Travel Advice for Kosovo - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Thursday, 4 February 2016, 20:24:33 +1100
2016 Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
While every care has been taken in preparing this travel information for travellers, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees including any member of Australia's consular staff abroad, can accept liability for injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.
Travel Advice Levels
|Kosovo overall||High degree of caution|
|Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan municipalities and North Mitrovica||Reconsider your need to travel|
There have been anti-government protests, mainly in Pristina and Gjakova. Some protests have turned violent. You should keep clear of all areas where protests and demonstrations take place. The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Kosovo overall.
We advise you toexercise a high degree of cautionin Kosovo because of the threat of politically-motivated violence. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. SeeSafety and security.
The overall security situation in Kosovo is generally calm but in recent months there have been anti-government protests mainly in Pristina and Gjakova. Protests in Pristina can turn violent, as they did most recently on 9 January 2016.
You should avoid all public gatherings, political rallies, demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.
We advise you toreconsider your need to travelto the northern part of the city of Mitrovica and Kosovoâs three northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan because of the high threat of politically-motivated violence.
There is a high degree of tension at the northern Kosovo border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak (also known as Gates 1 and 31). If you intend to travel between Serbia and Kosovo, you should consider alternative routes.
Serbia does not recognise entry points direct from Kosovo. You should not attempt to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you initially travelled into Kosovo from Serbia.
There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities. See ourTerrorist Threat Overseasbulletin.
Australia does not have a resident Embassy or Consulate in Kosovo. TheAustralian Embassy in Vienna, Austriaprovides consular assistance to Australians in Kosovo.
SeeTravel Smartfor general advice for all travellers.
Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
organise comprehensivetravel insuranceand check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
subscribe to this travel adviceto receive free email updates each time it's reissued
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. For more information on visa requirements visit theKosovo Foreign Ministryâswebsite, or contact the nearestEmbassy or Consulate of Kosovo.
Currently, Australians do not need a visa to enter Kosovo. You may be required to provide documentary evidence giving a reason for your visit when entering Kosovo. Upon entry, authorities issue a 90-day entry stamp, which is renewable for longer stays.
Travellers to Kosovo should be aware that Serbian authorities may react with hostility to enquiries about documentation for travel to Kosovo.
The security situation along the Kosovo-Serbia border remains unpredictable. There is a high degree of tension at the northern Kosovo border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak (also known as Gates 1 and 31). If you intend to travel between Serbia and Kosovo you should consider alternative routes. SeeSafety and securityfor more information on the security situation along the Kosovo-Serbia border.
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. You should not attempt to enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you initially travelled into Kosovo from Serbia. Australians wishing to enter Serbia from Kosovo must transit via a third country unless they have a valid Serbian entry stamp in their passport. Road travel from Kosovo to Serbia is possible if transiting via Montenegro or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
For further information, see the website of theSerbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
Civil unrest/Political tension
The overall security situation in Kosovo is generally calm but in recent months there have been anti-government protests mainly in Pristina and Gjakova. Protests in Pristina can turn violent, as they did most recently on 9 January 2016. You should avoid all public gatherings, political rallies, demonstrations and protests as they may turn violent.
In the past, violent, armed inter-ethnic conflict has erupted mainly, but not exclusively, in several towns in northern Kosovo, including the northern part of the city of Mitrovica. There have also been incidents along the southern border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Kosovar general public is hospitable towards travellers. However, we still recommend you consult a local guide when travelling as an individual, in particular if travelling to the three northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan, and the northern part of the city of Mitrovica.
The Republic of Kosovo declared independence on 17 February 2008, and Australia recognised Kosovoâs statehood on 19 February 2008. However, Serbia has not recognised Kosovoâs statehood and still considers Kosovo to be part of Serbia.
Following its declaration of independence, Kosovo entered a period of political transition. In December 2008, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) passed rule of law functions to the European Rule of Law Mission (EULEX).
EULEXâs central aim is to assist and support the Kosovo authorities in the rule of law area, specifically in the police, judiciary and customs areas. EULEX is a technical mission which monitors, mentors and advises whilst retaining a number of limited executive powers. EULEXâs mandate in Kosovo has been extended until June 2016.
A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) led international force, the Kosovo Force (KFOR), together with the Kosovo Police Force, are responsible for maintaining security in Kosovo.
You should check local developments before and during your journey. UNMIK and KFOR provide the latest security information on their websiteswww.aco.nato.int/KFORandwww.unmikonline.org. Security information is also broadcast on Radio KFORwwww.radiokfor.com.
You should avoid all public gatherings, political rallies, protests, roadblocks and demonstrations because of their potential to turn violent.
Australians should make sure their travel documents are valid and be prepared for a possible deterioration in the security situation in Kosovo.
You should also be aware that the indiscriminate use of fireworks and firearms in âhappy fireâ can result in accidental injury. In addition, several hundred thousand illegal small firearms are still believed to be privately owned in Kosovo.
Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan municipalities and North Mitrovica:We advise you toreconsider your need to travelto the northern part of the city of Mitrovica and the northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan because of the high threat of politically-motivated violence. Unofficial roadblocks are sometimes erected at short notice to block the movement of organisations such as EULEX. In recent years, violent, armed inter-ethnic conflict has occurred in Kosovo, mainly, but not exclusively, in several towns in northern Kosovo, including the northern part of the city of Mitrovica.
The situation remains unpredictable due to tensions between ethnic Serbs and Kosovo Albanians. The situation continues to be volatile.
Kosovo-Serbia Border:Following incidents in January and June 2012, and September 2013, the security situation along the Kosovo-Serbia border remains unpredictable. There have been a number of security incidents at the northern Kosovo border crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak (also known as Gates 1 and 31) in 2012/2013. If you intend to travel between Serbia and Kosovo, you should consider alternative routes.
While petty crime against foreigners is not significant, travellers should be aware of pickpocketing and bag snatching, particularly in crowded places, including 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 directed at foreigners.
There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See ourTerrorist Threat Overseasbulletin.
Money and valuables
Kosovoâs economy is largely cash-based. The Euro is Kosovoâs official currency. The Serbian Dinar (RSD) may occasionally be accepted in the Serb-majority area of northern Kosovo. Banks with international ties and automated teller machines (ATMs) are becoming more common, but are not yet fully developed throughout Kosovo. Credit cards are accepted in some hotels, shops and restaurants. Cash payment in local currency is expected, especially in small establishments.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law toreport a lost or stolen passportonline or contact the nearestAustralian Embassy, High Commission or Consulateas soon as possible.
Despite the fact that Kosovo has been cleared of most land mines, there are still land mines and unexploded ordnance in Kosovo, particularly in regions bordering Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, including the Dulje Pass area close to Prizren. Australians are urged to use only roads and paths labelled as cleared by a competent de-mining authority.
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. There are many roadworks ongoing in Kosovo, which further contribute to continually changing traffic conditions. For further advice, see ourroad travelpage.
An International Driving Permit is recommended. Always carry identification and vehicle registration papers. Third-party automobile insurance is mandatory and can be purchased upon entry into Kosovo. Drivers of vehicles bearing foreign licence plates must pay for 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.
Heavy snowfalls can severely disrupt travel in Kosovo.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead theAviation Safety Networkwebsite for information on aviation safety in Kosovo.
Please also refer to our generalair travelpage for information on aviation safety and security.
You are subject to the local laws of Kosovo, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under ourConsular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
While homosexual activity is not illegal in Kosovo, it is not widely accepted. Overt public displays of affection by persons of the same sex should be avoided. See ourLGBTI travellerspage.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australian overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
You must carry photographic identification, such as a clear photocopy of your passport, with you at all times. It is recommended that your original Australian passport be kept in a safe location.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensivetravel insurancethat will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.
It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. TheWorld Health Organization (WHO)provides information for travellers and ourhealthpage also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.
Medical facilities in Kosovo are severely under-equipped. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable.
Outbreaks of food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis A, trichinosis, brucellosis and rabies) occur from time to time. We recommend you avoid raw and undercooked food, drink bottled water and avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
Levels of air pollution in Kosovo can be high, particularly in winter when heavy smoke from coal and wood burning heaters can linger for days or even weeks. Accidental emission of toxic substances from factories is not uncommon and public health warnings after such accidents are not always issued. Sufferers of asthma or other bronchial conditions should seek medical advice.
Travel in forested areas in Kosovo brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis, which can become fatal in some cases. Another tick-borne infection, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), is endemic to Kosovo. Ticks are common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn. We recommend you take measures to avoid tick-bites, particularly in rural areas. Mosquito-borne diseases are also present, including West Nile Virus. If you suffer from a fever during your visit in Kosovo you should seek immediate medical attention. More information of CCHF can be found at theWHOwebsite.
Where to get help
Depending on your enquiry, 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.
TheConsular Services Charterexplains what the Australian Government can and cannot do to assist Australians overseas.
Australia does not have a Resident Embassy or Consulate in Kosovo. You can contact the Australian Government at theAustralian Embassy in Vienna, Austriafor consular assistance in Kosovo.
Contact details are:
Australian Embassy, ViennaMattiellistrasse 2
Telephone: +43 1 506 740
Facsimile: +43 1 513 1656
See theEmbassywebsite 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. Contact details are:
British Embassy, PristinaIsmail Qemali 6
Telephone: +381 (0) 38 254 700
Facsimile: +381 (0) 38 243 062
If you are travelling to Kosovo, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You canregisteronline or in person at anyAustralian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency; whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
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 is located in an active earthquake zone. Tremors are not uncommon. Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes, can be obtained from theHumanitarian Early Warning Service.
If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities, and monitor local media and other sources for information.