Kosovo travel information

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The Basics

Time: Local time in Kosovo is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October)

Electricity: Electrical current is 230 volts (50Hz). European round two-pin attachment plugs are most commonly used.

Language: Albanian and Serbian are the official languages, but English is widely spoken especially among the youth.

Travel Health: There are no specific health risks for Kosovo and travel is usually problem-free from a health perspective. Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccinations are recommended and it is also advised that visitors be up to date with their vaccinations for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. A typhoid vaccination may be recommended for travellers who will be eating and drinking outside of major hotels and restaurants. On a related note, travellers should avoid drinking tap water unless it has been boiled or filtered. A rabies vaccination may be recommended for travellers who may have contact with wild animals while in Kosovo. Medical facilities in Kosovo consist of private medical clinics and the government sponsored University Clinical Center. Quality controls are lacking in many medical facilities and their services are very basic. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended before travelling to Kosovo.

Tipping: Tips should equal 10 percent of the bill unless the restaurant adds a service charge to the total.

Safety Information: Kosovo is a relatively safe destination, though petty crime and pick pocketing can occur. Travellers should be especially cautious at large markets in Pristina. Travellers who venture outside of the capital should be aware of unexploded ordnance from the conflicts. Much of it has been cleared from roads and paths, but visitors should seek advice from KFOR (NATO-led international peacekeeping force) before exploring the more remote parts of the country. That said, the situation is quickly improving, as mine-clearance programmes operate all over Kosovo. Visitors should not drive vehicles that bear Serbian plates. Though perfectly legal, the car may be a target for random attacks or vandalism from locals. Northern Kosovo sees sporadic violence, particularly in north Mitrovica and a few other flashpoints where Serbian and Kosovar communities are in close contact.

Local Customs: Perhaps understandably, Kosovars tend to be suspicious of foreigners, and reserved in their dealings with them. A very direct communication style is favoured. Visitors might be surprised at how ingrained smoking is in the culture - being offered a cigarette by a new acquaintance is entirely commonplace, and should be seen as a sign of acceptance. Note that, as in many western countries, in Kosovo "Yes" is indicated by nodding one's head; however, if the chin suddenly becomes raised (sometimes accompanied by a clicking sound), this indicates an emphatic "No". Clean shoes are treated as a matter of self-respect in Kosovo.

Business: Kosovars of all ethnic backgrounds are hospitable to foreigners, especially westerners. Invitations to lunches, dinners, receptions, even religious family gatherings, and other official or private family hospitalities are normally offered and should be accepted if possible. Foreigners should be prepared for small talk to dominate much of the discussion and should not be concerned if Kosovars do not immediately get down to business. If offered, foreigners should be prepared to accept tea, coffee or other beverages, which are signs of respect for the host. (Note: Many Kosovars smoke, and a ban on smoking in public places is sporadically followed.) Meetings require business attire, but a formal suit is not expected. It is preferable to print business cards with one side in English and the other side in Albanian and/or Serbian. While not expected, a foreigner should offer their local contact a gift if the latter gives them one. The thought counts for more than the item's value.

Communications: The international dialling code for Kosovo is +383. The outgoing code is 00, followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Internet access is widespread, especially in Pristina. The central post office in Pristina is open from 7am to 7.30pm, Monday to Saturday and 8am to 2pm on Sundays. There is good cell phone coverage and roaming agreements are in place with major international operators.

Duty Free: Visitors may import the following goods duty-free: 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco. One litre of wine and one litre of spirits is permitted, as is 250ml of eau de toilette and a reasonable amount of perfume. Weapons and ammunition are prohibited.