- General Info
- Health Risks
- Insect Threats
- Water Quality
- Security Concerns
- Weather Notes
- Electrical Standards
- Visa Info
- Time Zone
Belgium is home to magnificent art collections, some of the world's best beer and chocolate, and great restaurants where French, German and native cuisines blend. From canal-laced Flanders with its medieval cities of Bruges and Ghent, the historic and beautiful Grand'Place in the heart of cosmopolitan Brussels, and Antwerp, where medieval and Art Nouveau live side by side, to the rivers and hills of Ardennes and the Ostend beaches, this relatively small country has a lot to offer.Language: Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French).
Major International Airports Include:
|Antwerp||Antwerp Airport||ANR||2 miles SE|
|Brussels||Zaventem Int'l||BRU||9 miles NE|
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in Western Europe depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. For most areas of this region, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
Travelers' diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E.coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
The CDC recommends the following vaccines as appropriate for age (See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect):
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). You are not at increased risk in Northern, Western, and Southern Europe, including the Mediterranean regions of Italy and Greece.
- Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months in Southern Europe, or be exposed through medical treatment.
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria.
- Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not complete the series as infants.
All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Don't eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Don't share needles with anyone.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Ticks are the primary source of insect-borne disease in Belgium, often carrying Lyme disease and encephalitis. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing in heavily wooded, rural areas.
The municipal water supply in Belgium is considered safe to drink.
Belgium remains largely free of terrorist incidents. Belgian law enforcement and security officials, in close cooperation with neighboring countries, maintain a solid anti-terrorism effort and a peaceful environment for tourists and business. However, like other countries that are members of the Schengen Agreement of free cross-border movement, Belgium's open borders with its European neighbors allow the possibility for terrorist groups to enter/exit the country with anonymity.
Prior police approval is required for public demonstrations in Belgium, and police oversight is routinely provided to ensure adequate security for participants and passers-by. Nonetheless, situations may develop that could pose a threat to public safety. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid areas where public demonstrations are taking place.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution Public Announcement , Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements can be found.
Up to date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
CRIME: Belgium remains a relatively safe country. Visitors should take reasonable precautions because street thefts, purse snatchings, and pick pocketing are occurring more frequently, particularly in the major cities and in train stations. In Brussels, crime continues to increase annually with pick pocketing, purse snatching, and theft of light luggage being the most common. These crimes are prevalent in the public transportation system (subway, bus and tram) and at Brussels ' three major train stations -- the North Station (Noordstation or Gare du Nord), the Central Station (Centraal Station or Gare Central) and especially at the South Station (Zuidstation or Gare du Midi). The latter is a primary international train hub, and travelers are advised to pay particular attention to their personal belongings when traversing that station. A common ploy is to distract the victim by spraying shaving cream or another substance on his or her back. Carjacking of expensive vehicles remains a significant problem.
Travelers to Brussels should be aware that small groups of young men have been known to prey on unwary tourists. Tourists are advised never to leave valuables unattended in vehicles, and should keep car doors locked when driving. Travelers also are advised to leave expensive jewelry, financial records, address books, and other personal effects at home or stored in a safe place during their visit. Travelers should carry only a minimum amount of cash, credit cards, and personal identification.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of any crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The U.S. Embassy/Consular Section in Belgium is located at Boulevard du Regent 25, 1000 Brussels. The telephone number from within Belgium is 02-508-2111; from outside of Belgium, +32-2-508-2111. Embassy/Consular staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, to contact family members or friends, and to explain how funds can be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of any crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.
Source: U.S. Department of State
Belgium enjoys a mild, temperate, variable marine climate, comparable to England's. The mildest year-round weather is in the northern region, where summers are warm and winters are slightly cooler. Moving southward, the central region has warmer summers and cooler winters, and the southern Ardennes region experiences the coolest summers and coldest winters. Precipitation can be expected year round, becoming heavier the farther south you travel.
Belgium's electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items. Many North American appliances are designed to operate only within the 100-125 volt range. These appliances will suffer damage if plugged into 220-250 volts without the proper transformer or converter.
To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.
For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.
A passport is required. A visa is not required of American citizens for business or tourist stays of up to 90 days. For further information concerning entry requirements, contact the Embassy of Belgium at 3330 Garfield St. NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 333-6900; or one of the Belgian Consulates General in Atlanta, Los Angeles, or New York. The website of the Belgian Embassy in the United States can be found at http://www.diplobel.org/usa.
Belgian law requires that everyone carry some form of official identification at all times, which must be displayed upon request to any Belgian police official. A U.S. passport suffices for these purposes.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
Source: U.S. Department of State
The time zone for Belgium is 1 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Belgium would be 6:00 pm
The unit of currency in Belgium is the euro (EUR).
Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter
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