Bosnia and Herzegovina travel guide
About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Despite a tumultuous background, Bosnia-Herzegovina has emerged as a compelling, multi-faceted travel destination. Most notable amongst the country's many charms is its lush, mountainous landscape, best seen from the vantage point of one of its national parks.
Bosnia-Herzegovina still bears the legacy of war, but there are plenty of positives to take from the country's urban centres, especially the cosmopolitan capital of Sarajevo. With its rich history and lively nightlife, this diverse city has become one of Europe's most curious, unique capitals. The old town of Sarajevo is divided between the evocative Ottoman quarter of historic mosques, little streets filled with cafes and craft workshops, and the trendy Austria-Hungarian quarter built during the late 19th century – truly a case of east meets west.
Sarajevo also has several museums explaining its history, while climbing the steep hills rewards you with a stirring view of the city. One oddity is the colossal bobsleigh track from the 1984 Winter Olympics that runs through the forests of Trebevic mountain; it was destroyed during the Siege of Sarajevo in 1990s and is now a canvas for local street artists.
Beyond Sarajevo, much of the country is relatively undeveloped, but there are several historic fortresses to see, no shortage of splendid old mosques, and a number of monasteries and Catholic shrines. The second city (at least by reputation), Mostar is also increasingly popular with tourists. Perhaps above all else, it is the city’s 16th century Ottoman bridge that symbolises both the past and a positive new beginning for the country. Destroyed during the war, it has since been painstakingly reconstructed, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
51,129 sq km (19,741 sq miles).
3,798,672 (UN estimate 2016).
75.6 per sq km.
Federal democratic republic.
Chairman of the Presidency Zeljko Komsic since 2023.
Prime Minister Borjana Kristo since 2022.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Bosnia and Herzegovina’s embassy or consulate in the UK.
Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel provider for changes.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to get treatment there.
Mask wearing and social distancing are only required in medical facilities.
Passport validity requirements
Your passport should be in good condition (with no damage to the data page) and valid for a minimum period of 3 months (90 days) from the date of your exit from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Make sure your passport is stamped when you enter the country. If you do not receive a stamp, the Border Police may fine you when you leave.
British nationals do not need a visa to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina for less than 90 days within a period of 6 months following their first entry. For all other types of travel, contact the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in London.
Staying longer than 90 days
British nationals who wish to remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina longer than 90 days must apply to the Border Police for a residency permit. For more information read Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Service for Foreigners’ Affairs page.
If you apply for residence, the Bosnian Border Police also require a British Police document showing that you have no criminal record in the United Kingdom. The British Embassy is not able to issue such a document. Contact your local police authority in the United Kingdom before you travel.
If your visa or residence permit has expired, you should contact the nearest field office of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs.
Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Bosnia and Herzegovina’s guide.
Registering your stay
All foreign nationals should register with the police within 72 hours of arrival, at a local police station. Hotels and some hostels will usually register their guests. If your accommodation is not arranging this, you need to register at the nearest Service for Foreigners’ Affairs field office.
Travelling with children
Children aged 17 and under who are not Bosnian nationals and who are travelling unaccompanied or accompanied by an adult other than their parents, must carry a notarised letter from their parents or guardians giving permission for the child to travel. The name of the accompanying adult must be clearly stated.
If the child is accompanied by one parent, particularly if the parent has a different surname to the child’s, the accompanying parent should carry a notarised letter from the other parent giving permission to travel. For further information contact the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in London.
There are rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Bosnia and Herzegovina. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
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 how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Terrorist attacks in Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot be ruled out.
Previous attacks have included firearms attacks on government, law enforcement interests and the public. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
Public protests occur from time to time and can cause traffic disruption. Protests are normally peaceful. Keep up to date with developments through the media, be vigilant and avoid all protests.
There is a small risk of violent incidents linked to locally controversial issues, usually from the conflict of the 1990s.
There has been an increase in anti-UK rhetoric from some politicians in the Republika Srpska (one of the entities that makes up the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina). This could translate into wider anti-UK sentiment. You should avoid political demonstrations.
You can report all incidents of crime to the local police station and get a written report. Local police do not always have English language skills and you may need the services of a translator .
Protecting your belongings
Be aware of pickpockets on public transport and in the tourist and pedestrian areas of Sarajevo and other cities. Make sure personal belongings, including your passport, are secure. Obvious displays of wealth, including large quantities of cash or jewellery and luxury vehicles can make you a target for opportunist thieves.
There has been an increase in thefts from cars in popular tourist areas in and around Sarajevo, particularly on Mount Trebevic. Make sure your vehicle is locked and your belongings are out of sight. Take particular care in areas popular with foreign tourists and in crowded public venues.
Old landmines and unexploded weapons
Landmines and other unexploded weapons remain from the 1992 to 1995 war. Whilst highly populated areas and major routes are largely clear, risks remain in less populated and rural areas. Do not stray from roads and paved areas without an experienced guide. Take care near:
- the former lines of conflict
- the edge of roads
- the open countryside
- destroyed or abandoned buildings (including in towns)
- neglected land
- untarred roads
- woods and orchards
For further information, see Mine Action Centre.
Laws and cultural differences
English is not always widely spoken.
Carry your passport or official photo ID with you at all times. You must be able to show some form of identification if required, including when checking into hotels. For more information, see the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The dates vary by year and country.
- check opening hours of shops and restaurants
- be aware that if hotels and restaurants are providing food or drink in fasting hours, they may separate you from other guests
- follow local dress codes – clothing that does not meet local dress codes may cause more offence at this time
Get more advice when you arrive from your tour guide, hotel or business contacts.
There are no laws against same-sex relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but LGBT+ communities continue to report incidents of discrimination and even violence. Showing affection in public is likely to be frowned upon and may receive unwelcome attention.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Check that your travel and medical insurance cover you for any adventure activities and sports.
Diving off Mostar bridge is dangerous and has resulted in serious injuries and fatalities.
Take care when white water rafting in rivers or close to waterfalls. Currents can be extremely strong.
Take care when travelling outside the main towns and cities, especially in winter when road conditions can worsen quickly.
If you are involved in an accident, stay at the scene and do not move your vehicle until the police arrive. Traffic police can impose on-the-spot fines for any traffic offence.
Licences and permits
For visits of up to 6 months, you need either a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) or a valid UK driving licence to drive in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The 1949 IDP is not accepted anymore. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel. You can buy an IDP in person from some UK post offices – find your nearest post office branch that offers this service.
If you’re staying longer than 6 months, you will need to get a local driving licence. Bosnian authorities will keep your UK licence (or any other foreign licence) when applying for a Bosnian one. You cannot exchange an international driving permit for a Bosnian licence.
Contact the Bosnia and Herzegovina Embassy in London if you have more detailed questions about bringing a vehicle to the country. The British Embassy will not be able to help if you do not have the correct documentation when you arrive at the border.
Border insurance is required for all vehicles crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is not always possible to buy border insurance at all border crossings. The Border Police advise travellers to use the recently upgraded crossings at:
- Crveni Grm (south)
- Izacici (west)
- Karakaj and Raca (east)
- Samac (north-east)
- Zubci (south-east)
Winter equipment requirements
Between November and April you are legally required to use winter equipment on your vehicle. This means:
- all tyres must have an MS, M+S or M&S mark and a stylised symbol of a snowflake – the tread should be at least 4 millimetres deep
- snow chains should be carried as their use is compulsory in winter conditions if the sign is displayed
Official taxis in Sarajevo and the major towns are well-regulated and metered. Taxi drivers from the Republika Srpska might refuse to drive to a destination in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the same from the Federation to the Republika Srpska.
Do not use unlicensed taxis.
Sarajevo (Butmir) International airport is prone to fog, causing flights to be delayed or cancelled during the winter months, particularly in December and January. Many airlines will not take responsibility for accommodation due to delays caused by adverse weather. If you are travelling into or out of Sarajevo during winter, make sure you have enough money if you are forced to extend your stay.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Forest fires are common in Herzegovina (the southern part of the country) during summer heat waves, mostly happening in inaccessible areas. Fires are normally kept under control, but if they get close to populated areas, road closures are possible.
Flash floods and landslides remain a risk in all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina after heavy rain. Follow the instructions and guidance provided by local officials and traffic police.
Earthquakes and small tremors are recorded throughout the year, usually without consequences. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 124 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Bosnia and Herzegovina guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
High levels of air pollution can happen across the country. See air quality guidance on TravelHealthPro.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Medical and dental facilities, particularly outside Sarajevo and major towns, are limited.
The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) does not cover Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ensure that you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation.
Pharmacies may not recognise prescriptions issued in the UK. You should take your existing prescription to a local doctor who will be able to help issue a valid prescription for use in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
See this list of English-speaking doctors in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- dealing with a death in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- being arrested in Bosnia and Herzegovina
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.