Safety and security

Crime

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime, particularly in larger cities. Watch out for pick pockets particularly at airports, on public transport and petrol stations on the motorway. As a foreigner, you may be a target for criminals who may assume you are carrying large amounts of cash. Four wheel drive and luxury vehicles are also popular targets. Isolated incidents of armed violence in major cities are usually linked to organised crime and not directed against foreigners. Report all incidents of crime to the local police and get a report.

Local travel

There is still some danger from residual mines and other unexploded ordnance left over from the 1999 conflict in Kosovo and in Serbia. Most of the affected areas are in the mountainous regions to the north and east of Kosovo. Take special care in these areas and keep to marked roads. Most of the remaining dangerous zones are covered with dense vegetation. If you see anything suspicious, don’t touch it, but report it immediately to the police.

Road travel

You must have a valid International Driving Permit to drive in Serbia. If you remain in Serbia for longer than 6 months you should obtain a Serbian driving licence. The British Embassy is aware of the current policy by the Serbian authorities to retain UK driving licences when applying for a Serbian driving licence. The Serbian Ministry of Interior sends the UK driving licence to the British Embassy who are obliged to return them to the DVLA in the UK. You may obtain further information about Serbian driving licences at the local police station where you registered.

If you’re bringing a vehicle into Serbia, you must have vehicle registration and ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. European green card vehicle insurance is now valid in Serbia, but the requirement to hold a green card is no longer in effect. You should confirm with your insurance company that your policy covers Serbia.

Contact the Serbian Embassy in London if you have more detailed questions about bringing a vehicle in to the country. The British Embassy is unable to offer any assistance to individuals attempting to bring vehicles into Serbia who do not have the correct documentation on arrival at the border.

Many Serbian car hire firms will not allow their vehicles to be driven in Kosovo, Albania or Bulgaria due to concerns about the security situation. There have been some incidents where Serbian registered cars have been targeted in more isolated areas of Kosovo.

The general standard of roads in Serbia varies from fair to poor. Roads are worse in rural areas, especially after bad weather. One particularly dangerous road is the Ibarska Magistrala (linking Belgrade, via Čačak and Užice, to Montenegro).

You are required by law to wear a seatbelt. You must drive with dipped headlights on during the day. You must not use a mobile phone whilst driving.

There are several toll booths along motorways. Individual toll charges vary from 2 - 10 Euros for cars. Foreign registered vehicles pay the same toll as those registered locally.  
Dial 1987 for roadside assistance. Other emergency numbers are police: 192; fire department: 193; and ambulance: 194.

Much of the public transport is old and overcrowded although there have been improvements in the major cities. When using taxis, you should only use those which are officially registered - look for a municipal registration number in addition to the cab number. Alternatively, call one of the radio taxi phone numbers (most operators speak English) with your street location. For further information on using public transport and general driving conditions see the website of the Belgrade Tourism Organisation.

See the AA and RAC guides on driving in Serbia.

Rail travel

Trains can be slow, particularly in winter when there are often long delays. On overnight trains, sleeping berths can be locked. Each carriage has an attendant. Local police carry out random ID checks onboard trains in Serbia. Thieves operate on trains, so take particular care that documents and other valuables are safe.

Political situation

The issue of Kosovo remains a potential cause for unrest. Political tensions in Serbia heighten occasionally, often in reaction to incidents taking place in the Serb-dominated north of Kosovo. Keep up to date with local developments and avoid any large crowds and demonstrations. Kosovo’s independence remains an emotive issue for many Serbs. Avoid being drawn into a discussion about Kosovo with people you don’t know well.

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