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Belgium facts

Some facts about Belgium:

  • Legal age to drink: 16? (not enforced)
  • Legal age to enter a dancing or cafe without PG: 16 (rarely enforced)
  • Legal age to fly an airplane: 16?
  • Legal age to drive an car: 18
  • Legal age to have sex: 16 (not enforced)
  • Legal age to prostitute yourself: 18 (pimping is illegal)
  • Legal age to marry: 18 (15? if approved by the King due to pregnancy)

  • School is mandatory for all Belgians 18 and below.
  • Education is free for all Belgians 18 and below.
  • Voting is mandatory for all Belgians 18 and above.
  • Army duty isn't mandatory any more.

Table of contents

National ID:

All Belgians that are 12 and above are issued a national identification card[?]. Belgians 16 and above are required to always carry it with them unless they are within a 200 meter range of their homes. (Foreigners too must at all times be able to provide identification, either a passport, or an ID issued by the Belgian Government)

Belgians aren't required to show their ID's unless dealing with:

  • Particular Governmental Agencies
  • The police
  • Authorised bus and train personnel

The card holds the following information:

  • Photograph
  • Names of the holder
  • Nationality: Belgian
  • Date and place of birth
  • Sex
  • Signature
  • ID card number
  • Period of validity

If the holder wishes, the following info will also be mentioned on the card:

  • Marital status
  • State register number (each individual is issued unique number for administration purposes)

In the future, the ID will be replaced with a chip card with more information stored inside the chip. The address of the holder won't be printed on the card either. The ID card may be used as a form of identification when travelling within the EU. For most other countries outside the EU, a Belgian citizen must ask for a passport.

Driving:

  • In Belgium, you drive on the right side of the road.
  • With a few specific exceptions, seatbelts are required for all passengers.
  • Cars 4 years of age and older are required to be checked every year to make sure they are roadworthy.
  • Number plates are driver specific. If you trade in your old car for a new one, you keep your old number plate.
  • Number plate is white background with red numbers and letters. Usually a three-letter combination followed by a three number combination: "AAA 111" (there are still many "old" number plates in use: one letter/four numbers or two letters/three numbers in various combinations)

Speed Limits (unless stated otherwise)

  • Highways: 120km/h (131 km/h)
  • Regional roads: 90 km/h (101 km/h)
  • Within City Limits: 50 km/h (61 km/h)
  • Slow zones: 30 km/h (41 km/h)

Fines usually start at 11 km/h above speed limit. When caught, the offender can choose to settle and pay the fine or dispute the offence before a court. If however, the offender is travelling 40 km/h or higher then what is allowed, the offenders driving license will immediately be revoked for at least two weeks. The offender will also be required to go to court and cannot settle beforehand. (the 40 km/h rule is under good weather conditions. It's less under bad weather conditions.) As of January 1st, 2003 there will theoretically be zero-tolerance regarding speed offences.

Alcohol limit when driving:

  • 0.5 per thousand

Smoking

  • Any form of advertising or sponsoring of cigarette brands are banned.

Education

There are two main school systems in Belgium: State-owned schools and state-free schools. Most of the state-free schools are catholic oriented and are also subsidised by the government.

Primary School

Consists of six forms and the subjects given are generally the same at all schools.

Secondary School

Students can choose what "direction" they want to follow depending on their skill level and interests. Secondary school is divided into four general types. Each type consists of a set of different directions that may vary from school to school. The general types are as follows:

  • General Secondary Education: Most subjects are very general and theoretical and form the basis for higher education. Once a student has completed all six years, it is expected that he or she continue studying (e.g.: university). Otherwise the acquired diploma would in most cases be considered useless if he or she where to try to enter the job market.
  • Technical Secondary Education: Subjects are more technical and practical. Usually lasts six years plus a seventh speciality year. Once students have completed all seven years, they are generally considered ready for the job market in whatever speciality they chose. They may also choose to continue studying although would be less prepared than those that followed general secondary education.
  • Job education: Very practical and very job specific. Six years plus seventh specialisation year.
  • Art Education: Less known and mostly artistic subjects given

After secondary school, one can choose to continue studying. He or she has two choices: Higher Education or University. Unlike primary and secondary, it's not free. Per year, a student will probably have to pay between € 70.00 and € 650.00 depending on his or her situation (The rest is government subsidised).

Higher Education

Subjects given are more practical and less theoretical

  • short type: 3 years
  • long type: 4 years

University

Subjects given are more theoretical and less practical. Usually four or more years

To find out about famous Belgians, consult Schott's Original Miscellany.



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