Recognition of foreign driving licences

Last update: 28/06/2022

 

There are 2 types of foreign driving licences: a European national driving licence and a non-European national driving licence

 

European national driving licence

What is a European national driving licence?

The European national driving licence is any driving licence issued by a Member State of the European Union or of the European Economic Area.

 

When to exchange?

If you have a driving licence issued in one of the EU countries, it will be recognised throughout the European Union. Therefore, if you move to another EU country, you do not usually have to exchange your driving licence. You can continue to drive with it as long as it is valid.

 

Please note: you are only allowed to have one European driving licence. Only the most recently issued European national driving licence is valid.

 

As soon as the validity of the European driving licence is about to expire, an exchange is recommended. However, the validity of the European driving licence may have expired at the time of application for exchange.

 

Obligatory exchange is only necessary:

  • if your European driving licence is lost, stolen, or damaged.
  • within two years of registering in Belgium, if you have a driving licence that is valid for life.
  • if you are banned from driving in Belgium, and a temporary Belgian driving licence must be issued.
  • when obtaining a new category as a result of passing the test in Belgium, or when attending the compulsory (further) training for professional drivers (C/D) in Belgium.

 

In case of loss or theft, you must present a certificate of loss or theft. A certificate of loss may be issued by the police, the municipality, or an embassy/consulate of the country where the European driving licence was issued.

 

Exchange conditions

The application for exchange must be made to the driving licence department of the municipality in which you are registered.

 

When an exchange of a European driving licence is applied for, the municipality will check some exchange conditions:

 

Habitual residence

It will be checked where you have your normal place of residence. Only citizens with their habitual residence in Belgium can obtain a Belgian driving licence.

 

Registration in the Belgian population, foreigners’, or waiting register

It will also be checked how long you have been registered in the population, foreigners’, or waiting register of a Belgian municipality. You can only obtain a Belgian driving licence if you have been registered in Belgium for at least 185 days.

 

Check in the European driving licence network

For every application for exchange, the European driving licence network will be consulted to check that the driving licence presented is valid and has not been restricted, suspended, or withdrawn.

 

Charges

There are charges associated with the processing of the application for exchange. The fee is 20 euros, plus a municipal tax if applicable

 

Non-European national driving licence

What is a non-European national driving licence?

A non-European national driving licence is a national driving licence issued in a country that is not part of the EU or the EEA.

 

Driving with a non-European national driving licence before or during the first 185 days of registration in Belgium

If you have not yet been registered in Belgium for 185 days, you may drive with:

  • a valid recognised international driving licence (Vienna and Geneva Conventions) that is not a Belgian driving licence. An international driving licence is only valid if presented with the national driving licence for which it was issued;
  • a valid and recognised foreign non-European national driving licence in accordance with the model laid down in the Vienna and Geneva Conventions.

 

A “recognised” driving licence is a driving licence that is recognised under the Vienna and Geneva Conventions or under a bilateral agreement. So not only the exchangeable driving licences that are listed on our website. Indeed, there are also countries that have signed the Vienna or Geneva Convention, or with which Belgium has concluded a bilateral agreement, but of which we do not have a driving licence specimen. These licences are not exchangeable, but they are recognised.

 

What after 185 days of registration in Belgium?

After registering in Belgium, you must wait 185 days before you can apply for a Belgian driving licence. During this period of 185 days, you may continue to drive with a recognised non-European driving licence in Belgium.

 

The exchange procedure can be started during the first 185 days of registration, but the Belgian driving licence may only be issued after these 185 days have elapsed.

 

During the exchange procedure, the foreign non-European driving licence must not be returned to you, unless you fail to comply with the procedure. The exchange procedure will therefore end after these 185 days at the earliest.

 

No proof or certificate of possession of a foreign non-European driving licence will be issued during the exchange procedure. Article 3 of the RD of 23 March 1998 stipulates that a motor vehicle can only be driven with a Belgian or European driving licence, valid for the category or subcategory to which the vehicle belongs. A replacement proof or certificate is therefore not allowed to drive a vehicle. This means that you will not be allowed to drive until you have obtained a valid Belgian driving licence.

 

Exchange conditions

The application for exchange must be made to the driving licence department of the municipality in which you are registered.

 

For the exchange of a non-European driving licence, the municipality will check if the following exchange conditions are met:

 

Recognised

Your driving licence model must be recognised. All models of foreign non-European driving licences, and all equivalences between categories can be found per country on our website.

 

Valid

The validity period of your driving licence, or of any exchanged foreign category stated on it must not have expired when the exchange procedure is started.

 

Authentic and in good condition.

Only an original national foreign non-European driving licence (and therefore not an international or provisional driving licence) can be exchanged. Your driving licence must be in good condition: legible and authentic.

 

Replacement or attached certificates are not accepted. They cannot extend the right stated on your driving licence nor confirm the authenticity of your driving licence.

 

Residence conditions

Obtaining the foreign non-European national driving licence

 

The driving licence must have been issued during a period in which you were not registered in Belgium for at least 185 days.

 

Only the date of issue, the date of renewal, the date of replacement, or the date of first issue can be considered as the time of issue. The date of first issue, the date of replacement, or the date of renewal may only be taken into account if it is clearly stated on your foreign non-European national driving licence.

 

The date of obtaining the categories shall never be considered as the date of issue.

 

The categories stated on your driving licence must have been obtained before or at the latest when your non-European driving licence was issued. Categories obtained after that time will not be validated on your Belgian driving licence.

 

You have the same nationality as your foreign non-European driving licence

If you have the same nationality as your foreign non-European driving licence, you do not have to prove 185 days of residence abroad, and it is assumed that you had your normal place of residence in the issuing country.

 

Demonstrated habitual residence

If you do not have the same nationality as your foreign non-European national driving licence, you must demonstrate that you have resided in the issuing country for at least 185 days during the year of issue of the foreign non-European national driving licence. These 185 days do not have to be consecutive, but the date of issue of your non-European national driving licence must be included in the proven period of residence.

 

Evidence

A certificate of residence issued by the local authority is accepted. It must state that you were registered (or resided) at a certain address for a certain period of time (start and end dates). A stay only for family visits is not sufficient.

 

Utility bills (electricity, water, gas), rental contracts, employment contracts, or pay slips covering at least 185 days (including the date of issue of the driving licence) are also accepted.

 

Embassy certificates are not taken into account.

 

The documents presented must bear a stamp or seal, the date of issue, and the name and signature of the author of the document. Scans or copies are allowed. In case of doubt, the municipality may always request the original document.

 

Authenticity check

The authenticity of any non-European driving licence will be checked by the Federal Police. This can take several weeks.

 

Sworn translation

Your foreign, non-European national driving licence must be translated if it is incomprehensible for the official of the Administration, or if its translation is required by the instructions of the equivalence sheets available on the website of the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport. The translation must be done by a translator who is sworn in in Belgium.

 

Embassies usually employ sworn translators, and some embassies issue standard documents for the translation of driving licences in consultation with the FPS Mobility and Transport.

 

No corrections are allowed on a sworn statement or on an embassy certificate. If an error is made, a new document must be issued.

 

Charges

There are charges associated with the processing of the application for exchange. The fee is 20 euros, increased according to the consumer price index, plus a municipal tax if applicable.

 

What if your non-European national driving licence cannot be exchanged?

Then you must pass the theoretical and practical driving test before you can apply for a Belgian driving licence.

 

More information can be found on the website of the Regions:

https://www.vlaanderen.be/en/departement-mobility-and-public-works(link is external)

https://mobilite-mobiliteit.brussels/en(link is external)

http://mobilite.wallonie.be

 

Contact

Email: permis.etrangers@mobilit.fgov.be / buitenlandse.rijbewijzen@mobilit.fgov.be

 

For more information:

SPF Mobilité et Transports/FOD Mobiliteit en Vervoer

City Atrium

Rue du Progrès/Vooruitgangstraat 56

BE-1210 Bruxelles/Brussel

E-mail: info@mobilit.fgov.be