- Normal precautions
- High degree of caution
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Do not travel
- Safety and Security
- Local Laws and Customs
- Additional Information
- Embassy Contact
High Degree of Caution
General Travel Advice
Irish citizens need a valid passport or passport card to enter Belgium.
Irish passports do not have a minimum validity requirement while travelling to the UK or within the EU. When travelling within Europe with an Irish passport, it should be valid for the duration of your stay.
Irish citizens do not require a visa to enter Belgium. However, if you are staying for longer than three months, you are required to register your presence with Belgian authorities.
Visitors to Belgium are advised to follow the guidance of national and local authorities and stay fully informed of what's going on by monitoring local news and social media.
Citizens can also follow the Irish Embassy in Brussels on Twitter @IrishEmbBelgium to ensure access to relevant updates and alerts.
The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
You can contact the emergency services in Belgium by dialling 112 Specific emergency numbers are:
- Police: 101
- Fire brigade & Ambulance: 100
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities.
- Get a European Health Insurance Card.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and Security
Safety and Security
Safety and security
There is a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, including in Belgium, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists.
Following terrorism attacks in Brussels in 2016 security measures were reinforced and the public have been advised to exercise a higher level of vigilance.
In January 2018, the Belgian authorities reduced the threat level from Level 3 to Level 2. Level 2 represents an "unlikely" threat. This drop implies that the threat level has decreased and an attack has become less likely. However, Level 2 does not mean no threat exists. The move has seen a reduction in the number of army personnel patrolling the streets and a reduced security presence at large events.
We advise Irish citizens to maintain an awareness of their surroundings, remain vigilant and in the event of a security incident to follow the advice of local authorities.
Crime remains relatively low in Belgium but you should take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible
As with any country, crimes such as mugging, bag-snatching and pickpocketing are not uncommon in Belgian cities and towns. You should always be vigilant at major railway stations, on the metro, buses and trams.
We advise Irish citizens to be particularly vigilant of your belongings following a noticeable increase in reports of theft in the following areas of Brussels:
- Brussels South Station (Gare du Midi/Zuidstation), which is the Eurostar terminal and the terminus for buses from Charleroi Airport
- European Quarter/Schuman area (particularly in bars and cafes near Schuman Roundabout and Place Jourdan)
We also advise you to exercise caution in the following areas:
- Brussels North Station (Gare du Nord/Noordstation)
- Brussels Central Station (Gare Centrale/Centraalstation)
- Buses and trains serving Brussels Zaventem Airport
- Areas with a large density of tourists, such as the Grand Place in Brussels and areas in the vicinity of Grand Place.
- Public Squares in popular tourist destinations, such as Ghent and Bruges
Marches and demonstrations are common, particularly in Brussels, and often result in confrontation between demonstrators and police. We recommend that you avoid areas where large-scale demonstrations are taking place.
Always keep yourself informed of what is going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser.
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Belgium, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Brussels if you need help.
Pedestrians should be aware that ‘the green man’ signal does not mean that cars will automatically stop. Also, many of the zebra crossings are not accompanied by light systems. The custom is that the motorist should stop to allow any pedestrian cross at the zebra crossing as and when they choose to use the zebra crossing. Be careful in all cases and at all times as some motorists will be more vigilant than others.
If you want to drive in Belgium:
- Bring your full Irish driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught.
- Be aware that on-the-spot fines can be incurred for motoring offences. If you are unable to pay the fine, your vehicle may be impounded.
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
- Be aware of low emissions zones prohibiting certain types of vehicles from specific urban areas. Further information is available on the Urban Access Regulations website where you can search by city.
More tips and driving advice for Belgium is available from AA Ireland.
Local Laws and Customs
Local Laws and Customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.
Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
Visitors to Belgium must at all times be able to produce photo identification.
The Passport Card is available to all Irish citizens who hold a valid Irish Passport. It can be used for travel within the EU/EEA and Switzerland.
Travelling with Children
While there are no laws prohibiting the travel of a minor with only one parent or guardian, it should be noted that border control authorities pay particular attention to minors travelling under these circumstances. To avoid difficulties, we suggest that the accompanying parent carry a copy of the minor's birth certificate, a signed permission letter and passport/ID for the non-accompanying parent.
We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.
Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.
Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.
Your policy should cover:
- All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
- Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
- Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
- Lost and stolen possessions.
- Cancellation and curtailment.
- Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).
Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.
European Health Insurance Card
As an Irish resident you are entitled to get healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.
The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.
You need a passport or passport card to enter Belgium. While there is no minimum passport validity requirement, your passport or passport card must be valid for the duration of your stay.
Under no circumstances should you travel to Belgium using a passport that is damaged in any way (e.g. torn cover or visa pages, cracks on the identity page). The Embassy is aware of a number of cases of citizens being detained by Border Authorities for travelling using a damaged passport. If your passport is damaged, replace it via Passport Online prior to travel.
Lost /Stolen Passport
Please keep in mind emergency travel documents cannot be issued outside of office hours except in cases of a genuine emergency. You may need to arrange new flights and accommodation to allow you time to obtain a travel document on the next working day.
Detailed guidance on what to do if your passport is lost/stolen is available on our website.
Please note that once a passport is reported lost or stolen it cannot be used for travel, even if found. Travelling on a passport that has previously been reported lost or stolen may result in being detained and the seizure of your passport.
Staying for longer than three months
All EU citizens (including Irish citizens) who want to stay in Belgium for more than three months must register with the Belgian authorities to obtain a residence card.
Further information is available on our Living in Belgium page.
Please note that if you are an Irish citizen and require urgent assistance while the Embassy is closed, contact the main Embassy number, + 32 499 58 53 28, and leave a message on the Duty Officer voice mailbox.
This mailbox will be monitored regularly.
Embassy of Ireland to Belguim,
50 Rue Froissart/Froissartstraat,
Monday, Wednesday & Friday: 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 16:00; Tuesday & Thursday: 10:00 - 13:00 ONLY
Honorary Consulate Contact
Mr. Yves Rombouts
Honorary Consul of Ireland
Tel: + 32 474 99 56 66
Email: Email us
Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.