Brussels is in a very top expensive cities' post because costs of living on the local economy are high.
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) -- It is necessary and mandatory for every military and DOD Civilian family to obtain an EFMP screening prior to reporting for an assignment to Brussels. There are limited resources for EFMP in the Brussels community. For more information call the EFMP Program Manager at Commercial 011-32-22-80-9930 or DSN 314-597-9930.
Sponsorship -- It is imperative that personnel assigned to Brussels request a sponsor to be appointed by their gaining unit so that they can ask the necessary questions and be fully acquainted with what to expect in Brussels. Indeed, your assignment and category of support will differ depending on whether you are SHAPE sponsored or Embassy sponsored. Many of the in/out-processing procedures and privileges differ between them. It is important that personnel follow the procedures established by their administrative sections.
Passport -- For Service Members ID and Orders are required to enter the host country (please check with the "Foreign Clearance Guidance" and your HR Office). In addition, it is highly recommended that Service Members get a Tourist Passport before departing the USA so that they can start traveling. Dependents need a "No-Fee" Passport (cannot be used for tourist travel). Also, dependents must have a tourist passport for traveling purposes in Europe.
Driver's License -- Service Members and Family Members (above age 18) must have a valid stateside driver's license. In addition, it is highly recommended that each driver obtain an International Driver's License prior to arrival in Belgium.
Housing -- It is very important for newcomers to register with the USAG Benelux - Brussels Housing Office within 2 days of arrival in order to participate in the housing program. You will be briefed on "do's and don'ts" in the housing arena. It is most important to always consult the housing office before engaging yourself in any kind of rental agreement or even a promise to rent, be it verbal or written.
You can ask your sponsor to send you a housing newcomer's packet or call/email the Housing in Processing Office and request one. Tel 011-32-2-280-9921 DSN -314-597-9921 Email email@example.com
Also, if you have school age children who will attend the Brussels American School (BAS) please make sure to check with BAS their bus services area before deciding about the area to live in.
Move-in expenses -- Brussels is a very expensive post because costs on the local economy are high. On average, move in cost of a home or apartment is approximately $7,000 (one month's rent and two months of deposit) depending on the rank. For Active Duty Army most of this cost is part of the Military entitlements you will receive at in-processing the Army Finance Office. Soldiers receive a Move-In Housing Allowance (MIHA) of about $600 to $700 for the light fixtures and draperies as well as reimbursement of move-in inspection fees. Additionally, Service Members can get up to three months advanced Oversees Housing Allowance (OHA) to pay for the guarantee housing deposit and the first month's rent. This means the first month of rent and two months deposit is needed by landlords in order to move-in. In most cases tenants must put three months' rent in a joint account with the landlord as a guarantee. Air Force, Navy or Marine personnel should check with their respective local Finance Service Office for their entitlements and Civilians need to contact CPAC (Commercial 011-68-25-5717 or DSN 314-597-5717) for information on their post allowance. For more information concerning (Army) pay and entitlements for Brussels Belgium, please call Commercial 011-32-2-280-9720 or DSN 314-597-9720.
School Buses -- Traffic does not come to a full stop when school buses are loading or unloading. Re-train your kids to this new, and fairly dangerous, situation!
Privately-Owned Weapons -- Obtaining authority to bring personal weapons to Belgium and the Netherlands is difficult and is discouraged. If you desire to bring personal weapons, it is a long, involved process. All firearms must be in processed and out-processed with the Belgian Federal Police in the Registration Office. For further information call the Registration office located on SHAPE. DSN 314-423-5165/3933; CIV from the United States: 011-32-65-44-5165/3933 or call Northern Law Center at 011-32-65-44-4868.
Additionally, any national firearm registration requirements may apply. See your national support element for further details. Note: Your personal weapon must be on your orders or it is not authorized.
USAG Benelux integrates and delivers quality base support to enable readiness for NATO, USAREUR, and deployed elements of a globally responsive Army, while continuously maintaining protection as our number one priority.
USAG Benelux - Brussels (formerly known as NATO Support Activity and as U.S. Army Garrison Brussels) was originally activated in August 1967 when NATO Headquarters moved from Paris to Brussels and when SHAPE began to function in Belgium.
The U.S. Army was designated as the executive agency to support all U.S. government entities, including department of defense and non-DOD agencies, assigned to the Brussels area. USAG Benelux-Brussels is the means by which the U.S. Army exercises this responsibility.
Presently over 3,088 Service Members, Department of Defense and Department of State civilians and their family members living in and around Brussels Belgium receive some form of administrative support from USAG Benelux - Brussels.The support will differ depending on status.
For starters Which "Status" do you Fall Under?
Brussels is an anomaly among military communities overseas. Although the U.S. Army, through the U.S. Army Garrison, Brussels, is the DoD Executive Agent providing all, most, or some support to our Joint and Inter-agency community, the status of your sponsor determines who will provide you with which services.
As a rule of thumb, the official U.S. government-related population in Brussels falls under one or the other of the following two situations, or a third amalgam, each described below:
1. Status -- The majority [but not an overwhelming majority] of U.S. military and civil service personnel, including DoDEA Europe West District teachers, USAG Benelux - Brussels employees, U.S. civilian nationals attached to the NATO International Staff (IS), and U.S. service personnel assigned to the NATO International Military Staff (IMS) fall under “SHAPE” status. Their legal presence in Belgium derives from the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, which carefully delineates rights and privileges in Belgium. Administrative check-in is through the U.S. National Military Representative (NMR) and the Belgian Federal Police in Mons, and necessitates an actual trip to Mons. Sponsors and family members carry a distinct SHAPE ID card, and become enrolled on the books of the commune in which they reside. They eventually receive a “Commune Card,” which is a legal identification that must be carried on one’s person. POVs bear red & white-colored plates, obtained in Mons. Their housing is arranged through the USAG Brussels Housing Support Office. Dependent children are “required” to attend the DoDEA Brussels American School or a Belgian commune school if no-cost education is desired; attendance at Brussels-area international schools is optional, however, the cost must be borne by the sponsor. Required to obtain either a SHAPE or Belgian or International driver’s license. Medical and dental needs (in most cases; there are exceptions) handled via the branch SHAPE clinics located on the grounds of the Sterrebeek Annex to the USAG Benelux - Brussels
2. Diplomatic Status -- All U.S. State Department employees and representatives of certain USAG agencies attached to one of the Tri-Missions whose parent agency has negotiated an “ICASS” agreement with the Department of State. Resident in Belgium under bilateral diplomatic agreements, under internationally-accepted norms of diplomatic privilege and immunity. All check-in is accomplished in Brussels. Sponsors and family members carry a carnet [Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ID card]. POVs bear “CD” plates. Housing arranged through Tri-Missions Joint Administrative Services. Dependent children eligible to attend Brussels-area international schools on a funded basis. Not required to obtain a Belgian or other driver’s license. Medical and dental needs handled via the Tri-Missions Health Unit.
3. In Between -- A number of U.S. military and DoD civil service personnel assigned to either the U.S. Mission to NATO or the U.S. Delegation to the NATO Military Committee [the “U.S. Del”] enjoy an intermediate status between the above two. These sponsors and their families reside in Belgium under diplomatic status, with attendant rights and privileges. All administrative check-in is physically accomplished in Brussels. Sponsors and family members carry a carnet [Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ID card]; they do not get a “Commune Card.” POVs bear “CD” plates. Depending on the GS level of the DoD civilians determines if the sponsor will be placed in embassy housing or whether they will use the USAG Benelux-Brussels Housing Support Office. DoD civilians will be notified of their housing options when they receive their job offer and make contact with their office sponsor.These individuals, however, go to the USAG Benelux - Brussels Housing Support Office to arrange their housing and negotiate a lease. Their dependent children are “required” to attend the DoDDS Brussels American School or a Belgian commune school if no-cost education is desired; attendance at Brussels-area international schools is optional, however, the cost must be borne by the sponsor. As diplomats, these individuals are not required to obtain a Belgian or other driver’s license. Medical and dental needs handled via the branch SHAPE clinics located on the grounds of the Sterrebeek Annex to the USAG Benelux - Brussels.
Your sponsor and your agency will explain which of the above “status” situations you fall under.
USAG Benelux - Brussels is located on the Northeastern side of Brussels, about 10 minutes drive from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarter, one hour drive from USAG Benelux SHAPE/Chievres (Belgium) and one hour and twenty minutes drive from USAG Benelux-Brunssum (Netherlands). The city of Brussels is known as the "Capital of Europe." Not only does it host NATO Headquarters, but many of the principal entities of the European Union as well.
If you have questions or desire information on grave sites and memorials within Europe, visit the American Battle Monuments Commission. For general information on U.S. Army Garrison Benelux visit the following website.
Most people arrive at the Brussels International Airport. After deplaning, follow the crowd to the Border Control where you must show your official passport and a copy of your orders. Family members also will need to present their passports. Unless otherwise ordered, service members should travel in civilian clothing. After you pass through Border Control, you will enter the baggage claim area. Money exchange windows are available in the baggage claim area and there are ATMs located in the terminal. Once you have claimed all luggage pieces, you will have to pass through the Customs area. You may be asked to open your suitcases for inspection at this time. After completing Customs, exit to the waiting area.
Your sponsor will schedule your pick up from the airport. You should determine prior to your arrival where your unit sponsor will meet you. If you are meeting your sponsor at the airport, it is important to note that they will be meeting you in the waiting area (out-side) as no one is allowed to pass through the international gateway without an airline ticket and passport.
Should your sponsor not be there for an unforeseen reason there are plenty of taxies in front of the arrival hall. The fare from the airport to the city center of Brussels is normally around 50 Euros, the fare to USAG Benelux - Brussels is around 40 Euros. The prices are constantly revised therefore make sure you ask the driver an estimated price before you decide to take a taxi. Also make sure ahead of time (ask your sponsor) that you have the local address of the place where you go upon arrival.
From the airport take the only way out direction ‘ring'. Follow direction Namur, Liege. Once on the ring take exit Brussel/Bruxelles, Luik/Liege, Leuven/Louvain. Keep to the right direction to Brussels. Take the first exit to Kraainem. At the "T" section, take left. Drive all the way to the top to the traffic light. USAG Benelux-Brussels is across the intersection. The entrance of the garrison is located on the back road (on Europalaan Street): At the traffic lights go across (actually it curves a bit to the right). On the next intersection take a left. The garrison is on the left-hand side. If you wish to enter with your vehicle, continue the road to the point where you can do a U-turn and come back around. The entrance/gate is the second one on your right.
A shuttle bus travels between the US Embassy, NATO and USAG Benelux - Brussels. For more information call 02/811-4000 and ask for the Embassy Motor Pool dispatcher.
Also, a free shuttle bus runs between SHAPE and NATO for SHAPE ID-card holders. This Shuttle bus Service does not operate on weekends and SHAPE Holidays. For more information on the weekday's timetable contact the Transportation Operations Dispatcher Center at 065-44-4736.
The city of Brussels and surrounding communities have efficient public transportation systems. The subway, tram, and bus lines are linked throughout most of the city and surrounding area. NATO, USAG Benelux - Brussels, the Embassy, and the Brussels American school can be reached by public transportation, although transfers are needed. Army Community Service can explain you upon your request how to navigate and use public transportation means or by attending our public transportation class that is offered by montly (City Madness).
Dozens of local taxi companies and UBER services are available, as well.
Brussels American School provides bus transportation for K-12. Children may have a short walk to the designated bus stop. There are also activity buses for students remaining after school for sports and other school programs.
Brussels can be contacted through the Army Europe Operator: the phone number is 011-49-711-680-113 or DSN: 314-430-1110.