Bosnia and Herzegovina - Consular Information Sheet
APRIL 20, 2001
TRAVEL WARNING: (Issued April 13, 2001) The Department
of State warns U.S. citizens of the potential danger of travel
to Bosnia and Herzegovina. While the Dayton Peace Accords halted
the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995, there are still risks
from occasional localized political violence, landmines, and unexploded
ordnance. There have been recent outbreaks of mob violence against
American citizens and other members of the international community,
particularly in the Herzegovina region.
In April of 2001, a number of incidents occurred in which Americans
and other foreigners were brutally attacked, pelted with rocks,
robbed, and, in one case, held hostage at gunpoint. The communities
where the violence took place include Mostar, Medjugorje, Grude,
Posusje, Livno, Tomislavgrad and Siroki Brijeg. Local officials
have been quoted in the press as saying that they cannot guarantee
the safety of the international community. Travel in the eastern
region of the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina also
poses potential dangers to Americans and other foreigners.
The U.S. Embassy has decided to withdraw official U.S. Government
employees and affiliated personnel under its authority from areas
of western Herzegovina, and to restrict travel through these areas
until further notice. The areas in question include West Mostar,
Livno, Siroki Brujeg, Grude, Medjugorje, Posusje, Tomislavgrad
and Ljubuski. The U.S. Government is also restricting travel by
its employees to the Posavina Corridor, Travnik, Jajice, Vitez
and Kiseljak areas. These restrictions are subject to change and
Americans who visit Bosnia-Herzegovina should contact the embassy
in Sarajevo for updated security information.
Although mine clearance is underway, as many as one million landmines
are still scattered throughout the country, and visitors are advised
to remain on well-trafficked surfaces and roadways. There are
also occasional flare-ups of violence, sometimes linked to protests
over the return of displaced persons and arrests of war criminals.
Persons considering travel to these areas should carefully consider
the risks and evaluate the security situation before embarking.
Those who must travel are advised to avoid crowds and demonstrations,
keep a low profile, and stay alert for changes in the security
situation. It may not be possible to provide consular services
to U.S. citizens in areas where local authorities will not cooperate
with or protect USG officials.
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Since the December 1995 signing of
the Dayton Peace Accords, there has been significant progress
in restoring peace.
Although physical infrastructure was devastated by the war, in
recent years there has been significant improvement, and reconstruction
is accelerating. Utility service has improved dramatically, but
gas, electrical, and especially water outages still occur. Hotels
and travel amenities are available in the capital, Sarajevo, and
other major towns but are expensive. In the more remote areas
of the country public facilities vary in quality.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required for travel
to Bosnia and Herzegovina. A visa is not required for tourist
stays up to three months. Unless the traveler is staying at a
hotel, all foreigners must register with the local police within
48 hours of arrival. U.S. citizens planning to remain in Bosnia
and Herzegovina for more than three months must obtain a temporary
residence permit from the local police having jurisdiction over
their place of residence and pay a fee of U.S. 50 dollars for
one 12-month period. For additional information concerning longer
stays, employment, and other types of visas, contact the
Consulate General, 886 U.N. Plaza, Suite 580, New York, NY
10017 (212-593-0264 or the Internet address http://www.bosnianembassy.org.
Overseas, inquiries may be made to the nearest Bosnian embassy
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments
have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include
requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission
for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not
present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required,
may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina
does not recognize the U.S. citizenship of persons who are citizens
of both Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United States. This may
hinder the ability of U.S. consular officers to assist persons
who do not enter Bosnia and Herzegovina on a U.S. passport. Dual
nationals may also be subject to national obligations, such as
taxes and military service. Travelers should contact a Bosnia
and Herzegovina embassy or consulate for further information.
For additional information, see the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov
for our Dual Nationality flyer.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: An estimated one million unmarked
landmines and other unexploded ordnance remained throughout Bosnia
and Herzegovina after the war, and many people have been killed
or injured by these devices. Special care should be taken when
near former confrontation lines and the former Serb-held suburbs
of Sarajevo. To minimize dangers and difficulties, automobile
travel should be limited to hard-surface roads because of landmines.
Pedestrians should avoid unpaved surfaces. Travelers should use
extreme caution, especially in regions away from major urban centers,
because of inadequate control by local authorities. Localized
political difficulties continue with occasional inter-ethnic violence
and bombings. As firearms are readily available, random violence
may occur with little or no warning. U.S. citizens must take precautions
regarding their personal security. While most Bosnian citizens
appreciate the assistance of the international community, outbreaks
of anti-foreign sentiment sometimes occur.
The U.S. Government maintains special security procedures regarding
travel of U.S. Government employees, officials, and dependents
to areas outside of Sarajevo, in particular to the Republika Srpska.
U.S. Government employees travel to these areas in secure vehicles
and are often escorted. At times of heightened tension, they are
often instructed not to travel to these areas. Travel guidelines
for U.S. Government employees are subject to change on short notice.
CRIME: Although street crime is relatively low and violent
crimes are rare, petty street crimes such as pickpocketing, and
breaking into or stealing automobiles are problems. Travelers
should take normal precautions to protect their property from
theft and exercise common sense personal security measures such
as avoiding travel in deserted areas after dark, walking in pairs,
and staying in well-lighted areas after dark. Confrontations with
local citizens resulting from traffic incidents or public disagreements
should be avoided. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should
be reported immediately to the local police and the U.S. Embassy.
Useful information on safeguarding valuables and protecting personal
safety while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of
State's pamphlet A Safe Trip
Abroad. It is available from
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or the Bureau
of Consular Affairs home page.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: The lack of adequate medical facilities,
especially outside Sarajevo, may cause problems for visitors.
The blood supply is not screened for HIV or AIDS. Because many
medicines are not obtainable, travelers should bring their own
supply of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Private
medical practitioners are rare, but the number of private dentists
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges
Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior
to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas
and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical
evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs
incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage
is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do
not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance
plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including
emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans
should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require
payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical
evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme
difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical
insurance have, when a medical emergency occurs, found it life-saving.
When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
U.S. medical coverage is not always valid outside the United
States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment
for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals
often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation,
and for adequacy of coverage. . Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment or disposition
of remains in the event of death.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: An increased number of cases
of the disease "Q Fever" has been reported recently
in various areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina. This is an animal disease
which can infect humans through raw or undercooked meat, unpasteurized
dairy products, and dust from areas where infected animals -mostly
sheep, goats and cattle- are found.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may
be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
international traveler's hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747),
via their autofax service at 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3229),
or its Internet
home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
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. The information
below concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina is provided for general
reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular
location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Fair
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
Road travel is possible throughout most of the country, although
some roads are still impassable due to war damage and landslides.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is among the rare countries in Europe that
has fewer than ten 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 should
be considered risky, as roads are not well maintained, particularly
in winter. Driving in winter is hazardous due to fog, heavy snow,
The driving habits of local drivers 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. Except for Sarajevo, street lighting is
not widespread, road construction may be poorly marked, and heavy
vehicles move slowly on hills. 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 987; ambulances can be called at 94, and police
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. Wearing seat belts
is mandatory. Talking on a cell phone while driving is prohibited.
The tolerated percentage of alcohol in the blood is .05.
In order to drive legally in Bosnia-Herzegovina, you must have
an international driving permit in addition to your U.S. one.
The national authority responsible for traffic information and
safety is the
Automobile Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina, known as "BIHAMK."
Their website, which also offers information in English, is http://www.bihamk.ba.
For additional information about road
safety, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page road safety overseas feature at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service by local carriers at present, or economic authority
to operate such service between the United States and Bosnia and
Herzegovina, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has
not assessed Bosnia and Herzegovina's Civil Aviation Authority
for compliance with international aviation safety standards for
oversight of Bosnia and Herzegovina's air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/iasa.pdf..
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
The airports in Sarajevo, Mostar, and Banja Luka are open, but
commercial service is limited. Travelers should be prepared for
delayed or canceled flights.
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. Persons violating
Bosnian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences
and heavy fines. Photographing military installations, including
airports, equipment, bridges, government checkpoints, or troops
is forbidden. If in doubt, ask permission.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Almost all of Bosnia and Herzegovina
is a cash economy. Credit cards are rarely accepted, except in
Medjugorje, and some major hotels and restaurants in Sarajevo.
Travelers should not expect to use them to cover expenses. Traveler's
checks can be cashed in banks in major cities, but often with
delays of three to four weeks. Cash transfers from abroad may
also involve delays. The convertible mark, the Bosnian currency
since June 1998, is pegged one-for-one with the German mark under
a currency board regime, which guarantees its stability. While
German marks are accepted in most shops and restaurants, all official
payments have to be made in convertible marks. Any bank in Bosnia
and Herzegovina should be able to exchange U.S. dollars into the
convertible marks with the usual bank commission (about 2%).
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site
at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone
REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens visiting
or residing in Bosnia are encouraged to register at the consular
section of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo and obtain updated information
on travel and security within Bosnia and Herzegovina. The
consular section is located at Alipasina 43, tel. (387)(33)
445-700, fax: (387)(33) 659-722; internet address: http://www.usis.com.ba.
On weekends, holidays, and after hours, an Embassy duty officer
can be reached at (387)(33) 445-700.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated November 30,
2000 to update information on the Travel Warning, Entry Requirements,
and Medical Insurance.