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State Department: Albania - Consular Information Sheet, July 24, 1998

Albania - Consular Information Sheet
July 24, 1998

Warning: The Department of State recommends that American citizens continue to avoid unnecessary travel to Albania. Because of the influx of refugees from Kosovo into the northeastern part of the country and the resulting potential for increased security problems, Americans are particularly cautioned against travel to that area.

The security situation in Albania generally remains a cause for concern, due to the continuation of bombings and sporadic gunfire, mainly during the evening hours, as well as an increase in criminal activity. There has been an increase in the theft of vehicles at gunpoint, particularly four-wheel drive vehicles.

The security situation outside Tirana remains even less stable than in the capital, and American citizens should avoid travel outside the capital unless absolutely necessary. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that American citizens avoid crowds and exercise caution at all times.

Country Description: Albania continues to undergo profound social, political, and economic change. Facilities for tourism are not well developed and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other European countries are not yet available. Hotel accommodations are limited outside of Tirana.

Entry Requirements: A passport is required, but a visa is not necessary for a tourist stay of up to 30 days. For stays exceeding 30 days, a free extension obtainable from the local Police Commissariat is required. This extension is subject to renewal after 30 days. To extend a stay beyond three months, a permit is required from the Ministry of Interior. The second extension and three-month permit are both subject to minimal fees. For additional information, please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Albania at 2100 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel.: (202) 223-4942.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited, and medicine is in short supply. There are periodic outbreaks of polio, cholera, and dysentery. Doctors and hospitals generally expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.

Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via its home page and autofax service.

The international travelers hotline of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be reached from the United States at 1-888-232-3228, via their autofax service at 1-888-232-3229, or their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

Crime Information: Albania has a high rate of violent crime. The influx of refugees from Kosovo has increased the potential for criminal activity, especially in the northeastern part of the country. Criminal activity outside Tirana is especially prevalent. Crime is generally directed at targets of opportunity, not at Americans in particular. The theft of vehicles, especially four-wheel drive vehicles, from foreigners at gunpoint has become increasingly common. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables and protecting personal safety while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad." It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or http://travel.state.gov.

Road Safety/Travel Conditions: Major roads are passable, but often in poor repair. Buses travel regularly between most major destinations, but may be unreliable and uncomfortable. Travelers have reported attacks by bands of thieves in all parts of the country. There are no commercial domestic flights and few rail connections.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Albania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Albania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Albania's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet Home Page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

Criminal Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use and dealing of illegal drugs in Albania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Currency Regulations: Credit cards and travelers checks are not accepted in Albania except at the major new hotels in Tirana. Personal checks are not accepted anywhere.

Registration and Embassy Location: U.S. citizens visiting or remaining in Albania are strongly recommended to register at the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Albania. The U.S. Embassy in Tirana is located at Rruga E Elbasanit 103, tel.: (355)(42) 32875, fax: (355)(42) 32222.

No. 98-109

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated August 15, 1997, to update the Warning, Entry Requirements, Medical Facilities, Crime Information, Road Safety, and Aviation Safety Oversight, and Internet addresses.

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