- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Belgium due to the high threat of terrorist attack.
- The domestic terrorism threat level for Brussels will remain at its highest level (Level 4 of 4 - serious and imminent) until 30 November. We advise you to avoid places with high concentrations of people including concerts, major events, train stations and airports, public transport, and shopping districts. You should also subscribe to this travel advice for the latest updates. See Safety and security.
- The domestic threat level for the rest of Belgium remains at Serious (level 3 of 4), noting particular concerns about places and events attracting crowds.
- Expect enhanced security measures as well as an increased police presence, particularly at airports and international railway stations across Belgium.
- Following the 13 November terrorist attacks in Paris, Belgian police continue to conduct anti-terror raids and have arrested several suspected militants in Brussels. Belgian authorities have arrested and convicted a number of people for terrorism-related offences in recent years.
- In August 2015 a terrorist boarded the Thalys Brussels-Paris train and then conducted an attack that injured three people while the train was travelling in northern France. In May 2014, a terrorist killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.
- Australians should remain vigilant in public places, follow the media for information regarding their safety, follow the instructions of local authorities and report any suspicious activities to police.
- There has been a significant influx of asylum seekers into Europe, causing localised disruption to cross-border road and train transport services. Travellers should be aware of the possibility of further disruptions, make appropriate contingency plans and follow the instructions of local authorities. See Local travel.
- Travellers should be alert to crime in Belgium, particularly in Brussels, Antwerp and other urban areas. Theft, muggings, bag snatching and pickpocketing are common in Brussels, particularly around major train stations. More serious robberies and assaults can also occur.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued
- follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Entry and exit
Belgium is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries, which allows Australians to enter Belgium without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for further information.
As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Belgium for the most up to date information.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Safety and Security
Warning for Brussels
Following the terrorist attacks on Paris and subsequent anti-terror operations in France and Belgium, Belgian authorities raised the domestic terrorism threat level to the highest level (Level 4 – serious and imminent) for Brussels on 20 November 2015. This will remain in place until Monday 30 November. Increased security measures currently in place will be reassessed daily and a full re-evaluation of the threat situation will take place on Monday 30 November.
We advise you to avoid places with high concentrations of people in the Brussels region including concerts, major events, train stations and airports, public transport, and shopping districts.
Expect enhanced security measures as well as an increased police presence, particularly at airports and international railway stations across Belgium. Security operations are being conducted. Many public events are likely to be cancelled and tourist attractions closed.
You should subscribe to this travel advice for the latest updates.
The Rest of Belgium
The domestic terrorist threat level for the rest of Belgium remains at Serious (level 3 of 4), noting particular concerns about places and events attracting crowds.
Belgian police continue to conduct anti-terror raids and have arrested several suspected militants in Brussels. Belgian authorities have also increased security checks at land borders, international airports and train stations. You should carry your passport with you when travelling and follow the instructions of local authorities.
In August 2015 a terrorist boarded the Thalys Brussels-Paris train and then conducted an attack that injured three people while the train was travelling in northern France. In May 2014, a terrorist killed four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Belgian authorities have also arrested and convicted a number of individuals on terrorism-related offences in recent years.
You should remain vigilant in public places, follow the media for information regarding your safety, follow the instructions of local authorities and report any suspicious activities to police.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.
Crimes such as theft, muggings, bag snatching and pickpocketing are common in Brussels, Antwerp and other urban areas. Be aware of your surroundings and take additional care around transport hubs, tourist areas and in some neighbourhoods, particularly at night. It is best to seek local advice, for example from your hotel, about the safety of particular neighbourhoods.
Women should be particularly careful, especially at night. See our Female travellers page.
Pay very close attention to your personal belongings at major train stations, particularly at Gare du Midi/Zuidstation (South Station). You should not leave your luggage unattended. Petty crime is also common around the Grand Place and in the Metro. Thieves operate at Brussels national airport, and on buses, trams and in shops. Thieves are often professional and work in teams of two or three. Techniques used to distract victims include asking questions, spilling food or drink, or telling travellers someone has spilled something on their clothes.
Civil unrest/political tension
Demonstrations are common in Belgium and are sometimes directed at Embassies, the European Union institutions and NATO. Protests can be large and occasionally turn violent. Monitor the media and other local information sources about possible demonstrations and avoid affected areas.
Money and valuables
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
There has been a significant influx of asylum seekers into Europe. In some cases, police have been deployed to prevent asylum seekers from crossing borders and accessing transport. As a result, there has been localised disruption to some cross-border road and rail transport services. You should be aware of the possibility of further disruption to transport services and monitor the local media and other information from transport providers for up to date information. If travelling by road or train, you should allow additional time to cover any disruption, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities. Australians travelling across affected borders, either by road or rail, should make appropriate contingency plans to cover any disruption to travel plans.
Belgium frequently hosts large international meetings attended by visiting heads of state and other senior government and business figures. Before and during these meetings, authorities often increase security measures at various locations around Brussels or other parts of Belgium. You should cooperate with security personnel during these events and be aware of the possibility for some disruption to travel, especially in and around Brussels.
See also our road travel page.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Belgium.
Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Belgium, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
Under Belgian law you are required to carry your passport at all times.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
Information for dual nationals
See our Dual nationals page.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
The standard of medical facilities in Belgium is high.
Belgium and Australia have a reciprocal health care agreement. The agreement ensures that Australians who visit Belgium are covered for subsidised treatment in the public health system, including hospital, medical care and prescription drugs. Travellers will be liable to pay any charges if treatment is provided to you as a private patient, including for medication. This agreement does not replace the need for travel insurance. For more information, see Medicare Australia’s website.
If you wish to be treated under the reciprocal health agreement you must advise the local medical staff and show your current Australian passport or evidence of Australian permanent residency and a valid Medicare card.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.
If the matter relates to a criminal issue, report it to the nearest police station or contact them on the police emergency number 101. The national emergency number is 112.
To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:
Australian Embassy, Brussels
See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you are travelling to Belgium, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.