Exercise normal safety precautions in Serbia. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
- Some areas and situations are prone to violence against foreigners. Avoid trouble spots and be ready to leave quickly from nightclubs, bars and inner-city suburbs if trouble arises. See Safety and security.
- Terrorism is a threat. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.See Safety and security.
- Peaceful anti-government demonstrations have occurred nightly since 2 April 2017 in Belgrade and several other cities, causing traffic disruptions. Demonstrations are likely to continue and could turn violent. Avoid affected areas. See Safety and security.
- Enhanced border controls are in place in response to a significant influx of asylum seekers and refugees. Border crossings may be closed at short notice. Delays and disruptions are possible. Avoid large groups near borders. Make back-up plans. See Local travel.
- Serbia doesn't recognise Kosovo as a separate country. Don't attempt to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you initially travelled into Kosovo from Serbia. See Entry and exit.
- Political tensions are high along the border between Serbia and Kosovo and in southern Serbia. Intermittent unrest is likely and could become violent. See Safety and security.
- See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.
Entry and exit
If you visit for tourism purposes for 90 days or less within a six month period (from the date of first entry), you won't need a visa. For longer stays, or for other kinds of travel (business or study) you'll need a visa.
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 Serbia for up-to-date information.
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.
In the past, foreign nationals have been denied entry into Serbia if they have any border entry or exit stamps from Kosovo in their passports.
The security situation along the Kosovo-Serbia border is unpredictable. Political violence has broken out on many occasions, particularly at the border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak (also known as Gates 1 and 31). Avoid these border crossings.
Foreigners must register their place of residence with the local Ministry of Interior office or police station within 24 hours of arrival. If you're staying at a hotel, ask whether the hotel will register for you. If you're staying in a private home, you'll need to register at the nearest police station. If you don't register, you could be fined and/or detained.
If you plan to stay in Serbia for longer than 90 days, you'll need to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit. Apply at least 30 days before your temporary residence period expires. You can access the application forms and relevant information on the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. Permits are issued by local police.
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:
Declare currency and valuables (such as laptop computers, cameras, and jewellery) with a value of 10,000 Euros, or equivalent, on arrival and get a copy of your declaration from customs officials. You'll need the declaration form when you leave Serbia. If you don't declare your currency or valuables, they could be confiscated.
The currency of Serbia is the Serbian Dinar. It cannot be exchanged outside of Serbia.
Most banks in towns and cities have ATMs which accept international bank cards with Plus, Cirrus or Maestro access. ATMs only dispense Serbian Dinar.
Travellers cheques are not widely accepted in Serbia but can be cashed at larger branches of some banks.
More information: Embassy or Consulate of Serbia.
Safety and security
Civil unrest and political tension
There has been a significant influx of asylum seekers and refugees entering Serbia, particularly through the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Numbers dropped following a peak in 2015 but the number of asylum seekers and refugees entering and staying in Serbia has picked up again. Border control measures can create tensions between authorities and travellers.
- Avoid large gatherings in border areas.
- Always carry your passport at or near borders.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Anti-government demonstrations have occurred nightly since 2 April 2017 in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis and several smaller cities and are likely to continue. The demonstrations have been peaceful but have caused major traffic disruptions in central Belgrade and other city centres in the early evening (usually from 6:00pm-9:00pm local time). In the past, other demonstrations and large gatherings such as sporting events have turned violent, with people injured and property damaged.
The Republic of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo's independence. The security situation along the border between Serbia and Kosovo is unpredictable. Clashes between security forces and armed groups, often associated with separatist movements, have occurred in the Presevo and Bujanovac areas of southern Serbia and at border points with Kosovo. Further intermittent unrest is likely and conflict is possible. Unexploded landmines and other ordnances remain in the area from recent conflict. They may not all be marked, heightening the risk to your safety.
The indiscriminate use of fireworks and firearms at celebrations can result in accidental injury.
- Avoid all protests, demonstrations and large public gatherings as they could turn violent.
- Avoid the Serbia-Kosovo border area, where possible.
- If you're in southern Serbia, 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 from unexploded landmines and ordnances.
You could encounter pick-pocketing, bag snatching and other petty crime. Criminals target foreigners in crowded places including markets and on public transport.
Violent criminal acts are usually linked to organised crime and not directed at foreigners. But there have been several violent and fatal attacks against foreigners, particularly late at night near night clubs, in bars and in inner city suburbs.
Serbia has a high incidence of personal gun ownership and shootings happen. In July 2016, a mass shooting stemming from a domestic dispute in the city of Zrenjanin, 80km north of Belgrade, resulted in multiple deaths and injuries.
Credit card fraud is common.
- 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.
- Avoid ATMs that open onto the street. Use ATMS in banks, shops and shopping centres.
- Look out for suspicious behaviour and remove yourself from potentially dangerous situations, as you would in Australia.
- Take care to protect credit cards and PINs at all times. Keep your credit card in sight during transactions.
- Keep an eye on local sources of information on crime. Avoid trouble spots.
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
particularly at the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Croatia and Hungary have put in place measures to limit access from Serbia. Border crossings may be closed at short notice. Delays and disruptions to cross-border transport are possible.
- Avoid large groups near borders.
- Make back-up plans.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
Serbia does not recognise Kosovo as a separate country. This complicates cross-border travel. See Entry and exit.
Australia recognises Kosovo as an independent state. For travel in Kosovo, see Kosovo.
Driving in Serbia can be dangerous due to poorly maintained vehicles and roads, particularly after bad weather. Road rules are frequently ignored by drivers and pedestrians. Roads are sometimes shared with pedestrians and farm animals in rural areas.
In winter, snow and ice are additional hazards. The ability of local authorities to clear roads after heavy snowfall varies throughout the country.
By law, you must wear a seatbelt if one is available. The blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.05 per cent.
Roadside assistance is available by dialling 1987.
More information: Road travel
You'll need a valid international driving permit (IDP) along with your current Australian driver's license to drive a vehicle in Serbia. Driving without an IDP could void your travel and vehicle insurance.
Only use registered taxis and authorised limousines. Preferably those arranged through your hotel. Registered taxis have both a municipal registration number and a taxi number.
Public transport is usually reliable but it can be crowded and standards vary.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network for information on aviation safety in Serbia.
More information: Air travel
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.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment in local jails.
More information: Drugs
Photography of Serbian military and police personnel, establishments, vehicles and equipment is illegal.
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
More information: Staying within the law
The Republic of Serbia recognises dual nationality. Compulsory military service in Serbia was abolished on 1 January 2011. If you are an Australian/Serbian dual national, you could have residual military service obligations from before this date. Check with an Embassy or Consulate of Serbia before you travel. If you are returning to Serbia after many years away, the living conditions will be different to those in Australia. Do your research before travelling.
More information: Dual nationals
Homosexual activity is legal in Serbia but is not widely accepted. Verbal and physical aggression towards the LGBTI community occurs. Avoid public displays of affection. More information: LGBTI travellers
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.
- 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.
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
Air pollution levels can be high, particularly in winter, when heavy smoke from coal and wood burning heaters can linger. 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.
Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are common in country areas and 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.
Other infectious diseases
Outbreaks of food-borne and other infectious diseases (including trichinosis, brucellosis and rabies) occur from time to time.
- Avoid raw and undercooked food.
- Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
- Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
Medical facilities in Serbia are below Australian standards.
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.
- Fire: 193
- Medical emergencies: 194
- Criminal issues, contact police: 192 or contact your nearest police station.
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. If you are not satisfied with their response, contact the nearest local tourist office.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas
For consular assistance, contact the Australian Embassy in Belgrade:
Australian Embassy, Belgrade
Vladimira Popovica 38-40
11070 New Belgrade
Telephone (381 11) 330 3400
Facsimile (381 11) 330 3409
Check the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you're unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Serbia experiences earthquakes. Serious earthquakes are rare but tremors are common.
Flooding can occur throughout Serbia.
Bush and forest fires can occur in summer months (June to September) particularly in southern Serbia. Extreme hot and dry periods may lead to water shortages.
In winter (October to March), some parts of Serbia can experience extremely low temperatures. Snow and ice can be a hazard.
Monitor local media and weather reports. Plan accordingly.
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.