is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Albania.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Albania 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
current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Albania at Level
1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Review OSAC’s
report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Albania as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. The
Albanian government is making a concerted effort to improve the country’s law
enforcement capabilities and reduce corruption. Organized crime has a noted
impact on Albania, with a network of criminal organizations involved in drug
trafficking, extortion, bribery, money laundering, prostitution, and human
Recent crime statistics indicate an overall decrease
in violent crime; while murders increased by five from 2019, all other violent
or serious crimes have decreased. Street crime is common in urban areas,
predominantly at night. The most notable crimes are burglaries, theft, and
domestic violence. If armed assailants confront you, comply with their demands.
Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should
Attacks using small improvised explosive
devices (IEDs) and targeting individuals in contentious disputes have occurred
in the past year. Remain vigilant when parking in unattended parking areas,
avoid parking overnight in non-secure areas, and inspect vehicles for
suspicious items. If you find something strange, do not tamper with it and
contact the Albanian Police immediately. The expatriate community is not a specific
target, although members could become victims due to circumstance or proximity.
The security situation in the southern town
of Lazarat, which was one of the largest marijuana-producing regions in Europe,
has improved. However, the U.S. Embassy prohibits its personnel from personal
travel to the area, and strongly discourages visitors from traveling there as
Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and
Outs and Considerations for
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
Driving can be challenging. Travelers
regularly encounter unsafe drivers nationwide, and disregard for traffic laws
is widespread. Traffic accidents are frequent and often result in serious
injury or death. Those choosing to drive should exercise strong caution and
drive as defensively as possible.
Roads conditions in Albania continue to
improve. Major thoroughfares between cities are usually paved highways. Many
smaller roads in villages or neighborhoods are primarily dirt and rock, and are
in poor condition. In the winter, roads through the mountains in northern
Albania can be snowy and icy. Flash floods can occur at any time, opening deep
and wide potholes, especially in outlying areas.
Nighttime driving is hazardous, with roads
lacking proper lighting. Avoid traveling at night between cities because of the
risk of automobile accidents. Plan to arrive at destinations before nightfall.
You can only use an international driver’s
license for one year in Albania, but must apply for an Albanian driver’s
license after one year. It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol.
The police will seize your driver’s license and vehicle if caught. You may also
receive a fine or up to six months in prison. It is against the law to use a
mobile phone without a hands-free device while driving.
Passengers of private vehicles have been the
victims of robbery, including deaths, in the past two years in Tepelene, on the
route from Saranda to Tirana, and on the route from Athens to Tirana. Two Czech
tourists died in a carjacking near Theth in 2015.
Fuel and repair services are common in
populated areas, but there is no formal roadside assistance. Tires and
replacement parts may not be available. Emergency response services are
inadequate. First responders have limited medical training and equipment.
Accident victims often must transport to the nearest hospital in the car of a
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
Public transportation options are limited and
not generally recommended for visitors. Rail conditions are poor, limited, and
service unreliable. Private buses travel between most major cities almost
exclusively during the day on variable schedules. Intra-city transit is an
unofficial system of privately-owned vans operating without schedules, set
fares, or, occasionally, government permission. Many of these vans do not
adhere to accepted safety and maintenance standards or driver training.
Consider the condition of the van before traveling in one.
Pickpocketing occurs frequently on public
buses. Marked taxis are safe and recommended for use. Passengers should
negotiate a price before getting into the taxi. Review OSAC’s
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Tirana International Airport (TIA) is a newer
and modern airport. Well-known regional airlines fly to Albania on a regular
basis. There are no commercial domestic flights. As there is no direct
commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Albania,
the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government
of Albania’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Tirana as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests. Returned Albanian fighters from Syria and Iraq continue to pose a
problem for the country. The Albanian government has policies and procedures to
document the travel of Albanians to and from Iraq and Syria. In 2018, there
were 25 new terrorism-related cases in the judicial system, although with no
Albania has laws against terrorist acts; terrorism
financing; collection, transfer, and concealment of funds that finance
terrorism; conducting transactions with persons on the UN sanctions lists;
recruiting and training people to commit terrorist acts; incitement of
terrorist acts; and establishing, leading and participating in terrorist
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Tirana as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting
official U.S. government interests.
Demonstrations and political protests are
common in Albania. The protests are generally peaceful, but have resulted in
violence in the past. During 2019, there were approximately ten large
political protests organized by the opposition parties. Most of those
protests turned violent and prompted a police response using tear gas and water
cannons to disperse the crowd; injuries were reported among police and
Demonstrations vary in size from several
hundred to several thousand participants, and frequently disrupt traffic.
Protest organizers must apply for a permit from the police prior to any
demonstration activity, but this does not always take place. The police closely
monitor demonstrations and take appropriate measures. Avoid demonstrations and
protests. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving
Anti-U.S. sentiment is rare in Albania, and
the international community is generally well-regarded.
Albania is subject to destructive earthquakes. Tsunamis occur
along its southwestern coast, and floods and drought issues are possible
electricity supply is uneven despite upgraded transmission capacities with
neighboring countries. However, the government has recently taken steps to stem
non-technical losses and has begun to upgrade the distribution grid. Better
enforcement of electricity contracts has improved the financial viability of
the sector, decreasing its reliance on budget support. Sporadic blackouts
throughout the country can affect food storage capabilities.
Economic Concerns/Intellectual Property Theft
Albania is vulnerable to money
laundering associated with regional trafficking in narcotics, arms, contraband,
and persons. Albania’s is a cash economy. Credit card acceptance is limited.
ATMs are widely available in the cities. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers
and Taking Credit.
Personal Identity Concerns
law prohibits sexual harassment, but officials rarely enforce it. The law
includes provisions on sexual assault, and criminalizes spousal rape, but again
the government does not enforce the law effectively, and authorities does not
prosecute spousal rape. Sexual assault and harassment are issues mostly
encountered in the smaller towns. The victims tend to be females walking alone.
State Department’s webpage on security for female travelers.
There are no legal restrictions on
same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI+ events in Albania.
Albanian law does not permit same-sex marriage and does not legally recognize
other countries’ same-sex marriage certificates. The government does not
prosecute or discriminate against same-sex relationships. Same-sex married
couples cannot apply for family residency permits, but they may register
individually. Despite the law and the government’s formal support for LGBTI+
rights, homophobic attitudes remain. Review the State Department’s webpage on
security for LGBTI+ travelers.
The Albanian Parliament ratified
the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2012. However, Albania
has implemented very few of the convention’s terms. Limited measures exist to
support disabled persons. Most public buildings remain inaccessible. Public
transportation for persons with disabilities is very limited. Review the State
Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
Albania is an active transshipment point for Southwest Asian
opiates, hashish, and cannabis transiting the Balkan route and, to a lesser
extent, cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe. Albania is also
significant source country for cannabis production. Ethnic-Albanian
narcotrafficking organizations are active and expanding in Europe.
Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary import or
export of particular items from Albania. Read the State Department’s webpage on
and import restrictions for information on what you
cannot take into or out of other countries.
The emergency line for the police in Albania
is 129. Police now have a visible presence
throughout Tirana and other larger Albanian cities; however, their response is
often delayed due to limited resources and manpower. Police tend to respond
more rapidly to reports from members of the international community. One
concern regarding police performance is their low salaries and the resulting
potential for corruption. For local first responders, refer to the Embassy’s Emergency Assistance page.
The Albanian Government appears to be making
a concerted effort to improve the country’s law enforcement capabilities,
particularly in the areas of counterterrorism and organized crime. Corruption
and lack of resources within the police present ongoing challenges.
Download the State Department’s Crime Victims
Healthcare is a serious problem in Albania. Medical
care is inadequate in some areas, and emergency medical services are very
limited. There are no trauma hospitals outside of Tirana. Individuals under
continuing medical supervision should consult their physician prior to travel. Find
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the U.S.
Bring a sufficient supply of any required
medications. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance (including medical evacuation) before traveling to Albania. Review
the State Departments webpage on insurance
Drink only bottled water, as local tap water does
not meet U.S. standards. Review OSAC’s report, I’m
Drinking What in My Water?
pollution is a problem throughout Albania, particularly in Tirana, due to
antiquated industrial and power plants.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for
Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
Receive vaccinations against Hepatitis A and
B as a precaution prior to traveling to Albania. Travelers involved in outdoor
activities should receive vaccination against rabies due to the large number of
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Albania.
OSAC Country Council
There is no OSAC Country Council in Albania. Contact
OSAC’s Europe team for more information.
U.S. Embassy Contact
U.S. Embassy Tirana is located at Rruga
Stavro Vinjau, 14 in Tirana.
Regular hours: 0800 – 1630, Monday – Friday.
Telephone: +355 (0) 4 22 472 85/86/87/88/89.
you travel, consider the following resources: