Safety and security
The Republic of Kosovo formally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Ireland, and the majority of our EU partners, fully recognise the Republic of Kosovo as an independent nation.
However, the government of Serbia and many Serbs in Kosovo reject Kosovo's declaration of independence and this has led to increased tensions. Although the overall security situation in much of Kosovo remains calm there’s a danger that it could deteriorate.
The situation in the north of the country is especially unpredictable. Avoid non-essential travel to northern Mitrovica and to the northern municipalities of Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan as there’s an increased risk of disturbance in these areas and violence can flare up in the city of Mitrovica without warning. You shouldn’t try to enter Kosovo from Serbia via Leposavic and Zubin Potok at present.
A number of police and customs border posts between Kosovo and Serbia have been attacked and border control points may close as a result of disorder. You should therefore consider alternative routes of travel to Serbia.
Always keep yourself informed of what’s going on around you by monitoring local media and staying in contact with your hotel or tour organiser. And avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, which can sometimes turn confrontational.
Although the threat from terrorism in Kosovo is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.
There are still residual mines and other unexploded ordnance in Kosovo and you should be particularly careful in the areas of the Dulje Pass (central Kosovo), the west and south of the province, the border with Albania and the region between South Serbia’s Presevo Valley and Kosovo. Don’t stray off main routes, particularly in rural areas, and always check with your local contact or tour operator before travelling to affected regions.
Take normal, sensible precautions while in Kosovo:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
- Be aware of mugging, bag snatching and pick-pocketing, particularly on busy public transport, in train stations, markets and other places frequented by tourists. You should also be aware that the incidence of car-jacking and car theft continue to increase, particularly in the city of Pristina
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Kosovo, report it to the local police immediately and get a report. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Budapest if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Kosovo, you should be extremely careful. The general standard of roads is poor with conditions worsening in rural areas, particularly in bad weather. There are risks of landslides on the main route between Pristina and Skopje. We strongly recommend that you avoid driving at night. If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance. European Green Card vehicle insurance is not valid in Kosovo. You should buy local insurance at the border or, if not available, the nearest town
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
You should be aware that many Serbian car hire firms will not allow their vehicles to be driven in Kosovo 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.
You should check local developments before starting your journey particularly if you plan to cross a land border with Serbia.
Mon, 16 May 2016 16:01:40 BST