Information & Facts
When it comes to world-class attractions and exciting
sightseeing options Belgium packs a mighty punch for a country of
such modest proportions. Take your pick from the heavyweight
attractions and cosmopolitan thrills of the capital city Brussels,
to the medieval charms of Bruges, and the lesser known historical
treasures of Ghent. In between, you'll find welcoming people, great
food and Europe's finest beer and chocolates to keep you
Belgium is a year round destination too, although the
countryside does look its best during the summer months of April to
October. The transport infrastructure is excellent, and that makes
getting around a true pleasure.
This is not a country to see from the confines of a tour bus,
however. You need to get out on foot and explore the cobbled
streets framed by medieval buildings; spend an afternoon on Grand
Place watching the world go by; rent a bicycle and ride into the
countryside alongside a burbling canal. However you choose to
explore the pleasures of Belgium, spend some time here and you'll
be rewarded with one of Europe's most underrated and overachieving
Belgians are very formal in business, enjoy a great deal of
personal space, and are generally reserved and extremely private.
Dress should be conservative; dark suits are acceptable, with a
high importance placed on quality and neatness of clothing.
Punctuality is extremely important at meetings, which will begin
and end with a quick, light handshake with all involved, and
exchanging business cards is standard practice; it is recommended
that cards are printed in English with the other side translated in
either French or Dutch depending on the main language of the region
where business is to take place. it is a good idea to research
beforehand whether a business is French or Dutch-speaking.
Compromise is very important in Belgian business culture, and may
be required as a show of friendship. Business hours are generally
9am to 5pm.
The Belgium climate is temperate, with warm weather in summer
(May to September) and cool to cold weather in winter. Winter snow
is very likely in Belgium.
The international access code for Belgium is +32. The outgoing
code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the
United Kingdom). City codes are required for all calls within
Belgium; the area code for Brussels is (0)2. Mobile phones operate
on GSM networks. Public phones take coins or phone cards. Internet
cafes are widely available.
Belgium law requires everyone to carry some form of official
identification at all times.
Travellers to Belgium arriving from non-EU countries are allowed
to enter the country with the following items without incurring
customs duty: 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250g
tobacco; 1 litre spirits over 22% in alcohol or 2 litres of dessert
wine 22% in alcohol and sparkling wine, and 2 litres wine; 50g
perfume and 250ml eau de toilette; and other goods such as
souvenirs to the value of EUR175. Prohibited items include
unpreserved meat products.
Electrical current in Belgium is 230 volts, 50Hz.
European-style two-pin plugs with receptacle and male grounding pin
can be used.
No vaccinations are required for travel to Belgium. Medical
facilities and care in Belgium is excellent but expensive so
travellers are advised to take out medical insurance. UK citizens
receive emergency medical care for a reduced cost, but should have
a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to qualify.
The Flemish, in the north, speak Dutch (60% of the
population); the Walloons in the south speak French (40%). Brussels
is bilingual, the majority of citizens speaking French. In the east
there is a small German-speaking community. English is also
Euro (EUR) divided into 100 cents. Most credit cards are
accepted (Visa, American Express, Diners Club and Eurcard) as are
travellers cheques (though it is best to carry them in Euros, US
dollars or Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges when
exchanging). ATMs are available in all major cities. Banks are open
Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm, and are closed on Saturdays, Sundays
and holidays. Some banks close for an hour during lunch. There are
however some foreign exchange offices that trade on Sundays.
The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the
following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark,
Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy,
Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway,
Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these
countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry
option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders
of all. Nationals of non-EU countries are recommended to hold
return or onward tickets, sufficient funds and documents for their
Most visits to Belgium are trouble-free, but travellers should
be wary of street crime in the cities, such as mugging and
pickpocketing, particularly in Brussels at major railway stations
and on public transport. Brussels is home to a number of
international organisations, including EU and NATO, which could
become the target of indiscriminate terrorist attacks.
Local time in Belgium is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday
in March to the last Sunday in October).
Service charges are included in bills in Belgium and tipping is
not necessary, unless for exceptional service. Porters, coatroom
and bathroom attendants are generally tipped.