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 2021.
Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija since 2019.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Bosnia and Herzegovina 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.
Commercial flights are operating to and from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Check with your travel company for the latest information.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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. Only testing centres marked “PZU” offer private testing on demand.
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 COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
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
Travel in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Everyone should comply with the measures put in place in Bosnia and Herzegovina to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina are imposing new public health measures in response to a rise in coronavirus infections.
Mask wearing and social distancing are required in public transport, in public places and outside in crowded areas, and there can be restrictions on the numbers of people gathering. Failure to observe public health measures can result in fines (see Protective clothing below).
There are restrictions on movement in place in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (including Sarajevo) between 11pm and 5am. You should follow the advice of all levels of authority as restrictions may be introduced without notice.
Some hotels and private rental services are operating.
Public places and services
Shops are largely open although may be operating reduced hours and with social distancing restrictions.
Further changes could be introduced at short notice. Keep up to date with information from your tour operator, transport or accommodation provider on the impact on any existing travel plans.
You are required to wear a face mask both inside public spaces and outside in crowded areas. You should also try to maintain two metres distance from others. Fines may be imposed for failure to observe social distancing or mask requirements.
Healthcare in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Access to emergency medical care can be limited. Medical services are often below the standard of those in the UK.
If you are ordered to self-isolate and are found not be doing so, you could be detained in a quarantine facility.
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 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Bosnia and Herzegovina
We will update this page when the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Bosnia and Herzegovina national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina has stated that British nationals resident in Bosnia and Herzegovina are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available from your local health provider.
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 Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
The level of crime is generally low, and crime against foreigners is particularly low, but you should beware of pickpockets on public transport, and in the tourist and pedestrian areas of Sarajevo and other cities. Be vigilant and make sure personal belongings including your passports are secure. Excessive displays of wealth, including large quantities of cash or jewellery and luxury vehicles can make you a target for opportunist thieves. Make sure your vehicle is locked and your belongings are out of sight. Take particular care in areas popular with foreign tourists, locals and in crowded public venues. Report all incidents of crime to the local police station and get a written report. Local police don’t always have English language skills and you may need the services of a translator.
Authorities have warned citizens of a new scam taking advantage of the coronavirus issue, whereby criminals pose as disinfectant officials to gain access to properties.
Landmines and other unexploded ordnance remain from the 1992-95 war. Highly populated areas and major routes are clear of mines and are safe to visit, but you should take special care near to the former lines of conflict. Although roads themselves may be clear on major routes, there are many landmines close to the edge of roads. Don’t stray from roads and paved areas without an experienced guide. Unless you have an experienced guide, you should avoid the open countryside and especially destroyed or abandoned buildings, neglected land, un-tarred roads, woods and orchards, private property and abandoned villages. Abandoned buildings, even in towns and cities may be booby trapped with mines. For further information, check the Mine Action Centre website.
English is not widely spoken. Local rail, bus and tram services are generally reliable if sometimes slow. Official taxis in Sarajevo and the major towns are well-regulated and metered. Taxi drivers from the Republika Srpska might be unwilling to drive to a destination in the Federation, and vice versa. Don’t use unlicensed taxis.
You can drive in Bosnia and Herzegovina using a valid UK driving licence or an International Driving Permit, in accordance with the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, during short visits of up to 6 months. If you’re staying longer than 6 months you will need to get a local driving licence. Bosnian authorities will retain your UK or any other foreign driving licence when applying for a Bosnian one. You cannot exchange an International Driving permit for a Bosnian licence.
If you’re driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina to another country, make sure you have the right documentation for your destination. Further advice can be found on the relevant Foreign Travel Advice page.
You need valid insurance to enter Bosnia and Herzegovina in a vehicle. If you don’t have the correct insurance, you’ll need to buy border insurance when you enter the country. The border police should be able to direct you to the insurance company office at the border crossing. Euros are accepted, but credit card payment is not always possible.
You can’t buy border insurance at all border crossings. The border police advise travellers to use the recently upgraded crossings at: Bijaca, Crveni Grm (south), Zubci (south-east), Karakaj and Raca (east), Samac (north-east), Kamensko and Izacici (west).
You can’t buy border insurance at the Neum border crossing. If you’re entering Bosnia and Herzegovina via Neum, you should be able to buy insurance at the Doljani border crossing.
Make sure you have original vehicle registration and ownership papers with you as border guards, customs or the insurance company may want to see them.
Contact the Bosnia and Herzegovina Embassy in London if you have more detailed questions about bringing a vehicle in to the country. The British Embassy won’t be able to help if you don’t have the correct documentation on arrival at the border.
Take care when travelling outside the main towns and cities, especially in winter when road conditions can worsen quickly.
Between 15 November and 15 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 mm deep
- snow chains should be carried as their use is compulsory in winter conditions or if the relevant sign is displayed
You must drive with dipped headlamps at all times, not just after dark. Take great care when driving at night as many roads are badly lit or have no lighting at all. Avoid long-distance travel at night. Take care when overtaking and when approaching traffic lights as local drivers have a habit of braking suddenly when traffic lights change to amber. If you are involved in an accident, stay at the scene until the police arrive. The police may breathalyse those involved. Traffic police can impose on the spot fines for any traffic offence.
Sarajevo (Butmir) International airport is prone to fog from October to March and particularly during December and January. 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, as many airlines won’t take responsibility for accommodation due to delays caused by adverse weather.
Check that your travel and medical insurance cover you for any adventure activities and sports.
Diving off Mostar bridge can be dangerous and there have been reports of serious injuries and even fatalities when imitating the professionals.
Take care when white water rafting in rivers or close to waterfalls. Currents can be extremely strong.
There are occasional protests in major towns and cities. These are normally peaceful but can cause disruption to traffic and limit access to public buildings. Keep up to date with developments, be vigilant and avoid all protests.
There is a small risk of isolated violence linked to the return of displaced persons or the arrest of war crimes suspects. This can occur without any warning anywhere in the country.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previous attacks have included small-arms fire targeting Bosnian government, law enforcement interests and the public. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
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.
Carry your passport 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, please see the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina website.
There are no laws against same-sex sexual relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but LGBT issues are more tolerated than accepted. Public displays of affection are likely to be frowned upon and attract unwelcome attention. You should exercise discretion. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
In light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have introduced serious restrictions on entry. See below
The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina
British nationals, including those with residence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, can enter Bosnia and Herzegovina with any of the following:
- a negative COVID-19 (PCR) test result that is not older than 48 hours
- confirmation of full vaccination at least 14 days before your arrival in Bosnia and Herzegovina. See ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status’
- a certificate from a doctor showing you have recovered from COVID-19, 14 to 180 days before your arrival in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Some groups are exempt from this rule, including: diplomats travelling to Bosnia and Herzegovina on official duties, EUFOR/NATO staff, freight drivers and crew, and foreigners in transit to their country of residence. Changes to restrictions may be introduced at short notice. You should comply with any screening measures put in place by the authorities. 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.
A number of restrictions are in place at border crossing points into and out of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina are publishing regular updates. Countries neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina have also introduced restrictions. Please check FCDO Travel Advice for Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro for details.
Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status
Bosnia and Herzegovina will only accept the letter format from the UK to demonstrate your COVID vaccination status. You should not use apps to demonstrate your COVID-19 vaccination status. 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.
Transiting Bosnia and Herzegovina
Transit through Bosnia and Herzegovina is possible without the need for a negative test result for British nationals returning to the UK or their country of residence, or travelling from one place in Croatia to another via Neum in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Freight drivers are also allowed to transit.
The Bosnian authorities have advised that where individuals’ visas or residence permits have expired due to current restrictions on travel meaning they were unable to leave the country, the Bosnian authorities will adopt a case by case approach. If your visa or residence permit has expired, you should contact your nearest Field Office of the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs.
For information on how to return to the UK from Bosnia and Herzegovina, see Return to the UK
Regular entry requirements
British nationals don’t need a visa to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina for a total period of no longer than 90 days within a period of 6 months following your first entry. For all other types of travel, contact the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in London.
Make sure your passport is stamped when you enter the country. If you don’t receive a stamp, the Border Police may fine you when you leave.
Your passport should be in good condition and valid for a minimum period of 90 days from the date of your exit from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
All foreign nationals must register with the police within 72 hours of arrival. Hotels and registered hostels will usually arrange this for their guests.
British citizens who wish to remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina for longer than 90 days must apply to the Border Police for a Residency Permit. As well as a valid passport, the Border Police require a British Police document showing that you have no criminal record in the United Kingdom. The British Embassy isn’t able to issue such a document. Contact your local police authority in the United Kingdom before you travel.
Travelling with children
Children under 18 years of age who are not Bosnian nationals and who are travelling unaccompanied or accompanied by an adult person other than their parents must carry a notarised letter from their parents 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.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Bosnia and Herzegovina 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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
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).
High levels of air pollution can occur across the country. 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.
Medical and dental facilities, particularly outside Sarajevo and major towns are limited.
Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. Your insurance should also include cover for evacuation by air ambulance. EHIC doesn’t cover Bosnia and Herzegovina.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 124 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
There are numerous pharmacies (“apoteka”) in towns and cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, often marked with a green cross. Pharmacies may not recognise prescriptions issued in the United Kingdom, and in this case 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 the British Embassy’s list of healthcare providers.
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 this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Forest fires are common in Herzegovina (the southern part of the country) during summer heat waves, mostly occurring 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. In such cases, follow the instructions and guidance provided by local officials and traffic police.
Most transactions in Bosnia and Herzegovina are in cash. The local currency is the Bosnian Mark. Cashing travellers’ cheques is possible at some banks. ATMs are available in the larger cities. Credit and debit cards may be accepted outside Sarajevo, but you should make sure you have enough cash with you when travelling outside major cities.
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.
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.
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.