Every country has its own rules and certain documents are required at roadside checks. If you’re a Belgian citizen and want to drive with confidence, make sure you have the originals of all necessary documents before any road trip: driving licence, certificate of insurance, vehicle registration certificate, roadworthiness inspection certificate and certificate of conformity.
Pursuant to Article 21 of the law of 16 March 1968 on road traffic organization, the first mandatory document is the driving licence. “No person shall drive a motor vehicle on a highway without holding or bearing a driving licence…”.
The driving license of the “credit card” format was introduced on 7 July 2010 and has a 10-year maximum administrative validity.
Certificate of insurance
The second “must-have” is the certificate of insurance pursuant to Articles 7 and 21 of the law of 21 November 1989 on Compulsory Insurance in respect of Motor Vehicles.
This is an official proof the vehicle has been duly insured by an insurance company. Its purpose is to facilitate the traffic between various European countries and ensure that appropriate compensation is provided to victims of road accidents.
The Green Card layout is similar in all European countries and has been endorsed by the “United Nations Economic Commission for Europe”.
The information contained therein is therefore identical with all insurance companies and all European countries. The following information must be mandatorily indicated on the document:
- The name of the issuing office (in the case of Belgium – “BBAV – Belgian Motor Insurers Bureau”)
- Period of validity
- The reference of the insurance relating to the green card issued (country/insurer’s code/contract reference).
- Registration number and/or serial number of the vehicle
- Category and model of the vehicle
- Countries where the “Green Card” is valid
- Name and adress of the insurance policyholder
- Name and adress of the insurance company
- Signature of the insurance company
Vehicle registration certificate (logbook)
Another “must-have” is the registration certificate (logbook) of the vehicle.
Since 1 September 2013, the yellow-grey Belgian registration certificate (“CIM – certificat d’immatriculation Belge”) is composed of two distinct parts. The first part must always be kept in the vehicle while the second one is to be kept at home.
Anew version of the Belgium registration certificate entered into force on 1 July 2019. Its colours and format remain unchanged, but the contents have been revised. However, one piece of useful data for the user no longer appears: CO2 emissions. In fact, as several different CO2 values can relate to the same vehicle, they can not all be indicated on the vehicle registration certificate. On the other hand, they are indicated on the certificate of conformity (COC) of the vehicle which is another mandatory onboard document.
Both parts of the Belgian registration certificate are neccesary for selling purposes, registration or re-registration of the vehicle. Both parts represent a single document, each of them bearing the same reference number.
The reference “The Certificate is not a proof of ownership of the vehicle” has become mandatory pursuant to Council Directive 1999/37/EC of 29 April 1999 on the registration documents for vehicles, which specifies whether the reigstration certificate constitutes a proof of ownership. This is not the case in Belgium. It is a police document that identifies the vehicle through elements (make, model, registration number, etc.) and can not be considered a proof of ownership.
Roadworthiness Inspection Certificate
Pursuant to Article 24 of the Royal Decree of 15 March 1968 “No vehicle that is being subject to a roadworthiness test may be used on public roads without a roadworthiness certificate accompanied by a valid inspection sticker…”
All vehicles must be technically in order and ensure safety on the roads and, in Belgium, the roadworthiness inspection is mandatory for all vehicles older than 4 years.
Regarding the vehicles older than 4 years, regular inspections are carried out every year. However, there is a bonus system within which the inspection intervals may be extended to a 2-year interval provided the vehicle cumulatively fulfills the following points:
- The vehicle has a green card – that is, the vehicle has successfully passed the previous roadworthiness inspection
- The mileage is lower than 100,000 km
- The vehicle is brought in on time
- The vehicle is less than 6 years old
- The vehicle does not tow trailers exceeding 750 kg
What are the required documents for the roadworthiness inspection?
In order to undergo the roadworthiness inspection, you need to submit the following original documents:
- A Belgian vehicle registration certificate: a document of rose or beige colour proving your vehicle has been registered at the Department of Vehicle Registration (“DIV – La Direction pour l’Immatriculation des Véhicules”).
- Certificate of conformity, which confirms the vehicle has been approved by the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport and is issued by the manufacturer or official brand represenative when purchasing a car.
What points are checked during the roadworthiness inspection?
Various points are evaluated, including exhaust gases, mechanical condition, the functioning of various components (brakes, lights, steering, suspension system…)
If your vehicle fulfills all mandatory criteria, a green card without any restrictions will be issued. Otherwise, there are three possible options:
- You have obtained a red inspection certificate with a driving ban:
The vehicle has serious defects and endangers not only the driver but also the passengers, for example, the brakes are not functioning anymore. Therefore, you cannot drive the car anymore and it must be immediately taken to the nearest auto repair shop and repaired.
- You have obtained a red inspection certificate with a shortened validity of 15 days:
- You have obtained a green inspection certificate with a shortened validity of 3 months:
All repairs are done, what now?
Once the repairs are done, the vehicle needs to undergo a subsequent roadworthiness inspection at the same roadworthiness inspection centre within 15-90 days. When all necessary repairs have been done properly, you will receive a green inspection certificate.
This is a document imposed by the Royal Decree of 15 March 1968 and which is issued by the importer of the make. It proves that the vehicle is in accordance with the technical regulations in force in the territory of Belgium.
It is a standardised document containing technical information of the vehicle according to which it has been manufactured: it proves the vehicle is in compliance with the norms of its original country and contains a serial number, an EC-type approval number and other technical features of the vehicle.
The certificate of conformity (so called COC) proves the vehicle fulfills all required standards as well as shows the description indicated on the vehicle registration certificate.
To sum up:
At roadside checks, you need to present the original documents, therefore all originals must be carried in the car because the copies are not enough.
On the other hand, you can wisely keep the copies of the documents at home and remove the originals from the car in case the car is not being used for a long period of time.
Failing presenting the original documents, a police report may be drawn up and the vehicle may, if necessary, be impounded while the original documents are submitted to the police force carrying out the inspection.