The RYA would be pleased to receive reports of your experiences by email to cruising@rya.org.uk.

IMPORTANT:

The information below is intended to provide answers to questions that come up regularly. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide and it has limited applicability. Please read the countries introduction to ensure that it is appropriate to you. The standard documentation a UK flagged pleasure vessel operating outside UK Territorial Waters should carry is detailed on the paperwork page.

UK Government travel advice

FCDO advice including information on permitted duration of stay and visas for Belgium: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/belgium

Covid -19

There are various sources for information on the latest restrictions in force due to the Coronavirus pandemic:

RYA Covid-19 hub - https://www.rya.org.uk/coronavirus including advice and information for recreational boaters at https://www.rya.org.uk/coronavirus/advice-for-boaters.

Information on entry requirements can be found at https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae

Noonsite - https://www.noonsite.com/place/belgium/

Re-open EU – https://reopen.europa.eu/en

Evidence of competence

For information on the validity of RYA certificates abroad see Evidence of Competence Abroad.

A valid ICC should be acceptable evidence of competence as Resolution 40 has been formally adopted by Belgium.

Coastal Waters: there is no specific requirement for evidence of competence other than that stipulated by the vessel's flag state.

Inland Waters: required for vessels over 15m in length or capable of more than 20km/h (approx. 11 knots), otherwise not required.

French and Dutch translations of many RYA certificates and their related course syllabus are available from the RYA website

Standard entry and exit formalities (non-Covid)

EU member state (part of the customs territory of the EU (which includes territorial waters)).  Further information is provided on the Entry & Exit Formalities page under Customs - EU Member States.

Part of the Schengen area

As part of the customs territory of the EU (which includes territorial waters) and the Schengen area customs and immigration checks may not always be required on arrival and departure.

All pleasure boats arriving from or departing to a third country (a non-Schengen country) are legally obliged to comply with the reporting formalities for border control. Entry from a non-Schengen country must be made at a port designated as a border crossing point. The Federal Police are responsible for and entrusted with the implementation of border control. More specifically, one of the tasks of the Maritime and River Police (SPN) is to supervise the cross-border traffic at the maritime external borders.

A report form for pleasure boating, can be completed and submitted to the SPN online. Full details can be found at: https://www.police.be/bordercontrol/en/pleasure-craft-declaration.

Buying diesel

It is unlawful in Belgium to buy or use marked 'red' diesel for propelling a private pleasure craft. See red diesel abroad for further information.

Holding tanks

See holding tanks for information on the discharge of waste water.

Arriving by road

In Belgium the maximum allowed dimensions for private vehicles and towed trailers are restricted to height 4m, width 2.50m, length (including any coupling device) car 12m, trailer with one axle up to 3,500kg 8m, between 3,500 - 8,000kg 10m, over 8,000kg 11m, trailer with two axles or more 12m vehicle/trailer combination 18m.

Belgium requires that vessels under a foreign flag have documents to prove the vessel's nationality as required by the regulations of the country in question. UK registration may therefore not be strictly necessary for boats arriving by road, however local rules may mean that a vessel (especially a RIB or PWC) cannot be launched if it is not registered and without a registration document the owner has no way of proving that the vessel is a British ship.

Inland

Signatory to the Regional Arrangement Concerning the Radiotelephone Service on Inland Waterways (RAINWAT).  Where a VHF is required or is to be used on the inland waterways of RAINWAT signatory countries, the set must be ATIS enabled and vessels must comply with the requirements of RAINWAT.

A permit known as a vignette is required for many of the waterways in the Flemish region (notable exceptions to this are Grensleie, Lower Sea Scheldt and Communical Meuse). Vessels of less than 6 m in length which are not capable of high speeds are however exempt.

In the Walloon region a Permis de Circulation may be required.

Swimming is generally forbidden in inland waterways except where signs show it to be permitted. See guide...on the water p.46

Notices to skippers for the Belgian inland waterways are published on the NtS - Portal.

Alcohol regulations

According to guide...on the water, "On board pleasure craft, the crew is subject to legal regulations on the use of alcohol and other forms of intoxication. The ability of the crew to assess and act must not be affected by tiredness, drunkenness, alcohol intoxication or other forms of intoxication." See p. 32.

Carrying a copy of the regulations

The sailing regulations for the area where you are sailing need to be on board. See guide...on the water p.23-25.

Other guidance

  • Useful information for boaters is provided in the leaflet guide...on the water including regulatory provisions, recommendations and advice for boating in Belgium.
  • We have heard through un-official channels that it may be a requirement in Belgium to have the name of the vessel on the stern of the boat.
  • A motoring cone should be displayed when motor sailing.

Websites

SPF Mobilit et Transports: https://mobilit.belgium.be/fr with specific page on recreational boating: https://mobilit.belgium.be/fr/navigation/navigation_de_plaisance/recreational_boating

Belgian government official portal: https://www.belgium.be/en/

Customs: https://finance.belgium.be/en/about_fps/structure_and_services/general_administrations/customs_and_excise

Tourist Offices:  Visit Belgium: http://www.visitbelgium.com/  Flanders: www.visitflanders.co.uk

Belgian Embassy, London: http://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/services/embassies_and_consulates/belgian_embassies_and_consulates_abroad

British Embassy: https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-brussels

Coastguard: www.kustwacht.be

Maritime and River/Waterway Police: http://www.polfed-fedpol.be/org/org_dga_spn_en.php

Hydrographic Office: www.vlaamsehydrografie.be (Notices to Mariners for the Flanders Region)

L' Institut Royal Météorologique: www.meteo.be (Notices to Mariners for the Walloon region)

VisuRIS: https://www.visuris.be/

VTS-Scheldt: https://www.vts-scheldt.net/