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 take normal precautions.
Because there is no Irish Embassy in Serbia, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Belgrade or the Irish Embassy in Athens, in Greece.
You can contact the emergency services in Serbia by dialling:
- Police: 192
- Fire department: 193
- Ambulance: 194
- Roadside assistance: 1987
Other EU embassies
You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries 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
The political situation in Serbia is relatively stable. However, we advise you to stay alert at all times, to monitor local media reports and follow the directions of local authorities regarding safety or security risks.
Kosovo formally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and Ireland fully recognises the Republic of Kosovo as an independent nation. However, the government of Serbia has stated that Kosovo’s declaration of independence is illegal and this has led to increased tensions between ethnic groups.
A number of demonstrations and political gatherings have been held in Belgrade since Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Demonstrations and protests have also taken place at customs and police posts along the border with Kosovo. We strongly recommend that you avoid any demonstrations or public gatherings as there is a possibility that they may turn violent without warning. You should also avoid being drawn into discussion of the political situation with people you do not know well.
Avoid taking photographs of military and police installations and/or personnel or vehicles anywhere in Serbia, as this may lead to difficulties with the authorities.
There are still residual mines and other unexploded ordnance in some areas of South Serbia. Be careful when travelling in the Presevo and Bujanovac districts of South Serbia. Don’t stray off main routes, particularly in rural areas, and always check with your local contact or tour operator before travelling to affected regions.
Although the threat from terrorism in Serbia 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.
Most visits to Serbia are trouble-free but you should be careful of street crime, such as mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing particularly in larger cities. Take normal, sensible precautions to stay safe:
- 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.
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations, markets and other places frequented by tourists
- Four-wheel-drive and luxury vehicles are a popular target for criminals.
- Isolated incidents of armed violence in major cities are a problem; however, these are usually linked to organised crime and not directed against foreigners.
If you’re a victim of a crime while in Serbia, report it to the local police immediately and get a report. And you can contact the Honorary Consul of Ireland in Belgrade if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Serbia, you should be careful. Road conditions are generally fair to poor and conditions are worse in rural areas, especially in, and after, bad weather. One particularly poor road is the Ibarska Magistrala (linking Serbia to Montenegro); bad conditions and overcrowding can make it dangerous. Roadworks on the main highways across Serbia (from the Croatian and Hungarian border to Bulgaria and Macedonia), may cause delays. We advise you to drive defensively and avoid confrontation with other drivers.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your full Irish driver’s licence and your international driving permit
- Make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance that will cover you in Serbia
- Driving with dipped headlights is compulsory during the day
- You should check local developments before starting your journey particularly if you plan to cross a land border with Kosovo
You could be refused entry into Serbia if you can’t show proof that you own or have hired your vehicle so bring your V5 log book or hire agreement and a locally-valid insurance policy so you can present them to the authorities. European green card vehicle insurance is valid in Serbia but is no longer required. The green card annotation for Serbia is ‘SRB’.
There are several tollbooths along Serbia’s motorways. Tolls will depend on the size of your vehicle and you should have at least €200 in cash for toll charges.
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).
Many Serbian car hire firms won’t allow their vehicles to be driven in Kosovo, Bulgaria or Albania due to concerns about the security situation. There have been some incidents where Serbian-registered cars have been targeted in more isolated areas of Kosovo. Check the security situation before you set out on your journey.
Local laws and customs
Local laws and customs
Remember, the local laws apply to you 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.
You should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.
High standards of public behaviour are the norm in Serbia and the nature of Serbian society makes public displays of affection inadvisable.
Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties and usually a lengthy prison sentence.
Entry requirements (visa/passport)
Irish citizens don’t need a visa to visit Serbia for a period of up to 90 days. If you have questions about the entry requirements for Serbia, including visa and other immigration information, ask your travel agent or contact the Embassy of Serbia in London. You can also check with them how long your passport must be valid for.
You need a valid and undamaged passport to enter Serbia. It’s also advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you and to carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay.
You must register with the local police within 24 hours of arriving in Serbia. If you’re staying in a hotel or official tourist accommodation, you will be registered automatically on check-in. Failure to register may lead to a fine, detention or a court appearance.
If you want to stay in Serbia for longer than 90 days (for the purpose of education, employment, marriage, etc.) you must apply to the local district police for a temporary residence permit before the 90-day period expires. Make sure you file your permit at least 30 days prior to the expiry of your temporary residence. You’ll need to provide supporting documents with your application.
Entering the country
You should only enter Serbia through recognised border crossings, where you will receive an entry stamp in your passport from the border police. You may face charges of illegal immigration if you try to leave the country without an entry stamp or exit-entry visa and this could result in a heavy fine or possible imprisonment.
If you’re a temporary resident (in the country for more than 90 days) you should have an exit-entry visa as well as a residence stamp in your passports.
Recognised entry points
The Serbian government doesn’t recognise entry points from Kosovo or those on Kosovo’s external borders with Albania, Montenegro or Macedonia (for the list of recognised entry points please refer to the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The Serbian authorities will not allow you to travel into Serbia, from Kosovo, unless you began your journey in Serbia and are returning there directly.
Since the introduction of Republic of Kosovo stamps, we’re aware of incidents where foreign nationals who have been denied entry to Serbia if they have these stamps in their passports.
We are also aware of isolated incidents where Serbian authorities have cancelled Kosovo stamps in passports of foreign nationals. You’re less likely to experience entry problems if you travel into Kosovo from Serbia and are returning via the same route or are travelling via Albania, Macedonia or Montenegro.
The official currency of Serbia is the dinar. Credit cards and travellers’ cheques are accepted in most hotels and shops and nearly all ATMs accept international bank cards.
There are many money exchange machines and offices in Belgrade (including at Belgrade airport) that accept euros, sterling and US dollars and will give back dinars. Irish banks don’t generally exchange dinars so you should exchange any unwanted dinars before you leave Serbia. Only change money through banks or official exchange offices and not through street dealers.
On arrival in Serbia, you must declare money (including travellers’ cheques) in excess of €10,000 (or equivalent) and also items of value intended for personal use and obtain a declaration from custom officials. When you’re departing, you’ll need to return a certified copy of this declaration to customs so that money (up to the amount brought in but not exceeding €10,000 in value) can be taken out again. You will also be asked for a receipt of purchase for dinars you’ve bought from a foreign bank.
If you don’t comply with these rules, your money can be confiscated.
Serbia lies in a seismically active zone. While there has been no serious earthquake in recent years, quakes do occur and earth tremors are common. You should also find out from local contacts or your hotel what you should do in the event of an earthquake.
During especially hot and dry periods there is a danger of forest fires. Always act responsibly when visiting wooded areas and under no circumstances light barbecues or leave any litter behind.
Get medical advice before travelling and make sure that you have any vaccinations you need for Serbia and purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all of your intended activities.
The level of medical care in Serbia is not comparable to that in Western Europe. Doctors and hospitals will often expect immediate payment, in cash, for health services so if you’ve been referred to a medical facility for treatment, contact your insurance/medical assistance company as soon as possible.
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.
Cases of rabid foxes and dogs have been reported in Serbia, usually in parks and the outskirts of major cities, including in areas which had been rabies-free for decades. Be wary of, and try to avoid contact with, stray dogs. If bitten, get medical help as soon as possible.
There is also a risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis in forested areas so take precautions to avoid tick bites.
Mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile disease can be a problem in Serbia. You should take precautions by getting up-to-date medical advice before you travel as to whether you will need anti-malarial medication. When you arrive, avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using bed nets and repellents, and wearing closed shoes, long sleeves and trousers.