Top events in Serbia

December
31

Large crowds of revellers from around the world party the night away in bars, clubs and free outdoor concerts around the city.

Traditional mountain village, Tara, Serbia
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Traditional mountain village, Tara, Serbia

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Serbia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

77,474 sq km (35,246 sq miles).

Population

8,812,705 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

92.6 per sq km.

Capital

Belgrade.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Aleksandar Vucic since June 2017.

Head of government

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic since June 2017.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two round pins are used.

Although its reputation took a hammering during the disastrous collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Serbia has since become one of Eastern Europe’s most entertaining destinations. Much of that is down to Belgrade, which, despite NATO bombing during the Milosevic regime, has emerged as a dynamic, edgy city with an appetite for hedonism.

Home to numerous excellent museums and galleries, a wide range of restaurants and cafés, and some of the best nightlife in southeast Europe, Belgrade is drawing comparisons with some of the world’s coolest cities. It is also helping lead the rest of the country into a bright and hopeful future, with a young generation of creative and outward-looking Serbs reshaping the historic land that was founded as a principality some 1,200 years ago.

Away from the capital, Novi Sad is an attractive, lively city with an elegant centre and picturesque fortress overlooking over the Danube. In the far north, Subotica has an array of secessionist architecture and a notable Hungarian character.

The province of Vojvodina, north of Belgrade, has some excellent wetland habitats that are home to numerous bird species, while south of the capital the countryside consists of lush, wooded valleys with hidden-away Orthodox monasteries. Scattered among the country's more mountainous regions are a number of vast national parks.

Serbia is known for the forthright character of its citizens; its resilient culture has survived numerous occupiers and foreign rulers over the centuries. Despite their formidable reputation, visitors will find Serbs to be passionate but welcoming. As an Orthodox Christian country, it remains to a large degree deeply religious, though this fact is belied somewhat by the hedonism found in its bigger cities.

While there are still some political problems in Serbia, which has yet to formally recognise Kosovo after it unilaterally declared independence in 2008, the country has turned a corner. It is officially a EU candidate and many Serbs are hopeful of the change in economic fortunes that might be brought by becoming a full member.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Serbia on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Serbia.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. The Serbian government has set up an online portal for booking tests (English ‘Engleski’ option is available from the drop down menu).

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for coronavirus while in Serbia, you will be required to self-isolate at an address of your choosing for at least 14 days, likely a hotel or private residence, at your own cost. You may be contacted by the authorities and be hospitalised if deemed medically necessary. Minors will be subject to the same regulations as adults.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Public spaces and services

There are nationwide rules in place restricting movement and limiting activity. It is mandatory to maintain physical distance of at least 1.5m in all public spaces. Protective face masks are mandatory in all public spaces indoors, and, outdoors when the area is crowded. Failure to wear a mask when required will incur a fine. Self-isolation, when required, will be enforced.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 500 people, with the exception of certain events approved by the Government’s Crisis Response Team. Work organisations, schools and similar facilities are excluded from this but must limit numbers of people within the total square footage of the facility to 1 per 4sqm. Gyms, fitness clubs and spas must limit numbers to 16sqm per person. All other facilities that remain open must provide 8sqm per person.

Mandatory COVID passes are required for entry into all indoor catering facilities (restaurants, bars, cafes) and betting shops after 8pm. One of the following must be presented to enable entry:

Retail stores may operate without restrictions to opening hours. Cinema screening start times are extended to 11pm, and box offices may remain open until this time.

Additional rules and penalties vary in different towns and cities, and rules can change rapidly. You should follow the latest local guidance and check news outlets regularly for up to date information.

Further restrictions may be introduced, both nationwide and locally, including at short notice. Infringements of these procedures may result in fines and/or a prison sentence.

Healthcare in Serbia

The Serbian healthcare system is under increased pressure across the country due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases. It may be more difficult than usual to access satisfactory healthcare for any medical issue, including COVID-19. There are reports that it is difficult to obtain COVID-19 tests in the public health system, including for symptomatic individuals. Temporary additional hospitals are being established in some towns, including Belgrade, in order to admit COVID-19 patients.

The Serbian Ministry of Health website gives up to date information on the number of coronavirus cases confirmed and tests carried out in Serbia. It includes regional data maps. This website also includes helpline telephone numbers.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Serbia.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Serbia

We will update this page when the Government of Serbia announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Serbian national vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the Sinopharm, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sputnik V vaccines. The Government of Serbia has stated that British nationals resident in Serbia are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. The Serbian authorities have created an e-portal to register for a vaccine in Serbia (only available in Serbian). Serbian and foreign nationals are able to register on this portal.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Serbia, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Political situation

There is the potential for protests in Belgrade and other towns and cities.

Protests can lead to significant disruption, including to public transport. Keep up to date with local developments and avoid any large crowds and demonstrations.

Crime

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime, particularly in larger cities. Some sporting events have had incidents of violence and petty crime, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities. Watch out for pick pockets in tourist areas and at airports, on public transport and petrol stations on the motorway. Pay attention to personal safety late at night, and when leaving nightclubs. Carry a mobile phone in case you need to contact the emergency services. 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

Much of the public transport is old and overcrowded although there have been improvements in the major cities. It is obligatory to wear a protective face mask on public transport. 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.

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

See the AA and RAC guides on driving in Serbia.

Dial 1987 for roadside assistance.

In 2019 there were 534 road deaths in Serbia (source: Department of Transport) . This equates to 7.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.

Licence requirements

You can drive in Serbia with a valid UK driving licence or International Driving Permit on short visits for up to a year from the date of first entry, or for a single stay of up to 6 months. If you’re staying longer than 6 months you will need to get a local licence.

The British Embassy is aware of the 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 can get further information about Serbian driving licences at the local police station where you registered. You cannot exchange an International Driving Permit for a Serbian licence.

Car hire

If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.

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.

Bringing a vehicle into Serbia

If you are 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.

Driving regulations

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.

Driving standards

The general standard of roads in Serbia varies widely. 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).

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.

Terrorist attacks in Serbia can’t be ruled out.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Terrorists may target religious sites, including churches.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Possession or trafficking of drugs attract strict penalties and usually a lengthy prison sentence.

There are no laws against homosexual activity in Serbia. There is anti-discrimination legislation, with limited implementation in place. The Pride Parade has taken place without incident over the last few years. There are gay friendly hostels, clubs and other events in Belgrade. However, you should be aware that the level of public prejudice against homosexuality and the LGBT population is still relatively high and public displays of affection may attract negative attention. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Taking photographs of military/police installations, personnel or vehicles anywhere in Serbia may lead to difficulties with the authorities.

Carry your passport with you for identification purposes and keep a copy separately in a safe place.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Serbia set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Serbia

All visitors to Serbia (with a limited number of exceptions set out below) must present one of the following documents on arrival. You will be refused entry if you do not provide one of these documents:

  • A negative PCR test result issued within 48 hours of arrival. Visitors travelling from the USA may also present an antigen FIA Rapid Test result. Tests cannot be taken on arrival;
  • Certificate of vaccination issued in Serbia, or a country with which Serbia has concluded an agreement on vaccine recognition (includes the UK – See Demonstrating your COVID-19 status);
  • Certificate of Covid-19 recovery, issued within 6 months of arrival, issued in Serbia or a country with which Serbia has concluded an agreement on such documents (does not include the UK).

Serbian nationals and foreign nationals with temporary and permanent residence who do not provide one of the above documents must spend 10 days in self-isolation at home following entry to Serbia. Individuals undergoing self-isolation must report to a healthcare centre within 24 hours of entering Serbia by registering on the
e-Health portal.

Persons who have travelled outside Serbia and are returning within 48 hours may present a negative PCR test result issued from Serbia, provided it was issued within 48 hours prior to re-entry into Serbia.

Exemptions to these requirements include:

  • Citizens of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Hungary, North Macedonia and Montenegro, entering Serbia directly from those countries.
  • Foreign nationals transiting Serbia (up to 12 hours);
  • Crew of international cargo (road and river) transport (time limits apply);
  • Crews and cabin crews of aircraft arriving in and transiting Serbia;
  • Children aged 12 years and under, provided the parent/adult accompanying has complied with the entry requirements outlined above. Children aged 12 to 18 must take a PCR or antigen test within 48 hours of arrival.

Further details can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test. If you need further information about entry requirements, contact the local immigration authorities or the nearest Serbian Embassy or Consulate. You should also check with your airline or travel company for the latest information.

Serbian borders remain open for entry and exit, subject to any entry requirements currently in place in neighbouring countries.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Serbia will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British passport holders don’t need a visa to visit Serbia for up to 90 days. For further information on entry and exit requirements, contact the Serbian Embassy in London.

If you wish to extend your stay in Serbia you will need to apply for temporary residence status at least 30 days before the 90 day period expires at the police station where you’re registered. For more information visit the website of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

When you enter Serbia, make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport. Temporary residents should have an exit-entry visa as well as a residence stamp. If you try to leave Serbia without an entry stamp or exit-entry visa you may face charges of illegal immigration, a heavy fine and possible imprisonment.

You should only enter Serbia through recognised border crossings.

Previous travel to Kosovo

The authorities in Serbia don’t consider the designated crossing points with Kosovo to be official ‘international’ border crossing points.  Foreign nationals have been denied entry to Serbia if they have Republic of Kosovo stamps in their passports.  You’re less likely to experience problems if you travel into Kosovo from Serbia and return via the same route, or if you travel via Albania, North Macedonia or Montenegro. For more information visit the website of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

Registration

It’s a legal requirement that you register with the local police in the town/city where you’re staying within 24 hours of your arrival in Serbia, unless you’re staying in a hotel where you will be registered automatically on checking-in. If you don’t register you could be fined, detained or face a court appearance.

Customs declarations

You will be required to declare money (including travellers’ cheques) in excess of €10,000 (or equivalent in other currencies) that you bring into Serbia. Customs officers hold declaration forms and will require a receipt of purchase for Dinars bought from a foreign bank.

On departure, you will need to return a certified copy of this declaration to customs so that money (up to the amount brought in but not exceeding €10,000 in value) can be taken out again. If you fail to comply with these rules, your money may be confiscated.

In order to avoid customs charges, you will be required to declare items of value (eg jewellery, photographic and computing equipment) that you are temporarily bringing into Serbia. 

For more information on declaration of money and the importation of goods see the Serbian Ministry for Foreign Affairs or the National Tourism Organisation of Serbia.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Serbia and as valid ID documents in Serbia. However, they should be valid for not less than 7 days and no more than 6 months.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Serbia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Serbia.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Health risks

High levels of air pollution can occur in Serbia. You can find further information and advice on air quality on the World Health Organization (WHO) website and check air quality levels on the World Air Quality Index Website.

Since October 2017 there have been more than 3,000 cases of measles in Serbia and around 10 deaths from complications. The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) advise anyone travelling abroad to make sure they’re up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK, including the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Over 100 cases of the West Nile virus have been reported in Serbia, (around half in Belgrade), with about a dozen fatalities. You should take adequate precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Local medical care

Some private clinics in Serbia offer treatment for addiction. You should seek advice from your local GP or health provider in the UK before undertaking such treatment.

There is a reciprocal healthcare agreement for British nationals visiting Serbia, which entitles you to free treatment for genuine emergencies. You’ll need to present a British passport, evidence of registration with the local police (if you’re not staying in a hotel) and a certificate confirming entitlement to benefit under the UK Social Security Acts. You can get this certificate from HM Revenue & Customs.

The health system in all parts of Serbia is suffering from widespread shortage of medicines and other essentials. For non-emergency treatment, or treatment that isn’t covered under reciprocal arrangements, payment in cash is normally required. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 194 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

For general medical information in Serbia, visit the website of the Serbian Ministry of Health, or for Belgrade specific information visit the City of Belgrade website.

Parts of Serbia are prone to flooding following extremely heavy rain. Details of flood warnings are available via the Serbian Hydro-Meteorological Institute website. In the event of floods affecting your area, you should follow the instructions of the Serbian authorities.

During especially hot and dry periods there is a danger of forest fires. Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas. Make sure cigarette ends are properly extinguished, and don’t light barbecues.

Serbia lies in a seismically active zone, and earth tremors are common. Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do occur. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, visit the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The official currency of Serbia is the Dinar. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and shops, and nearly all ATMs accept international bank cards. Currency exchange in Belgrade (including at Belgrade Airport) accept Sterling, US Dollars and Euros.

British banks don’t generally exchange Dinars. You should exchange any unwanted Dinars before you leave Serbia. You should only change money through banks or official exchange offices and not through street dealers. You will be unable to exchange Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes in Serbia.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.