Belgium Travel Information
GMT +1 (GMT +2, Apr - Oct)
The 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; the Walloons in the south speak French. 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 are excellent but expensive, so travellers are advised to take out medical insurance. UK citizens should have a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance.
Service charges are included in bills in Belgium and tipping is not necessary, unless for exceptional service.
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 neatness.
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. Hotels, cafes and restaurants offering free wifi are widely available. As international roaming costs can be high, purchasing a local prepaid SIM card can be a cheaper option.
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 percent in alcohol or 2 litres of dessert wine 22 percent in alcohol and sparkling wine, as well as 4 litres wine and 16 litres of beer; and other goods such as souvenirs to the value of €430. Prohibited items include unpreserved meat products.
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