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Thread: Beware of these things in Belgium

  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Beware of these things in Belgium



    Each country has its lot of annoying things. In Belgium, the administration and the police are close to the top the list.

    This thread is dedicated to all the potentially frustrating things one should know in order to avoid.

    The slowness of Belgian bureaucracy

    It doesn't really matter whether you are Belgian or not, everybody in Belgium will have to go through tedious bureaucracy. Here are a few examples of how long things take in Belgium :

    - getting a new ID card => 1 to 2 months
    - getting the police report to prove that you live at a new address (required to get a resident card that allow free parking in the neighbourhood) => 1 to 2 months
    - changing a foreign driving licence to a Belgian one => 2 months
    - obtaining the red tape to buy a real estate property => 2 to 4 months
    - getting married => 3 months (compulsory waiting period after declaring your intention to get married at the town hall)
    - obtaining a construction permit => 4 months to several years

    Getting a Belgian driving licence from a non-EU driving licence

    It is possible for citizens of most industrialised countries to exchange their driving licence for a Belgian/EU driving licence without having to pass any test. If you are registered as a resident at a Belgian town hall, a translation of your country's driving licence approved by your embassy is enough.

    Beware though that the town hall will NOT accept the change if you obtained your driving licence in your country after registering as a Belgian resident. So if you do not have a driving licence before moving to Belgium, it is useless to go back to your country for a few weeks/months to pass the test and come back to Belgium.

    The only way the Belgian authorities will accept a foreign licence issues after you first became a resident in Belgium is to unregister as a resident, give back your Belgian ID card, cancel your health insurance, etc., move back to your country for at least 6 months, and come back with your new driving licence.

    Needless to say that it is much easier to get an international driving licence, or even to repass the theoretical and practical exams in Belgium with a translator.


    The police in Flanders

    Flanders has become infamous for being the region with the most speeding radars in the world. Belgium also has some of the heaviest speeding fines in Europe. In some cities there is a radar every few hundred metres. Be very careful if you drive in Flanders. Brussels and Wallonia are much more relaxed in that regard.

    Watch out for parking tickets as well. The Flemings are overzealous for that as well. Don't think that they will turn a blind eye for a few minutes in excess to what you paid for at the parking meter. They won't and you will be charged for the whole day, even if you already paid for 5 hours ! Officials in Antwerp are probably the most ruthless.
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  2. #2
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    The Belgian Post

    Although much better than its French counterpart, the Belgian Post still has a long way to go to be satisfying. Post offices are often understaffed in cities, with queues of over 15 minutes being common.

    Another complaint I have is that the postman never bother to ring at the door when he has packages that do not fit in the postbox. He just slip a paper mentioning that he passed and that nobody was present, and asking to go and get it the next day to the post office. The other day, I was going to open the door just as the postman had dropped the mail in the postbox. I saw the paper and ran after him to ask for my package. Of course he didn't even have it with him ! I was told that they never carry parcels or packages with them and automatically slip a notification in the postbox.

    As a result I went to the post office the next day, waited almost 30 minutes to be served (!), only to be told that it hadn't arrived yet !

    That's the Belgian Post for you !

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    Thanks, if I ever go I'll be sure to keep an eye out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    As a result I went to the post office the next day, waited almost 30 minutes to be served (!), only to be told that it hadn't arrived yet !

    That's the Belgian Post for you !
    Some get lucky, and live by a convenient store that has become a Belgian post outlet, so packages are held there, and available as late as the store is open (6 or 7pm), and there's no line.

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    yep change commune and the police come and verify that you are living there fore you get your id card from the commune

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    The Belgian Post

    Although much better than its French counterpart, the Belgian Post still has a long way to go to be satisfying. Post offices are often understaffed in cities, with queues of over 15 minutes being common.

    Another complaint I have is that the postman never bother to ring at the door when he has packages that do not fit in the postbox. He just slip a paper mentioning that he passed and that nobody was present, and asking to go and get it the next day to the post office. The other day, I was going to open the door just as the postman had dropped the mail in the postbox. I saw the paper and ran after him to ask for my package. Of course he didn't even have it with him ! I was told that they never carry parcels or packages with them and automatically slip a notification in the postbox.

    As a result I went to the post office the next day, waited almost 30 minutes to be served (!), only to be told that it hadn't arrived yet !

    That's the Belgian Post for you !
    Although I don't have any complaints about the Hellenic Post here in Greece, I would prefer it if they would always have the same policy as the Belgians concerning big packages. Here they always ring the doorbell for big packages but if nobody answers it depends on the postman, he can leave you a note to go pick it up from the post office (the waiting line for this service is never big), or he will just leave it outside your door (or throw it above the fence inside your garden) but that way it can easily get stolen by people passing by.

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    thank you

    thanks a lot for the information.. it will be really helpful for me as i am going to belgium very soon.. thanks a lot

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