Importing a car
Anyone wishing to import their vehicle in to Belgium will be asked to provide the following documentation to the customs authorities:
- Residency permit showing a permanent address in Belgium
- Proof of purchase for the vehicle to be imported
- Previous registration document
If these conditions are met, no import tax will be levied.
Importing a car from outside the EU is a more complicated, and lengthier, process. You will need to fulfill the following requirements:
- The owner must have lived outside the EU for at least the previous twelve months.
- The car must have been bought outside the EU and have been driven by the owner for at least six months prior to arrival in Belgium.
- The owner must have already paid the VAT equivalent in another country.
- The vehicle must be kept for personal use for a minimum of twelve months following import.
As a result, many people choose not to import their vehicle from outside the EU!
Registering your imported car
Foreign vehicles that have been permanently imported to Belgium need to be officially registered with the authorities. In some cases, physical changes to your vehicle need to be made before the authorities are satisfied.
Anyone staying more than a year in Belgium needs to register their car. From the moment you are registered as a Belgian citizen, you have 6 months to register any vehicles you brought with you.
The registration (Immatriculation/Inschrijving) of all vehicles in Belgium is the responsibility of the Direction des Immatriculations des Véhicules/Dienst voor Inschrijving van de Voertuigen (DIV). The main administration office is in Brussels but there are regional offices throughout the country.
In order to register a vehicle in Belgium, and therefore to receive a licence plate, the following documentation must be presented to the DIV:
- Proof of residency
- A certificate of conformity for the vehicle (attestation de conformité/attest van conformite). This is usually supplied by the vehicle manufacturer or local agent. Many will ask for a copy of the registration documents
- The invoice/proof of purchase for the vehicle
- The vehicle's original registration certificate (certificat d'immatriculation/inschrijvingsbewijs)
- Evidence of insurance cover, provided by a Belgian insurer
- Customs clearance forms, provided by the Customs department
- A vehicle-roadworthiness certificate (controle technique/Autokeuring). This can be done at a local test centre
- The registration application form. There is just one application form, which covers all types of vehicles and all situations. This form is available from the DIV.
- The required fees. This will include a one-off introductory tax (taxe de mise en circulation/belasting op de inverkeerstelling) and an annual road tax (taxe de circulation/verkeersbelasting), dependent on the size of the vehicle's engine
- Fiscal tax stamps (available from Post Offices)
Car insurance in Belgium
All vehicles in Belgium must be insured. In Belgium, it is the car and not the driver that is insured. Proof of insurance must be carried at all times. Not having a valid car insurance can result in a fine.
Car insurance in Belgium is relatively expensive as it is subject to VAT. The premium depends on various factors, such as the make and model of car, its power and its age, as well as the age and driving history of the driver.
There are three types of car insurance in Belgium:
- Third Party Liability Insurance: This provides cover against damage to a third party
- Part Comprehensive: This covers damage to a third party as well as fire damage
- Fully Comprehensive: This policy covers virtually everything
All vehicles must have at least third party insurance to cover any physical harm or damage to a third party or their property.
Buying a secondhand car
If you don't own a car when you are moving and you do want one, you can always buy a secondhand car. A popular website like 2dehands is often used by Belgians and is really reliable.
Renting a car
If you don't want your own car, you can still rent one. You can find multiple car rental companies spread across Belgium. Please note that rental companies in Belgium may impose specific requirements when it comes to renting a car. For example, a minimum or maximum age or a minimum number of years you must have your driving license. Call in advance for the conditions.