Heading to Belgium? Having your own vehicle is a great way to discover this European country known for chocolate, waffles and beer, and for exploring neighboring countries such as France and the Netherlands.
Ready to hit the road? Here are some tips to know before you go.
Essential Tips for Renting a Car in Belgium
Book a car before you go. Waiting to book your reservation until you've landed in Europe will almost guarantee that you will pay more than you need to. Most major car rental companies allow free cancellations, so go ahead and book your trip from the U.S. ahead of time. The further ahead you reserve your car, the better the chance of landing a deal because you can watch out for price drops.
You'll drive on the right. Like the rest of continental Europe, Belgium is a country where people drive on the right.
You do not need an International Driving Permit. Obtaining an International Driving Permit is not necessary in this country where many people speak English and U.S. driver's licenses are accepted at rental car agencies. But if you plan to explore multiple countries in Europe, an IDP that translates your license into multiple languages can be a good idea. It must be obtained before you leave the United States.
Pay for the rental in euros. You may have the option to pay for the rental in U.S. dollars, but this option will cost you more in the long run. Pay in the local currency to avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion fees. If you opt to pay in U.S. dollars, the rental car company converts the purchase amount from the local currency on your behalf. But this process is entirely unnecessary, since your credit card company will process the transaction in either currency, and you will pay through the nose for the non-convenience.
Double check your insurance coverage. Before you leave home, be sure to contact your credit card company to verify what collision insurance, if any, it offers on car rentals abroad. If your credit card does not provide sufficient coverage, you may have to purchase collision insurance over the counter when you pick up the car.
It is required by law in Belgium that drivers carry unlimited third-party liability insurance, and as a result liability coverage is automatically included in the price of all car rentals. The advantage of having this car rental insurance in Belgium is that you are protected from injury, death or property damage to others which occur while operating your rental during your trip to Belgium.
Know the rules of the road. When driving in Belgium, priority is to the right. So even if you are on a main road, you don't always have the right of way. You have to stop for cars coming out of side streets on the right.
Don't drive in Brussels. Driving is a great way to explore the Belgian countryside and smaller cities like Bruges, but driving in Brussels is not recommended as it is the most traffic-clogged city in Europe. Plan to get around the city in taxis and on the excellent Metro, and pick up the rental car when you're ready to leave Brussels.
Inspect the car carefully before you drive away. Although it's understandable that you're eager to pick up your vehicle and get on your way, make sure to inspect the car extra carefully for any dings, dents or scratches on the surface. Take photos of every inch of the car. Otherwise, you could end up paying for those imperfections if you don't document them before you leave.