Serbia travel guide
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.
77,474 sq km (35,246 sq miles).
8,812,705 (UN estimate 2016).
92.6 per sq km.
President Aleksandar Vucic since June 2017.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic since June 2017.
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 Serbia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Serbia’s embassy in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Serbia.
Passport validity requirements
If you are visiting Serbia, your passport should be valid for at least 90 days after your planned date of departure from Serbia.
You must register with the local police where you’re staying within 24 hours of your arrival in Serbia. If you’re staying in a hotel, check-in staff will register you automatically. If you do not register, you could get a fine, and face arrest and a court appearance.
British nationals do not need a visa to visit Serbia for up to 90 days. For further information on entry and exit requirements, contact the Serbian embassy in the UK.
If you want to extend your stay in Serbia, you must apply for temporary residence status. You must do this at the police station where you’re registered at least 30 days before the 90-day period expires. For more information visit the website of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Checks at border control
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
When entering Serbia, make sure border guards stamp 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 a prison sentence.
You should only enter Serbia through recognised border crossings. Serbian borders remain open for entry and exit, subject to any entry requirements currently in place in neighbouring countries.
Travelling between Serbia and Kosovo
The authorities in Serbia do not consider the designated crossing points with Kosovo to be official international border crossing points.
It is possible to travel from Serbia to Kosovo, and back again.
You cannot travel from Kosovo to Serbia without a Serbian entry stamp from Belgrade, Niš or Kraljevo airports, or one of Serbia’s other border crossings with:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
You are likely to be refused entry without a valid Serbian entry stamp. You should take a route through a third country.
Border guards have denied foreign nationals entry to Serbia if they have Republic of Kosovo stamps in their passports. We are also aware of isolated incidents where Serbian authorities have cancelled Kosovo stamps in passports of foreign nationals.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo can cause difficulties at border crossings with Kosovo.
Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Serbia guide.
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Serbia. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
You must declare items of value if you are temporarily bringing them to Serbia to avoid customs charges – for example, jewellery, cameras and computing equipment.
Taking money into Serbia
If you are carrying more than 10,000 euros (or an equal amount in other currencies), you must:
- complete a declaration form at customs on arrival in Serbia – a customs officer will certify this by signing or stamping the form
- keep a copy of the certified form while you are in Serbia
- show the certified form when you leave Serbia
- show a receipt if you are carrying Serbian dinars bought from a foreign bank
Customs officers may seize your money if you do not follow these rules.
You should exchange any unwanted dinars before you leave Serbia. British banks do not normally exchange dinars. Do not use street dealers. Only change money through banks or official exchange offices.
It is not possible to exchange Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes in Serbia.
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 Serbia
Terrorist attacks in Serbia can’t be ruled out.
There is a general threat from terrorism. There may be increased security in place over the festive period, including at Christmas markets and other major events that might attract large crowds. Remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities.
Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Terrorists may target religious sites, including churches.
There is the potential for disturbances in Belgrade and other towns and cities. There have been mass gatherings in Belgrade and other cities since May 2023. Further gatherings are planned. These can cause significant disruption, including to public transport. You should:
- keep up to date with local developments
- plan ahead to avoid disruption
- avoid crowds or demonstrations to avoid injury
Protecting your belongings
Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime, particularly in larger cities. Pickpockets work in tourist areas, airports, on public transport and at motorway petrol stations.
As a foreigner, criminals may assume you are carrying large amounts of cash. Four-wheel drive and luxury vehicles are also popular targets.
Some sporting events have had incidents of violence and petty crime. Report all incidents of crime to the local police and get a report.
Unexploded landmines and bombs
There is still some danger from unexploded landmines and bombs from the 1999 war in Kosovo and Serbia. Most of the affected areas are in the mountains to the north and east of Kosovo. Take special care in these areas and keep to marked roads.
Thick vegetation covers most of the dangerous areas. Do not touch anything suspicious and report it to the police.
Laws and cultural differences
It is a legal requirement to carry your passport (as a tourist) or ID card (as a resident) with you for identification purposes. Keep a copy separately in a safe place.
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
There are strict penalties for possessing and trafficking drugs, including long prison sentences.
Using cameras in secure areas
Taking photographs of military and police installations, personnel or vehicles anywhere in Serbia may lead to arrest or difficulties with the authorities.
Same-sex relationships are legal in Serbia, and there are anti-discrimination laws. There are LGBT+ friendly hostels, clubs and other events in Belgrade. However, the level of public prejudice against LGBT+ people is still relatively high. Be aware that showing affection in public could result in unwanted attention.
Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.
You need either a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) or a valid UK driving licence to drive in Serbia. 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.
You can drive with a UK driving licence or IDP for a series of short visits up to a year after you first entered Serbia, or for a single stay of up to 6 months. If you’re staying longer than 6 months, you must get a local licence.
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).
Dial 1987 for roadside assistance.
You should only use registered taxis – look for a municipal registration number alongside the cab number. Instead of hailing a taxi, you can call one of the radio taxi phone numbers (most operators speak English). See information about taxis and public transport from the Belgrade tourism organisation.
Many Serbian car hire firms will not allow you to drive their vehicles to Kosovo, Albania or Bulgaria because of security concerns. There have been some incidents where Serbian registered cars have been vandalised, or in some cases set on fire, in more isolated areas of Kosovo.
Bringing a vehicle into Serbia
If you are bringing a vehicle to 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 you no longer need to hold a green card. 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 to Serbia. The British embassy cannot help you if you arrive at the border without the correct documents.
Trains can be slow, particularly in winter when there are often long delays. On overnight trains, sleeping berths can be locked from the inside for safety. 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.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
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 are properly extinguished and do not light barbecues.
Parts of Serbia can flood after heavy rain. See flood warnings from the Serbian Hydrometeorological Service. If floods affect your area, follow the instructions of the Serbian authorities.
Serbia lies in a seismically active zone, and earth tremors are common. Serious earthquakes are less frequent but can occur. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice on what to before, during and after an earthquake.
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 194 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Serbia guide
where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
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 Serbia
You can view a list of English-speaking doctors in Serbia.
There is a reciprocal healthcare agreement for British nationals visiting Serbia, which entitles you to free emergency treatment. To get treatment you must show:
- a British passport
- evidence of registration with the local police (if you’re not staying in a hotel)
- a certificate confirming entitlement to benefit under the UK Social Security Acts – you can get the certificate from HM Revenue & Customs before you travel or contact the British Embassy if you need assistance
You may need to pay cash for non-emergency treatment or treatment that is not covered under the reciprocal agreement. Make sure you can access money to cover medical treatment.
Some private clinics in Serbia offer treatment for addiction which may not meet UK standards. Seek advice from your local GP or health provider in the UK before undertaking any treatment.
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 Serbia
All emergencies: 112
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 Serbia.
- dealing with a death in Serbia
- being arrested in Serbia
- 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.