a theory examination
- Pass a practical examination
- Declare that they are not banned from driving, or that they have passed a reintegration test after a ban.
- Declare that they have no physical disabilities or afflictions. This declaration may be replaced by a compulsory medical examination
Belgium has different categories of licences, depending on the type of vehicle to be driven. You will need a category A license to drive a motorcycle and a category B license to drive a car.
When exchanging your current license for a Belgian one, you need to provide the following to your local municipality:
- A completed application form
- Proof of residency
- Your original license
- An application fee
- Passport photos x2
Processing times for Belgian driving licences tend to be around two weeks, so at the point of exchanging licences you will be given a temporary licence. After receiving your new driver’s license, there are no more obstacles for driving in Belgium.