is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina. OSAC encourages travelers to use this report to gain baseline
knowledge of security conditions in Kosovo. For more in-depth information,
review OSAC’s Kosovo country page for original
OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may
be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of
this report’s publication assesses Kosovo at Level 2, indicating travelers
should exercise increased caution. Reconsider travel to North Mitrovica,
Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan due to civil unrest. Review OSAC’s
report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Pristina as
being a MEDIUM-threat location for
crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. The lack of
economic opportunity is a factor in crime rates in Kosovo. Crimes of
opportunity are the most prevalent. Street crimes (e.g. theft, purse snatching)
are somewhat common, especially in Pristina. There were 168 cases of robberies
in the country reported last year. The targets included houses, casinos, micro
financial organizations, shops, markets, banks, and betting clubs. According to
Kosovo Police (KP) publications, during the 2019 January-October period, the
number of thefts was 3,562, while the number of grievous thefts was 4,357. Review
OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
The expatriate community can be a target of crime, as criminals
assume that members of the community are affluent. Expatriate community
members’ homes, businesses, and vehicles are, on occasion, targets for burglary.
In early 2020, there was an attempted break-in of an official U.S. residence. Review
OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
often commit crimes with firearms, as weapons are fairly easy to obtain in
Kosovo. While violent crimes occur throughout Kosovo, the number of reported
violent crimes against U.S. nationals is very small. Robberies often occur
during late night and early morning hours. Some of these reports have included
the assailant using a weapon to gain small amounts of cash. The victims of
these crimes appear to have been targets because they were walking alone, in
the dark, and/or were under the influence of alcohol.
crime is present in Kosovo, occasionally resulting in violent confrontations
between rival organizations. Most incidents are politically motivated and are
not directed at tourists or foreigners.
fraud is present in Kosovo. Authorities have found ATM skimmers in the country.
Avoid freestanding ATMs, and always check the ATM for irregularities before
use. ATMs attached to financial institutions such as banks are reliable. Review
OSAC’s reports, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics,
Best Practices for
Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile
Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones:
Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
within larger metropolitan areas are typically in good condition, while those
outside the cities range from good to terrible. Be particularly careful at
night, as lighting along roadways is limited. Roads often lack proper
reflective markings and safety measures (e.g. lane markers, guardrails). Kosovo
is working to expand its infrastructure, and recently opened a modern highway
connecting Pristina and Skopje.
is more difficult in Kosovo than in the U.S. for many reasons: unfamiliar
traffic patterns, military vehicles, unobserved traffic laws, stray pets and
livestock, horse-drawn carts, infrastructure problems, and ongoing road
construction projects. Drive defensively.
has many pedestrians, and the city is walkable. Pedestrians should use caution
as many sidewalks are in a state of disrepair, and drivers do not respect
consider a blood alcohol level higher than 0.05% as intoxication, and will be
arrest and prosecute drunk drivers. The use of seat belts and headlights is
mandatory. It is illegal to use a cell phone while driving unless it is
hands-free. Report all accidents, including minor fender-benders, to police. After
any type of accident, do not move your vehicle until officers arrive to take a
police impose a fine or penalty, they may legally confiscate your driver’s
license and vehicle documents until the penalty is paid. The U.S. Embassy is
not able to retrieve these documents.
Kosovo traffic safety laws for complete information on driver’s licenses and
imported or foreign-tagged vehicle registration requirements.
of motor vehicles registered outside of Kosovo may need to purchase liability
insurance at the border. Kosovo is not a member of the European motor vehicle
third party liability (“green card”) system.
frequently flood and are impassible during rainy months. Mudslides occasionally
shut down main roads. Ice and snow on roadways can cause delays and dangerous
conditions. Authorities take measures to clear the main roads of snow, but large
volumes of snow can delay clearance. Attempt to limit your driving to daylight
hours when you can see, and be seen, better. Driving on mountain roads during
winter requires that the driver carry tire chains in the car. Winter or
all-season tires with more than four millimeters tread are mandatory from
November 15 – March 15 in most regions. Review OSAC’s reports, Road
Safety Abroad, Driving
Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive
Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
are an inexpensive, safe, and reliable means of transportation. Use established
taxi companies instead of personally owned vehicles converted to a taxi. Make
sure the taxi has a meter and that the driver activates it upon
departure. Many of these meters are in the rear-view mirror, and not as a
separate electronic device in the car. If there is a question about the status
of the meter, ask the driver. Some of the more established taxi services now
also use telephone apps for service requests.
transportation is very limited and unreliable, and safety equipment is often
lacking or outdated.
Local buses are often overcrowded, and the bus lines may be difficult to figure
out. Long-range, inter-city buses are usually in good condition and are an
acceptable way to travel between cities or countries. Review OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Adem Jashari Inernational Airport (PRN) has undergone a major infrastructure
upgrade, including a new terminal facility and a new air traffic control tower.
However, the runway remains short, which can cause visibility issues when
combined with fog. Flights can experience significant delays/cancellations due
to weather conditions, especially in the winter months. When heavy fog or smog is present, flights may divert to Skopje (SKP)
or Tirana (TIA). Airlines then typically bus passengers back to PRN, which
takes approximately 2 hours.
As there is no direct commercial air service to the
United States by carriers registered in Kosovo, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Kosovo’s Civil Aviation
Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
aviation safety standards. Kosovo is not a member of ICAO.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Pristina as being a HIGH-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. During 2019, there were 13 reported cases
related to terrorism in Kosovo. The international/transnational terrorism
threat is like that faced by most European nations. Since independence, Kosovo
has experienced a rise in Islamic extremism, and at the same time, it has made
marked progress in the fight against terrorism. In April 2019, open-source
media reported that Kosovo repatriated over 100 citizens from the conflict zone
in Syria. It has since charged or indicted a number of these individuals with
crimes related to terrorism.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Pristina as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or
affecting official U.S. government interests. Political tensions can run high
among the government and its constituents. In the past, political parties have
tried to sway votes in Parliament through violent methods, such as deploying
tear gas during assembly sessions. These sessions commonly accompany civilian protests
outside the Parliament building.
involving 25 to more than 2,000 people can occur in Pristina, often in the
downtown area near government and international organization buildings. In
other areas of Kosovo, protests tend to focus on ethnically divided areas or
areas of ethnic tension.
has experienced minor political demonstrations due to high unemployment,
corruption, and dissatisfaction with government actions. The Kosovo Parliament’s
2017 petition to abrogate the Special Court law, which has oversight over war
crimes committed during and after the war in 1999, has sparked public backlash
as well as international condemnation. Also, in 2019, the imposition of a 100%
tax by the Kosovo government on Serbian products and the transformation of the
Kosovo Security Forces resulted in some peaceful protests by Serbs in the north
events may also trigger violence or protests. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.
Mitrovica, tensions remain high between Kosovo Albanians and Kosovo Serbs, in
part due to barricades, both physical and political, which restrict freedom of
movement. In other areas of the country, Serbs may face protests, especially
during religious holidays and pilgrimages. In January 2018, assailants killed a
prominent Kosovo Serb in North Mitrovica. Motives behind the attack remain
unknown, and the investigation is ongoing. As the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) continued
to integrate ethnic Serbs into its ranks, there were several occasions of Serb
recruits from the north having Molotov cocktails or explosive devices thrown at
police reported 61 religiously motivated incidents, most targeting religious
sites, including cemeteries, in the first nine months of 2019. Many incidents
were linked to ethnicity as well as religion.
nationals are generally well-received, particularly in Kosovo-Albanian
communities. However, there is a small population that espouse anti-U.S.
sentiment. Some ethnic Serbs remain suspicious of the U.S. due to the NATO
bombing of Serbia during the war. Returning foreign fighters from Iraq and
Syria have been known to perpetuate anti-U.S. sentiment in Kosovo.
is susceptible to earthquakes. There are three principle seismic zones:
Prizren-Peje, Ferizaj–Viti–Gjilan, and Kopaonik. Within the available data
range, the highest Richter Scale reading for the Gjilan zone was 6.6 (in 2002),
9.0 for the Ferizaj–Viti–Gjilan zone (in 1922), and 6.0 for the Kopaonik zone (in
1980). Between 1900 and 2000, historical records catalogued the following
earthquakes by intensity on the Richter scale: 82 earthquakes at >5
intensity; 34 at > 6 intensity; 12 at > 7 intensity; 10 at > 8
intensity; and 3 at > 9 intensity. The most recent significant earthquake in
2002 centered on Gjilan with a strength of 6.6; it killed one person and injured
at least 60 others.
quality during the winter months is exceptionally poor, mostly due to coal and
wood burning in homes and businesses in and around Pristina. There is often
visible smoke and smog in the air, resulting in respiratory issues for residents.
According to a European Commission report, “air pollution in Kosovo causes 835 premature deaths, 310 new cases of
chronic bronchitis, 600 hospital admissions, and 11,600 emergency visits each
year.” The U.S. Embassy maintains an air monitor, the readings of which are
outside Pristina offer beautiful vistas and amazing opportunities for hiking,
skiing, and communing with nature. Cell phone service can be limited in the
mountains and other remote nature areas. Roads leading to these areas can be
hazardous. The ability to get medical help in the mountains may be limited.
of feral dogs roam some areas of the major cities and may be aggressive. Sharr
dogs, large dogs used by shepherds, have bitten hikers in the mountains when
they have inadvertently been too close to the flock or house the dogs were
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
Pristina municipality estimates that 70% of new private construction (primarily
single-family homes and new apartment blocks) built since 1999 does not comply
with established construction standards. A major earthquake could devastate
experiences frequent electrical failures. Power generation facilities require
upgrades and/or replacement. Coal-fired power plants (KEK A and KEK B) are
located near Pristina. These generating units are nearing or past their planned
operating life. The European
Union has described the KEK plant as the worst single source of pollution in
Kosovo. KESCO Energy is a private, but regulated utility, and the only
active supplier of electricity to consumers.Power
outages, which can occur throughout Kosovo, may also disrupt other public
utilities, including water service, and interfere with traffic lights, normal
business activity, and public services.
Economic Concerns/Intellectual Property Theft
and actual corruption is widespread in Kosovo. Senior-level public officials
have been accused of bribery, racketeering, intimidation, and other forms of
corruption. Corruption is widespread and reflects a “cost-of-doing business”
mentality prevalent in many parts of the region. Anti-corruption efforts suffer
from a lack of cohesion, forceful action, and follow-through measures,
having EU-compliant legislation on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
protection, there is a general shortage of awareness. Legal professionals often
lack the necessary expertise to deal with IPR cases. This situation is an
impediment to franchise growth in the Kosovo market.
currency (mostly Euros) is an increasing trend in Pristina, and shopkeepers are
reporting occurrences to local police.
has developed an EU-compliant legal framework to protect the integrity of
personal information for citizens and residents. Implementation of these
safeguards remains uneven. U.S. investors should be aware that the business
environment depends heavily on family and regional connections. Personal or
proprietary information may be available to a broader audience.
are reports that some Kosovo sports clubs have allegedly not honored contracts
for foreigners. Consult with appropriate legal resources prior to entering into
Personal Identity Concerns
has a majority Muslim population, and some of the population retains a
conservative, traditional outlook. The younger generation of Kosovo Albanians
tends to be accepting of non-traditional Muslim lifestyles, but some
communities outside Pristina tend to be less so. Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of
LGBTI+ events in Kosovo. Anti-discrimination laws protect LGBTI+ individuals,
and there are no legal impediments to organizing LGBTI+ events. In practice,
however, LGBTI+ persons face discrimination. LGBTI+ travelers should exercise
caution when visiting Kosovo, especially with regard to expressing affection in
public. Despite existing legal protections, LGBTI+ travelers may find that
individual police officers are unfamiliar, or have limited experience, with the
needs or concerns of the LGTBI+ community. Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for LGBTI+
Kosovo Constitution and legislation prohibit discrimination against persons
with disabilities in employment, education, access to healthcare, and in the
provision of other state services. Only limited measures exist to support
disabled persons. While the law mandates access for disabled persons to
official buildings, it is not enforced, and such access is rarely available. Most
public buildings and many residential or commercial facilities remain
inaccessible. Public transportation for persons with disabilities is very
limited. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
often apply penalties lighter than the legal minimum in rape cases, and the
appellate court often further decreases these sentences. Law enforcement rarely
takes steps to protect victims and witnesses. The Prosecution Victim Assistance
Office reported an increased number of homicides in domestic violence cases. Victims
rarely report sexual violence, including rape, occurring either within or outside
the family or domestic unit, frequently due to social stigma or lack of trust
in authorities. According to women’s rights organizations, harassment is common
at workplaces in both the public and private sectors and in public institutions
of higher education. Relatively few women occupy upper-level management
positions in business, police, or government. NGOs reported women are often subject
to discriminatory hiring practices. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for female
have not been any kidnapping incidents involving foreign nationals since Kosovo’s
independence. Trafficking of persons remains a problem despite government steps
to address the issue. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping:
OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and
Don’ts for Photography.
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
While de-mining programs have proven effective,
unexploded ordnance (UXO) and mines remain in some areas. Seek additional
information for marked and unmarked contaminated areas with leftover mines and UXO.
Report any suspicious item to the local authorities.
Celebratory gunfire and the use of low-quality
fireworks are common during holidays and celebrations. Serious injuries and
death have occurred because of stray bullets and accidents evolving fireworks. Remain
indoors when viewing fireworks displays.
police emergency line in Kosovo is 192. Kosovo Police (KP) are the law enforcement
entity for the entire country, including borders. KP uniforms are light and
dark blue (supervisors wear white shirts), and their vehicles are white or navy
blue. While many Kosovar police officers speak English, a working knowledge of
Albanian/Serbian or a translator may be necessary when contacting host-country
nationals detained by the police should immediately contact U.S. Embassy
Pristina’s American Citizen Services (ACS), during normal business hours, and
the Embassy duty officer when the Embassy is closed. Send complaints against
the Kosovo Police or individual officers to Police Inspectorate of Kosovo. (Tel:
08000-3333, form online complaint form, email: firstname.lastname@example.org) To avoid further potential difficulties or
endangering themselves, U.S. nationals may file subsequent police reports in
Kosovo after they have departed the country, without returning to
Kosovo. Email the pertinent information and your request for a police
report to email@example.com. In addition, report any incidents of police
corruption, bribery, or harassment to U.S. Embassy Pristina.
nationals who become victims of crime should contact the police and then U.S.
Embassy Pristina's American Citizen Services unit. Kosovo has a victims’ compensation program for certain categories of crime, and an
active Victims’ Assistance Program that offers non-monetary support. The
Victims Advocacy and Assistance Office (VAAO) operates under Kosovo’s Chief
State Prosecutor’s mandate. The VAAO’s directive is to institutionalize the
rights of victims of crime and provide them with guidance, advice, and support
in accessing the justice system, while seeking to establish a functional
network of victim advocates. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims
and the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) which report to the Kosovo Interior Ministry
and Defense Ministry, respectively. The government has begun the process of
gradually transitioning the KSF into a territorial defense force, in accordance
with a 10-year plan. Border Police, a KP subgroup, are responsible for security
at the border. Police maintain internal security with assistance from EULEX,
the European Union rule-of-law mission in the country, as a second responder
for incidents of unrest, and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), an international
peacekeeping force, as a third responder. KFOR is responsible for providing a
safe and secure environment and ensuring freedom of movement in the country. As
of August 2019, the mission had 3,526 troops from 28 countries. As part of
their routine duties, KFOR soldiers conduct border patrols and provide other
security services, such as explosive ordnance disposal, which local authorities
medical emergency line in Kosovo is 194. Calling will result in an ambulance that will
only take you to the EMS triage center unless you specifically request to go
elsewhere. Ambulances will generally only take you to hospitals or clinics to
which they are affiliated. The quality of medical services in Kosovo is highly
variable and does not always meet international standards. Services fall below
international standards, and budget shortfalls can compromise medication
stocks. Find contact information for available medical services and available
air ambulance services on the U.S.
with U.S. based insurance plans must pay out-of-pocket healthcare costs on-site,
and attempt to obtain reimbursement upon submission of a claim. The U.S.
Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Procure health/medical insurance
that providers in Kosovo recognize, and which covers routine and emergency care
as well as medical evacuation (medevac) for the duration of your stay. Review
the State Department’s webpage on insurance
U.S. Embassy Pristina does not consider tap water potable in Kosovo. Drink
distilled, bottled, or boiled water. Follow food-safety precautions to prevent
food-borne illnesses. Cook foods long enough and at a high enough temperature
to kill any harmful bacteria that cause illnesses. Wash, peel, or boil fruits
and vegetables prior to eating. The CDC recommends avoiding all unpasteurized
dairy products. Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way
and I’m Drinking What in My
CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date on all routine vaccines (e.g. influenza,
chickenpox/varicella, polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus
(DPT)). The CDC also recommends vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, and a rabies
vaccination series for individuals with high occupational risks, for
individuals who are likely to be exposed to rabies-infected animals, and for
long-term stays. Dogs often travel in packs throughout the city of Kosovo, can
be aggressive, and vaccination status is typically not known. The CDC notes
that tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is prevalent in forested areas of Europe,
and sporadic human infections of TBE
as well as avian flu viruses have occurred throughout Eastern Europe.
annual incidence rate of tuberculosis (TB) is high in some countries in the
region, and there are regularly reported active cases of TB in Kosovo. There
are local West
Nile Virus outbreaks
or sporadic cases of infection throughout east and central Europe every year.
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Kosovo.
Review OSAC’s reports, Traveling with Medication, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for
Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council
has an active OSAC Country Council. Contact OSAC’s Europe team for more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
- Rr. Korriku #25, Prishtinë 10000
- Regular Hours: 0800 – 1700, Monday
- Telephone: +383-38-5959-3000
Citizen Services: +383-38-5959-3119, PristinaACS@state.gov.
Post One: +383-38-5959-3114.
you travel, consider the following resources: