Legal and illegal behaviour penalties

On the website https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/belgium/local-laws-and-customs you can read that, “according to Belgian law”

  • You must have some form of identification with you at all times.
  • Possession of drugs and trafficking in drugs are serious offences.
  • It’s illegal to wear in public places (parks, buildings, public transport, on the street etc) clothing that hides a person’s face largely or completely. People wearing such clothing (eg the burka and nikab) risk a fine of up to €137.50 and/or detention for up to 7 days. There’s no exemption for tourists.”

If you wish to drive in Belgium:

  • you must have a valid European driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents. If you are driving a vehicle that does not belong to you then written permission from the registered owner may also be required.
  • Speed traps, cameras and unmarked vehicles are in operation throughout the country.
  • Drivers must give absolute priority to vehicles joining a road from the right, even if they have stopped at a road junction or stopped for pedestrians or cyclists. Exemptions to this rule include motorways, roundabouts, roads sign-posted with an orange diamond within a white background, and drivers who are attempting to join a road after having driven down a street in the wrong direction.
  • Trams have priority over other traffic. If a tram or bus stops in the middle of the road to allow passengers on or off, you must stop.
  • There is a speed restriction of 30 kms/hr in school areas, which is valid 24 hours (even when schools are closed), unless indicated otherwise. The start and finish of these zones are not always clearly marked.
  • Fines have increased dramatically (up to € 2,750 for exceeding the speed limit by 40 km/h and a possible court appearance for exceeding the speed limit by more than 40km/h). If you are unable to pay an on the spot fine your vehicles may be impounded.
  • Don’t drink and drive; frequent alcohol checks are made. Less than 0.05% alcohol in the bloodstream is allowed. A blood sample will be taken if you refuse to be breathalysed. Fines are heavy depending on the degree of intoxication and range from € 1,100 to € 11,000. In certain cases driving licences have been confiscated immediately.
  • Using a mobile phone while driving is not allowed; the use of ‘hands free’ equipment is allowed.

All penalties can be found here: https://www.wegcode.be/boetetarieven and https://www.boetecalculator.be/boetes-voor-te-hard-rijden.php?gclid=CjwKCAiAsoviBRAoEiwATm8OYI7sJB7s-nRpi4OhunBcuZZGgTKkF4KSSJdqat6HhaJm7pNUgaqtXRoCv00QAvD_BwE (in Dutch and French)

Every local authority in Belgium has the right to intall Communal Administrative Sanctions (Gemeentelijke Administratieve Sancties, or GAS). These are a number of relatively minor laws, with fines up to EUR 250, introduced in 1999 to give local authorities power to install GAS penalties, for example, restricting children’s games for safety reasons. Ask your local authority a list of these minor laws when you start living there.

Hijabs are permitted, depending on the employer. They are not allowed in public functions such as ticket office clerks at the municipality.

Burqa’s are not allowed. Wearing a nikab can result in a fine of 15 to 25 euros and/or a prison sentence of 1 to 7 days.

Apart from the laws mentioned above, the manifestation of a worldview is not punishable or forbidden. Be aware that not everyone is equally tolerant or open-minded. Inform yourself well in advance on whether it is okay or not to wear your symbols.

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