Hunting in Belgium
Information on hunting in Belgium, including hunting restrictions, seasons, regions, guns and weapons...
The following information gives some background on what and where people are permitted to hunt, the necessary licences, and the key organisations involved in managing and promoting the sport.
Below is information on:
Legislation on hunting varies between the regions. The main 1882 law has been modified by local decrees, which has led to a complete ban on hunting in the Brussels region. Essentially hunting rights are linked to land ownership. They may be rented out or given over entirely.
In Wallonia and Flanders hunting is only permitted on large expanses of land. In the north of Wallonia it must be a minimum of 25 hectares, and in the south, 50 hectares. In Flanders, the requirement is 40 hectares throughout the region.
The hunting rights are then shared (not equally) between the landowner, the hirer of the hunting rights, the hunting association and its members, and invited guests.
Anyone who wishes to hunt should contact an association in their area. Details of the most well known organisations are listed below. However, the main association for Belgian hunters and their interests is the Royal Saint-Hubert Club of Belgium (Le Royal Saint-Hubert Club de Belgique, RSHCB/KSHCB). Founded in 1909, it represents 65 percent of the hunting in Belgium. It can be contacted by email or in writing.
At: Boulevard Lambermont 410, 1030 Brussels
Tel: 02 242 07 67
In Wallonia, administrative and governmental control of hunting is delegated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (Ministère de l'Agriculture et de la Ruralité) and the Office for Natural Resources and the Environment (Direction Générale des Ressources Naturelles et de l'Environnement).
In Flanders, hunting is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment (Ministerie van Leefmilieu en Huisvesting) and Office for Nature and Land (Administratie Milieu, Natuur en Energie).
No one may hunt without a valid permit. Only people over 18 years may hold a hunting permit.
Obtaining a hunting licence
A permit to hunt is only granted to someone who has successfully completed both a theoretical examination and a practical test, and obtained a hunting licence. This applies both in Flanders and Wallonia, who recognise each other's theory examination, however the practical test is not transferable.
Both tests are quite rigorous, and there are very strict guidelines regarding the content and those authorised to award certification. The practical test includes training and instruction on gun usage and gun safety. Individuals need to reach a high standard as marksmen and show a responsible attitude to the use of firearms and the safety of their fellow hunters to pass the test.
Taking the tests
There are various approved test centres around the country; the theory test always comes before the practical test.
The main Belgian hunting website has details of courses and links to all the main associations.
- For details on the courses: Click here (in French)
Forms to apply to sit the theory and practical tests can be downloaded from this website. In this case, the tests and training are administered by the Institut Wallon d'Education Cynégétique (IWEC).
Other hunting associations, such as La Chasse Belge, provide training courses. Applications for their courses can also be made online via their website. There is also an online mock examination for candidates to test themselves.
- For more information: Click here (in French)
Courses and examinations are open to those over 16 years old, and there is a fee payable for both. There is only one examination date each year, usually in March, and application to sit the exam must be made in writing before 1 February. Application is usually made via the association which has been providing the training.
Theory tests are conducted in French and German only and there is no option to use a translator. On the day of the examination, the candidate will need to present identification and their entry form.
If they are successful, candidates will receive a certificate, which is valid for ten years. They will then be invited to take the practical test. Again, this is strictly controlled and monitored, and any serious concerns with regard to weapon handling and safety lead to automatic failure. A second certificate will be issued to successful candidates.
Note: Although the theory test for Wallonia is recognised in Flanders and vice versa, the practical test must be undertaken in the region in which the applicant intends to hunt.
Hunting permits in Wallonia
Postal application or application in person should be made to the local authorities at the Centre des Pouvoirs Locaux.
- To find a local centre: Click here (in French)
The permit carries a photograph of the holder, has a unique number, and must be signed. In addition, it also has a sticker (vignette), which changes annually to show its period of validity. A permit is not valid without this sticker. Reminders to permit holders to renew their licence are issued by the authorities each year. A permit is completely replaced every ten years.
- Valid examination certificates for both theory and practical tests
- A certificate of good conduct, or equivalent, not more than two months old (in some cases this will come from the courts or from the Department for Public Safety)
- Proof of insurance
- Payment of the required fee
- In some cases there is an additional tax to be paid locally
- For information on hunting in Wallonia: Click here (in French)
Hunting permits in Flanders
Applicants must present themselves at the local police station (Commisariat d'Arrondissement) in their place of residence. Residents from the Brussels area should go to the office in Louvain.
- A tax is payable in advance
- First time applicants must provide a photograph
- Valid examination certificates for both the theory and practical tests
- Proof of insurance
- Proof of payment of the required fee and local tax
- Certificate of good conduct which is less than two months old and which makes mention of their suitability for hunting
- For information on hunting in Flanders: Click here (in French)
Renewing a permit
A hunting permit needs to be renewed annually in both Wallonia and Flanders. Its validity runs from 1 July until 30 June of the following year.
- Wallonia: Reminders for renewal are sent out and permit holders in Wallonia need to go through a similar exercise each year, supplying a valid certificate of good conduct (as above) and a certificate of insurance
- Flanders: Renewal requires application at the same office as before with proof of payment of the required fees, certificate of insurance and the current/previous licence
There are different types of licence (and different costs), and they do not transfer between regions. No licence of any kind is issued without proof of insurance to cover civil responsibility.
Licence de Chasse
There is also a limited usage permit known as a Licence de chasse. This is exclusively for hunters from outside the area (including foreigners) who have been invited to join a hunt for a limited period. The hunting association issuing the invitation is responsible for ensuring that all the formalities have been completed.
- To download a form for a Licence de Chasse: Click here (in French)
What can be hunted differs according to region. The options are a little more limited in Flanders than in Wallonia.
The following game may be hunted in either Flanders, Wallonia or both regions: deer, wild boar, hare, rabbit, fox, pheasant, partridge, pigeon, some ducks, some geese, and coots.
The method of hunting permitted also differs by region, as do the dates when various animals and birds can be hunted. Hunting with guns and hounds is most common. The use of horses for hunting is very limited.
With one or two exceptions (for example, foxes can be hunted all year round in Wallonia) there is a defined season for all types of hunting. For up-to-date details on what can be legally hunted, and dates permitted, it is best to consult one of the following organisations:
- Hunting Belgium La Chasse en Belgique (in French)
- Federation of European Hunting Associations (Federation des Associations de Chasseurs Europeenes, FACE) - an international hunting association, based in Brussels, but with some seven million members throughout the European Union
- At: Rue F. Pelletier 82, 1030 Brussels
Tel: 02 732 69 00
Fax: 02 732 70 72
- At: Rue F. Pelletier 82, 1030 Brussels
Belgium is part of the European Firearms scheme, and any EU citizen with an EU Firearms Certificate should be able to use this in Belgium in certain circumstances. Different rules apply to temporary visits for hunting competitions and permanent residency.
It is advisable to obtain permission to enter Belgium before travelling with a weapon, even if it is one which is allowed there. Anyone relocating to Belgium and wishing to take a firearm with them must get an export licence from the authorities.
Sport and hunting firearms were previously available over the counter to any adult with proof of age and identity. Although the buyer's details had to be noted by the vendor and passed on to the police, the buyer was not screened before purchasing a firearm. But Belgium has had problems in recent years with gun crime, and laws relating to gun ownership are changing. New legislation came into force in June 2006, and currently no firearm may be bought over the counter by anyone without a licence. Under the new law, a screening process is carried out before a five-year licence can be issued to the person concerned. Applicants need to give a valid reason why they need to own a gun.
All military-style weapons are forbidden, and automatic rifles are limited to a maximum of two cartridges.
- Association for Hunters in Wallonia (L'Amicale des Chasseurs de la Région Wallonne) (publishes a regular journal in French)
- Flanders Association for Hunting (in Dutch) (Hubertus Vereniging Vlaanderen, HVV)