Serbia Country Brief
Security travel advice for Serbia
Threat level: Low-Medium
The current travel safety advice in Serbia is to remain cautious at all times. Visitors should be particularly careful of residual mines that have been left in Serbia after the 1999 conflict with Kosovo. This is mainly affected in mountainous regions in the north and east but can be in other areas too. Remain particularly mindful in the areas Presevo and Bujanova where you should not stray off route – mines are usually covered by deep vegetation.
Recent Security Risk Events
In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia however the Serbian government said this declaration was not legal. Independence was recognised by many of the European and United States powers, leading to tension and fighting between the two countries. This still remains, so travellers are advised to stay cautious if you travel near to the border. Serbia still does not recognise Kosovo as an independent state.
Since Kosovo’s declaration, there has been a number of political demonstrations and gatherings in the capital city. These usually stay peaceful and trouble free however you are advised to avoid such areas and remain alert should demonstrations turn violent.
The stability of Serbia is generally very good, and with no indications of terrorist threats, your trip to Serbia should be trouble free and peaceful providing the necessary precautions are taken. There can be a danger of forest fires, especially during prolonged periods of hot and dry weather. Ensure that you dispose of cigarettes correctly and carefully. Some areas of the country can be prone to flooding preceding heavy bouts of rain. If this is the case, you should listen to recommendations given by the local Serbian authority.
Serbia is currently a candidate country for European Union membership, however the unrest with Kosovo is causing issues with its progression. It joined the UN in 2000. The four pillars of foreign policy, as proposed by former President Boris Tadic refer to relations with the European Union, China, Russia and United States of America.
Serbia traditionally has allies with Russia and is another factor preventing it from achieving EU membership. In order for this to happen, the country is supposed to align its policy with that of the EU’s, however when it comes to imposing bans on Russia, Serbia failed to do so. It appears that the country is trying to please both Russia and other European countries, which is causing tension between Serbia and many other countries.
Travellers should take care when crossing through the Kosovo-Serbian border as you may find issues entering the country should you have a Kosovo stamp in your passport. You should also pay particular attention when using the Ibarska Magistrala road, this is considered to be highly dangerous as there is often lots of congestion on the poorly maintained road.
Winter conditions create thick fog in Serbia which often causes issues for drivers, particularly in the Vojvodina region between Belgrade and the Hungarian border. You should ensure you are fully prepared when driving in such conditions, and take extra caution when doing so.
U.S citizens are able to use their driving licence for up to 180 days in Serbia. British nationals must have a valid international driving permit to operate vehicles in the country.
You may struggle to rent a car in Serbia if you plan to drive it in Kosovo, Albania or Bulgaria, as many car hire firms are reluctant to provide due to security concerns.
Public transport is available however it is often crowded and poorly maintained. You should take extra care if using public services.
Religion: Christianity (Serbian Orthodox Church)
Currency: Serbian dinar (RSD)
Time now in Belgrade:
Most travellers are permitted to enter Serbia for up to 90 days without needing a visa. What is absolutely essential is to receive an entry stamp upon arrival in the country, as well as an entry-exit visa. This is extremely important because if you attempt to leave the country without both of these then you can be subject to illegal immigration charges, heavy fines and even the possibility of imprisonment.
It is also necessary to note that crossing points with Kosovo are not considered to be valid and you could be denied entry if a stamp from the Republic of Kosovo is present in your passport. If you are trying to enter Serbia from Kosovo, it is recommended that you transit via an alternative country such as Albania, Montenegro or Macedonia.
You must also obtain an exit stamp when leaving Serbia if you would like to return to the country in the future. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, or are unsure whether you are able to travel to Serbia without a visa, you should contact your local Serbian Embassy or Consulate before you leave for the country.
You must also register with the police within 24 hours of arrival. This is automatically done for you if you are staying in a hotel or tourist accommodation, private accommodation requires you to do this yourself.
There is currently an outbreak of measles in Serbia, it is advised that visitors to Serbia are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR (measles-mumps-rubella).
It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You may also want to consider vaccinations for Hepatitis B.
In some areas of Serbia there is a heightened risk of Rabies. If you plan to travel to these areas you should vaccinate yourself against the disease. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
The West Nile Virus can be contracted in Serbia, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It is recommended to take precautions and use insect repellent products.
Other health risks
Training standards are fairly high in Serbia however the facilities are often less advanced than other Western countries, with some parts suffering from a shortage of medical supplies. Cash payment is usually necessary before treatment occurs.
British nationals are entitled to free emergency treatment if necessary as long as the patient can provide their passport, evidence of registration with the police and a certificate confirming their entitlement to benefits in the UK, which can be given by HM Revenue & Customs. This is only valid for emergency treatment, all other treatment requires cash payment. All travellers should ensure they have adequate travel insurance to cover them for all medical situations.
Tourists should be aware that Rabies is common in some areas of Serbia, especially in parks and the outskirts of cities. You should not approach any animals in the country, and seek immediate medical help if you have been bitten.
Telephone: +381 1130 60900
U.S. Embassy Belgrade
Bulevar kneza Aleksandra Karadordevica 92
Telephone: +381 1170 64000
Other useful info
Police emergency: 192
Fire emergency: 193
Medical emergency: 194