Serbia

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 28 August 2014.   This advice has been reviewed and updated with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise normal safety precautions in Serbia.

Serbia overall

Summary

  • You should exercise normal safety precautions in Serbia.
  • Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.
  • There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Europe. In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities.
  • Demonstrations have in the past turned violent. You should avoid all protests, demonstrations, roadblocks or other sites where crowds gather because of the potential to turn violent.
  • Intermittent unrest remains likely along the border between Serbia and Kosovo, and in southern Serbia mainly Presevo and Bujanovac.
  • When entering Serbia from Kosovo via land, avoid gate 1 Jarinje and gate 31 Brnjak, and the northern municipalities of Kosovo Zvecani, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Mitrovica due to the unpredictable security nature of the areas.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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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 Serbia for the most up to date information.

The Serbian authorities will not allow travel into Serbia from Kosovo unless you entered Kosovo from Serbia. There have been an increasing number of incidents where foreign nationals have been denied entry into Serbia if they have any border entry or exit stamps from Kosovo in their passports.

The security situation along the Serbia-Kosovo border is unpredictable. Travellers intending to travel from Serbia to Kosovo, especially using border crossing Gates 1 Jarinje and 31 Brnjak, or the northern municipalities Zvecani, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Mitrovica are advised to consider alternate routes. See the travel advice for Kosovo for more information about travel to Kosovo.

Australian travellers do not require a visa for Serbia for visits lasting up to 90 days within a six month period from the date of first entry.

If you intend to stay longer than 90 days, you are required to apply for a Temporary Residence Permit. These permits are granted by the police in the district in which you are residing. For more information, including the documentation required, visit the website of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.mfa.gov.rs. An application for the extension of temporary residence should be filed at least 30 days prior to the expiry of the temporary residence period.

Travellers are required to declare currency and valuables (such as laptop computers, cameras, and jewellery) with a value of 10,000 Euros, or equivalent, on arrival and obtain a declaration from customs officials. This declaration form is required on departure from the country. Failure to comply may result in the confiscation of valuables and funds. Additional information on these regulations can be obtained from the Embassy or Consulate of Serbia.

Foreigners in Serbia are required to register their place of residence with the local Ministry of Interior office or police station within 24 hours of arrival. If staying at a hotel, registration may be completed as a part of the check-in procedure. Travellers staying with family or friends in a private home are required to register at the nearest police station. Failure to do so may result in fines and/or detention.

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

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

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin for more information on terrorism and our General advice to Australian travellers for tips on staying safe overseas.

Civil unrest/political tension

You should exercise normal safety precautions in Serbia. Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia.

You should avoid all protests and demonstrations because of their potential to turn violent. Past demonstrations have turned violent with people injured and property damaged. Sporting events can also trigger violence.

The Republic of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence. Intermittent unrest remains likely along the border between Serbia and Kosovo, and the security situation in this area is unpredictable. Travellers intending to travel from Serbia to Kosovo, especially using border crossing Gates 1 Jarinje and 31 Brnjak, or the northern municipalities Zvecani, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Mitrovica are advised to consider alternate routes.

There is a danger associated with unexploded landmines, left over from the 1999 conflict in Kosovo and in Southern Serbia.

You should also be aware that the indiscriminate use of fireworks and firearms in 'happy fire' can result in accidental injury. Each year people are injured through the misuse of fireworks and firearms at celebrations.

Southern Serbia: Clashes between security forces and armed groups, often associated with separatist movements, have occurred in the Presevo and Bujanovac areas of southern Serbia and at border points with Kosovo.

Crime

Petty crime such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching does occur. Criminals are known to target foreigners in crowded places including markets and on public transport.

Violent criminal acts are often linked to organised crime and not directed at foreigners. There have been several violent attacks against foreigners with one fatal attack.

Credit card fraud is common. Care should be taken to protect credit cards and PINs at all times. You should keep your credit card in sight during transactions.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, cash debit cards or cash cards. Check with your bank whether your ATM card will work in Serbia. Most banks in larger towns and cities have ATMs which accept international bank cards with Plus, Cirrus or Maestro access, however, ATMs only dispense Serbian Dinar which cannot be exchanged outside of Serbia. Travellers cheques are not widely accepted in Serbia and can usually only be cashed at larger branches of some banks.

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.

Review the general advice to Australian travellers for further information on being safe and prepared abroad.

Local travel

Travellers may experience difficulties crossing the border with Kosovo. See the Entry and Exit section for further information.

Driving in Serbia can be dangerous due to poorly maintained roads and vehicles. Road rules are frequently ignored by drivers and pedestrians. Roads are sometimes shared with pedestrians and farm animals in rural areas. 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 intoxicated and can be charged. Roadside assistance is available by dialling 1987. Other emergency numbers are 192 (police), 193 (fire department), and 194 (ambulance). For further advice, see our road travel page.

Although public transport is usually reliable, it can be congested and standards vary. Use taxis that are officially registered with both a municipal registration number and the taxi number.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Serbia.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Serbia, 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. Research local laws before travelling - a good place to start is the Republic of Serbia, Ministry of Interior website.

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 lengthy imprisonment in local jails.

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

While homosexual activity is not illegal in Serbia, it is not widely accepted, and verbal and physical aggression towards the LGBTI community occurs. The Belgrade Pride Parade was banned from 2011 to 2013 due to high security risks, and again cancelled in 2014 due to severe flooding in Belgrade. See our LGBTI travellers page.

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

The Republic of Serbia has no restrictions on dual nationality.

Compulsory military service in Serbia was abolished on 1 January 2011. However, Australian/Serbian dual nationals should seek advice from the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Serbia to ensure they do not have residual obligations from before this date to complete military service.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

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.

Medical facilities in Serbia are below Australian standards. 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 be considerable.

Levels of air pollution in Serbia can be high, particularly in winter when heavy smoke from coal and wood burning heaters can linger. Accidental emission of toxic substances from factories is not uncommon and public health warnings after such accidents are not always issued. Sufferers of asthma or other bronchial conditions should seek medical advice.

Hepatitis A is a risk for travellers to Serbia. Travellers should discuss with their doctor the need to have hepatitis A vaccinations prior to travelling. Travellers should drink bottled water and avoid raw or undercooked food especially if travelling to the city of Nis.

Travel in forested areas in Serbia brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are common in country areas and are active from spring to autumn. We recommend you take measures to avoid tick-bites, particularly in rural areas.

Outbreaks of food-borne and other infectious diseases (including trichinosis, brucellosis and rabies) occur from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We recommend you avoid raw and undercooked food, and avoid unpasteurised dairy products.

Where to get help

If you are in Kosovo, please refer to our separate travel advisory for that country.

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the nearest local police station. The Serbian national emergency numbers are: Police-192, Fire-193, and Ambulance-194.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly. Or if you are not satisfied with their response, contact the nearest local Tourist office.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can’t do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below::

Australian Embassy, Belgrade

8th floor
Vladimira Popovica 38-40
11070 New Belgrade
Telephone (381 11) 330 3400
Facsimile (381 11) 330 3409
Website : www.serbia.embassy.gov.au
General email enquiries : belgrade.embassy@dfat.gov.au
Visa email enquiries : diac-belgrade@dfat.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are travelling to Serbia, 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 on-line 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

Flooding can occur throughout Serbia. Australians affected by flooding should monitor the media and follow the instructions of local authorities.

Serbia is located in an active earthquake zone. Serious earthquakes are rare but tremors are common.

Bush and forest fires can occur in summer months (June to September) particularly in southern Serbia. Extreme hot and dry periods may lead to water shortages.

Information on natural disasters, including earthquakes, can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources

For additional general and economic information to assist travelling in this country, see the following links:



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.