Belgian Red Tape

Belgian Red Tape Belgium by Earth Hour Global

This article was written by Anna, published on 12th September 2011 and has been read 7374 times.

Anna is spending her year abroad in Belgium. Here, she gives an account of her first few days abroad, with help and advice about sim cards and bank accounts, as well as strolls through the city...
Quite a bit has happened since my last post, as I have finally arrived in Belgium 3 days ago.I ended up finding my flat through work, so that took a lot less effort than I expected and everything went smoothly. I am sharing a house with other students or stagiaires, which is great, as it makes it easier for me to learn the language and meet new people straight away. Luckily for me, the house is fully furnished (meublé), which even includes kitchen utensils and bed linen.

When you first arrive in Belgium, you need to register your arrival at the Service Population. You don’t have to make an appointment there, you just need to show up with your ID/passport, proof of address and a certification of what you are doing in Belgium in the first 8 days of your arrival. The registration process only took a few minutes for me, but you might have to wait in a queue for a while in a bigger town.

I was planning to open a bank account in one of the bigger banks, but they recommended that I open one with the post office, as that is usually a lot quicker and an easier process. As I am only here for 5 months, it seems silly to wait almost 2 or 3 weeks for my bank account to be authorised. The post bank account itself was pretty easy to open. I only needed my passport and an address in Belgium.

I haven’t really got much advice for buying a Belgian sim card for your phone; I guess going to a phoneshop and having them recommend a card or contract that suits you will be the easiest. I chose to use a Pay As You Go card(prépayé) with the company BASE. I top up 15€ and get unlimited texts and 100MB for 30 days and can use the topped up amount as credit for phone calls.

As a general tip, I would buy a map of the town you’re staying in, especially the older towns as they have lots of tiny, narrow streets and it’s easy to get lost or end up walking in circles, if you don’t quite know your way around yet (trust me, I have managed to walk right past the Grande Place around four times without realising I was that close to it).

Of course, having only been here for a few days now, I haven’t seen much of the city, let alone the country, yet, but so far, I am completely in love with this place. The town is quaint, historic and beautiful, there are small cafés with seating outside on the pavement everywhere and the people are friendly (at least the ones I have met so far).

So, seriously. You should come to Belgium. There’s beer and waffles here.

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