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Emergency Assistance in Belgium

If something goes wrong when you’re on holiday in Belgium and you need help, you can contact the Embassy in Brussels or your local Honorary Consulate or call the Consular Assistance Unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin on +353 1 408 2000.

Before travelling to Belgium, you should read our “Know Before you Go” travel advice for tips on road safety, local laws and customs, precautions against petty crime, and more.

Consular Duty Service Out of Hours

If you require emergency assistance from the Embassy, please contact us on: +32 499 585328. If you call outside normal working hours, you will be asked to leave a message on the answering machine. The answering machine is monitored regularly, and the Duty Officer will contact you as soon as possible. Please ensure the message contains the following information:

• Your name
• The nature of your problem
• Where you are now
• Your contact details (mobile phone number or phone number of where you’re staying)

This duty service is operated from the Embassy in Brussels. Our Honorary Consulates do not operate an out of hours service. You may also wish to call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin directly at 00353-1-4082000.

 

Contacting the police and emergency services

To contact the emergency services in Belgium, dial 101 - responding operators all speak English.

Making a police report

You can make a police report at your local police station. A list of police stations in the different regions of Belgium is available.

Lost/Stolen passport?

If your passport has been lost or stolen you can read more on how to replace it.

 

European Health Insurance Card and Travel Insurance

We advise you to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel to Belgium. This card replaces the E111 form and entitles you to emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Belgian nationals.

The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. You can apply for an EHIC online.

It is essential to acquire comprehensive travel insurance before travelling to Belgium. Your travel insurance policy should cover the entire period you are abroad until you arrive home. Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy; most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

You may wish to include the following in your policy:

• medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad, including medical evacuation/repatriation
• 24 hour emergency service and assistance
• personal liability cover (in case you are sued for causing injury or damaging property)
• lost and stolen possessions cover
• cancellation and curtailment cover
• cover for activities that are often excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing)

Accident/assault victims

We will do everything possible to assist you if you have been the victim of an accident or assault.

We can provide information on local legal and medical practitioners, but we cannot give you legal or medical advice, or formally recommend or pay for doctors or lawyers.

All cases are treated in complete confidence. We can also help you to contact friends and family and assist with arrangements to get you home, if that is your wish. All persons who have been assaulted or in an accident must report the incident to the Police. If necessary, and particularly in serious cases, the police will provide an interpreter. The Embassy can provide some practical information, but it is essential to engage a local lawyer to act as your representative if a prosecution is being considered.

Arrest

If you are arrested, you may ask the Belgian authorities to inform the Embassy of your arrest.

The Embassy can:

• Visit you or arrange for you to be visited by an Honorary Consul once you have been charged and detained – a visit cannot take place while under arrest and waiting for a court hearing.
• If necessary, provide you with a list of local English-speaking lawyers
• Advise you about the prison system and about your entitlement to visits, mail and other facilities
• Bring details of any medical condition you may have to the attention of police or prison officials
• Pursue with the prison authorities on your behalf any complaints about ill-treatment or discrimination
• Pass messages to and from your family

However, the Embassy cannot:

• Secure better treatment for Irish citizens than local or other nationals receive
• Give or pay for legal advice
• Recommend specific lawyers
• Interfere with or influence the proper operation and application of the local judicial system
• Provide any financial assistance while you are in prison
• Pay bail bonds or fines

Death Abroad

If a member of your family dies while abroad, the Irish Embassy will provide all possible assistance in dealing with the formalities that arise in these situations.

The Embassy can:

• Arrange to have the next of kin of the deceased informed by the Garda Síochána
• Assist relatives to appoint a local undertaker
• Assist with procuring documents such as death certificates or medical or police reports
• Assist relatives to communicate with the Police and other authorities

However, the Embassy does not:

• Investigate the circumstances of the death
• Pay expenses relating to local burial or cremation
• Pay the cost of repatriating the remains
• Pay for relatives to travel to where the death occurred or to accompany the remains to Ireland

If the deceased was covered by travel insurance, it is important for next of kin to contact the insurance company without delay. If there is no insurance cover, the cost of repatriation or burial will have to be met by the family.

Families should be aware that the time required to repatriate remains to Ireland varies depending on the circumstances of a death.

In cases of sudden or unexpected death an autopsy may be required. Further investigation may be necessary before a decision as to cause of death is reached. If death was caused by a criminal act, the police will be ordered to conduct a full investigation. The State Prosecutor will then decide whether to prosecute. This can delay the release of the body for burial.

During an autopsy, organs can be removed for testing, including toxicological analysis, at the discretion of the doctor, without consent of next of kin. Next of kin are not informed in advance about the removal of any organs. The remains can be repatriated before tests on removed organs are completed. The family of the deceased can seek a court order requiring the eventual return of these organs once testing is complete.

Illness/Hospitalisation

In an emergency, please go to the nearest public hospital. If you have run out of prescribed medication, bring your empty box of medication to a pharmacy to see if it can be filled before looking for a doctor. The embassy can provide a list of English-speaking doctors in Belgium if needed.

If you become ill or require hospital treatment while in Belgium, you or your friends/family can contact the Embassy/nearest Honorary Consulate for assistance if you need help in dealing with the situation.

The Embassy can:

• Offer general advice on the local medical services
• Assist in liaising with doctors or hospitals
• Arrange interpretation if necessary
• Advise relatives or friends about accidents or illnesses
• Assist in arranging repatriation to Ireland

It is important to stress that the Embassy does not have funds to pay hospital bills or meet other medical expenses on your behalf.

Also, the Embassy does not:

• Provide medical advice
• Pursue insurance companies about payment of or refund of the cost of medical treatment
• Pursue claims for compensation relating to negligence, injury or any other matter
• Pay for visits by relatives

Remember...

Don’t take the risk of travelling without your European Health Insurance Card and comprehensive travel insurance.