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Travel Security Advice for Bosnia and Herzegovina Print

 

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bosnia_mapBosnia_Overview


COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Since the December 1995 signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, there has been significant progress in restoring peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Significant progress has been made in reconstructing the physical infrastructure that was devastated by the war. Nonetheless, political tensions among the ethnic groups persist. Hotels and travel amenities are available in the capital, Sarajevo, and other major towns. In the more remote areas of the country, public facilities vary in quality. For more details, read the Department of State Background Notes on Bosnia and Herzegovina.



REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Bosnia and Herzegovina are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A passport is required for travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina. American citizens do not require a visa for tourist stays up to three months. Travelers who are not staying at a hotel (i.e. a private residence) must register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival. U.S. citizens planning to remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina for more than three months must apply for a temporary residence permit from the local field office of the Foreigners’ Affairs Department of the Bosnian Ministry of Security having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Applications for temporary residence permits should be submitted 15 days prior to the expiration of the initial three-month tourist visa. The maximum duration of a temporary residence permit is 12 months, with the possibility of an extension. The fee is 100 convertible marks (KM), or approximately 70 USD. A police certificate indicating that the applicant has no criminal record is required for this permit and should be obtained from the applicant’s state of residence in the U.S. For additional information please contact the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at 2109 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037, telephone 202-337-6473. Visit the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina website at for the most current visa information.

Bosnia and Herzegovina immigration authorities strictly enforce a provision of a Bosnian law that requires any unaccompanied minor (under 18) to have written permission from both parents in order to enter and leave the country. If traveling with one parent only, the minor is required to have written permission for the trip from the non-traveling parent.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.



THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Landmines remain a problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As of 2008, there are still an estimated 13,000 minefields and an estimated 222,000 active land mines throughout the country. The area of suspected landmine contamination is estimated at over 1683 square kilometers-- more than 3.2% of the country’s territory. These devices have killed more than 488 people since 1996. While most urban areas have been largely cleared, special care should be taken when near the former lines of conflict, including the suburbs of Sarajevo. The de-mining community recommends staying on hard surfaced areas and out of abandoned buildings. Families traveling with children in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be especially aware of the danger posed by mines and unexploded ordnance. For more information about landmines please visit the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center.

Localized political difficulties continue and random violence may occur with little or no warning.

Bosnian criminals use firearms and explosives to settle personal, business, and political disputes. In October 2008, an explosive device detonated in a public shopping mall in Vitez, killing a store security guard. The foreign community is rarely the target of such violence, but there is always the danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While most Bosnian citizens appreciate the assistance of the international community, occasional anti-foreign sentiment is sometimes encountered.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website. It contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.

CRIME:

The overall crime rate throughout the country remains relatively low, although Sarajevo has a consistently high rate of street crime, mostly involving the theft of cell phones and purses . Weapons such as hand grenades are frequently used by criminals to settle personal or business disputes; there was an average of approximately one hand-grenade incident per week in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2008. Most pickpockets operate in pairs and employ distraction methods to execute their craft. There are also documented cases of pick-pocketing and other scams to get money from foreign passengers aboard public transportation. The deteriorating economic situation, combined with an unemployment rate over 40%, may result in an increase in the aggressiveness of criminals. Violent crime does not specifically target the American or international community, but may occur in hours of darkness in locations visited by foreigners such as cafés and restaurants. Travelers should take normal precautions to protect their property from theft and exercise common sense personal security measures, traveling in groups, and staying in well-lighted areas after dark. Confrontations with local citizens resulting from traffic incidents or public disagreements should be avoided.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.

INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME :

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates). This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalents to the “911” emergency line in Bosnia and Herzegovina are: Police—122; Ambulance—124; and Fire—123.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.

Persons violating Bosnia and Herzegovina laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bosnia and Herzegovina are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.



SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

Bosnia and Herzegovina is still predominantly a cash economy. Although the use of credit cards has become more widespread in recent years, travelers still should not expect to use them to cover all expenses. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are available in sufficient numbers at international banks in Sarajevo and other major cities and towns. Traveler's checks can be cashed in banks in major cities, but often with delays of a few weeks or strict monthly limits. Cash transfers from abroad may also involve delays. The convertible mark (KM), the national currency, is pegged to the euro under a currency-board regime, which guarantees its stability. All official payments must be made in convertible marks, though many private stores and service providers also accept euros. Any bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be able to exchange U.S. dollars into convertible marks with the usual bank commission (between 1% and 2%).

Photographing military installations, including airports, equipment, bridges, government checkpoints, troops, and the U.S. Embassy, is forbidden. If in doubt, please ask permission before taking photographs.

During the winter months, flights into and out of Sarajevo are frequently delayed or canceled due to heavy fog. Travelers should be prepared for last-minute schedule changes, lengthy delays, alternate routings, or time-consuming overland transportation.

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

The lack of adequate medical facilities, especially outside Sarajevo, may cause problems for visitors. Because many medicines are not obtainable, travelers should bring their own supply of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Private practitioners and dentists are becoming more common; however, quality of care varies and rarely meets U.S. or western European standards. All major surgery is performed in public hospitals.

Individuals with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions may react negatively to the air quality and allergens in Bosnia, especially in Sarajevo. Additionally, persons with mental health conditions may not be able to locate English speaking mental health providers or support groups.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.

MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad. Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Road travel is possible throughout most of the country. However, some roads are still damaged from the war, and are poorly maintained. Roads are sometimes blocked due to landslides, de-mining activity, and traffic accidents. Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the rare countries in Europe that has fewer than forty kilometers of four-lane highway. The existing two-lane roads between major cities are quite narrow at places, lack guardrails, and are full of curves. Travel by road can be risky due to poorly maintained roads, and morning and evening fog in the mountains. Driving in winter is hazardous due to fog, snow, and ice.

Local driving habits are poor, and many vehicles are in bad condition. Many accidents occur when drivers exceed safe speeds along winding mountain roads. Accidents involving drunk driving are an increasing problem. Driving after dark is especially dangerous, and street lighting is not common outside the major towns. Road construction may be poorly marked, and automobiles share the road with heavy vehicles and agricultural equipment. Travelers are encouraged to convoy with other vehicles, if possible, and to plan their trip to ensure they travel only during daylight hours.

Although the number of service stations outside major cities has increased in recent years, many do not offer mechanical or other services. The emergency number for vehicle assistance and towing service is 1282. Speed limit traffic signs are not always obvious or clear. The speed limit on the majority of roads is 60 km/h, and on straight stretches of road it is generally 80 km/h. The use of seat belts is mandatory. Talking on a cell phone while driving is prohibited. The tolerated percentage of alcohol in the blood is .03%.

In order to drive legally in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you must have an international driving permit in addition to your U.S. license.

Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the websites of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national tourist office or the Federal Ministry of Transport and Communications.



AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.

EMBASSY LOCATION / REGISTRATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Bosnia and Herzegovina are encouraged to register with the U.S. embassy, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency. The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo is located at Alipasina 43, telephone (387) (33) 445-700, fax: (387) (33) 221-837. On weekends, holidays, and after hours, an Embassy duty officer can be reached at telephone (387) (33) 445-700. If after dialing you receive a recorded message, press “0”, and then ask for the duty officer.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated December 1, 2008, to update sections on, Entry and Exit Requirements, Medical Facilities and Health Information, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Crime.


 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina HERE..........

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens).......

Regards

The SW Team.........

 

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