The Belgian Court of Audit criticised the Belgian expatriate tax regime. The news is not all that bad. (More …)
Cars are relatively cheap in Belgium, although the differences are not what they are anymore. It is essential to shop around and bargain with dealers, as one can get substantial price reductions.
The garage will provide you with a registration document which contains all the necessary details to register the car. You have to take this to an insurance broker who will provide you with adequate insurance.The registration certificate should arrive through the post within a couple of days, usually with your rear number plate. One has to have the front plate made. The number plate stays with the car owner and not with the car.
There is an initial taxe de mise en circulation / belasting op de inverkeerstelling between € 61.50 and € 3,469.90 depending on the power of the car.
It used to be interesting to buy a car in Belgium for export and to delay the payment of VAT (21%) and import duties by registering the car in transit. This is still possible if one lives in Belgium for a short period of time only, and the car must be exported at the end of the transit period indicated on the plates. If the car is not exported, one must pay the tax on the purchase price paid.
When buying a second hand car, the seller must provide you with a recent (maximum two months) certificate that the car is roadworthy issued by the Contrôle Technique (MoT).
This document is indispensable to register the car together with the same documents as for the registration of a new car.
To drive in Belgium, one must have a valid Belgian drivers' licence. Usually one can simply exchange one's own licence for a Belgian drivers' licence. The foreign drivers' licence is kept on file until one leaves Belgium or is returned to the registration office. Some foreigners (e.g. Canadians) must take the Belgian driving test.
To receive a Belgian drivers' licence, one should take one's own drivers' licence and identity card, as well as two passport photos to the town hall.
Most of the rules for driving in Belgium are very similar to other countries. Beware of the priority-from-the-right rule ; unless the road to your right has markings obliging the driver coming from your right to stop, he will have priority, even if he comes out of a small road. This can be quite confusing for newcomers, who are therefore well advised to assume that any car they see coming from their right has the priority. Not giving priority is an offence.
Seatbelts must be used for all passengers, even in the back. Children under 12 must always travel in the back. The use of a mobile phone while driving is strictly forbidden.
On motorways, there is a minimum speed of 70 km per hour as well as a maximum of 120 km per hour. One can only overtake on the outside lane.
Belgium has one national airport conveniently located at the east of Brussels. Smaller airlines are redirecting their flights more and more to regional airports (Antwerp, Charleroi, Ostend, Liège...).
As Belgium is a small country, most distances can be covered in a short period of time, by train or by car. Belgium has a good road system and a very dense motorway network, which is at the crossroads of all its neighbouring countries. The SNCB is the Belgian national railway network ; it offers relatively cheap transport on a dense number of lines.
The Eurostar is a relatively new part of the railway system which allows fast travel to major cities in Europe.