State Department: Bosnia-Hercegovina - Consular Information Sheet, July 13, 1998
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Consular Information Sheet
July 13, 1998
Warning: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of
the dangers of travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The war in Bosnia and
Herzegovina was halted by the Dayton Peace Accords in December 1995. There
are still risks, however, from occasional localized political violence,
landmines, unexploded ordnance, and carjacking. As many as one million
landmines are still scattered throughout the country, and visitors are
advised to remain on well-trafficked surfaces and roadways. There are
still occasional flare-ups of violence, sometimes linked to protests over
the return of displaced persons and arrests of war criminals. Visitors
should avoid crowds and stay away from demonstrations. The risk of being
caught in political violence remains highest in Mostar, Brcko, Foca, Drvar,
Zepce, Stolac, Zenica, Pale, and Srebrenica.
Country Description: Following the December 1995
signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, there has been significant progress in
restoring peace, and recent progress in the Republika Srpska, an entity
within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has accelerated
Although physical infrastructure was devastated by the war, recently
there has been significant improvement, and reconstruction is accelerating.
Utility service has improved dramatically, but gas, electrical, and
especially water outages still occur. Hotels and travel amenities are
available in Sarajevo and other major towns but are expensive. In the more
remote areas of the country public facilities vary in quality.
The popular religious shrine at Medjugorje is located in Herzegovina.
Most pilgrims travel to Medjugorje by road from Split, Croatia, without
incident, although the roads are narrow and lack guardrails in many
Entry Requirements: A passport is required. A visa is
not required for tourist stays up to three months. Unless the traveler is
staying at a hotel, all foreigners must register with the local police
within 48 hours of arrival. U.S. citizens planning to remain in Bosnia and
Herzegovina for more than three months must obtain a temporary residence
permit from the local police having jurisdiction over their place of
residence and pay a fee of 50 dollars for one 12-month period. The
authorities of the Republika Srpska have been known to charge a 40 deutsche
mark (DM) visa fee to U.S. citizens when entering, exiting, or passing
through that entity. This discrepancy will cease after the new immigration
law is adopted by the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For additional
information concerning longer stays, employment, and other types of visas,
contact the consular section of the Embassy of the Republic of Bosnia and
Herzegovina, 2109 E Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20037, telephone: (202)
833-3612. Overseas, inquiries may be made to the nearest Bosnian embassy
Areas of Instability: An estimated one million unmarked
land mines remain from the war throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Special
care should be taken when near former confrontation lines and the former
Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo; souvenir hunting in these areas is extremely
dangerous. To minimize dangers and difficulties, automobile travel should
be limited to hard-surface roads because of landmines. Pedestrians should
avoid unpaved surfaces. Travelers should use extreme caution, especially
in regions away from major urban centers, because of inadequate control by
local authorities. Localized political difficulties continue with
occasional inter-ethnic violence and bombings. As firearms are readily
available, random violence may occur with little or no warning. While
prospects for a durable peace are increasing, U.S. citizens still must take
precautions regarding their personal security. Visitors should avoid
crowds and stay away from demonstrations. While most Bosnian citizens
appreciate the assistance of the international community, outbreaks
of anti-foreigner sentiment sometimes occur.
Medical Facilities: The lack of adequate medical
facilities, especially outside Sarajevo, may cause problems for visitors.
The blood supply is not screened for HIV or AIDS. Because many medicines
are not obtainable, travelers should bring their own supply of prescription
drugs and preventive medicines. Private medical practitioners are rare,
but the number of private dentists is increasing. U.S. medical coverage is
not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program
does not provide payment for medical services outside the United
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 or disposition of remains in the event of
death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including
overseas insurance programs, is provided the Department of State,
Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for
Americans Traveling Abroad," available via its home page and autofax
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: Although street crime is relatively
low and violent crimes are rare, petty street crimes such as pickpocketing
and breaking into parked automobiles are problems. Travelers should take
normal precautions to protect their property from theft and exercise
commonsense personal security measures such as avoiding travel in deserted
areas after dark, walking in pairs, and staying in well-lighted areas after
dark. The most serious problem affecting travelers to Bosnia and
Herzegovina is armed, at times violent, carjacking, especially of
four-wheel drive vehicles. In carjacking situations, the U.S. Embassy
advises compliance without resistance. Confrontations with local citizens
resulting from traffic incidents or public disagreements should also be
avoided. 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,.
Road Safety/Traffic Conditions: Road travel is possible
throughout most of the country, although some roads are still impassable
due to war damage. Travel by road should be considered risky, as roads are
not well maintained and many bridges damaged during the war remain
temporary at best. The driving habits of local drivers are poor, and many
vehicles are in poor condition. Many accidents occur when drivers exceed
safe speeds along winding mountain roads. Accidents involving drunk
driving are an increasing problem. Driving after dark is especially
dangerous; except for Sarajevo, street lighting is not widespread, road
construction may be poorly marked, and heavy vehicles move slowly on hills.
Because of the threat of carjackings and poor road conditions, travelers
are encouraged to convoy with other vehicles, if possible, and to plan
their trip to ensure they travel only during daylight hours. Service
stations are rare outside major cities and road support networks for
stranded drivers do not exist.
Rail Travel: The railways are presently being
reconstructed, and only very limited passenger service is available.
Air Travel: The airports in Sarajevo, Mostar, and Banja
Luka have reopened, but commercial service is limited to Sarajevo. Service
provided by several commercial carriers has been reliable, although
cancellations and delays because of weather conditions occur, especially
between November and March.
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 Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Bosnia and
Herzegovina's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international
aviation safety standards for oversight of Bosnia and Herzegovina'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 host country. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in
illegal drugs in Bosnia and Herzegovina are strict and convicted offenders
can expect jail sentences and fines.
Dual Nationality: The Government of Bosnia and
Herzegovina does not recognize the U.S. citizenship of persons who are
citizens of both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States. This may
hinder the ability of U.S. consular officers to assist persons who do not
enter Bosnia and Herzegovina on a U.S. passport. Dual nationals may also
be subject to national obligations, such as taxes and military service.
Travelers should contact a Bosnia and Herzegovina embassy or consulate for
Currency: Almost all of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a
cash economy. The de facto currency is the deutsche mark (and the local
equivalent the convertible mark.) Although there are exceptions,
U.S. dollars are generally not accepted. Travelers should change enough
dollars into deutsche marks before arriving. Except in Medjugorje,
acceptance of credit cards is unusual, and travelers should not plan to use
them to cover expenses. Travelers checks can be cashed in banks in major
cities, but often with delays of three to four weeks. Cash transfers from
abroad may also involve delays.
Photography Restrictions: Photographing military
installations, including airports, equipment, bridges, government
checkpoints, or troops is forbidden. If in doubt, ask permission.
Registration and Embassy Location: U.S. citizens
visiting or remaining in Bosnia, despite the travel warning, can register
at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo and obtain updated
information on travel and security within Bosnia and Herzegovina. The
Consular Section is located at Obala Kulina Bana #1, 4th floor, telephone
number (387)(71)667-900, fax number (387)(71) 443-596. On weekends,
holidays, and after hours, an Embassy duty officer can be reached at
Department of State travel information publications are available at
Internet address: http://travel.state.gov.
U.S. travelers may hear recorded information by calling (202) 647-5225 from
a touchtone telephone, or receive information by automated telefax by
dialing (202) 647-3000 from their fax machine.
This replaces the Consular Information
Sheet (CIS) dated June 18, 1996, to update all aspects of the CIS.