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Albania 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Europe > Albania; Europe > Albania > Tirana

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Tirana does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TIRANA AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Albania-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

The expatriate community is not specifically targeted, although they could become victims due to circumstance or proximity.

The Albanian government is making a concerted effort to improve the country’s law enforcement and reduce corruption. Organized crime (drug trafficking, extortion, bribery, money laundering, prostitution, human trafficking) continues to remain a concern for most Albanians.

Recent crime statistics indicate a decrease in numerous violent crime categories to include attempted murder, robberies by force, and armed robberies. Street crime (burglaries, theft, domestic violence) is fairly common in urban areas, predominantly at night. Visitors are advised to not resist and to comply with demands if confronted by assailants.

Cybersecurity Issues

Cybercrime is a growing concern throughout the region.

Other Areas of Concern

The security situation in Lazarat, which was one of the largest marijuana producing regions in Europe, has improved. The Embassy prohibits personal travel to the area, and visitors are strongly discouraged from traveling to the region.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Roads are in poor condition, but with the influx of tourists each year, road conditions are improving. In the winter, the roads through the mountains in the north can be snowy and icy. Flash floods can also occur, opening deep, wide car-crushing potholes especially in outlying areas.

Driving can be challenging. Unsafe driving is regularly encountered, and disregard for traffic laws is widespread. Traffic accidents are frequent, often resulting in serious injury/death.

Night-time driving is hazardous, as roads lack proper lighting. Individuals are encouraged to avoid traveling at night between cities because of the risk of automobile accidents. It is recommended that U.S. citizens plan to arrive at destinations before nightfall.

If you choose to drive, please exercise strong caution and drive as defensively as possible. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

Public Transportation Conditions

Public transportation options are limited and not generally recommended. Marked taxis are considered safe and recommended for use.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TIRANA AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Albania has laws against terrorist acts; financing of terrorism; 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 organizations.

  • In 2016, nine defendants were found guilty of terrorism-related charges and sentenced in prison.

  • A growing concern in Albania and the Balkan region is the threat posed by foreign fighters traveling to Syria and returning to the region. Ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight.

  • In 2016, the State Police arrested four ISIS-linked suspects for plotting a terrorist attack on a World Cup qualifier soccer match between Albania and Israel.


Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TIRANA AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Demonstrations and political protests are common. The protests are generally peaceful but have resulted in violence. The demonstrations vary from several hundred to several thousand participants and frequently disrupt traffic. Protest organizers are required to apply for a permit from the police prior to any activity. The police closely monitor demonstrations and take appropriate measures. Individuals are encouraged to avoid demonstration or protest activity.

Post-specific Concerns

Drug-related Crimes

Albania remains a significant source country for cannabis, which is distributed through the complex network of Albanian organized-crime groups. While Albanian authorities reported an increase in arrests and destruction of cannabis plantations in 2016, there were also reports of increased cannabis cultivation.

Police Response

Corruption and lack of resources within the police presents an ongoing challenge. Law enforcement and security institutions have improved in the last few years. Police have a visible presence throughout Tirana and other larger cities; however, their response is often delayed due to limited resources and manpower. Police tend to respond more rapidly when contacted by members of the international community. One concern regarding police performance is their low salaries and the resulting potential for corruption. Regardless, law enforcement capabilities continue to improve, especially in the areas of counter-terrorism and organized crime training.

Crime Victim Assistance

Police: 129
Response times vary.

The government is implementing a plan to place English-speaking officers police stations throughout Tirana to facilitate communication with foreigners in the event of an emergency.

In case of an emergency involving a U.S. citizen, please call the Embassy at +355-(0)-4224-7285 and ask to speak with the American Citizen Services Unit, or, after hours, with the duty officer.

Medical Emergencies

Healthcare is a serious problem; medical care beyond first aid is limited, and emergency medical service (EMS) is virtually non-existent. There are no trauma hospitals outside of Tirana. Individuals under continuing medical supervision should consult their physician prior to travel. All visitors should bring a sufficient supply of any required medications. For more information, please refer to OSAC’s Report, “Traveling with Medications.”

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

A list of doctors and medical service providers can be found on U.S. Embassy Tirana’s website.

Insurance Guidance

All visitors are recommended to obtain medical evacuation insurance prior to traveling.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

Visitors are recommended to be inoculated against hepatitis A and B and to receive routine vaccinations. If travelers are involved in outdoor activities in remote areas or are planning to work with wild animals, it is advised to be inoculated against rabies.

Visitors are advised to drink only bottled water, as local tap water is not purified to U.S. standards.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Albania.   

OSAC Country Council Information

There is currently no active Country Council in Albania. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Tirana or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Embassy Tirana is located at Rruga Elbasanit 103 in Tirana.

Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri, 0800-1630. Some sections and agencies may differ. U.S. Embassy Tirana is closed on Saturday, Sunday, and on American and Albanian holidays.

Embassy Contact Numbers

Main phone +355 (0)4 2247 285

After hours emergency +355 (0)4 224 7285 thru 89.

Website: https://al.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

Prior to travel, U.S. citizens visiting Albania should register with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Additional Resources

Albania Country Information Sheet