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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Kosovo due to the threat of politically motivated violence. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • The security situation in Kosovo is generally calm but anti-government protests are frequent and can turn violent. Avoid all public gatherings, political rallies, demonstrations and protests.

  • Reconsider travel to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica and Kosovo's three northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan because of the high threat of politically motivated violence.

  • Avoid travelling between Kosovo and Serbia at the northern Kosovo border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak (also known as Gates 1 and 31) due to the unpredictable security situation.

  • Don't attempt to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you initially travelled into Kosovo from Serbia. Serbia doesn't recognise Kosovo as a separate country.

  • Terrorism is a threat. Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

  • Australia does not have a resident Embassy or Consulate in Kosovo. The Australian Embassy in Vienna, Austria provides consular assistance to Australians in Kosovo. See Where to get help.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

Currently, Australians don't need a visa to enter Kosovo. However, you may need to provide documentary evidence of the reason for your visit when entering. Border authorities issue a 90-day entry stamp, which is renewable for longer stays.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. For up-to-date information on visa requirements, visit the Kosovo Foreign Ministry's website, or contact an Embassy or Consulate of Kosovo.

Kosovo-Serbia border

The security situation along the Kosovo-Serbia border is unpredictable. Political violence has broken out on many occasions at the border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak (also known as Gates 1 and 31). Avoid these border crossings; take an alternative route. See Safety and security.

Serbian authorities sometimes react with hostility to enquiries about documentation for travel to Kosovo. Long waiting times and vehicle queues are common when entering Kosovo from Serbia at Gates 3 and 5 (Merdare and Dheu i Bardhe).

Serbia does not recognise entry points direct from Kosovo.

  • Don't attempt to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you initially travelled into Kosovo from Serbia.
  • Unless you have a valid, recent Serbian entry stamp in your passport, you'll need to transit via a third country if you want to travel from Kosovo to Serbia. Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are transit options for travel by road.

More information: Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after 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 obtain access to your passport by deception.  If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Embassy for advice.

By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

The Euro is the official currency of Kosovo. The Serbian Dinar (RSD) may occasionally be accepted in the Serb-majority area of northern Kosovo.

Kosovo's economy is largely cash-based. Cash payment is usually required, especially in small establishments. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels, shops and restaurants.

Banks with international ties and automated teller machines (ATMs) are becoming more common, but are not yet widespread in Kosovo.

Safety and security

The Kosovo Police Force, together with the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-led international force, are responsible for maintaining security in Kosovo.

Check local developments before and during your journey. See the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and the Kosovo Force for the latest security information. Security information is also broadcast on Radio KFOR.

Civil unrest and political tension

The security situation in Kosovo is generally calm but there are frequent anti-government protests that can turn violent. Most protests are in Pristina and Gjakova. Demonstations occur frequently, often without prior notice.

The independence of Kosovo (declared in 2008) is a key issue in tensions and conflict between ethnic Serbs and Kosovo Albanians, particularly in the north. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo's statehood and still considers Kosovo to be part of Serbia. Many ethnic Serbs in Kosovo agree with the Government of Serbia's position.

In recent years, violent, armed inter-ethnic conflict has erupted mainly in certain towns in northern Kosovo, including the northern part of the city of Mitrovica. There have also been incidents along Kosovo's southern border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Unofficial roadblocks are sometimes erected at short notice.

On certain occasions, such as holidays, sporting events or major elections, Kosovans have a tradition of discharging firearms into the air and/or releasing fireworks, which can result in accidental injury.

  • Reconsider travel to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica and to the northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan.
  • If, despite the risks, you plan to travel to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica or to Leposavic, Zubin Potok or Zvecan, engage a local guide, especially if travelling alone.  
  • Avoid travelling between Kosovo and Serbia by land. See Entry and exit.
  • Make contingency plans, in case the security security situation deteriorates. Make sure your travel documents are valid for an extended period.
  • Avoid all public gatherings, political rallies, protests, roadblocks and demonstrations as they could turn violent.

Crime

Crime rarely targets foreigners but you could encounter pickpocketing, bag snatching and other petty crime in Kosovo, particularly in crowded places such as airports and on public transport. Carjacking and car theft also occur.

Violent criminal acts, such as assassinations and murder, are often linked to organised crime and are not normally directed at foreigners.

Several hundred thousand illegal small firearms are privately-owned in Kosovo.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in crowds.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid wearing expensive watches, jewellery and cameras.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Avoid carrying bags that are easy to snatch.
  • Hold bags and backpacks in front of you or in ways that make them harder to snatch.
  • Lock your car doors, including when the car is moving.
  • Avoid ATMs that open onto the street. Use ATMS in banks, shops and shopping centres.
  • Keep an eye on local sources of information on crime. Avoid trouble spots.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners.

  • Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
  • 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: Terrorist Threat Worldwide

Local travel

Landmines and unexploded ordnance

Landmines and unexploded ordnance are present, particularly in regions bordering Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, including the Dulje Pass area close to Prizren.

  • Only use roads and paths labelled as cleared by a competent de-mining authority.
  • Seek local advice on additional ways to minimise risks to your safety.

Road travel

Driving in Kosovo can be dangerous due to poorly maintained roads and vehicles and poor driving skills. Roads are sometimes shared with pedestrians and farm animals in rural areas. Roadworks are common and traffic conditions change frequently.  Heavy snowfalls can severely disrupt road travel.

Third-party automobile insurance is mandatory. It can be purchased upon entry into Kosovo. If your  vehicle has foreign licence plates, you'll need to get compulsory third party 'Green Card' insurance.

Road tolls must be paid in local currency. Posted speed limits are strictly enforced.

There is a risk of landslides on the main route between Pristina and Skopje in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

  • Check your travel insurance will cover you before driving in Kosovo.
  • Familiarise yourself with local road rules.
  • Drive defensively and to the weather and road conditions.
  • Avoid travelling at night, if possible.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Always carry your identification and vehicle registration papers.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

If you want to drive in Kosovo, make sure that you get an International Driver's Permit before you depart Australia.

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Use only authorised taxi and limousine services, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Unofficial taxis may overcharge.

Public transport

Buses connecting Pristina with other major cities are frequent, standards are not the same as in Australia.

Rail travel

Trainkos operate regular services from Skopje to Pristina (via Hani i Elezit) and also from Pristina to Peja/Pec. Trains are slow, but generally reliable.

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 Kosovo.

More information: Air travel

 

Air safety

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 Kosovo.

More information:  Air travel.

Laws

You're subject to all 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.

Other laws

You must carry photographic identification with you at all times. A clear photocopy of your passport is enough. Keep your Australian passport in a secure location.

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

Local customs

Homosexual activity is legal in Kosovo, but not widely accepted. 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 a traveller's 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

It's important to 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 be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and seek advice on any quantity restrictions that may apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of your travel.

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

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

Air pollution

Air pollution levels can be high, particularly in winter, when heavy smoke from coal and wood burning heaters can linger for days or weeks. Accidental emission of toxic substances from factories is not uncommon. Public health warnings are not always issued. If you have asthma or any other bronchial condition, seek medical advice before you travel.

Tick-borne diseases

Travel in forested and country areas in Kosovo brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis and Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), a tick-born disease endemic to Kosovo. Ticks are active from spring to autumn.

  • Take measures to avoid tick bites, particularly in rural areas.
  • Check your body for ticks during and after travel in forested areas
  • Remove any ticks from your body as soon as possible.
  • If you develop a fever, seek immediate medical attention.

More information: Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (World Health Organisation)  

Mosquito-borne diseases

Mosquito-borne diseases are present, including West Nile Virus.

Other infectious diseases

Outbreaks of food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis A, trichinosis, brucellosis and rabies) occur from time to time.

  • Drink bottled water. 
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in Kosovo are severely under-equipped.

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuations can be very expensive.

Where to get help

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

Emergencies

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

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 does not have a Resident Embassy or Consulate in Kosovo. The Australian Embassy in Vienna, Austria provides consular assistance to Australians in Kosovo.

Australian Embassy, Vienna  

Mattiellistrasse 2
A1040 Vienna
Telephone: +43 1 506 740
Facsimile: +43 1 513 1656
Email: austemb@aon.at
Website: austria.embassy.gov.au

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

The British Embassy in Pristina can provide limited emergency consular assistance to Australians in Kosovo. This does not include passport or visa services.

British Embassy, Pristina

Lidhja e Pejes 177
Pristina
Telephone: +381 (0) 38 254 700
Facsimile: +381 (0) 38 606 662
Email: britishembassy.pristina@fco.gov.uk

If you are unable to contact the British Embassy, Pristina, or the Australian Embassy, Vienna, in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Bush and forest fires can occur in summer months (June to September), particularly in northern Kosovo. Extreme hot and dry periods may lead to water shortages.

Kosovo experiences earthquakes. Large earthquakes are rare but earth tremors are common.

If there is a natural disaster:

  • 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.

More information:

Additional Resources