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12 ways that daily life in Belgium will change in 2019

21:54 01/01/2019
Your pay packet, seeing a doctor, sending a letter ... 1 January brings a whole range of changes affecting residents in Belgium

1. Employees should see their net monthly pay increase between €23 and €31 because of the "tax shift". The income ranges for each tax bracket have been revised, meaning more of your salary will fall in the 40% band instead of 45%. The first €8,680 of earned income is tax-free for all.

2. Parental leave becomes more flexible - with the introduction of a new option to take 10% of the working week off. This can either be half a day a week, or one full day per fortnight.

3. A new flat fee for medical transport means everyone will pay the same €60 to be taken to or from hospital in an ambulance.

4. A new procedure aims to make it easier for self-employed people to seek an exemption from paying social security contributions due to financial difficulties. The system promises a response within a month - until now the wait was up to six months.

5. Sending letters and parcels from Belgium becomes on average 7.44% more expensive, as Bpost has put up its prices. A new priority stamp, costing €1, allows for next-day delivery.

6. Holders of an ING Lion account will be charged €0.50 for withdrawing money from another bank's cash machine in Belgium or elsewhere in the eurozone.

7. Brussels' ban on old polluting cars is extended to include all Euro 2 standard diesel vehicles as well as Euro 0 and Euro 1 petrol vehicles. This means an extra 19,000 vehicles are now banned from the region's streets, although the first fines will not be issued until April. Affected owners can obtain a pass allowing them to drive for eight days a year.

8. Fairground ponies are banned in Brussels and Wallonia. Animal welfare minister Bianca Debaets said their use was "out of date" and making the animals walk around in carrousels with loud music and other noise amounted to abuse.

9. Wallonia's new animal welfare code comes into force - a text that for the first time recognises animals as sentient beings, not property. A licence will be required to own an animal - and there are tougher sanctions for abandonment, neglect and abuse

10. Fees for a doctor's visit increase by 3.33% - although patients should not have to pay more because the difference will be covered by their health insurer. A basic consultation in a surgery will cost €26.30 and a home visit €38.90.

11. The number of municipalities in Flanders has shrunk from 308 to 300, as several small communes have opted to merge. In Antwerp province, Puurs (17,500 residents) and Sint-Amands (8,500) become Puurs-Sint-Amands. The region has been offering grants to encourage smaller municipalities to join forces.

12. Finally, something that isn't changing. Stib public transport fares in Brussels have been frozen for the fifth consecutive year. A monthly pass remains €49 and an annual season ticket €499. In Flanders, De Lijn plans to increase its fares on 1 February.

Written by Paul McNally



How can cities ban a number of cars that have passed their MOT?!
That's why.

Jan 2, 2019 21:55