Phone (DSN) 314-368-9729
Fax (DSN) 314-368-9733
USAG Benelux - Brussels is located on the Northeastern side of Brussels, about 5 minutes drive from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters, and one hour drive from Chievres Garrison near SHAPE (Belgium) and the US Army Garrison Shinnen (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. USAG Benelux - Brussels can be contacted through the Chievres Garrison base operator: Commercial 011-32-68-27-5111 or DSN 314-361-1110.
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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.
The primary mission of USAG Benelux - Brussels is to provide base operations support and Quality of Life services to all U.S. personnel and families assigned to the U.S. Representation to NATO Headquarters. This includes Active Duty service members assigned to the U.S. NATO PermRep and MilRep staffs Department of Defense and Department of State civilians, and U.S. personnel assigned to the NATO International Military and International Staffs.
Presently over 2,800 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:
Status -- The majority [but not an overwhelming majority] of U.S. military and civil service personnel, including DoDDS 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 blue & white-colored SHAPE plates, obtained in Mons. Their housing is arranged through the USAG Brussels Housing Support Office. 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. 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
Diplomatic Status -- All U.S. State Department employees and representatives of certain USG 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.
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.
Important Note: Personnel and family members in the above three categories, unless specifically addressed otherwise, are eligible to use all the services and facilities of the USAG Benelux - Brussels. The most obvious exception relates to housing support. Persons under “pure” diplomatic status obtain their housing through the Tri-Missions GSO/Housing Office, and not from the USAG Benelux - Brussels Housing Support Office. Household Goods shipments are handled likewise. The Tri-Missions Community Liaison Office will explain to personnel not assigned to US-NATO how to obtain ID cards which provide access to the USAG Benelux - Brussels.
A shuttle bus travels between the US Embassy, NATO and USAG Benelux - Brussels. For more information call 02/811-4000.
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 Shape Dispatcher Center at 065-44-4736.
The city of Brussels and surrounding communities have efficient public transportation systems. The subway, tram, and bus 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, though transfers are needed. Army Community Service organizes monthly a "Metro Madness" class to teach newcomers how to use public transportation.
Dozens of local taxi companies 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.
For Soldiers assignment information contact 011-32-2-717-9769 or DSN 314-368-9769.
It is imperative that personnel assigned to Brussels have a sponsor 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.
If you arrive without a sponsor, immediately advise your Unit and you will be assigned one. If you are a civilian employee, you should have been assigned a sponsor as part of the pre-employment process with the civilian personnel. If you have not been assigned a sponsor and are in need of one, let the Personnel Office (CPAC) know immediately.
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 will also need to present their passports. After completing customs, exit to the waiting area where your sponsor should be waiting for you. If your sponsor fails to meet you, you may contact the Military Police desk at USAG Benelux - Brussels: country phone number: 02/717-9769.
Mail from the United States is delivered through the military postal system, known as the APO system, to a U.S. post office located on your duty location. Opening a mailbox prior to arrival allows you to ship items needed upon arrival. Your sponsor can open a mailbox on your behalf with a copy of your orders.
For the most current housing information please consult in priority the Army Housing Online User Service (AHOUS) website.
Brussels, Belgium has no government guest housing or transient facilities. In order to facilitate your move, the housing office has established agreements with three hotels/apart-hotels in the vicinity of the USAG Benelux - Brussels and NATO. The apart-hotel has kitchen facilities. Most accommodations are conveniently located throughout the area. Please note that not all accommodations accept pets; check with HSO or with the hotel if you make your own reservations. If you want to benefit from the contracted accommodations, please contact Housing Services Office (HSO). HSO will not assume responsibility for the payment of invoices resulting from reservations made by persons other than HSO staff. Reservation made by you or your sponsor require out of pocket payment. However, you may request reimbursement up to the applicable per diem rate. The government only reimburses lodging costs. However, you are also entitled to per diem for meals which is a lump sum. All other expenses such as telephone calls, use of mini-bar etc., are at personal expense. The Government and/or the housing office are not responsible for damages caused by the Service Member, his her dependents, guests or pets.
All permanent Military personnel on official PCS orders are eligible to stay at one of the contracted facilities. Per Joint Forces Travel Regulations the maximum stay is limited to 60 days for arrival and 10 days for departure. However for arrival local policy requires justification for any stay over 30 days. Please note that these are not automatic entitlements and that non-respect of the requirements outlined in the Joint Forces Travel Regulation (JFTR), may result in termination of TLA.
Civilian personnel receive their allowance for temporary quarters directly from the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (CPAC). Therefore, they have to arrange for their own temporary lodging accommodations and cannot make use of the BPA agreements. However, sometimes your housing office can assist you with finding a hotel.
Even though we are a small community, you will find many things that you may expect to find at a large military installation here. The APO, the Army Education Center, the Finance Office, Child and Youth Services, the Housing Office, the Personal Property Office and Army Community Service will assist you in numerous ways during your relocating process. The Brussels Army Health Clinic and Dental Clinic are a 10 minutes drive from the Garrison. Post Exchange, commissary, and additional support facilities are available 50 miles away at Chievres Garrison near Shape Belgium.
Must do's for newcomers to help get acquainted with USAG Benelux-Brussels and learn practical information are the "Deputy Garrison Manager's USAG Benelux-Brussels Site Brief" and the Host Nation Orientation including a visit to the Leuven hospital, to a local grocery store, and a cultural adaptation class explaining local customs and teaching basic French and Flemish vocabulary. Another must do is the "Driving Course" offering an orientation briefing on Belgian traffic laws and road signs to safely operate a vehicle in Belgium.
The ACS Loan Closet provides standard household items such as kitchen utensils, ironing boards, irons, microwaves, coffee pots, limited baby items, (please contact Army Community Service ahead of time to check the availabilities) on a temporary basis to incoming and outgoing soldiers, civilians, and family members. ACS also has for loan a limited number of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to help newcomers navigate through Brussels and Beyond during the first few weeks. Please note that the Loan Closet does not have linens, blankets, pillows, or towels. It is advisable that you mail linens or bring some with you if you do not want to buy new ones once you arrive here. If you wish to contact the ACS Relocation Assistance Program Manager call 011-32-2-717-9729.
Last but certainly not least ask your sponsor or Army Community Service to connect your spouse with the Spouse Sponsors/Newcomers Group run in partnership by the relocation assistance program manager and the spouse sponsors/newcomers group lead. The goal of this group is to go “beyond the basics” of the regular sponsorship duties, to make sure incoming spouses feel welcomed, are supported as long as needed and get connected to the existing community.
Critical Installation Information
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) -- It is necessary 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 011-32-65-32-6898 or DSN 314-366-6898.
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). In addition, 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 011-32-2-717-9734 DSN -314-368-9734 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you have school age children who will attend the Brussels American School (BAS) please make sure to check with BAS their bus service 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. The average amount of money to move in a house (first month's rent and two months security deposit) -is estimated to $6,000, depending on the rank. For Active Duty Army most of this cost is part of the Military entitlements they will receive upon in-processing the Army Finance Office. Soldiers receive a Moving In Housing Allowance (MIHA) of about $600 to $700 for the light fixtures and draperies. Additionally, they can get up to three months advanced Oversees Housing Allowance (OHA) to pay for the guarantee housing deposit and the first month's rent (broken down, which means the first month's rent and two other months' rent in the bank as a security deposit for the landlord.) 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 011-68-27-5467 or DSN 314-361-5386) for information on their post allowance. For more information concerning (Army) pay and entitlements for Brussels Belgium, please call Commercial 011-32-2-717-9732 or DSN 314-368-9732.
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.
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