- Foreign & Commonwealth Office
- 14 November 2013
Advice for British people living in Albania, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.
This guide sets out essential information for British national residing in Albania, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.
It is highly recommended you take out comprehensive travel insurance, or an expat medical insurance plan (for longer stays) to provide cover for any medical costs, including medical evacuation in case of serious illness or accident before you travel to Albania. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Albania. Medical facilities in Albania are poor by UK standards. Though there has been a recent growth in the number of private clinics and hospitals with modern facilities. Public Hospitals do not charge for emergency A&E visits. Otherwise, visitors who require medical treatment will be responsible for all costs and most doctors and hospitals will accept payment in cash. The Embassy cannot give financial assistance for medical purposes.
If you are a resident in employment you are entitled to the same health benefits as an Albanian national. Please be aware that you need to register at your local health centre. For more information please visit the Ministry of Health Albania website
If you need urgent assistance, call 119 and speak to the Albanian Emergency Health Service.
Information about education in Albania can be found on the website of the Ministry of Education and Sport.
Education starts in either pre-schools or primary schools. Children enroll in primary schools at the age of 6 and it lasts for nine years. Primary education is compulsory for all children age 6 to 15 years and is free of charge.
Employment and recognised qualifications
British Nationals can work in Albania provided that they have a work permit. Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth and are issued for a time limited periods. If you are in the UK, the Albanian Embassy in London can provide information about how to obtain a right to work in Albania.
Please also check the Law on Foreigners for more information.
Entry and residence requirements
In order to enter Albania you must hold a valid British passport or travel document. Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months. British passport holders do not need a visa for visits up to 90 days. If you would like to extend your stay in Albania you should apply for a residence permit. Applications for residence permit or renewal of a temporary residence permit must be made at the Border & Migration Department, Albanian State Police. Please check with Border & Migration Department for a full list of documents required to apply for a residence permit according to the applicant’s circumstances.
NB: Dual nationality is accepted in Albania.
If you have retired and you live in Albania, you could claim your pension from the UK. To find out what UK benefits you might be able to get while abroad and how to claim them please visit Benefits if you’re abroad and Moving and retiring abroad web pages.
If you have worked and retired in Albania, you could claim your benefits following local procedures. For more information on how to claim these benefits, please check the website of the Albanian Social Insurance Institute.
If you spend time in both the UK and another country, and are unsure about how this affects your UK pension, benefit and healthcare rights, always consult the relevant UK authority. If you have received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service it is important that you reply as quickly as possible otherwise your benefit may be stopped.
Driving licences and vehicles
The British Embassy cannot issue or renew a UK driving licence. For information about renewing a licence or applying for a new licence please visit the driving licence section of this website.
You can drive on a valid UK or EU driving licence though an International Driving Permit is recommended. If you are taking your car, you must have vehicle registration/ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy.
Driving in Albania can be chaotic. Driving is on the right, unlike the UK. Drivers must be 18 years old and hold a valid driving licence. If you allow an underage driver, or a person with no licence to drive your vehicle, you may face charges.
More information about driving licences in Albania can be found on the General Directorate of Patents & Trademarks.
The Regional Transport Department is the responsible authority for registration of vehicles.
Foreign nationals can open a bank account at most banks operating in Albania.
The person must be present when applying to open a bank account. A British national is identified by presenting a valid British passport. It usually takes 24hrs for a new bank account to be activated.
Detailed information and local laws can be obtained from the website of the Bank of Albania
Albania offers potential for investments. When planning to make an investment we would recommend you do some prior market research. The following links might be of interest when planning to invest in Albania: Albanian Chamber of Commerce; Albanian Investment Development Agency
Information on taxation laws and procedures can be found through the website of the Albanian Tax Authorities.
Invoices and bills issued from public & private bodies include tax costs. Self-employed persons should complete a periodic income self declaration form in order to pay for Health & Social Insurance and Income tax. More information can be found through: National Business Registration Centre
Guidance on bringing medication into Albania
The import of medicines is subject to special license issued by the National Centre for Drugs Control at the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Albania. This import prohibition is not applicable if you bring in medicines intended for your own use.
Please read carefully about what documents you need to have in order to be able to bring medicines and other goods in Albania on the website of the General Directorate of Customs.
Failure to observe the regulations on import of medicines, medical aids and psychotropic substances is punishable.
Sponsoring family members
British nationals who are resident in Albania and wish their family members to join them should seek advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a designated Albanian Embassy for the territory in which their family members currently reside, prior to travel. They should ensure that any visa or entry clearance requirements are fully understood and that a visa, if required is obtained before arriving in Albania.
Social ethics and traditions
Albania is a welcoming country. The people are friendly and treat visitors with warm hospitality. English is increasingly spoken, especially among the younger generation.
Albania is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for tourists. It enjoys long hot summers and has stunning mountainous attractions.
The three main religions are: Islam, Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. Albania enjoys a high degree of religious tolerance between the different communities. When visiting a church, please do not wear miniskirts or short pants. The same rules apply when visiting a mosque, but leave your shoes at the entrance.
Albania enforces a zero tolerance policy towards illegal drugs. If you are caught in possession of any type of illegal narcotic you will receive either a prison sentence or a hefty fine. Any incident involving alcohol or excessive drinking may invalidate your insurance. Drunk and disorderly behaviour in a public place will be viewed negatively and may lead to your arrest/detention.
Alcohol and drugs can make you less vigilant, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you drink, know your limit - remember that drinks served in bars are often larger than those in the UK and the drink driving limit is lower than the UK.
Returning to the UK
Before leaving, make sure you inform the nearest police station. Your employer can inform local police on your behalf as well. Please inform the British Embassy, you are leaving, if you were registered with them, too.
This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British Embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.
Published: 14 November 2013