State Department: Serbia-Montenegro - Consular Information Sheet, August 26, 1998
Serbia-Montenegro - Consular Information Sheet
August 26, 1998
Warning: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens
against travel to and around Serbia's southern province of Kosovo. The
potential for rapid changes in the security situation there is high.
Ongoing tensions between ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians worsened
in the spring of 1998, with a series of armed clashes throughout the
Both the police and Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) are active in the
region and each operates numerous checkpoints throughout Kosovo. There
have been incidents at both kinds of checkpoints where guards have fired at
vehicles whose occupants did not obey their commands. Due to the potential
for violence, the authority of the individuals operating any checkpoint
should not be challenged.
While American citizens traveling in other parts of the country have not
to date experienced security problems, travelers should be aware that
sanctions imposed against Serbia-Montenegro may adversely affect their
travel plans. Due to the sanctions affecting financial institutions in
Serbia-Montenegro, for example, merchants and hotels have begun to refuse
credit cards as a form of payment. Travelers will find it increasingly
necessary to travel with sums of cash, an inconvenience which increases the
potential for theft. In addition, European nations have stated that they
will deny landing rights to Jugoslav Airlines (JAT). When this policy is
implemented, and especially if Serbia-Montenegro retaliates against
European air carriers, those wishing to depart Serbia-Montenegro may find
it necessary to leave overland and enter another country in order to board
an international flight.
Country Description: The "Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia" (Serbia-Montenegro) is a moderately developed European country
confronting profound political and economic changes. Tourist facilities are
widely available, but conditions vary considerably, and some services and
supplies taken for granted in other European countries are unavailable.
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens require a passport
and visa, which should be obtained prior to arriving in Serbia-Montenegro.
While the U.S. does not fully recognize the "Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia" (FRY), the U.S. maintains an Embassy in Belgrade and the FRY
maintains an Embassy in Washington. For further information about entry
requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the "Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia" at 2410 California Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20008,
telephone (202) 462-6566.
Areas of Instability: In Serbia's southern province of
Kosovo, ongoing tensions between ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians have
worsened in recent months to the point of frequent armed clashes,
particularly in the Drenica region north and west of Pristina and in the
region near the border with Albania. Police checkpoints are numerous
throughout Kosovo and the Yugoslav Army is increasingly visible outside
garrisons. Armed ethnic Albanian extremists are also increasingly visible
and have set up temporary roadblocks at some points. Large demonstrations
by both Serbs and ethnic Albanians continue in major Kosovo towns on a
daily basis. Ethnic tensions remain high in the Sandzak region as well.
Travelers can expect to be stopped by government militia and should
Medical Facilities: Although many physicians in
Serbia-Montenegro are highly trained, hospitals and clinics are generally
not equipped and maintained to U.S. standards. Medicines and basic medical
supplies are largely obtainable in privately-owned pharmacies. Hospitals
usually require payment in cash for all services. 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 U.S.
Medical Insurance: 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 the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page and autofax
Other Health Information: 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
1-888-232-3299, or via their Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
Crime Information: In recent years there has been an
increase in street crime in the large cities. Local citizens frequently
complain that they do not feel as safe as in the past. This may partially
be attributed to difficult economic conditions and to the growth of an
organized criminal class. While confrontational and gratuitously violent
crimes are not a concern for tourists in Belgrade, Mafia-style reprisals
can occur anywhere, including hotels, restaurants, and shops. As in other
parts of the world, travelers should be especially on guard near railroad
and bus stations, on public transport, and while walking in city centers.
In case of emergency, the police telephone number is 92.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport overseas should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" provides useful
information on protecting personal security and possessions while traveling
abroad. It is available from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402 or the Department of
Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws
of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use,
or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can
expect jail sentences and fines.
Road Conditions/Traffic Safety: While in a foreign country, U.S.
citizens may encounter road conditions which differ significantly
from those in the U.S. The information below concerning
Serbia-Montenegro is provided for general reference only and may not
be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:
Safety of Public Transportation: Average
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Average
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Dangerous areas for road travel include "Ibarska Magistrala", the main
road from Serbia to Montenegro running though central Serbia, a two-lane
road in bad condition which is usually overcrowded, and a road called
"Moraca Canyon" in Montenegro, a twisting, two-lane road which is
especially overcrowded in summer.
Taxi service is safe and reasonably priced, although foreigners are
frequently charged higher rates. Buses and trams are grossly overcrowded
in Belgrade and are poorly maintained.
Travelers entering the country by road should be aware that purchase of
local third-party insurance is required. In addition, road tolls for
foreign-registered vehicles are extremely high.
Aviation Safety Oversight: Direct commercial air
service between the U.S. and Serbia-Montenegro has been suspended since
1992. An application to the U.S. government by JAT-Yugoslav Airlines to
resume service is being held in abeyance on foreign policy grounds until
further notice. In June 1998, the European Union (EU) approved a ban on
direct flights between EU member states and Serbia-Montenegro, which they
are now taking steps to implement.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the
government of Serbia-Montenegro's civil aviation authority as Category 1 --
in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of
Serbia-Montenegro'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's Internet website 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.
Customs Regulations: Travelers are required to declare
all currency upon entry and obtain a declaration form from customs
officials which must be presented at departure. Failure to comply may
result in the confiscation of all funds.
Currency: Travelers should carry sufficient cash for
their stay. Due to U.N. sanctions, credit cards, personal checks, and
travelers checks generally are not accepted.
Registration with Local Authorities: Visitors staying
in private homes must register with police officials upon arrival; failure
to comply may result in a fine, incarceration, and/or expulsion.
Registration and Embassy Location: U.S. citizens are
encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and to obtain
updated information on travel and security in Serbia-Montenegro. The
Embassy's website at http://www.amembbg.co.yu/ contains
information helpful to U.S. citizens. The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade is
located at Kneza Milosa 50, telephone (381)(11) 645-655; after hours (381)
(11) 646-481. The Consular Section fax number is (381)(11) 644-053;
alternate fax number is (381)(11) 645-221.
This replaces the Consular Information
Sheet issued March 11, 1997, to update information on Entry
Requirements, Areas of Instability, Medical Facilities, Crime Information,
Road Conditions, Aviation Safety Oversight, Currency Information and the