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Travel & living abroad

Europe

Kosovo

Flag of Kosovo
Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 17 December 2010


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Travel Summary and Safety and Security - Local Travel (general election re-runs on 9 January; shooting in North Mitrovica on 8 December). The overall level of this advice has not changed; we advise against all but essential travel to the North Mitrovica area of Kosovo.


(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary


  • The Security situation in Kosovo remains unpredictable.  We continue to advise against all but essential travel to the North Mitrovica area. On the afternoon of 8 December 2010 one person was shot and killed in the Leposaviq area of North Mitrovica. On the night of 11 September 2010 law and order forces had to intervene to separate Kosovo Serb and Kosovo Albanian mobs on either side of the River Ibar - an international policeman and at least one Serb were injured as shots were fired and Molotov cocktails thrown.  Tension remains high. This is the latest of sporadic disturbances there since Kosovo declared independence in February 2008, including an explosion in July 2010 which killed one and injured ten.

  • General elections were held throughout Kosovo on 12 December. Due to proven irregularities re-runs will be held across five Municipalities on 9 January 2011. We have no indication that the election re-runs will present particular problems for British citizens or British interests in Kosovo, however you are advised to avoid political gatherings and monitor local media in the run-up to and on the polling day itself.

  • If you intend to enter Kosovo from Serbia (border crossings at Gates 1 and 31, Leposavic and Zubin Potok) you should consider alternative routes.  See Safety and Security - Local Travel - Northern Kosovo

  • The Serbian authorities will not allow you to travel into Serbia from Kosovo unless you began your journey in Serbia or you travel from Kosovo to Serbia via Macedonia or Montenegro.  There have been incidents where foreign nationals have been denied entry into Serbia if they hold border entry or exit stamps from Kosovo.  When visiting Kosovo, you may be required, by the Kosovo border police, to provide documents explaining your visit (for example a letter of introduction). See Entry Requirements

  • As in previous years, Kosovo is experiencing an outbreak of Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF).  Five deaths have been reported, and cases have occurred in the municipalities of Malisheva, Rahovec, Suhareka, Klina and Gjakova.

  • Residual landmines and other unexploded ordnance remain in Kosovo, although all roads and tracks have been cleared. You should exercise caution when travelling in remote areas.

  • There is an underlying global threat from terrorism . Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

  • Most visits to Kosovo are trouble-free.  See General - Consular Assistance Statistics

  • You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See General - Insurance

Safety and security

Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is an underlying risk from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. For further information read and. See our terrorism abroad page.
 

Safety and Security - Crime
As in other parts of Europe, you should be aware of the incidence of street crime, particularly in larger cities. Be extra vigilant for pick-pocketing in public places such as airports and on public transportation. As a foreigner, you may be a target for criminals who may assume you are carrying large amounts of cash. Four wheel drive and luxury vehicles are also a popular target. Isolated incidents of armed violence in major cities are a problem. These are usually linked to organised crime and are not directed against foreigners, including British nationals. All incidents of crime should be reported to the local police from whom you should obtain a report. See our victims of crime abroad page.

To avoid the possibility of being inadvertently caught up in any violent incidents, you should check local developments before and during your journey. In the event of civil disorder, you are advised to stay at home or in your hotel and restrict your movements as much as possible, especially after dark. You should register your presence in Kosovo with the British Embassy in Pristina (see the Contact Details section of this travel advice).

We recommend you stay alert at all times and take particular care to avoid public gatherings, political rallies and protests and pay close attention to local media reports.

Safety and Security - Local Travel
We continue to advise against all but essential travel to the North Mitrovica area.  There have been sporadic disturbances there since Kosovo declared independence in February 2008, including an incident on 8 December 2010 during which one person was shot and killed and an explosion in July 2010 which killed one and injured ten. On 29 October 2010 at 20:03 an explosion destroyed an unattended parked civilian vehicle in the “Dardania” neighbourhood in central Pristina. There were no reported casualties and no indication that foreigners were targeted. We advise British Nationals in Pristina to exercise caution and vigilance at all times.

There is still some danger from residual mines and other unexploded ordnance left over from the 1999 conflict. The main areas of danger are on the border with Albania, in the Dulje Pass area (in central Kosovo), and in the west and south of the province. The mountainous region between South Serbia’s Presevo Valley and Kosovo is also problematic. Special care should be taken in all these areas, and you should keep to the main roads. Most of the remaining dangerous areas are in high mountainous regions covered with dense vegetation. If you see anything suspicious, DO NOT TOUCH IT, and report it immediately to the police or the nearest KFOR patrol.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Northern Kosovo
We advise against all but essential travel to North Mitrovica due to sporadic violence there. We would advise that if you do enter Kosovo from Serbia via Leposavic (Gate 1) and Zubin Potok (Gate 31), you do so with extra vigilance.   
 

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
The general standard of roads is fair to poor with conditions worsening in rural areas, especially in and after bad weather. There remains an inherent risk of landslide. You are advised against travelling at night.

A UK driving licence is valid in Kosovo. You must have vehicle registration / ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. However, European Green Card vehicle insurance is not valid and you should purchase local third party insurance at the border on entry. Where an insurance bureau is unavailable you should purchase insurance from the nearest town at the earliest opportunity. You should ensure that you have sufficient Euros to pay for insurance and fuel. Fuel is widely available but the quality varies. Delays at the border crossings between Kosovo and Macedonia are common.

You should be aware that many Serbian car hire firms will not allow their vehicles to be driven in Kosovo, and vice-versa, due to concerns about the security situation. There have been some incidents where Serbian registered cars have been targeted in more isolated areas of Kosovo.

Taxis are readily available in Pristina. However, the condition of the vehicle and standard of driving vary.

See our driving abroad page.
 

Safety and Security -  Local Travel - Rail Travel
The rail service from Fushë Kosovë (Kosovo Polie) to Zvecan (Zvečan) and Leshak (Lešak) in northern Kosovo is currently suspended. Services to other parts of Kosovo are unaffected.

Train and bus connections in Kosovo are poor and prone to delays. Trains can be slow, particularly in winter when there are often long delays.
 

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel
Pristina airport has a modern terminal handling all international arrivals and departures.

Safety and Security - Political Situation
Kosovo country profile

The security situation in Kosovo, particularly north Kosovo, remains unpredictable.  See Travel Summary above. Incidents in South Kosovo are much rarer, but there have been occasional violent demonstrations in Pristina and a bomb exploded outside the office of the International Civilian Representative in November 2008, perpetrator unknown. 

Local laws and customs

Drugs laws are similar to those in the UK. Possession or trafficking of drugs will be met with strict penalties and usually a lengthy prison sentence.

There are no laws against homosexual activity and same-sex couples in Kosovo. However, Kosovo is a conservative society and homosexual activity is not tolerated. Public displays of affection between same-sex couples are not advisable.


Please note that taking photographs of military and police installations and/or personnel or vehicles anywhere in Kosovo may lead to difficulties with the authorities. See our your trip page.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visas
There are no visa requirements for any national, including British, to enter Kosovo. You may be required to provide documentary evidence giving a reason for your entry and stay to local authorities when entering Kosovo. A 90-day entry stamp will be issued which is renewable for longer stays.

Please note that the authorities in Serbia do not consider the designated crossing points from Kosovo to be official 'international' border crossing points. You should not attempt to enter Serbia from Kosovo, unless you initially travelled into Kosovo from Serbia, or are travelling via Albania, Macedonia or Montenegro (for more information please visit the website of the Serbian Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Since the introduction of Republic of Kosovo stamps, we are aware of incidents where foreign nationals, including those from the United Kingdom, have been denied entry to Serbia if they have these stamps in their passports. Whilst we have not been officially informed of any changes to Serbian immigration requirements by their authorities, the Serbian authorities may not allow you to travel into Serbia if you hold these stamps.

Entry Requirements - Passport validity
Before you travel, you should ensure that your passport is undamaged and valid for the duration of your stay in Kosovo.

Health

The health system in Kosovo is severely under-funded. Hospitals lack specialist equipment and there is a widespread shortage of medicines and other essentials. Many in the medical profession lack training in modern techniques and practices. A small payment in cash (currently €4) is required for treatment but you are advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover any medical evacuation.

Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is common to Kosovo. Although, most cases of CCHF occur in the region around Malishevë/o (Central Kosovo), during the summer months other rural areas of Kosovo can be affected. If you suffer from a fever during a visit to Kosovo you should seek immediate medical attention. The National Institute of Public Health of Kosovo (NIPH) has reported that since 26 April 2010 there have been 84 suspected cases of CCHF (18 confirmed), including 5 deaths. The cases have been reported in the municipalities of Malisheva, Rahovec, Suhareka, Klina and Gjakova.  Outbreaks of CCHF typically occur at this time of year and often result in a number of deaths.  However, the NIPH are expressing concern over the severity of the disease this year and the higher death rate compared to previous years.  More information can be found at the WHO website. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs208/en/index.html

You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Kosovo and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

See our travel health page.

Natural disasters

During especially hot and dry periods there is a danger of forest fires. Please take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas; ensure that cigarette ends are properly extinguished, and do not light barbecues.

Kosovo lies in a seismically active zone, and earth tremors are common. The last significant earthquake happened on 10 March 2010.  According to the Skopje Seismological Institute the quake measured 4.5 on the Richter scale and had its epicentre around 90km north of Pristina.

General

General  - Insurance
You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our travel insurance page.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas, see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - Registration
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.

General - Passport
You should ensure that your passport is valid for the length of your stay in Kosovo and that there is sufficient space in your passport for the entry and exit stamps.

It is advised that you carry your passport at all times. We therefore advise that you keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place. This will help you to obtain a replacement, in case your passport is lost or stolen.

The loss or theft of a British passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the British Embassy in Pristina. If your passport is lost or stolen the British Embassy in Pristina can issue you an Emergency Passport for a single journey to the UK. If you are travelling by air via another country, or driving through Europe, the Emergency Passport will be valid. The UK Immigration authorities keep the Emergency Passport once you enter the UK.

The British Embassy in Pristina does not accept applications for new passports.  Passport applications should be submitted direct to the British Consul General in Dusseldorf by post or courier service. This is due to requirements for all new passports to be machine readable, capable of storing biometrics information and to help reduce forgery. For full details on applying for passports please visit the embassy website. The British Embassy currently provides a limited consular service (notarial and visa services are not provided).
For further information on passports, please visit the website of the Identity and Passport Service.

General - Money
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in Kosovo (the Serbian Dinar (RSD) is sometimes accepted in Serb-majority areas). The current banking system is embryonic and you will generally be expected to pay in cash. Credit cards are not widely accepted but there are a small number of ATMs in Pristina, which accept international bankcards. You should bring enough Euros to cover your expenses while in Kosovo.

General - Consular Services
When visiting Kosovo, you should make your presence known to the British Embassy in Pristina by registering on LOCATE. The British Embassy currently provides a limited consular service (notarial and visa services are not provided).

General - Consular Assistance Statistics
Most visits to Kosovo are trouble-free.  Seven British nationals required consular assistance in Kosovo in the period 01 April 2009 – 31 March 2010 for the following types of incident; one death; two hospitalisations; one arrests.  During this period assistance was also requested with regard to lost or stolen passports (9 cases).

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Contacts

Kosovo, Pristina, British Embassy

Address:

Ismail Qemajli 6
Arberi
Dragodan
Pristina

Telephone:

(381) (38) 254 700

Fax:

(381) (38) 249 799

Email: britishembassy.pristina@fco.gov.uk

Office hours:

GMT:
Mon-Thurs: 0730-1600
Fri: 0730-1230

Local Time:
Mon-Thurs: 0830-1700
Fri: 0830-1330

Website: http://ukinkosovo.fco.gov.uk/en/

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