The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Wednesday, 09 July 2014.   This advice contains new information in the Summary and under Civil unrest/political tension (Protests are expected to take place daily throughout July, in the centre of Skopje and in other towns of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (mainly in the north-west). Check local media and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings). We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia overall.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia overall

North west region bordering Kosovo

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • You should monitor the media for potential risks to your safety and security.
  • There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • Protests are expected to take place daily throughout July, in the centre of Skopje and in other towns of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (mainly in the north-west). Check local media and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings.
  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the region bordering Kosovo, including adjacent areas of southern Serbia, because of the possibility of civil unrest and inter-ethnic violence.
  • Australia has a Consulate in Skopje headed by an Honorary Consul which provides limited consular assistance. The Australian Embassy in Serbia provides full consular assistance to Australians in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
    • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
    • organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
    • register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
    • subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or visit the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the most up to date information.

Australians do not require a visa to enter the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. However, it is strongly recommended that Australians of Macedonian heritage contact an embassy or consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or visit the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website before travel for up to date information regarding entry and exit conditions. Australian passport holders with Macedonian heritage may find themselves eligible for citizenship of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and may face a possible legal requirement after arrival to obtain a passport of that country.

You are required to declare all foreign currency exceeding 10,000 Euros on arrival in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Failure to do so may result in detention and forfeiture of undeclared funds.

Foreigners in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are required to register their place of residence within 24 hours of arrival. Registration is completed as part of check-in at hotels. Foreigners staying in a private home are required to register at the nearest police station within 24 hours of arrival. Failure to do so can result in fines and delays in departure.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

There is an ongoing risk of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.

Civil unrest/political tension

We advise you to exercise normal safety precautions. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour as you would in Australia. Monitor the media for changes that may affect your safety or security.

Protests are expected to take place daily throughout July, in the centre of Skopje and in other towns of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (mainly in the north-west). Check local media and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings.

The security situation has improved in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia since the inter-ethnic violence in 2001, however, occasional acts of inter-ethnic violence could occur.

Region bordering Kosovo: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the region bordering Kosovo, including adjacent areas of southern Serbia, because of the possibility of civil unrest and inter-ethnic violence.

Since its declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, the security situation in Kosovo, including areas bordering the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has remained volatile. The border between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo can be closed to all traffic at short notice.

The immediate border areas beyond designated crossing points are restricted zones. Landmines and unexploded ordnance are present in the mountainous areas bordering Kosovo. Photographs should not be taken at border crossings or in the vicinity of military zones.

Tensions also exist between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian communities in the region. Isolated incidents of inter-ethnic violence could occur.

Crime

Crime rates are low. However, petty crime such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching occurs in large cities and at airports.

Credit card fraud is widespread in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. You should keep your card in sight when making purchases.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.

The official currency of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the Denar. The economy is cash-based, however, credit cards are accepted in major hotels and large shops. There are an increasing number of ATMs that accept international bank cards.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Driving on rural roads may be dangerous because of poorly maintained roads and slow moving farm equipment. Roads may be shared with pedestrians and farm animals in rural areas. Drivers must have their vehicle headlights or parking lights turned on, even during daylight hours. Seatbelts must be worn where fitted. Laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol are strict and a driver with a blood alcohol level reading higher than 0.05% is considered to be intoxicated and can be charged. For further advice, see our road travel page.

The local emergency phone numbers in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are 192 for police, 194 for ambulance and 196 for roadside assistance.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment.

Photography of military and police personnel, establishments, vehicles and equipment is prohibited.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Conscription into military service was abolished in April 2006. However, dual national Australian/former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia males who have not completed military service in the Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM) or in the former Yugoslav National Army (JNA) are advised to check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia before they travel. If you have completed your military service you should carry your discharge documents with you.

We recommend Australian passport holders of Macedonian heritage contact an embassy or consulate of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or visit the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Ministry of Foreign Affairs website before travel. See Entry and exit for more information.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is limited. Foreigners will be required to pay an up-front deposit for medical services. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could cost upwards of $A100,000.

Travel in forested areas in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including hepatitis, measles, and brucellosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We recommend that you avoid raw and undercooked food, and avoid unpasteurised dairy products. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

In rural areas it is recommended that all drinking water be boiled or that you drink bottled water.

Where to get help

Australia has a Consulate in Skopje headed by an Honorary Consul. The Consulate provides limited consular assistance which does not include the issue of Australian passports.

Australian Consulate, Skopje

Londonska 11 B
Skopje 1000
Telephone: (+389 2) 3061 114
Facsimile: (+389 2) 3061 834

You can obtain full consular assistance from the nearest Australian Embassy which is in Serbia.

Australian Embassy, Belgrade

8th floor
Vladimira Popovica 38-40
11070 New Belgrade,
Serbia
Telephone: (+381 11) 330 3400
Facsimile: (+381 11) 330 3409
Website: www.serbia.embassy.gov.au
Email (general enquiries): belgrade.embassy@dfat.gov.au
Email (visa enquiries): diac-belgrade@dfat.gov.au

If you are travelling to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency-whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is in an active seismic zone and is subject to earthquakes.

Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

Bush and forest fires may occur during summer months (usually June to September). You should monitor local media reports for updated information.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.