Get travel and medical insurance
Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
We advise you to exercise normal precautions.
We advise against all travel to the northeast border areas (i.e. the districts of Kukes, Has and Tropoje) between Albania and Kosovo because of the very poor condition of the roads and the risk of landmines and other unexploded ordnance placed during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.
Because there is no Irish Embassy or Consulate in Albania, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Athens.
We suggest you learn as much as you can about Albania before your trip from travel agents, tour operators and guide books. The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems when you’re in Albania, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.
Albanian local emergency service telephone numbers are:
- 129 for police.
- 126 for road police.
- 127 for ambulance.
- 128 for fire department.
Other EU embassies
You can try contacting the Embassies, Consulates of other EU countries represented in Albania for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.
Our tips for Safe Travels:
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
- Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
- Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
- Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
- Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.
Safety and Security
Safety and security
Although the threat from terrorism in Albania is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.
Crime remains relatively low in Albania but you should take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
- Be aware that ownership of firearms is widespread in Albania.
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Albania, report it to the local police immediately. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Athens if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Albania, you should be extremely careful. Albanian driving can often be aggressive and erratic. Roads are poor except for those linking the main cities and there’s no street lighting outside of the cities so night travel is best avoided. There is no national car recovery system, so cars should be self-sufficient, carrying minor repair equipment, local phrase book, first aid kit, water and overnight food when in remote areas.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught.
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights.
- If you’re involved in a traffic accident, even a minor one, you must wait until the police arrive.
- Be aware that drivers with foreign licensed vehicles draw particular scrutiny from the Road Traffic Police.
Hiring a vehicle
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to your as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal
Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.
The Albanian authorities don't always inform the Irish Embassy when Irish nationals have been arrested. If you're detained, you should insist on your right to contact an Irish Embassy Consular Officer.
We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.
Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.
Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.
Your policy should cover:
- All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
- Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
- Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
- Lost and stolen possessions.
- Cancellation and curtailment.
- Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).
Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.
Check with your doctor a minimum of eight weeks in advance of travelling to see if you need any vaccinations for Albania.
The level of medical care is not comparable to that in Western Europe, and medical facilities (including those for accident and emergency use) are very poor, particularly outside Tirana. We don’t recommend using the dental facilities.
The Albanian authorities have confirmed that there have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in domestic poultry in the village of Cuka near the Butrint Lagoon in south west Albania and in the village of Peze-Helmes, 14km from the capital Tirana. No human infections or deaths have been reported. The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low. As a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked. Learn more about avian flu on the HSE’s website.
There are high levels of Hepatitis in Albania. Learn more about Hepatitis on the HSE’s website.
Cases of tick-borne encephalitis have been reported in the north of the country; vaccination is available. Keep all areas of your body covered when close to shrubs or bushes, and inspect yourself regularly for ticks
Rabies is also a matter of concern as there are large numbers of stray dogs, although there have been no reports of the disease in Tirana at present. Learn more about Rabies on the HSE’s website.
The tap water in Albania may cause illness and you should drink only bottled water.
Irish citizens don’t need a visa for short visits to Albania. However, you must make sure your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months from your date of entry into Albania.
Major credit/debit cards are accepted in most banks and international hotels. You may prefer to use cash, as in the past foreigners have been victims of credit card fraud.
Natural disasters and climate
If you’re travelling to Albania, make sure you know what to expect – then plan and pack so that you’re prepared. If there is a serious incident, co-operate with local authorities and emergency services.
- The rainy season, usually between December and February, can cause severe flooding, particularly in the north of Albania.
- Albania lies in a seismically active zone. While there has been no serious earthquake in recent years, quakes do happen and earth tremors are common.