Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Embassy Skopje 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 SKOPJE AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
Please review OSAC’s Macedonia-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
Below reported statistics are from CY2016. The information provided by the Ministry of Interior represents nationwide crime statistics. The RSO provided statistics reported by American officers assigned to the Mission.
Non-violent petty crime (pick-pocketing, petty street crime) remains the primary crime concern particularly in areas where tourists and foreigners congregate. There were two instances of pickpocketing of American personnel. Visitors to Skopje are reminded that they should remain particularly alert for pickpockets and other attempts to steal mobile phones, laptops, tablets, wallets, purses, bags or backpacks in public areas, such as:
- Skopje Square
- Vicinity of the Vardar River
- Large shopping areas (such as City Mall)
- Public transportation (buses)
There was a 500% increase (6 cases) of vehicle break-ins reported by American personnel. There was a 33% increase (4 cases) in reported thefts from the grounds of Embassy residences.
According to crime statistics for Macedonia, there was an 88% decrease in the number of reported robberies (248 cases). The total number of reported “severe thefts” (using a tool to break into a residence or vehicle) decreased by 24% (10,858 cases). Criminal elements watch parking lots and do break windows or open unlocked vehicles when items are left in plain view.
Incidents of violent crime generally decreased across Macedonia in 2016. There was an 18% decrease (17 cases) in the number of murders and a 19% decrease in the number of reported sexual assaults (30 cases). There was a 245% increase in the number of reported abductions (37 cases), and drug-related offenses increased by 13% (624 cases).
Southeastern Europe (Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo) is faced with the challenge of organized crime particularly in trafficking drugs and migrants; laundering money; extortion; and property crimes.
Cybercrime continues to be a concern, as hacking and data breaches have increased worldwide. Cybercriminals use spam and phishing e-mails to compromise victim’s online accounts and steal personal information. Cybercrime incidents have become increasingly professional; the grammar and spelling in phishing attempts and fraudulent e-mails were of a higher standard, and the layout and design were of a better quality. This makes it increasingly difficult for users to distinguish between genuine content and fake content.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Road conditions differ significantly from those in the U.S. High speeds, unpredictable drivers and pedestrians, poor vehicle maintenance, uneven road surfaces and widths, and poor lighting all contribute to precarious driving conditions. Drivers and passengers should always wear seatbelts. Drivers are not allowed to use a cell phone while driving. Pedestrians should exercise extreme caution when crossing the street.
A valid U.S. driver’s license in conjunction with an International Driving Permit is required for Americans to drive. Driving is on the right side of the road. Speed limits are posted. The use of headlights is mandatory. Most major highways are in good repair, but secondary urban and rural roads vary widely in condition and lighting. Horse-drawn carts, livestock, rocks, and/or other objects are sometimes found in the roadway. Many vehicles are quite old by Western standards. Mountain roads can be narrow, poorly marked, lacking guardrails, and quickly become dangerous in inclement weather. Roadside emergency services are limited. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”
The Ministry of Interior reported the number of traffic accidents decreased by 19% (2,844 traffic accidents) and traffic fatalities increased by 19% (164 killed). Additional information regarding traffic safety can be found from the Ministry of Interior.
Care must be taken to comply with imposed safety restrictions. The maximum speed limit (if not posted) is:
Highway - 120 km/h
Open road - 80 km/h
In town - 50 km/h
Residential areas - 30 km/h
In case of emergency, drivers may contact the police at 192, the ambulance service at 194, and roadside assistance at 196.
Public Transportation Conditions
Public transportation in Skopje is generally reliable.
Alexander the Great International Airport (SKP) is located approximately 17 kilometers (11 miles) from Skopje and is accessible by vehicle. The airport adheres to international air-safety standards. Security measures include passenger and bag screening that are on par with international norms.
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED SKOPJE 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
There were no terrorist acts committed in Macedonia in 2016. Recent events elsewhere in Europe, however, have highlighted a new paradigm of terrorist planning and attack execution.
The Balkans and Macedonia have been viewed by extremists as a place for recruitment of foreign fighters. The Macedonian authorities estimate 140 Macedonian citizens traveled to conflict zones to serve as foreign fighters; this is illegal under the Macedonian Criminal Procedure Code. Macedonia has porous borders that facilitate undocumented border crossings.
Macedonia conducted three significant counterterrorism operations in 2016, one of which was in coordination with authorities in Kosovo and Albania, leading to the arrest of 23 suspects in Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia. Macedonia collaborated with Turkey on the arrest and extradition of five Macedonian nationals en route to join ISIS in Syria. Macedonia successfully executed arrest and search warrants against foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). Prosecutors secured prison sentences against FTFs through plea bargain agreements.
The trial of 29 individuals charged with nationalist terrorism, and eight for providing logistical support in the May 2015 armed clash with police in Kumanovo, began in February and continues in 2017.
Macedonia cooperated with U.S counterterrorism efforts, demonstrating its strong commitment to the Global Coalition to counter ISIS. ISIS members and sympathizers were the main terrorists operating in Macedonia.
While there is no widespread anti-American/anti-Western sentiment in Macedonia, the call for self-radicalization, whether disseminated on extremist forums or via social media, continues to be a global concern.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED SKOPJE AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.
The RSO recorded 134 demonstrations in Skopje in 2016. Skopje experienced two months (April-June) of near-nightly protests in response to the President’s decision to preemptively pardon individuals that were under investigation by the Special Prosecutors Office. Although there have been no protests at or near the U.S. Embassy, the majority of the demonstrations are conducted at the government building, which is located approximately two kilometers from the Embassy.
Demonstrations are usually peaceful, but protestors will routinely block traffic near the government building. The Ministry of Interior deploys riot police equipped with water cannon to maintain order, if necessary. Pro-government demonstrations occurred over the course of several days following the results of the December 11, 2016 elections.
- The last violent demonstration took place on December 16, 2016, when approximately 2,000 demonstrators gathered to protest the election results at the State Election Commission. The protestors threw objects and broke windows at the SEC.
- Prior to this incident, there were three other violent protests in 2016.
Macedonia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual state. While there is little religious/ethnic violence, inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions remain high.
- In 2016, ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians disputed over the construction and use of religious and ethnic symbols.
There were no specific reports of religious/ethnic violence during the massive influx of migrants who transited Macedonia in 2015 and 2016.
Macedonia is at risk for various natural and man-made disasters (earthquakes, floods).
Crime Victim Assistance
For police assistance, dial 192.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
For medical emergencies, dial 02-194. If a heart attack is suspected, explicitly request cardiac assistance.
The U.S. Embassy provides a list of hospitals/clinics.
Available Air Ambulance Services
Global Air Rescue provides the following medical services: emergency medical teams, medical equipment, ground transport, and air ambulances equipped with state-of-the-art advanced cardiac life support systems. They may be reached by dialing U.S. number (866)-299-6870.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
Air pollution is a significant problem in certain areas around the country. In some cities (Skopje, Bitola, Kicevo, Tetovo, Veles), particulate pollution exceed acceptable norms more than 150 days per year. Pollutants, especially the PM 2.5 particles, are linked to a number of significant health effects, and those effects are likely to be more severe for sensitive populations, including people with heart and lung disease, children, and older adults. Weather conditions and pollution can result in delayed and cancelled flights during the winter months.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Macedonia.
OSAC Country Council Information
The Skopje Country Council currently meets twice a year and has approximately 20 members. Please contact OSAC’s Europe team with any questions or to join.
Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and Hours of Operation
U.S. Embassy Skopje offers a full range of consular services to U.S. citizens in Macedonia and is located at: 21 Samoilova Street, 1000 Skopje, Macedonia.
General Embassy house are 0830-1630, Mon-Fri. Times may vary according to section.
Embassy Contact Numbers
If you are a U.S. citizen with an emergency, please call U.S. Embassy Skopje at: +389 2-310-2000.
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to enroll with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Users of STEP receive the latest safety and security information for their destination country, helping to make informed decisions about travel plans. Enrolment in STEP allows the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. STEP helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
The Embassy also offers guidance in case of a lost/stolen passport.
Macedonia Country Information Sheet