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Kosovo

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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.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica and Kosovo's three northern municipalities of Leposavić, Zubin Potok and Zvečan due to the high threat of violence. Avoid travel between Kosovo and Serbia at the northern Kosovo border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak (also known as Gates 1 and 31).
  • Don't attempt to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you initially entered Kosovo from Serbia. Serbia doesn't recognise Kosovo as a separate country.
  • There is a threat of terrorist attack. 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
  • Anti-government protests are frequent and can turn violent. Avoid public gatherings, political rallies, demonstrations and protests.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements 

Visas

You don't need a visa to enter for less than 90 days for tourism. However, you may need to provide documents showing 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 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 Bardhë).

Serbia doesn't 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 North Macedonia (Republic of North Macedonia) are transit options for travel by road.

More information:

Passport

Check the expiry date of your Australian passport before you travel. Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months from when you plan to leave that country.

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're 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 cash (or equivalent) of 10,000 Euros or more on arrival. If you don’t, you may face penalties. 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. Expect to make payments in cash, especially in small establishments. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels, shops and restaurants.

Banks with international ties and ATMs are becoming more common, but aren't widespread.

Safety and security

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

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

Civil unrest and political tension

Anti-government protests are frequent and can turn violent. Most protests are in Pristina and Mitrovica, but can occur in other regions. Demonstrations often occur 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 doesn't 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 North Macedonia (Republic of North Macedonia).

Unofficial roadblocks are sometimes set up at short notice.

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

  • Reconsider your need to travel to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica and to the northern municipalities of Leposavić, Zubin Potok and Zvečan due to the unpredictable security situation.
  • If, despite the risks, you plan to travel to the northern part of the city of Mitrovica or to Leposavić, Zubin Potok or Zvečan, hire a local guide, especially if you're travelling alone.
  • Make contingency plans, in case the security situation deteriorates. Ensure your travel documents are valid for an extended period.
  • Avoid public gatherings, political rallies, protests, roadblocks and demonstrations as they could turn violent.

Crime

Pickpocketing, bag snatching and other petty crime can occur, 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 aren't normally directed at foreigners.

Several hundred thousand illegal small firearms are privately-owned.

  • Pay close attention to your personal belongings, particularly in crowds.
  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • 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

There is a threat of terrorist attack in Kosovo.

Terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. Targets have included public transport and 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 Kosovo.

  • In planning your activities, think about places that could 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: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Landmines and unexploded ordnance

Landmines and unexploded ordnance are present, particularly in regions bordering Albania, North Macedonia (Republic of North 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.
  • Don't travel off-road or bushwalk in woodland areas.

Road travel

Driving 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 vehicle insurance is mandatory. It can be purchased upon entry. If your  vehicle has foreign licence plates, you'll need to get compulsory third party insurance.

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

Car hire companies may restrict cross-border travel to and from Kosovo.

There is a risk of landslides on the main route between Pristina and Skopje in the North Macedonia (Republic of North Macedonia).

  • Check your travel insurance will cover you before driving.
  • Familiarise yourself with local road rules.
  • Avoid travelling at night, if possible.
  • Always carry your identification and vehicle registration papers.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

You must carry your valid Australian licence if you want to drive in Kosovo. We recommend travelling with an accompanying International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Apply for your IDP before leaving Australia.

If you break traffic laws, authorities may take your driver’s licence.

More information: Road safety and driving

Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when riding a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Always wear a 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, but standards aren't 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 doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety.

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

If you possess or traffic drugs, you may face a lengthy prison sentence and heavy fines.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Other laws

Don't photograph military or police facilities, buildings or vehicles.

Carry photographic identification with you at all times.

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, 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 won't 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 aren't covered under your policy
  • you're covered for the whole time you'll 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 medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may be 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. Carry a dated 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 medicine

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 can occur. Public health warnings aren't always issued. If you have asthma or any other breathing difficulties, seek medical advice before you travel.

Tick-borne diseases

If you travel in forest or country areas, you may be exposed to tick-borne encephalitis and Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), a tick-born disease common in Kosovo. Ticks are active from spring to autumn.

  • Check your body for ticks during and after travel in forested areas and if affected, be careful to remove the whole tick.
  • If you develop a fever, seek immediate medical attention.

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

Mosquito-borne diseases

A number of West Nile virus (WNV) cases have been reported. There is no vaccine to prevent WNV.

Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses, day and night:

  • ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof
  • Avoid insect bites, including by always using insect repellent and wearing long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing

More information:

Other infectious diseases

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

  • 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 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.

Natural disasters

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.

Large earthquakes are rare but earth tremors are common.

If there's a natural disaster:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it on you at all times
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare
  • 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:

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 insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

  • 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 doesn't 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
Fax: +43 1 506 741 85
Email: consular.vienna@dfat.gov.au
Website: austria.embassy.gov.au
Twitter: @AusAmbVIE

Check the Australian 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
Fax: +381 (0) 38 606 662
Email: britishembassy.pristina@fco.gov.uk

If you're 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 from overseas, or 1300 555 135 from within Australia.

Additional information