Belgium Travel Information
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GMT +1 (GMT +2, Apr - Oct)
Electrical current in Belgium is 230 volts, 50Hz. Standard European-style two-pin plugs will work. Three pin plugs, with a male grounding pin, can also be used.
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 spoken.
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.
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.
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.
Belgium law requires everyone to carry some form of official identification at all times.
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 international access code for Belgium is +32. Mobile coverage is extensive, with mobile phones operating on GSM networks. There are many internet cafes and plenty of coffee shops and bars offer free wifi.
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 €175. Prohibited items include unpreserved meat products.
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