By Ms. Jessica Marie Ryan (IMCOM Europe)September 14, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- The Benelux area offers scenic views for motorcycle riders to enjoy especially during beautiful weather. However, before one jumps on their bike and goes for a ride, they must follow the proper procedures to legally ride in the Benelux.
Each host nation in U.S. Army Garrison Benelux has different rules for U.S. personnel to get motorcycle endorsements on driver's licenses and required safety training. When in doubt, people should always contact the Driver's Testing Station personnel at their location.
Before getting motorcycle endorsements in Europe, U.S. personnel must have the required driver's license for their host nation. To view the process in each country, go to http://www.usagbenelux.eur.army.mil/drivers.html.
Prior to arriving in Belgium, U.S. personnel must have a motorcycle endorsement on their valid U.S. driver's license. Within 30 days of arrival, the applicant should visit the Driver's Testing Station at SHAPE Bldg. 220 to obtain a SHAPE driver's license. In addition, they are required to take the U.S. Army Europe's motorcycle orientation course. The course is about four hours long, and attendees must pass the written test.
Additionally, active-duty service members will need to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, or MSF, course offered through the USAG Benelux Safety Office and get a certificate of completion. Then the person must go back to the DTS with the certificates in order for the motorcycle endorsement to appear on their SHAPE driver's license.
The SHAPE driver's license is only valid in Belgium. To ride a motorcycle in other European countries, one must have a Belgian or international driver's license. For more information about getting an additional license, visit the USAG Benelux's driver's licenses website. The phone number for SHAPE DTS is DSN 314-366-6603 or +32(0)65-32-6603.
To register a motorcycle in Belgium, U.S. personnel must go to the Registration Office in SHAPE Bldg. 210. More information can be found at https://www.shape2day.com/arriving--leaving-shape/vehicles/vehicle-registrationprocedures.
For active-duty service members assigned to The Netherlands, the process is different. Prior to arriving to the country, U.S. personnel must have a motorcycle endorsement on their valid U.S. driver's license and a valid Motorcycle Safety Foundation, or MSF, card. They must also have a Schinnen driver's permit and NATO driver's license. They must call or visit the Schinnen DTS in Bldg. 4 to register for a motorcycle safety class and then pass the end-of-course test. Afterwards, they will go to JFC Brunssum Bldg. H-102 to have the motorcycle endorsement added to their NATO driver's license.
For those who do not possess a valid MSF card, they will have to sign up for the next MSF training conducted by the garrison safety office in Schinnen. The DTS personnel can help people with identifying upcoming class dates. The phone number for Schinnen DTS is DSN 360-7433 or +31(0)46-443-7433.
To register a motorcycle in The Netherlands, U.S. personnel must go to JFC Brunssum Bldg. H-102. For more information on in-processing, call DSN 606-244-2848 or +31(0)45-526-2848.
Prior to arriving in Germany, U.S. personnel must have a motorcycle endorsement on their valid U.S. driver's license. For U.S. personnel assigned to Dülmen, they must follow the process through U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz. They will have to attend a mandatory four-hour orientation briefing and pass a written test. Active-duty service members are also required to have a valid MSF card. Please contact the Driver's Testing Station in Kaiserslautern at DSN 314-483-7332/7335 or 011-49-6371-411-7332/7335 to schedule attendance to the briefings. More information can be found at http://www.rp.army.mil/sponsorship/settlingin.html (see Vehicle Registration).
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
All U.S. personnel, no matter where they are located in the world, are required to wear personal protective equipment, or PPE, when riding on a motorcycle as a driver or passenger at all times. The required PPE are helmets, eye protection, clothing made from leather or abrasion resistant fabric, glove or mittens designed for motorcycle riding and sturdy footwear such as leather boots or ankle shoes. Specifics on PPE are located at https://safety.army.mil/OFF-DUTY/PMV-2-Motorcycles.
Riders should always practice safety when driving on the roads especially in Europe. In addition to the required training, some locations in USAG Benelux offer safety rides to help riders improve their skills.
"No roads are perfect. We discuss what's wrong with their ride and how they can correct their habits. We want people to be safe on the roads as they ride in the Tri-Border area," said Huub Melchers, an instructor for the safety ride in The Netherlands.
The garrison does not plan to conduct safety rides for the remainder of the calendar year. However, when the riding season starts again in March, they will offer the rides during select dates.
An experienced rider himself, Melchers recommended that people exercise caution and plan ahead to minimize potential accidents on the roads.
"Watch out for all three country's traffic laws. If you have a plan, figure out where you are going," he said. "Be mindful of speed limits in the country you are riding in."