Whether your licence was issued in a European or non-European country, until you get your Belgian residence card, you are allowed to drive in Belgium with your national licence for the duration of your short stay. For expats who are officially registered as residents in Belgium, different rules apply. How you exchange your licence depends on where you acquired it.
For expats in Belgium from European Economic Area countries (EU plus Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein), there is no need to exchange your licence. The Belgian government does recommend, however, that you register your national licence at your local commune. If your licence is lost or stolen, the Belgian government will then replace it with a Belgian licence (as long as you are an official resident of the country).
To register your licence, go to your commune with the licence and a passport photograph. The process tends to go quickly for EEA driving licences. Some non-EEA countries (among them the US, Canada and Australia) have reciprocal agreements with Belgium that allow you to exchange your licence for a Belgian equivalent rather easily (provided you're registered in a commune). If your country does not have such an agreement with Belgium, you'll be required to pass a driving examination – comprising a theoretical and practical test.
The Examination Centre can arrange English versions of the theory exam, although it is recommended to book well in advance. The Belgian government will grant a one-year grace period for those who need to pass a Belgian driving test, as long as theyíre holding an International Driving Permit (along with their original driving licence) at all times.
To do this, head to your commune with your licence, a passport photograph and €26 to cover the application fee. The commune has the right to ask for an official translation of the licence as well (English should be OK). The commune will then keep your licence for processing, which can take from two weeks to two months, so be sure to ask for a temporary licence if needed.
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