Foreign drivers should beware of Belgian low emission zones

Stricter rules have come into force in the low emission zones for motorised vehicles in Antwerp and Brussels, while in Ghent a low emission zone was introduced for the first time.  People eager to avoid number plate checks are considering using foreign number plates, but is this a way of escaping fines?

City authorities in Brussels and Antwerp have noticed how difficult it is to identify drivers of foreign vehicles through their number plate registration number, but are working to sort this problem thanks to a better exchange in information.

Foreign drivers are bound to ensure their vehicle meets the new norms to enter the zone, but even if it does they must also register.  Entering the low emission zone with a vehicle that is too polluting is a traffic offence, but it isn’t one of the eight traffic offences for which the Europeans exchange driver information.   

European cities are working on a system that would provide an exchange of information, but more than the driver’s address is needed.  The authorities require information on the vehicle euro norm and the type of fuel used.

Belgium already has bilateral agreements with France and the Netherlands and exchanges information. In Antwerp during the first half of last year the number of French and Dutch drivers fined was three times the number of Belgian drivers fined. The city has enlisted the help of bailiffs to ensure fines are paid and urges all foreign drivers to make sure they are registered when they enter the low emission zone. German, Polish, Spanish, Italian and UK drivers can all expect the attention of a Belgian bailiff if they don’t pay up.

Brussels has dispatched inspectors onto the roads and they can insist on the payment of on-the-spot fines. Drivers have to pay 150 euros if the vehicle isn’t registered and 350 euros if they aren’t permitted in the zone.

Ghent too is considering the use of bailiffs, while on-the-spot fines too are possible.