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Desperately seeking driving licences: Forest is slowest commune in Brussels
Getting or renewing a driving licence from your local commune in Brussels can take as little time as a week, but also as long as three months, depending on the commune in which you live, an investigation has revealed.
“Many people complain of incredible delays - two or three months - to get an appointment in Forest to obtain a permanent or temporary driving licence,” driving school instructor Eric told RTBF.
Eric, who also leads a Facebook group on the highway code, said such a delay is unacceptable, “when in most communes you can get a licence in four or five days".
“Imagine someone who needs a licence for work, if he loses it, will he have to be unemployed for many weeks?” he added.
Following Eric’s plea, RTBF did the rounds of Brussels communes to see which was the slowest.
Some 14 municipalities allow you to just turn up in opening hours: Auderghem, Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Evere, Ganshoren, Ixelles, Jette, Koekelberg, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Saint-Josse, Schaerbeek, Uccle, Watermael-Boitsfort, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre.
Most are open every morning, some up to four afternoons a week as well. And once the demand is made, you can come and pick up your licence in less than a week (five working days).
But five communes – Forest, as well as Brussels, Saint-Gilles, Anderlecht and Etterbeek – say you have to make an appointment first, online or by telephone, and go at your appointed time.
This system, started during the Covid-19 pandemic, has persisted not only in some communes if you want a driving licence, identity card or passport, but also in organisations such as health assurance providers Partenamut.
The idea is that it stops you waiting ages to see someone, but it also means it could take ages before you obtain an appointment.
And indeed, when the RTBF called on 26 January, Forest’s first available slot was 21 March – nearly two months later. When questioned, the commune explained, “we have many requests”.
It added that if you need a licence urgently, you can email to explain your situation and get an earlier appointment. Another option is to check for cancellations.
Brussels-City, which also covers Laeken, Haren and Neder-Over-Heembeek, had a slot on 12 March, some six weeks later.
Anderlecht was the next slowest commune, followed by Saint-Gilles and Etterbeek.
Photo: Siska Gremmelprez/Belga