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The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources for possible new security threats or other changes to local conditions. Follow the instructions of local authorities.
  • Some protests have turned violent in the capital Skopje and other major cities. Avoid political rallies, demonstrations and large crowds as they may turn violent. See Safety and security.
  • There is a threat of terrorist attack in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Be alert in public places such as shopping areas, places of worship, sporting venues, public transport, airports and other transport hubs, and places of mass gathering. See Safety and security.
  • Exercise particular caution in the region bordering Kosovo, including adjacent areas of southern Serbia, because of the possibility of civil unrest and inter-ethnic violence. See Safety and security.
  • Enhanced border controls are in place in the municipalities of Gevgelija (bordering Greece) and Kumanovo (bordering Serbia) in response to a significant influx of asylum seekers and refugees. See Local travel.
  • The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia experiences earthquakes. See Natural disasters.
  • If you have Macedonian heritage, you may be eligible for citizenship of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. You may face a legal requirement after arrival to get a passport of that country. Get up-to-date advice on exit and entry conditions before you travel. See Entry and exit.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Skopje which provides limited consular assistance. The Australian Embassy in Serbia provides full consular assistance to Australians in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. See Where to get help.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

You don't need a visa to enter the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or visit the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

Enhanced border controls are in place in the municipalities of Gevgelija (bordering Greece) and Kumanovo (bordering Serbia) in response to a significant influx of asylum seekers and refugees entering the country.

If you have Macedonian heritage, you may be eligible for citizenship of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. You may face a legal requirement after arrival to get a passport of that country. Before you travel, contact an Embassy or Consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or visit the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for up-to-date information on entry and exit conditions for Australians with Macedonian heritage.

Register your place of residence within 24 hours of arrival in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Registration is completed as part of check-in at hotels. If you are staying in other accommodation, such as a private home, register at the nearest police station. If you don't, you could face fines and delays in your departure.

Some Australian passport holders have been denied entry into Greece from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Australian government officials can't intervene on your behalf if you don't meet entry requirements and are refused entry to Greece.

Children travelling alone or accompanied by only one parent or guardian

Children under 18 years who are unaccompanied or accompanied by only one parent or guardian must carry verified written consent from one or both parents to enable them to enter or depart from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Children of Macedonian origin under the age of 14 years who are unaccompanied or accompanied by only one parent or guardian must have a written statement from one or both parents to enable them to enter or depart from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The written statement needs to be signed before and stamped by the local court authorities or by a former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia diplomatic or consular post abroad. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This document must be presented to former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia border authorities on request.

Passport

Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to get access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

Declare foreign currency exceeding 10,000 Euros on arrival. If you don't, you could be detained and your undeclared funds could be confiscated.

The official currency is the Denar. The economy is cash-based, but credit cards are accepted in major hotels and large shops. An increasing number of ATMs accept international bank cards.

Safety and security

Civil unrest and political tension

Some protests have turned violent in the capital Skopje and other major cities. Government buildings could be the focus of further protests.

The security situation has improved since the inter-ethnic violence in 2001, but occasional acts of inter-ethnic violence could occur anywhere in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The security situation in areas bordering Kosovo is particularly volatile. Tensions exist between ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian communities in the region. Isolated incidents of inter-ethnic violence could occur. 

  • Avoid political rallies, protests, demonstrations and large crowds as they could turn violent.
  • Monitor local media and other sources for advice of possible unrest and avoid those areas.
  • Exercise particular caution in the region bordering Kosovo, including adjacent areas of southern Serbia, because of the possibility of civil unrest and inter-ethnic violence.
  • Don't take photographs at border crossings or in the vicinity of military zones.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorism

There is a threat of terrorist attack in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport hubs, places of worship, sporting venues and places of mass gathering, including those frequented by foreigners. European security services have also disrupted a number of planned attacks. Terrorists are likely to plan attacks targeting the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

  • In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
  • Be alert in public places such as shopping areas, places of worship, sporting venues, public transport, airports and other transport hubs, and places of mass gathering.
  • Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
  • Keep an eye on the news for any new or emerging threats.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.

If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.

More information: Terrorism threat worldwide

Crime

Crime rates are low. However, petty crime such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching occurs in large cities and at airports.

Credit card fraud is common.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in large cities and at airports.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables, including your passport, in a secure location.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch. Hold bags and backpacks in front of you.
  • Keep your credit card in sight when making purchases.

Local travel

Kosovo border region

Border crossings between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo can be closed at short notice. The immediate areas around designated border crossing points with Kosovo are restricted zones. If you plan to cross the border at one of these crossing points, check with local authorities or transport providers before you travel.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance are present in the mountainous areas bordering Kosovo. Stick to roads and well-marked paths. Seek local advice on how to minimise risks to your safety.

Road travel

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you are twice as likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia than in Australia.

Driving in rural areas can be particularly dangerous due to poorly maintained roads and slow moving farm equipment. Rural roads are shared with pedestrians and farm animals.

In winter, snow and ice can be a hazard for drivers. Local authorities' ability to clear roads after heavy snowfall varies throughout the country.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has some road rules that Australian drivers may not be familiar with:

  • headlights or parking lights must be turned on at all times
  • seatbelts must be worn where fitted
  • the blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.05%.

If you intend to hire a car, motorcycle or other vehicle, check if these activities are covered by your insurance policy. Also seek advice on any restrictions that may apply (such as if you are not licensed for that vehicle type in Australia). 

More information:

Driver's licence

You'll need a valid international driving permit (IDP) along with your current Australian driver's licence to drive a vehicle. Driving without an IDP could void your travel and vehicle insurance.

Taxis

Only use registered taxis and authorised limousines, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Avoid flagging down taxis in the street, and consider sitting in the back seat rather than the front.

Public transport

Bus and rail services operate throughout the country. Take care of your belongings on public transport as petty crime does occur. Avoid travelling by train on the route north between Gevgelija and Kumanovo as the trains are frequently overloaded with asylum seekers and refugees.  

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Photography of military and police personnel, and associated establishments, vehicles and equipment is prohibited.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

If you have Macedonian heritage, you could be deemed a national of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on arrival there. Check with an Embassy or Consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or visit the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more information. See Entry and exit.

Conscription into military service was abolished in April 2006. However, check your service obligations with an Embassy or Consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia before you travel if:

  • you are a dual Australian/former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia national; and
  • you are male; and
  • you have not completed military service in the defence force of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or in the former Yugoslav National Army (JNA).

If you have completed your military service, carry your discharge documents with you.

More information: Dual nationals

Local customs

Homosexuality is not illegal but there are local sensitivities. Avoid public displays of affection.

More information: LGBTI travellers

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Tick-borne encephalitis

Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn.

Protect yourself against tick-borne illnesses by:

  • taking measures to avoid insect bites, including using always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing
  • regularly checking your body for ticks during and after visiting forested areas
  • removing any ticks from your body as soon as possible, being careful to remove the whole tick
  • monitoring the tick site afterwards for any signs of infection.

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, measles, and brucellosis) are common with more serious outbreaks occurring from time-to-time. In January 2014, there were two outbreaks of trichinosis in the Plovdiv area. Trichinosis is a parasitic disease caused by eating undercooked or raw infected pork or wild game.

  • In rural areas, boil drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.

Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

More information: Infectious diseases

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are limited in terms of quality and availability.

Foreigners are required to pay an upfront deposit for medical services.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you may need to be evacuated to a destination with the required facilities. Medical evacuation costs exceed A$100,000.

Natural disasters

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is in an active seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes. Read our Earthquakes information for advice on travelling to and living in an earthquake-prone region.

Bush and forest fires may occur during summer months (usually June to September).

In winter (October to March) some parts of the country can experience extremely low temperatures. Snow and ice can be a hazard, and the ability of local authorities to clear roads after heavy snowfall varies throughout the country.

  • Monitor local weather reports.
  • Take official warnings seriously and follow the advice of local authorities.

If there is a natural disaster or severe weather:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times (in a waterproof bag)
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts
  • closely monitor the media, other local sources of information and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Fire: 193
  • Medical emergencies: 194
  • Criminal issues, contact police: 192
  • Roadside assistance: 196

Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia has a Consulate in Skopje headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance which does not include the issuing of Australian passports.

Australian Consulate, Skopje

Londonska 11 B
Skopje 1000
Phone: (+389 2) 3061 114
Fax: (+389 2) 3061 834

Full consular assistance is avaialble from the Australian Embassy in Belgrade.

Australian Embassy, Belgrade

8th floor
Vladimira Popovica 38-40
11070 New Belgrade,
Serbia
Phone: (+381 11) 330 3400
Fax: (+381 11) 330 3409
Website: serbia.embassy.gov.au
Email (general enquiries): belgrade.embassy@dfat.gov.au
Facebook: Australia in Serbia   

Check the Australian Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you're unable to contact the Consulate or Embassy, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources