U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Benelux-Brussels

1
Overview

Official Army graphic

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.

Official Website for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux

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Location/Driving Directions

UUSAG 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.

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 is a ATM 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 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 40 Euros, the fare to USAG Benelux - Brussels is around 20 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.

Driving Directions

For directions to USAG Benelux - Brussels please call Army Community Service at Com 011-32-2-717-9783 or DSN 314-368-9783.  

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Population/Major Units Assigned

Official Army graphic

Presently over 2,700 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.

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 a nd 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.

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Main Phone Numbers

USAG Brussels Chapel. Official Army graphic

Main Phone Numbers

Phone 011-32-2-717-9729
Phone (DSN) 314-368-9729
Fax 011-32-2-717-9733
Fax (DSN) 314-368-9733

Benelux Finance Office (Brussels)
Contact Information:
COM: 011-32-2-717-9732
DSN: 314-368-9732

Benelux Regional Contracting Office
Contact Information:
COM: 011-32-2-717-9626
DSN: 314-368-9626
http://www.409csb.army.mil/Sites/Brussels/frm_Brussels.aspx

Brussels Army Health Clinic
Contact Information:
COM: 011-32-2-686-1515
DSN: 314-566-1515
http://ermc.amedd.army.mil/NATO/index.cfm?mtf_id=8

Brussels MP Station
Contact Information:
COM: 011-32-2-717-9769
DSN: 314-368-9769
http://www.usagbenelux.eur.army.mil/

Headquarters and Headquarters Company USAG Benelux
Contact Information:
COM: 068-27-5288
DSN: 314-361-5288

 

NATO Dental Clinic in Brussels
Contact Information:
COM: 011-32-2-686-1130
DSN: 314-566-1130
http://ermc.amedd.army.mil/NATO/dental_clinic.cfm

NSC Brussels (39th Signal BN)
Contact Information:
COM: 011-32-2-717-9711
DSN: 314-368-9711

US Delegation To the NATO Military Committee
Contact Information:
COM: 011-32-2-707-9427
DSN: 314-365-9427

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Temporary Lodging

One of the many castles in the area worth sight seeing!. Official Army graphic

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. The maximum stay is limited to 60 days for arrival and 10 days for departure. 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.

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Housing

Addressing quality of life issues in Belgium. Official Army graphic

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.

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 is around $6,000. 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 $900 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.

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Schools

The Brussels American School. Offical Army graphic

Families affiliated with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of State have the opportunity to send their children to DODDS - Brussels American School (K - 12); local Belgian Schools (Pre School - 12 / Tuition Free); and, local International Schools (Pre School - 12 / Tuition Required).

Brussels American School (BAS).  DoDDs is the ninth largest school system in American public education and sets high educational policies and standards. Brussels American School’s small enrollment provides a distinct advantage for its students.  Course offerings compare favorably to the curriculum of larger Defense Department schools and schools of like size in the United States. The small school size also permits most students to actively participate in athletic and extracurricular activities.

To register children for school you will need passport/birth certificate, up-to-date shot records, travel orders listing family members, sponsor’s ID card and previous school records. Online registration can be completed by clicking here; however, even if you pre-register, you must still go to the school to complete the registration process.

  • Local Number:  02-717-9552
  • Calling from the United States:  011-32-2-717-9552
  • Web site  

Other International Schools in Brussels

There are two major international schools in the Brussels area. These are non-boarding, tuition-paying schools. The U.S. government does not provide any reimbursement of tuition for family members of military and civilians hired through the Department of Defense. This does not apply to those who are contracted personnel or Department of State employees.

International School of Brussels (ISB)

The International School of Brussels (ISB) located on a large, wooded campus on the outskirts of Brussels, offers classes for grades K-12 and a nursery school for children ages three to four. ISB is the oldest and largest international school in Brussels and approximately 40 perfect of its students are American. 

Bus transportation is provided and the high school participates in conference sports. Because there is often a waiting list and tuition costs vary from year to year, it is suggested that families interested in obtaining more information contact the school directly at the number below.

St. John’s International School

St. John’s International School is located in Waterloo. It is a Catholic school, but children of all faiths are welcome. It also has a nursery for school children ages three to four.  An American curriculum is offered in addition to European academic programs. For more information, visit their website.

American students living in Belgium may attend a Belgian school with no tuition fees. The academic standards are comparative to those in the United States while also providing language and cultural enrichment.  Instruction is either in Flemish or French, depending on the commune or town of residence. The younger the child, the easier it is to assimilate the language. Belgian schools are not required to provide tutors for language assistance; however, some do integrate some additional classroom assistance.

Belgian school registration occurs in the spring and late summer. Most communes make an effort to publicize the dates for registration so contact your local maison communal for more information. The school term starts the first Monday of September and runs through the last Friday of June. For more information on Belgian schools in Brussels, contact the USAG Benelux - Brussels Parent Central at DSN 314-368-9651; CIV 02-717-9651.

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Child Care

U.S. Army Garrison youth received free skiing and snowboarding lessons courtesy of the Army Family Covenant. Official Army graphic

Full-day and Hourly Child Care

CYS Services provides hourly care for children six weeks to five years old from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. After you register your child you can reserve a space in advance by calling 02 717-9651 (up to 30 days in advance). Full day child care is also available through a contracted partnership with local Belgian child care center near our site. Call 02 717-9651 for more information.

After School Programs

The CYS Services offers center based after school programs for School Age, Middle School, and Teen aged children. In addition to being open after school, the programs are all open full day when the DoDDs schools are closed. The CYS Services after school programs are affiliated with Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and 4-H.

School Age Services (SAS) is located in our Sterrebeek Annex Center. We are open for children in K-5th grade on school days out 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and after school until 6:00 p.m. For children enrolled in our after school program, there is no additional fee for school days out, including fall, winter, and spring break. SAS also provides care on an hourly, intermittent basis.  EVERY child enrolled in the CYS Services gets 4 free hours of SAS a month (with reservation). If you have more than one child in the program after school program, you are entitled to a 10% discount for the additional children.

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Medical Care

Belgium has very high medical standards and the doctor/patient ratio is one of the highest in the world. Health care is excellent and Belgium is a world leader in certain specialty areas such as fertility treatment and heart-lung transplants. Families who need to use Belgian medical facilities usually find that the cost is much less than stateside. For example: the in vitro process costs about $5,000; a visit to an emergency room for a few stitches (with a doctor in attendance) is about $75.

Visitors from the U.S. should be aware that a travel health insurance policy is usually advisable. Senior citizens over 65 should be aware that the U.S. medicare program does not provide coverage overseas--even at a U.S. facility. U.S. citizens do not have the right to use military medical facilities even if they have private insurance.

Brussels Army Health Clinic 

The Brussels community has a U.S. military health clinic, Brussels Army Health Clinic that offers basic outpatient service including primary routine and acute care, physical exams, and immunizations. There is also a pharmacy, routine lab and x-ray services. There are two providers at the clinic. Currently one is a civilian family practice physician and the other is a military family nurse practitioner. Patient care required beyond the capability of the Health Clinic is referred to Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany or locally, Gasthuisberg in Leuven.

For the Brussels Shape Health clinic, active duty Soldiers have first priority for medical services and family members are the second priority. They are entitled to medical services, contingent upon the availability of facilities and the capabilities of the medical staff. Retired service members, their family members and family members of deceased retirees are provided services when facilities and staffing permit. It is your responsibility to call the patient advisor for more information.

The hospital at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) was closed in the spring of 1993, so families who have chronic conditions that require services beyond the capabilities of the Brussels Army Health Clinic will need to use local doctors and facilities. Some services are still available at the SHAPE outpatient clinics. These services include additional lab services, eye exams, etc. OB patients are seen by local Belgian doctors.