COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Kosovo has been an independent nation since 2008. While Kosovo’s government and institutions have sole responsibility for administration of the state, the international presence remains active, including police and NATO military forces. The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) transferred rule of law functions to the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in 2008. Civilian institutions, including the criminal justice system, are not yet fully functioning at a level consistent with Western standards. Kosovo’s is a cash economy, with the Euro used nationwide. Tourist facilities are very limited. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Kosovo for additional information.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Kosovo, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), 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.
The contact information for the U.S. Embassy in Pristina is:
U.S. Embassy Pristina
Arberia/Dragodan, Nazim Hikmet 30, Pristina, Kosovo
Telephone: (381) 38 59 59 3000
Facsimile: (381) 38 549 890
The Consular Section is open for American Citizen Services Monday through Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on U.S. and Kosovar holidays. All non-emergency services are by appointment only.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: U.S. citizens need a passport to enter Kosovo. No visa is required, but visitors may be asked to provide documentation stating the purpose of their visit. Generally, visitors entering Kosovo are permitted to stay for up to 90 days. Persons who wish to stay beyond 90 days will need to register with the Directorate for Migration and Foreigners in Pristina. If you intend to work, study, or remain longer than 90 days in Kosovo, you are required to contact the Directorate for Migration and Foreigners prior to your arrival in Kosovo to obtain information about requirements for visitors in these categories. The telephone numbers are (381) 38-200-190-26; (381) 38-200-190-27; (381) 38-200-190-17 or you can contact them by email. The Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs website includes contact information for the Embassy of Kosovo in the United States, which can help you with additional information on how to apply for a residency permit.
The Law on Foreigners stipulates that a foreigner is obliged to present photo identification to prove his or her identity when asked by an authorized official. However, you do not have to carry an original passport with you at all times while in Kosovo.
Kosovo is an independent, sovereign country, but Serbia still considers it to be part of Serbia. As a consequence, Serbian border officials will prevent U.S. citizens from entering Serbia from Kosovo without first obtained a Serbian entry stamp from a Serbian point of entry that is not on the Kosovo-Serbia border. For example: if travelers enter Serbia from Belgrade airport, or neighboring Macedonia or Montenegro, and receive a Serbian entry stamp upon entry, they may travel through Serbia to Kosovo and then back into Serbia without difficulty; if they first enter Kosovo from a country other than Serbia, and then try to cross into Serbia from Kosovo, the Serbian authorities will not allow the traveler to enter Serbia. Serbia does not recognize entry stamps by Kosovar border authorities at Kosovar ports of entry, including Pristina Airport.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. You can also learn more general information on Customs by visiting the Before You Go section of our site.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: For U.S. citizens considering residing in Kosovo, please refer to the webpage on Kosovo’s residency requirements.
HIV/AIDS RESTRICTIONS: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Kosovo.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: The NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), along with local police and assisted by EULEX police, are responsible for security and stability in Kosovo. Although the overall security situation has improved, inter-ethnic tensions and sporadic incidents of violence continue to occur.
Per standing security instructions, U.S. government officials assigned to Kosovo may only travel to Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan for official business; these restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future. U.S. citizens should be especially cognizant of security conditions at borders between northern Kosovo and Serbia—specifically Gates 1 and 31 at Jarinje and Brnjak—where political violence has occurred on many occasions. U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and other sites, such as roadblocks, where large crowds are gathered. U.S. citizens should particularly try to avoid events involving political/ethnic causes, and should be aware of important political/ethnic holidays and observances, when the likelihood of political/ethnic violence increases. Even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable.
While de-mining programs have proven effective, unexploded ordnance and mines remain in some areas. Telecommunications, electricity, and water systems remain unpredictable.
Visit the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo site for up-to-date Messages for U.S. citizens.
LGBT RIGHTS: Kosovo law provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals with full legal rights, but they face frequent discrimination in practice. LGBT individuals are protected by anti-discrimination laws, and there are no legal impediments to the organization of LGBT events. U.S. citizens should be aware that there have been attacks on LGBT individuals and the premises of LGBT organizations in Kosovo in the past year. U.S. citizens should exercise caution when attending LGBT events as they could turn violent. For further information on LGBT travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
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CRIME: High unemployment and other economic factors encourage criminal activity. Street crimes-- in particular thefts and purse snatchings-- are serious problems in Kosovo, especially in Pristina. Criminals often commit crimes while armed, often with handguns. Foreigners can be targets of crime, as criminals assume that they carry cash. Likewise, foreigners’ homes and vehicles, and international non-governmental organization (NGO) offices can be targeted for burglaries.
The Kosovo Police (KP) carry out normal police functions. EULEX personnel mentor, advise, and monitor both the police and other local authorities and institutions; they also have a limited policing role on certain issues. The judicial system is still developing with international oversight.
Take some time before travel to learn how to improve your personal security—things are not the same everywhere as they are in the United States. Here are some useful tips for personal security.
Do not buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
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:
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency lines in Kosovo are:
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Kosovo, 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, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for instance, 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. If you break local laws in Kosovo, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
If Arrested: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the event that you are arrested or detained overseas.
Civilian institutions, including the criminal justice system, are not presently functioning at a level consistent with Western standards.
Persons violating Kosovo's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Kosovo are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: At this time, U.S. Embassy Pristina provides only emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. Embassy Skopje, Macedonia, provides all routine consular services such as passport applications.
U.S. Embassy Skopje
Samoilova 21, 1000 Skopje, Macedonia
Telephone: (389) (2) 310-2000
Emergency after-hours telephone: (389) (2) 310-2000
Facsimile: (389) (2) 310-2299
Email address: ConsularSkopje@state.gov
Tourist facilities are very limited in Kosovo.
Kosovo is a cash economy. The currency used throughout Kosovo is the euro. Banking services are available in Pristina and other major towns, although they are not fully developed. There are a number of banks with international ties that offer limited banking services, including ATMs, in Pristina and other major towns. If you need emergency funds from abroad, Western Union and MoneyGram have offices throughout Kosovo. While credit cards are accepted in larger stores and in some restaurants, we recommend having cash in local currency for purchases in small establishments.
Travelers entering Kosovo by air or land with more than 10,000 Euros in cash must declare all currency upon entry. Travelers must also obtain and complete a declaration form from the customs officials at the port of entry. This declaration form must be presented upon departure from Kosovo. Failure to comply may result in the confiscation of all funds.
ACCESSIBILITY: The Kosovar constitution and legislation prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and in the provision of other state services; however, the situation for persons with disabilities remains difficult. Although the relevant law mandates access to official buildings, it is not enforced and such access is rarely available in practice.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Kosovo consist of private medical clinics and the government sponsored University Clinical Center. Quality controls are lacking in many medical facilities. Medical care is below Western European or U.S. standards. Supplies are often in short supply, and sufficient hygiene and nursing care is lacking. The KFOR Medical Division does not provide care or medical evacuation for non-military personnel. You can find information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Routine vaccinations are recommended for travel to Kosovo, and include Hepatitis A vaccination, Hepatitis B vaccination, and up to date Tetanus, Measles Mumps and Rubella. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: In Kosovo, road conditions can be extremely hazardous because roads are narrow, crowded, and used by a variety of vehicles, from KFOR armored personnel carriers to horse-drawn carts. Many vehicles are old and lack standard front or rear lights. Mountain roads can be narrow and poorly marked, and lack guardrails, quickly becoming dangerous in inclement weather. During winter months, fog can obscure visibility while driving.
Driving safely in Kosovo requires excellent defensive driving skills. Many drivers routinely ignore speed limits and other traffic regulations, such as stopping for red lights and stop signs. Drivers routinely make illegal left turns from the far right lane, or drive into oncoming lanes of traffic. The combination of speeding, unsafe driving practices, poor vehicle maintenance, the mixture of new and old vehicles on the roads, and poor lighting contributes to unsafe driving conditions. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution when crossing the street, even when using crosswalks, as local drivers sometimes do not slow down or stop for pedestrians.
A valid U.S. driver’s license is required for U.S. citizens to drive in Kosovo. The use of seat belts and headlights is mandatory at all times. A driver with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.05 is considered intoxicated. Travelers entering Kosovo by road must purchase local third-party insurance. In Kosovo, it is illegal to use a cell phone while driving unless you are using a hands-free device. The penalty for illegal cell phone usage is 35 Euros. Drivers traveling between Serbia and Kosovo are subject to insurance, license plate, and other regulations.
For general information on road safety, please refer to our Road Safety travel section.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Kosovo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Kosovo’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
This replaces the Country Specific Information for Kosovo dated March 12, 2012.