COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Serbia is strengthening its democratic, economic, and social institutions, but it still faces many challenges. In 2008, Kosovo, which used to be part of Serbia, declared itself an independent country and was recognized as such by the United States. You should be aware that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence; the dispute will only affect foreign travelers who plan to visit Kosovo. For more information on Kosovo, please read our Country Specific Information for Kosovo.
Serbia has many tourist and travel facilities like hotels, restaurants, campgrounds, and gas stations, but the quality varies significantly from place to place. Some facilities are not up to Western standards. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Serbia for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Serbia, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here is the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
The contact information for the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade is:
Bulevar kneza Aleksandra Karadordevica 92
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a valid passport to enter Serbia. U.S. citizens do not need visas to stay in Serbia for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. If you want to stay in Serbia longer than 90 days during any 180-day period, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit at the local police station with authority over the place you are staying in Serbia. You cannot apply for a residence permit outside of Serbia. To apply for a temporary residence permit, you will need to provide a copy of your birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable) and an official police report from your state of residence in the United States or from law enforcement authorities in the country where you permanently live, if outside of the United States. You need to get the police report no more than 90 days before you apply for your residence permit. All of your documents should have an "apostille" stamp from the government office where you got the document. To learn more about apostilles and other official documents, please see the Notarial and Authentication Services page.
Visit the Embassy of Serbia website for the most current visa information. If you have specific questions about visas, residency or work permits, please contact the Serbian Embassy in Washington, D.C. by phone at (202) 332-0333; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; fax (202) 332-3933;or in person or by mail at 2134 Kalorama Road, Washington, D.C. 20008. Serbia also has Consulates General in Chicago and New York City; both give out information on travel and long term stays in Serbia. You can reach the Serbian Consulate General in Chicago at (312) 670-6707 or fax (312) 670-6787; email email@example.com; or in person or by mail at 201 East Ohio Street, Suite 200, Chicago, Illinois 60611. You can reach the Serbian Consulate General in New York City at (212) 596-4241; fax (212) 596-4363;email; firstname.lastname@example.org; 62 West 45th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10036.
When you arrive in Serbia, the immigration police should stamp your passport. Please make sure to get an entry stamp when you enter Serbia, and do not lose it; it is proof that you entered Serbia legally and starts the clock on the 90 days you can stay in Serbia legally without a visa. If you get a new passport while you are in Serbia, you should keep the previous passport countaining the entry stamp to prove that you are in the country legally. If you lose your stamped passport, you must obtain an exit visa from the Ministry of Interior before the Serbian authorities will permit you leave the country.
If possible,it is advisable to enter and depart Serbia using the same travel document. If you use different passports or other identification to enter and exit Serbia (for example, entering with a Serbia passport or Serbian "National ID Card," then trying to exit with a U.S. passport) the immigration police might not know that you entered legally and may hold you for questioning.
Serbian immigration police do not recognize the authority of Kosovo’s government, borders, or immigration officers.Travelers coming to Serbia by land through Kosovo have had problems with Serbian border authorities at checkpoints on the borders between Kosovo and Serbia. Serbian immigration police have refused to accept travelers’ Kosovo entry stamps, claiming that the travelers were in Serbian territory illegally, and refusing to allow them to travel any farther into Serbia. If you are planning to travel by land to Serbia, you can avoid this situation by entering the country through a border crossing with a country other than Kosovo.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to, or foreign residents of, Serbia.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Public demonstrations by political parties, unions, and other groups are held in Serbia from time to time. Violent demonstrations have occurred as recently as August 2011. You should know that even demonstrations that start out peacefully can quickly turn violent. U.S. citizens traveling or living in Serbia should avoid demonstrations if possible, and maintain caution if within the area of demonstrations. There is often a heavier than usual police presence in areas where demonstrations are taking place and traffic may slow or stop until well after the demonstration ends.
Anti-U.S. sentiments are strongest in Serbia surrounding the anniversary dates of certain events and on some national holidays. These dates and holidays include March 24 (the beginning of the 1999 NATO bombing campaign), February 17 (the date of the 2008 independence of Kosovo), and ethnic Serb holidays such as St. Vitus’s Day (Vidovdan, celebrated June 28).
Wins or losses in sporting events can also trigger violence. U.S. citizens were not targets of any recent sports-related violence, but in a few isolated cases, soccer hooligans and petty criminals singled out and attacked citizens of other Western countries. We urge U.S. citizens to be vigilant if attending, or in the vicinity of, sporting events in Serbia.
Any Serbian-Kosovo border crossing or area within five kilometers of the border between Serbia and Kosovo, as well as the western Preševo Valley,which include all areas south of Vranje and west of the E75 highway stretching south to the Macedonian border, are still considered Restricted Travel areas by the U.S. Embassy. U.S. government employees are restricted from entering these areas except on official business. If you are traveling near the Kosovo border or in the western Preševo Valley, you should enroll with the U.S. Embassy and check in with the Embassy regularly for the latest security updates.
Belgrade nightclubs are increasingly popular with foreign tourists. If you decide to go to a nightclub, you should know that they can be crowded and may not be up to Western standards for maximum occupancy and fire safety.
Stay up to date by:
Taking some time before travel to consider your personal security – Here are some useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
SPECIAL ISSUES FOR LGBT TRAVELERS: Serbia has active and increasingly-visible lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocacy groups, and several LGBT bars operate openly and without problems in Belgrade. The New York Times recently reported on increased travel to Serbia for sex reassignment surgery. Many LGBT public events, including 2012 Pride week events, have been held without incident although the 2011 and 2012 Pride parades were cancelled because of security concerns. LGBT travelers should consider exercising caution when visiting Serbia, especially with regard to expressing affection in public. Many LGBT Serbians do not reveal their sexual orientation or gender identity and avoid reporting incidents to police. As a result, individual police officers may have limited experience or knowledge with regard to specific concerns of LGBT individuals or the LGBT community more broadly. Please review our LGBT Travel Information.
CRIME:: Belgrade does not have high levels of street crime, but pick-pocketing and purse snatchings do occasionally occur. People traveling to Serbia should take the same precautions in Belgrade as they would in any large city in the United States. Most crimes happen because people let their guard down. Unlocked cars, items left in plain sight in a car, open gates, and open garage doors make attractive targets for thieves. Car thefts or break-ins can happen any time, day or night, in all sections of Belgrade and other parts of the country. Using security devices such as auto alarms, fuel-line interrupter switches, or steering-wheel locking devices may discourage or frustrate auto theft, but no device can guarantee one hundred percent protection against determined thieves. In Serbia, difficult economic conditions have sparked the growth of an organized criminal class, and violent crime is most often associated with organized crime activities. Tourists are almost never the targets of violent crime, but Mafia-style reprisals have occurred, including in places where tourists gather such as hotels, restaurants, shops, and busy streets. When those kinds of crimes happen, innocent bystanders may become victims of crime. You should be especially vigilant in Serbian city centers, just as you would anywhere else in the world.
When taking taxicabs in Serbia, travelers should pay attention to cab meters and listed fares as taxi drivers sometimes try to charge foreigners higher rates.
Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
CRIME:VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” telephone emergency line in Serbia is 192 (police), 193 (fire-fighters), 194 (paramedics), and 1987 (road assistance). If you are dialing any of these numbers from your cell phone, you need to dial the area code first: in Belgrade, 011 number.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While traveling in Serbia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport with you. Also, it may be illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In Belgrade, you are not permitted to take pictures of the old annex of the Ministry of Defense building or the old Ministry of the Interior building. Insome places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. . There are also some activities that might be legal in Serbia, but still illegal in the United States., You can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
You should try to remain aware of local laws and their implications. If you break local laws in Serbia, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. .If you are arrested in Serbia, Serbian authorities are required to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest. If you are concerned the Department of State may not be aware of your situation, you should request the police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: People who are citizens of both the United States and Serbia may be affected by certain laws that put special responsibilities on Serbian citizens. The Serbian Parliament recently annulled the requirement for men between 18 and 27 years of age to perform military service. Men who evaded military service in the past will not be prosecuted. Please contact the citizenship unit of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade if you have specific questions about the rights and responsibilities of dual nationals (citizens of both the U.S. and Serbia). For additional general information, see our Citizenship and Nationality information.
Belgrade is a port of call on Danube River cruises. While many cruise lines advertise that they have agents at each port, our experience is that U.S. citizen passengers who fall ill or encounter hardship are often left on their own by the companies.
Regulations on Bringing Money into Serbia: If you bring more than 10,000 Euros in cash (or an equal amount in other currencies) to Serbia, you will have to declare it when you arrive. When you declare large sums of money, Serbian customs will give you a declaration that you will have to show them again when you depart the country. Serbian customs agents can take your money permanently or charge you heavy fines if you do not follow the customs regulations. Please review our Customs Information for additional details.
Registration with Local Authorities: If you are staying in a private home, you must register with the local police station with authority over the area where you are staying within 24 hours of arriving in Serbia. If you do not register, you may be subject to fines, jail, or deportation. If you do not register you may also have difficulty with the airport police when you try to leave the country. If you are staying in a hotel or other public place such as a hostel, motel, or private campground, it is customary for property management to register you with the police. You can learn more about registering with local authorities on the Government of Serbia website.
Accessibility: While in Serbia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. Although new buildings are required to be accessible to persons with disabilities, travelers may encounter difficulties in accessing older buildings, outdoor tourist sites, hotels, and public transport. Sidewalks and paths to buildings and tourist sites are often uneven. Hotels frequently do not have elevators. Public transportation is provided free of charge to persons with disabilities under certain circumstances. Travelers should check with the public transportation company in the city they plan to visit to see if they qualify for this service.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:Many doctors and other health care providers in Serbia are highly trained, but the equipment and hygiene in hospitals, clinics, and ambulances are usually not up to Western standards. You can get many medicines and basic medical supplies at private pharmacies, but you should not expect to find the same kinds or brands of medication or medical supplies in Serbia as in the United States. Hospitals usually require payment in cash for all services, and do not accept U.S. health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid as payment.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: It is very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You should ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy does cover you outside of the United States, it is a very good idea to consider an additional policy for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Serbia, you may encounter road conditions that significantly differ from those in the United States.
Roads in Serbia are not always well-maintained, especially in rural areas. During winter months, fog can significantly reduce visibility. Winter fog is extremely heavy in the Vojvodina region between Belgrade and the Hungarian border.
You must wear a seat belt while driving or riding in a car in Serbia. According to Serbian law, a driver with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.05% is considered intoxicated. Serbian traffic police do carry portable breathalyzers to test drivers. Roadside assistance is available by dialing 1987. Metered taxi service is safe and reasonably priced; however, travelers should pay attention to cab meters and listed fares as taxi drivers sometimes try to charge foreigners higher rates. Belgrade and some other large cities in Serbia have local public transportation networks, and a nationwide network covers most major cities, but public transportation is often crowded and some lines and vehicles are poorly maintained.
You may use a foreign or U.S. driver’s license in Serbia for up to 180 days after your arrival.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. More specific information concerning Serbian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and required insurance is available at the Serbian Automotive Association's website(information is in Serbian).
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Serbia’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Serbia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Serbia dated June 27, 2012.