Safety and security
Personal attacks against foreigners are extremely rare. Organised criminal groups are active, particularly in the north of Macedonia near the border with Kosovo. Shooting incidents, including in Skopje do sometimes occur, but are not targeted at foreigners. Gunfire can also be heard as part of a celebration. You should be vigilant at all times.
There have been several cases of pick pocketing by gangs of children and bag snatches in the main shopping and entertainment areas late at night. Foreign nationals appear to have been specifically targeted. Make sure your personal possessions are secure.
In the event of civil disorder, stay indoors as much as possible, especially after dark, and avoid crowds and demonstrations.
Keep your passport in a secure place and carry a copy of your passport data page for identification. If your passport is lost or stolen report it immediately to the local police and the British Embassy Skopje on +389 (2) 3299 299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel near the border with Kosovo should be restricted to primary roads and daylight hours only.
Lorries transiting Macedonia borders may be subject to long delays before being allowed to cross. Make sure you have the proper customs documentation before arrival at the border.
Between November and February, Skopje and surrounding areas can experience thick fog. This can sometimes cause delays or diverted flights if visibility at Skopje airport is affected. Updates of arrivals and departures, as well as delays and cancellations due to weather conditions can be found on the Skopje airport website.
Driving is on the right. Road conditions and driving standards vary widely. Driving styles differ significantly from those in UK. There are frequent accidents. Take care at all times while driving or on foot.
You can drive in Macedonia with either a UK licence or International Driving Permit.
By law all vehicles must use side lights/ dipped headlights during the day, and at night, on all roads. Not doing so will result in a fine of 15 euros during daytime and 35 euros at night time.
It’s illegal to use mobile phones while driving. If caught you’ll be fined 40 euros.
It’s a legal requirement for drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts. Not doing so will result in fines; 40 euros for drivers, 50 euros for passengers.
Road speed limits in Macedonia are as follows: 130 km/h on highways, 110 km/h on roads reserved for motor vehicles, 90 km/h on other roads and 50 km/h on roads in built up areas. When travelling on major roads, you can pay the toll fare in Macedonian denars or in Euros by using cash or a credit card, Euro coins are also accepted.
The legal drink/drive limit in Macedonia is lower than in the UK. The blood alcohol limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or 0.5 per millilitre. Drink driving whilst over the limit can result in heavy fines and the possibility of arrest. There is a policy of zero tolerance for professional (eg HGV) drivers.
If you are taking your own car, you must have vehicle registration/ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. If you do not have a green card valid for Macedonia you will be charged a cash border insurance fee, the price of which depends on your vehicle. You should confirm that your insurance company recognises that your policy covers Macedonia.
In case of emergency, drivers may contact the police (telephone 192), the ambulance service (telephone 194), or roadside assistance (telephone 196).
In the event of an accident, don’t move a vehicle until the police have recorded the incident and allowed you to do so.
Rivers and lakes
According to checks conducted by the State Sanitary and Health Inspectorate, the water in Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lakes are suitable for swimming, recreation and water sports.
However the rivers Vardar and Treska as well as Lake Treska are rated below the level suitable for swimming.