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State Department: Serbia & Montenegro - Consular Information Sheet, April 29, 1994

Serbia & Montenegro - Consular Information Sheet
April 29, 1994

Warning: The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Serbia and Montenegro because of the potential for rapid changes in the security situation there, and the threat of potential repercussions from the ongoing conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Country Description: The former Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro are currently under stringent United Nations economic sanctions and all international commercial air links have been cut. As a result, there may be long delays at the border when entering the country by car or bus. Internal air travel remains possible, but schedules are unreliable. Trains continue to operate, but are often overbooked, unreliable, and unsafe. There have been incidents of assaults and robberies on the trains. Travelers should be aware that essential supplies, including basic food items and medicines, often are unavailable, and that travelers checks and credit cards are not valid. Rapid changes in the value of local currency occur as hyperinflation continues and travelers may experience power outages and heating irregularities. Although automobile travel is generally possible, there is a shortage of spare parts and gasoline, and it is wise to make certain that sufficient fuel is available before undertaking such travel. Auto travel after dark on many roads is hazardous because of the presence of slow, poorly marked vehicles, horse-drawn carts, and worn or nonexistent median lines and shoulder markings. In addition traffic signs may be poorly marked and new signs are likely to be written in the cyrillic alphabet in some areas of Serbia. The road between Zagreb and Belgrade is closed and it is impossible to enter Croatia from Serbia or Montenegro.

There are checkpoints throughout the country which are manned generally by policemen (militia), but occasionally by undisciplined, untrained reserve militia groups. Travelers are expected to provide identification and cooperate fully at these checkpoints. Travelers are prohibited from photographing police, buildings under police or military guard, border crossings, demonstrations, riots, and military personnel, convoys, maneuvers and bases. There are marked areas where all photography is prohibited.

Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens require a passport and visa. Visas normally are not granted at the border. The "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" (FRY), which claims to be the successor state to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, is not fully recognized by the United States. The FRY maintains an office at 2410 California Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 462-6566, which travelers can contact for updated entry requirements. U.S. travelers overseas can check with the nearest FRY consular office.

Areas of Instability: U.S. Embassy personnel may not enter the following areas without prior U.S. government permission: the border areas with Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Sandzak region, and Kosovo.

The Border with Croatia: Sporadic violence, which can become intense, continues in areas of Croatia along this boundary.

The Border with Bosnia-Herzegovina: The ongoing war in Bosnia-Herzegovina makes this area very dangerous. The danger is especially acute in the Drina River valley of both Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

Sandzak Region: Heightened ethnic tensions and sporadic acts of violence (particularly near the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina), as well as the presence in some areas of paramilitary forces, makes travel to this region of Serbia and Montenegro potentially dangerous. Travel in the border regions may be especially perilous.

Kosovo: Ethnic tensions are especially acute in this southern Serbian province (called Kosovo Metohija by Serbian authorities). Demonstrations, sometimes violent, can occur without warning. In recent months, there have been several armed attacks on Serbian police, resulting in death and injury. Security forces are at a high state of alert and police check points are widespread. Travelers are routinely subject to police search and interrogation.

Danube River: There have been recent incidents of both cargo and passenger ships on the Danube transiting Serbia being delayed for several days by purported private organizations protesting U.N. sanctions. Persons traveling on the Danube through Serbia should be prepared for delays and alterations to their plans.

The remainder of Serbia and Montenegro: While this area is generally calm, in some areas, for example Vojvodina, tensions are high as a result of bombings, other acts of intimidation and threats by armed paramilitary groups. The potential for violent incidents exists and will probably increase as a result of the political situation and worsening economic conditions. For example, a bomb was detonated in front of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade in March 1993 causing some damage.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited. Many medicines and basic medical supplies as well as X-ray film often are unavailable. Hospitals usually require payment in hard-currency for all services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. While travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proved to be useful, they may be forced to pay first and then seek reimbursement. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control's international travelers' hotline, telephone (404) 332-4559.

Crime Information: There is a continuing trend toward lawlessness and disorder. Murder has increased dramatically with many incidents in broad daylight and some at popular public places. Crime has increased markedly in the cities, particularly near railroad and bus stations and on trains. The possession of firearms has proliferated greatly and it is estimated that 20 percent of the citizens are now armed. Effective police protection is almost non-existent.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The Department of State's pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Eastern Europe" are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402. They provide useful information on travel to the region and protecting personal security while traveling abroad.

Commercial Regulations: United Nations economic sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro, enforced by the United States, prohibit imports, exports and all other commercial transactions. Humanitarian transactions require waivers from the U.N. Security Council's Yugoslavia Sanctions Committee. Further information regarding waivers can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Treasury. Travel is permitted for personal, non-commercial reasons only. Travel into or out of Serbia and Montenegro by air, as well as the use of credit cards is prohibited. Travelers' checks and personal checks are not accepted locally and their use is prohibited. The only medium of exchange is hard currency, for example, U.S. dollars or German marks. It is illegal to exchange currency at other than official banks and institutions. For further information, travelers can contact the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Other Information: In compliance with a U.N. resolution mandating the reduction of U.S. Embassy staffs, the Department of State reduced the size of its mission in Belgrade. Assistance to U.S. citizens may therefore be limited.

Registration: U.S. citizens who register with the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade can obtain updated information on travel and security in Serbia and Montenegro. The Embassy will attempt to contact U.S. citizens who have registered if the situation worsens.

Embassy Location: The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade is located at Kneza Milosa 50, telephone (381-11) 645-655. The after hours telephone number is (381-11) 646-481. The Consular Section fax number is (381-11) 644-053. The alternate fax number is (381-11) 645-221.

No. 94-066

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 22, 1994 to reflect the termination of ordered departure status for U.S. Embassy dependents and some Embassy employees from Belgrade.

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