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Belgium

Follow us on Twitter for the latest travel advice alerts and information on events at the Embassy of Ireland in Brussels, and consider obtaining a Passport Card before you visit. Belgian Police have the right to ask you to present photographic identification.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), available by contacting the Health Service Executive, and that you also obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Security Status

  • Normal precautions
  • High degree of caution
  • Avoid non-essential travel
  • Do not travel
  • Overview
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws and Customs
  • Health
  • FAQs Passports / Visas
  • Embassy Contact

Overview

Overview

General COVID-19 Travel Advisory in Operation:

Avoid non-essential travel until further notice:

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advises against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship.

If you are currently travelling outside of Ireland:

Flight restrictions and route cancellations are happening on a daily basis worldwide and there is no guarantee that air routes will continue to operate. For this reason, where commercial flights are still an option, we recommend that people who wish to do so make arrangements to return to Ireland as soon as possible.

We are working with airlines to show maximum flexibility to those passengers who need to change their existing flight arrangements. Where commercial flights are no longer available, we are working side-by-side with our international partners to identify alternative options where possible.

It may not be feasible or possible for everyone who wants to travel back to Ireland to do so in the short term. We ask Irish citizens remaining abroad to make decisions that safeguard their health and well-being and that they follow local public health and safety requirements.  We ask that they remain in close contact with family, friends and their local Irish Embassy or Consulate. 

We know that this is a stressful situation for citizens and our embassy network is working around the clock to provide people with all the information and assistance that we can, bearing in mind the situation is unfolding across multiple countries and is not one under our control. 

What to do on entering Ireland from abroad:

The Irish Health Authorities require anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, to restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days. Check the Irish Health Service COVID-19 Advice Page for full information on these requirements. This includes Irish residents. Exemptions are in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff.

Where to go for more information:

We continue to make updates to our online travel advice for over 200 countries and recommend that you download our TravelWise App and follow us on Twitter. If abroad you should register with your local Irish Embassy or Consulate and regularly check their website and especially their Twitter accounts for details of any local public health measures and travel restrictions.

Security status

Avoid Non-Essential Travel

Novel Coronavirus

A number of cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Belgium.

On March 17 the Belgian government announced a series of enhanced measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.

From 12 noon on 18 March, persons in Belgium are requested to remain in their homes and avoid any non-essential trips.

All non-essential services are closed from 12 noon on 18 March. This includes cafés, bars, restaurants, cinemas, museums, and non-essential shops. Only essential services such as pharmacies, food stores, postal, banking and medical services are currently open. The authorities have asked the population to limit their movements, and their use of public transport, to what is strictly necessary.

Disruption to transport including flights to and from Ireland is very likely. If you have already booked travel to return to Ireland, you should check the status of your journey with your travel operator/airline. If you are currently planning to return to Ireland, you should monitor the operations of airlines and airports closely.

Brussels South Charleroi Airport will be closed from midnight Tuesday 24 March until 5 April.

Full details of measures in place in Belgium are available here:

Belgian government advice (EN) - https://www.belgium.be/en/news/2020/coronavirus_reinforced_measures
Belgian government advice (FR) -https://www.belgium.be/fr/actualites/2020/coronavirus_mesures_renforcees
Belgian government advice (NL) - https://www.belgium.be/nl/nieuws/2020/coronavirus_versterkte_maatregelen

In what is an rapidly evolving situation, additional measures may be announced. If you are in Belgium, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities.

See links to relevant websites below.

Belgian Health Ministry: Coronavirus Advice Page

World Health Organisation

If you are in Belgium, you should monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities. See links to relevant websites below.

Belgian Health Ministry: Coronavirus Advice Page

Belgian Health Ministry: Coronavirus Advice Page (FR)

Belgian Health Ministry: Coronavirus Advice Page (NL)

Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp

Brussels Airport

Charleroi Airport

Be alert to common signs of infection: respiratory problems, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. Seek medical advice if you experience these symptoms.
HSE medical advice to protect yourself from getting COVID-19 is below.
Do:
• wash your hands properly and regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze
• put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands
Don’t:
• touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
Additional information on COVID-19 can be found via the following links:

HSE

HPSC

ECDC

World Health Organisation

Latest Travel News

If you are visiting Belgium, a list of places to exercise particular vigilance with your belongings can be found in the ‘Safety and Security’ tab under ‘Petty Theft’.

Irish citizens planning travel to Brussels are advised to remain vigilant and exercise a high degree of caution.

In January 2018, the Belgian authorities reduced the threat level from Level 3 to Level 2. Level 2 represents an "unlikely" threat. This drop implies that the threat level has decreased and an attack has become less likely. However, Level 2 does not mean no threat exists. The move has seen a reduction in the number of army personnel patrolling the streets and a reduced security presence at large events.

Keep yourself fully informed of what's going on by monitoring local news and social media and follow the instructions of the local authorities. Follow us on social media @IrishEmbBelgium and @DFATravelWise to make sure you have access to all relevant updates and alerts. You can also stay up-to-date in the event of a crisis by following @CrisisCenterBE and @BelPoliceEvent.

Multiple explosions occurred in Brussels on 22 March 2016 and a heightened security presence remains. We strongly advise citizens to be vigilant, especially in crowded areas. This means being aware of your surroundings and immediately reporting anything suspicious to the police (112).

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in Belgium by dialling 112.

Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, + 32 499 58 53 28, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox. This mailbox will be monitored regularly. 

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Get a European Health Insurance Card
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and Security

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, including in Belgium, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists.

Following terrorism attacks in Brussels in 2016 security measures were reinforced and the public have been advised to exercise a higher level of vigilance.

We advise Irish citizens to maintain an awareness of their surroundings, remain vigilant and in the event of a security incident to follow the advice of local authorities.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Belgium but you should take sensible precautions: 

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place 
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible

Petty theft

As with any country, crimes such as mugging, bag-snatching and pickpocketing are not uncommon in Belgian cities and towns. You should always be vigilant at major railway stations, on the metro, buses and trams.

We advise Irish citizens to be particularly vigilant of your belongings following a noticeable increase in reports of theft in the following areas of Brussels:

  • Brussels South Station (Gare du Midi/Zuidstation), which is the Eurostar terminal and the terminus for buses from Charleroi Airport
  • European Quarter/Schuman area (particularly in bars and cafes near Schuman Roundabout and Place Jourdan)

We also advise you to exercise caution in the following areas:

  • Brussels North Station (Gare du Nord/Noordstation)
  • Brussels Central Station (Gare Centrale/Centraalstation)
  • Buses and trains serving Brussels Zaventem Airport
  • Areas with a large density of tourists, such as the Grand Place in Brussels and areas in the vicinity of Grand Place.
  • Public Squares in popular tourist destinations, such as Ghent and Bruges

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Belgium, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Brussels if you need help.

Pedestrians

Pedestrians should be aware that ‘the green man’ signal does not mean that cars will automatically stop. Also, many of the zebra crossings are not accompanied by light systems. The custom is that the motorist should stop to allow any pedestrian cross at the zebra crossing as and when they choose to use the zebra crossing. Be careful in all cases and at all times as some motorists will be more vigilant than others.

Driving

If you want to drive in Belgium:

  • Bring your full Irish driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught.
  • Be aware that on-the-spot fines can be incurred for motoring offences. If you are unable to pay the fine, your vehicle may be impounded.
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
  • Be aware of low emissions zones prohibiting certain types of vehicles from specific urban areas. Further information is available on the Urban Access Regulations website where you can search by city.

More tips and driving advice for Belgium is available from AA Ireland.

 

Local Laws and Customs

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Photo Identification

Visitors to Belgium must at all times be able to produce photo identification.

The Passport Card is available to all Irish citizens who hold a valid Irish Passport. It can be used for travel within the EU/EEA and Switzerland.

Travelling with Children

While there are no laws prohibiting the travel of a minor with only one parent or guardian, it should be noted that border control authorities pay particular attention to minors travelling under these circumstances. To avoid difficulties, we suggest that the accompanying parent carry a copy of the minor's birth certificate, a signed permission letter and passport/ID for the non-accompanying parent.

Health

Health

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

European Health Insurance Card

As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.

Apply for your EHIC and find out more information.

The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.

FAQs Passports / Visas

FAQs Passports/Visas

Frequently Asked Questions on Passports and Visas

 

Q. My passport is lost or stolen. What should I do?

  • Check again! Search your bags, pockets, safes, and suitcases. Check the clothes you were wearing when you last had your passport. Once your passport is reported lost, it can't be used again even if found.
  • You should report your passport lost/stolen at the nearest police station. A police report will be needed for a replacement travel document and to make a claim on your travel insurance.
  • Further guidance on what to do if your passport is lost/stolen is available on our website.
  • During office hours call +32 2282 3400 to make arrangements for the issuing of emergency travel documents.
  • Outside of office hours, if you are in an emergency situation requiring urgent travel, contact the Embassy Duty Officer on +32 499 585 328 and leave a voicemail (including a phone number).

Q. Can you email or deliver a new travel document to me?

No.

Q. I always carry my passport on nights out as proof of my age. Is that ok?

  • Carrying a photo ID is mandatory in Belgium at all times. Your passport is an important document and should always be kept safe. Don't carry it with you unless absolutely necessary.
  • The Embassy strongly recommends obtaining the Passport Card prior to travel. 

Q. My passport has become damaged over time. Is that ok?

  • Normal wear or fading of the lettering on the cover should not be a problem. However if there is any damage or signs of tampering such as missing pages, or cracks on the photo page, this may cause problems at Belgian airports.
  • If you are encountering problems because of a damaged passport, you should replace your passport online, or at the Passport Office in Dublin or Cork before leaving Ireland.

Entry and exit

  • Irish citizens do not need a visa to enter Belgium. A valid passport for the duration of your stay is all that is required.

Any other tips?

  • Leave a copy of your passport in your hotel or email yourself a copy in case you lose it.
  • Plan ahead and check your passport expiry date before you book your holidays. Check your children's passports too as they expire more quickly than adult ones. You can sign up for a passport renewal reminder online.

Embassy contact

Embassy Contact

Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, + 32 499 58 53 28, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox.

This mailbox will be monitored regularly.

Embassy of Ireland to Belguim,
50 Rue Froissart/Froissartstraat,
B-1040 Brussels,
Belgium

Tel: +322 282 3400
Fax: +353 1 4705498

Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 16:00; Tuesday & Thursday: 10:00 - 13:00 ONLY

Contact us

Honorary Consulate Contact

Mr. Yves Rombouts
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Veldkantvoetweg 82
2540 Hove
Antwerpen
Belgium

Tel: + 32 474 99 56 66

Email: Email us