Travelers to Brussels should be aware that small groups of young men have been known to prey on unaware tourists. Tourists are advised to never leave valuables unattended in vehicles, and should keep car doors locked when driving. Travelers are also 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 U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium. The emergency numbers for the police and medical assistance are 101 and 100, respectively, and for cellular phones 112. Visitors to Belgium requiring additional information should contact the Consular Section at the American Embassy (telephone: 322-508-2387).
U.S. citizens may also refer to the Department of State's pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad for ways to promote a more trouble free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Belgian urban highways are generally well built and maintained with extensive lighting systems, but rain and fog often reduce visibility. Rural roads are less likely to be illuminated at night. Belgian rules for right-of-way differ from those in the U.S., and new drivers should thoroughly understand these rules before driving in Belgium. The maximum speed limit on Belgian highways is 120 kilometers (72 miles) per hour, but it is posted only at Belgium's borders and on roads leaving major airports. Claims of ignorance may not prevent a significant fine for speeding, which can also lead to the vehicle's being impounded if the driver is unable to pay the fine on the spot in Belgian Francs. Belgian police also conduct breath analyzer checks for alcohol use, particularly at night and during major holidays.
Roadside assistance and information on road conditions are available in English from Touring Assistance at tel: 070-344-777, which is a free call within Belgium. Belgian police will also provide information on road conditions at tel: 02-642-6666.
For specific information concerning Belgian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Belgian National Tourist Organization offices in New York at tel: 212-758-6130 or via the Internet at http://visitbelgium.com. For information about international driving permits, please contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
Belgian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.
While most forms of monetary transactions are available (cash, credit cards), U.S. money orders cannot be negotiated in Belgium. Personal checks may only be cleared through a bank at which a person holds an account. Banks and exchange facilities may refuse U.S. dollar denominations of $50.00 and $100.00 if they are not equipped with devices to identify counterfeit currency. Automated Teller Machines (ATM's) are widespread in Belgium and they accept most U.S. ATM cards to withdraw funds. Travelers seeking to purchase Belgian Francs are likely to find a favorable exchange rate at banks than at money exchange facilities located at tourist locations, train stations and airports.
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