COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced significant progress in restoring peace and stability since the 1992-95 war; nonetheless, political tensions among its ethnic groups persist. Progress has been made to reconstruct the physical infrastructure that was devastated during the war, but roads, railroads, and other infrastructural improvements lag behind other countries in the region. Hotels and travel amenities are available in the capital, Sarajevo, and other major towns. In more remote areas of the country, public facilities vary in quality. Read the Department of State’s Background Notes on Bosnia and Herzegovina for additional information on U.S. relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, please take the time to tell our Embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
The Department's Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Android market, provides easy access to updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, and U.S. embassy locations. Travelers can also set up e-tineraries to keep track of arrival and departure dates and make notes about upcoming trips.
U.S. Embassy Sarajevo
1 Robert C. Frasure Street
Telephone: (387) 33 704 000
Emergency after-hours telephone: (387) 33 704 000. If after dialing you receive a recorded
message, press “0” and ask for the embassy duty officer.
Facsimile: (387) 33 221 837
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a passport to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not issue visas to U.S. travelers prior to travel for any length of stay and purpose of travel, including diplomatic assignments. If you are not staying at a hotel but in a private residence, you must register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival.
U.S. citizens who wish to stay in Bosnia and Herzegovina for more than 90 days must apply for a temporary residence permit from the local field office of the Foreigners’ Affairs Department of the Ministry of Security. Eligibility requirements are limited to certain specific circumstances and the necessary documentation is extensive. You must submit your application for a temporary residence permit at least 15 days prior to the expiration of the initial 90-day visa-free period of stay. However, due to the complexity of the process, those planning to apply should begin gathering the required documentation well in advance and should submit the application as soon after arriving in-country as possible. After the application is made, there are often months of delays before a residence permit is finally issued, but the U.S. applicant can remain in the country while awaiting the decision as long as the Ministry of Security has accepted the application as complete. An application will not be accepted until all documentation requirements are met. The maximum duration of a temporary residence permit is 12 months, with the possibility of renewal. The fee is 100 convertible marks (KM), or approximately 70 USD.
The documents required for a temporary residence permit vary in accordance with the purpose of stay, but you will always be asked to present the evidence that you have accommodation, funds/income, and health insurance in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the mandatory documents is a police certificate from your U.S. state of residence indicating that you have no criminal record. Your U.S. passport must be valid for at least three more months after the end of the period for which a temporary residence permit is requested. More information on the process of applying for a temporary residence permit can be obtained on the web page of the Foreigners’ Affairs Department of the Ministry of Security Of Bosnia and Herzegovina. For additional information on entry requirements, please contact the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina at 2109 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037, telephone 202-337-1500. Visit the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina website for the most current visa information.
Bosnia and Herzegovina immigration authorities strictly enforce a law requiring any unaccompanied minor (under 18) to have written permission from both parents in order to enter and leave the country. If traveling with only one parent, the minor is required to have written permission for the trip from the non-traveling parent.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Landmines remain a problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As of 2013, there were still an estimated 10, 000 minefields and an estimated 200,000 active land mines and unexploded ordnances throughout the country. The area of suspected landmine contamination is estimated at over 1,274 square kilometers-- more than 2.5% of the country’s territory. A new Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center (BHMAC) study of the mine problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina has identified a total of 1,631 local communities affected by mines. BHMAC estimates that mines directly affect the safety of 921,513 people. Since 1996, approximately 1, 6830 people have been injured due to mine accidents, of which almost 600 people died. While most urban areas have been largely cleared, you should still take special care when near the former lines of conflict, including the suburbs of Sarajevo. The de-mining community recommends staying on hard surfaced areas and out of abandoned buildings. Families traveling with children in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be especially aware of the danger posed by mines and unexploded ordnance. For more information about landmines and unexploded ordinance please visit the website of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center.
Localized political difficulties continue and random violence may occur with little or no warning, but politically-related violence in recent years has been rare.
In 2011, a terrorist shooting attack targeted the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, wounding one local police officer. Bosnian criminals may use firearms and explosives to settle personal, business, and political disputes. In 2010, local religious extremists were responsible for a bomb exploding outside a police station in Bugojno; one officer was killed. Local media outlets have reported at least 38 incidents involving the use of hand-grenades in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2011. The foreign community is rarely the target of such violence, but there is always the danger of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. While most Bosnian citizens appreciate the assistance of the international community, you might occasionally encounter anti-foreign sentiment.
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CRIME: The overall crime rate throughout the country remains moderate, although Sarajevo has a consistently high rate of property crime. The Embassy has noted a recent sharp increase in criminal activity throughout Sarajevo in the form of armed robberies, residential break-ins, thefts from motor vehicles, and pick-pocketing. In many of these incidents, members of the international community were victims. On average, four motor vehicles are stolen in Bosnia and Herzegovina each day. The persistent difficult economic situation, including an officially reported unemployment rate over 40 percent, may be fueling an increase in criminal aggressiveness. Be alert to your surroundings at all times, but in particular, after dark and in locations visited by foreigners such as cafés and restaurants. Take normal precautions to protect your property from theft and exercise common sense personal security measures, such as traveling in groups and staying in well-lighted areas after dark. Try to avoid confrontations with local citizens resulting from traffic incidents or public disagreements. Avoid carrying large sums of money on your person and avoid keeping money in one place. Be careful of beggars or others who may be attempting to distract you or directly pick your pocket. There are also documented cases of pick-pocketing and other scams to obtain money from foreign passengers aboard public transportation (especially aboard the trams). Most local citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not use backpacks. People wearing backpacks tend to attract the attention of pickpockets who quite easily gain access to backpacks without the owners’ knowledge. Keep purses and bags closed and avoid placing valuables in purses and bags. Items placed on the chair next to you, hung on the coat rack, or placed on the back of a chair are more easily stolen or pilfered.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalents to the “911” emergency lines in Bosnia and Herzegovina are: Police – 122; Ambulance – 124; and Fire – 123.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, photographing military or secure installations including airports, equipment, bridges, government checkpoints, troops, and the U.S. Embassy, is forbidden. If in doubt, please ask permission before taking photographs. Remember that there are some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not wherever you go.
Persons violating Bosnia and Herzegovina’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bosnia and Herzegovina are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Arrest notifications in host country:
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: Bosnia and Herzegovina is still predominantly a cash economy. Although the use of credit cards has become widespread in recent years, travelers still should not expect to use them to cover all expenses. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are available in sufficient numbers at international banks in Sarajevo and other major cities and towns. Traveler’s checks can be cashed in every bank immediately, without delays; bank feesfor these transactions are usually 2%. Cash transfers from abroad may involve delays, but Western Union transfers are available in many banks and post offices throughout the country. The convertible mark (KM), the national currency, is pegged to the euro at a fixed rate under a currency-board regime, which guarantees its stability. All official payments must be made in convertible marks. Any bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina should be able to exchange U.S. dollars into convertible marks with the usual bank commission (between one and two percent).
During the winter months, flights into and out of Sarajevo are frequently delayed or canceled due to heavy fog. Travelers should be prepared for last-minute schedule changes, lengthy delays, alternate routings, or time-consuming overland transportation.
Accessibility: While in Bosnia and Herzegovina, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities; however, there is discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, and access to health care and other state services. The law mandates that all public buildings be retrofitted to provide access to persons with disabilities. Changes in new buildings are expected by the end of the year. However, in practice, buildings are rarely accessible to persons with disabilities.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: The lack of adequate medical facilities, especially outside Sarajevo, may cause problems for visitors. Because many medicines are not obtainable, travelers should bring their own supply of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Private practitioners and dentists are becoming more common; however, quality of care varies and rarely meets U.S. or Western European standards. All major surgery is performed in public hospitals.
Individuals with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions may react negatively to the air quality and allergens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in Sarajevo. Additionally, persons with mental health conditions may not be able to locate English-speaking mental health providers or support groups.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For further information, please consult the CDC's information on TB.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Road travel is possible throughout most of the country, but many roads are poorly maintained and are sometimes blocked because of landslides, de-mining activity, and traffic accidents. Bosnia and Herzegovina has fewer than forty kilometers of four-lane highways. The existing two-lane roads between major cities are quite narrow in places, lack guardrails, and are full of curves. Travel by road can be risky because of poorly maintained roads and morning and evening fog in the mountains. Driving in winter is hazardous because of fog, snow and ice.
Local driving habits can be challenging given the road conditions, and many vehicles are in bad condition; approximately 100 motor vehicle accidents are reported daily throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many accidents occur when drivers exceed safe speeds along winding mountain roads. Accidents involving drunk driving are an increasing problem. Driving after dark is especially dangerous, and street lighting is not common outside major towns. Road construction may be poorly marked, and automobiles share the road with heavy vehicles and agricultural equipment. Travelers should try to convoy with other vehicles, if possible, and plan their trip to ensure they travel only during daylight hours.
Although the number of service stations outside major cities has increased in recent years, many do not offer mechanical services. The emergency number for vehicle assistance and towing service is 1282. Speed limit signs are not always obvious or clear. The speed limit on the majority of roads is 60 km/h (37 mph); on straight stretches of road it is generally 80 km/h (50 mph). The use of seat belts is mandatory. Talking on a cell phone while driving is prohibited. The tolerated blood alcohol level is .03 percent. Bosnian law requires having a safety vest, spare tire, jack, first aid kit, safety triangle, towing rope, and spare light bulbs in the car at all times.
In order to drive legally in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you must have an international driving permit in addition to your U.S. license.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Bosnia-Herzegovina dated July 27, 2012, to update sections on Entry/Exit Requirements for US citizens; Threats to Safety and Security; Victims of Crime; Criminal Penalties; and Special Circumstances.