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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet

Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Macedonia

Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic Of) - Consular Information Sheet
August 20, 2001

TRAVEL WARNING (August 10, 2001): The Department of State warns American citizens to defer all travel to Macedonia. U.S. citizens currently in Macedonia are strongly urged to depart the country. The Department of State has ordered the departure of Embassy personnel in non-emergency positions and the dependents of Embassy personnel, and imposed a curfew, subject to change, for official Americans in Skopje. In addition, U.S. Government facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy. The situation in Macedonia is unsettled and potentially dangerous as a result of armed clashes between Macedonian security forces and ethnic Albanian extremists. Amid a climate of rising anti-foreigner sentiment, there has been an increase in acts of intimidation and violence against American citizens in Macedonia. On July 24, rioters staged violent protests in downtown Skopje at several, Western diplomatic missions, including the U.S. Embassy.

At the present time, civilian airlines are continuing to fly into Skopje. This situation may change, however, should the security situation deteriorate. Periodic closures of the border with Kosovo have occurred with little or no notice and may continue to do so.

Armed gunmen have set up checkpoints, and claim control of some villages in the area east of the Crna Gora Mountains and the area north and west of Tetovo and Gostivar. Macedonian security forces have also established checkpoints. U.S. Government personnel are currently prohibited from going into the cities of Tetovo, Debar, and Kicevo, the area west of the Tetovo-Kicevo highway to the Albanian border and north of Debar and Kicevo, the area north of Skopje and Tetovo up to the Kosovo and Serbian border, and to the north and west of Kumanovo to the Kosovo border. Official Americans are also prohibited from traveling on the highway between Skopje, Tetovo and Gostivar. Travel restrictions on official Americans are subject to change on short notice.

Private Americans who choose to remain in Macedonia despite this Travel Warning should take similar precautions to those listed above. In addition, U.S. citizens are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance, take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness and to reduce their vulnerability: maintain a low profile, avoid crowds and demonstrations, monitor local news sources, and vary routes and times for all required travel. All Americans in Macedonia are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Skopje and to consult the Embassy for updated safety and security information. Furthermore, the Embassy's ability to assist Americans will necessarily be limited to emergency services because of reduced staffing.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Macedonia is a developing nation undergoing economic change. Conditions in tourist facilities vary considerably and may not be up to western standards.

ENTRY AND EXIT REQUIREMENTS: U.S. citizens need a passport to enter Macedonia. A visa for Macedonia is not required for tourist/business purposes for stays up to 90 days. For stays longer than 90 days, American citizens need to obtain a temporary residence permit from the Ministry of Interior or apply for the appropriate visa at a Macedonian embassy prior to their trip. Additional information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 3050 K Street N.W., Suite 210, Washington, D.C., 20007, telephone (202) 337-3063, fax (202) 337-3093, e-mail rmacedonia@aol.com; Consulate General, 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 4018, New York, New York 10017; phone: (212) 317-1727.

Travelers are required to complete an entry/exit document when they enter the country. The exit portion of this document must be retained for presentation to officials upon departure. Loss of this form may result in departure delays.

The United States Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia provides routine consular services for residents of Kosovo. Travelers should also consult the Department of State's Travel Warning and Consular Information Sheet for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia before traveling there. Travelers who also intend to visit Kosovo should note that for security reasons the border between Macedonia and Kosovo is subject to periodic closures. There are no immigration requirements for entry into Kosovo. However, travelers will need passports to re-enter Macedonia.

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.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: See "Travel Warning" above. Starting in the winter of 2000-01, armed extremists conducted several attacks against Macedonian government targets, police and police installations.

Political demonstrations sometimes occur in Skopje and other towns of Macedonia. Some of these demonstrations have expressed anti-foreigner sentiments and have been known to turn violent. Americans should exercise appropriate security precautions and avoid demonstrations altogether.

Americans should exercise caution traveling in areas of Macedonia near the borders with Kosovo and Yugoslavia, which have been the scene of violent confrontations between Macedonian security forces and armed extremists. Travelers should be aware that the immediate border area apart from designated border crossing points is a military restricted zone; travel in this zone is not permitted without permission, which can be obtained from the nearest Macedonian police station. People traveling in the border area risk stumbling into minefields. There have also been reports of people being shot in these areas for refusing to stop when challenged. Military operations or patrols may also be occurring in Yugoslavia near the border of Macedonia, and most border areas are not marked. Travelers should consult the Travel Warning on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for further information on travel to all areas of Yugoslavia.

CRIME: Crime in Macedonia is low by U.S. standards; however, incidents of theft and other petty crimes do occur, and travelers should take the same precautions they would take in any unfamiliar environment. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling overseas is provided in the Department of State pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, 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, .

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Health facilities are limited. Medical facilities are rarely up to Western standards. Patients may have to undergo medical procedures without the benefit of anesthesia. Medicines may be in short supply. Maternity hospital facilities are considered less than adequate. Women may wish to consult their physicians about the advisability of traveling to and in Macedonia after the fourth month of pregnancy.

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 the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Hepatitis A and Brucellosis are endemic in Macedonia. Travelers to the region may wish to consult their physicians about the advisability of getting a Hepatitis A vaccination. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-394-8747; fax 1-888-232-3299, or by visiting the CDC's Internet homepage 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 Macedonia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor

Most major highways are in good repair, but secondary roads are poorly maintained and lit and are used by horse-drawn carts and livestock. Some vehicles are old and lack standard front or rear lights. Secondary mountain roads can be narrow, poorly marked, lack guardrails and quickly become dangerous in inclement weather. Military convoys may cause traffic delays on roads approaching Skopje Petrovec Airport.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning Macedonia driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Macedonia at rmacedonia@aol.com. For additional information about road travel in Macedonia see the U.S. Embassy home page at http://usembassy.mpt.com.mk.

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 Macedonia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Macedonia's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Macedonia'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 the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. 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.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Macedonian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation or export from Macedonia of certain items. Customs regulations require that non-Macedonian citizens make a customs declaration upon entry into Macedonia when they bring more than 300 German marks in cash or cash equivalents (about $167) into the country. Failure to complete such a declaration may result in the confiscation of any cash over that amount upon leaving the country.

Casual, non-business travelers with expensive lap-top computers, video cameras, extensive amounts of personal jewelry, etc., are advised that they should declare those items with Macedonian Customs upon entry to avoid problems and delays upon departure. Personal importation of duty-free liquor is limited to one liter. Two hundred cigarettes may also be imported without duty. Pets should have appropriate vaccination and/or health certificates. It is advisable to contact the Macedonian Embassy in Washington or Consulate General in New York for specific information regarding customs requirements.

Macedonian Customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call 212-354-4480, send e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Macedonian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties in Macedonia for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

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 (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION AND EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Macedonia are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje and obtain updated information on travel and security for both Macedonia and bordering countries. The U.S. Embassy is located at Ilindenska bb, 91000 Skopje, tel. (389) (2) 116-180, fax (389) (2) 213-767. Registration forms are available on the Embassy's web site, located at http://usembassy.mpt.com.mk.

* * * * * *

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated June 29, 2001, to update the Travel Warning.

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