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General Info about Antwerp, Belgium


Visa Requirements

Citizens of the EU intending to visit Antwerp just need to show a current passport or an identity card issued by their home country. US, Canadian, or Australian residents will need a valid passport to visit Antwerp, and can visit for a period of up to ninety days. Nationals of all other countries or anyone intending to work or study in Antwerp should contact the relevant Belgian consulate in advance of your visit.


Currency

The currency used in Belgium is the Euro which is made up of 100 Cent. Notes come in denominations of €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5 and the coins in use are €2, €1, 0.50C, 0.20C, 0.10C, 0.05C, 0.02C and 0.01C.


Language

The main languages spoken in Belgium are Flemish, French and German. English is also widely spoken here.


Climate

Antwerp has a mild, maritime climate. The city sees a good deal of rainy days throughout the year. May and August are usually the sunniest months. August is also the hottest month on average, and January is the coldest. Sometimes Antwerp gets some snow in winter.


Medical Care

Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect a form, E111, from your local social security office.


Time Zone

Antwerp is located in the Central European Time (CET) zone, which is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST).


Opening Hours

Shops in Antwerp generally open from 9.30am or 10am until 5.30pm or 6pm. Some small shops close for lunch. Fridays are generally late night opening nights. Banks are generally open between 9.00am and 12.00pm and again from 2.00pm until 4.00pm from Monday to Friday.


Tourist Offices

The city’s main tourist office is the Antwerp Tourist Information office, Grote Markt 13 in the city centre. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 9am-5.45pm.


Tax

Value added tax in Belgium varies between 6% and 21% but non EU-nationals are entitled to a tax refund after leaving the country. In order to qualify you must get your invoice stamped at customs and post it back to the shop. A lot of shops also display ‘Tax Free for Tourists’ signs so shopping here is also a good option.


Currency Exchange

The best place to change any foreign cash when you are in Antwerp is at the exchange bureaux located in the various banks. All major credit cards and Eurocard are widely accepted and if you have the PIN they can also be used to obtain cash advances from ATMs or banks. You can also use regular bankcards which are members of the bigger international networks including Cirrus, Plus and Link in machines which bear the symbol.


Electricity

The electricity used in Antwerp is at 220 V, 50 Hz. A two-pin plug should be used here.


Telephones

The international code for Belgium is +32. The area code for Antwerp is 03. If you're calling from outside Belgium, dial the international code of the country you’re in, drop the first 0 for Antwerp and dial the number.

If you’re dialling overseas from within Antwerp, dial 00 (international access code), the country code, then area code and the local number.


Post Office

The central post office is located at Groenplaats 42. It is open Monday to Friday from 9am-6pm and on Saturday from 9am-12pm.


Tipping

The service charge and tax is always included in your bill in Antwerp. This can also be quite high in places so unless the service was exceptional do not feel obliged to tip. And if you do, 10% is sufficient.


Public Holidays

It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel to a country as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day. In Belgium they take place on January 1st, Easter Monday, May 1st and 21st, June 1st, July 21st, August 15th, November 1st and 11th, and December 25th and 26th. It is a good idea to check the particular area too as certain towns and cities also shut down during special events.

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