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Tips for Expats Driving in Ghent

Driving in a new country can be daunting. These tips offer insight into what to expect when driving in Ghent.
Tips for Expats Driving in Ghent

1. Understanding the Driving Culture

Driving in Ghent, like many European cities, can be a bit challenging for newcomers. The city center is car-free, and the streets can be narrow and winding. Belgians generally adhere to the rules of the road, but can be assertive drivers. It’s important to be aware of cyclists and pedestrians, as Ghent is a very bike-friendly city.

2. Car Recommendation

Given the narrow streets and limited parking, a smaller car is recommended. Compact cars are easier to maneuver and park. Also, consider a car with good fuel efficiency as petrol can be expensive.

3. Parking in Ghent

Finding parking in Ghent can be difficult, especially in the city center. There are several parking garages available, but they can be expensive. Street parking is also available but often limited. It’s advisable to use public transportation or bikes for daily commuting and save the car for longer trips.

4. Driving with an International License

Foreigners can drive with an international license in Belgium for up to six months. After that, you will need to obtain a Belgian driver’s license. It’s important to note that not all international licenses are accepted, so it’s best to check with the local authorities.

5. Obtaining a Belgian Driver’s License

To get a Belgian driver’s license, you will need to pass a theory test and a practical driving test. The tests are available in several languages, including English. If your home country has a reciprocal agreement with Belgium, you may be able to exchange your existing license for a Belgian one without taking the tests.

6. Familiarize Yourself with Local Traffic Rules

Belgium has some unique traffic rules. For example, the “priority from the right” rule means that you must yield to vehicles coming from the right unless otherwise indicated. Also, it’s mandatory to have a high-visibility vest and a warning triangle in your car in case of a breakdown.

7. Consider Alternatives to Driving

Given the challenges of driving and parking in Ghent, consider using public transportation, cycling, or walking for daily commuting. Ghent has an excellent public transportation system and is very bike-friendly. Plus, exploring the city on foot or by bike can be a great way to get to know your new home.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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