AlbaniaOfficial Name: Republic of Albania
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays under one year
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
1,000,000 Lekë or equivalent
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
1,000,000 Lekë or equivalent.
Embassies and Consulates
Rr. Elbasanit, No. 103
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +355-(0)-4224-7285
Albania is a parliamentary democracy with a market-oriented economic system. Albania's per capita income is among the lowest in Europe, but economic conditions in the country are improving. Albania's economic integration into broader European markets is underway slowly. Tourist facilities are not highly developed in much of the country, and some goods and services taken for granted in Western European countries are not widely available. Hotel accommodations are plentiful in Tirana and in other major cities, but limited in smaller towns. Albanian is the official language; English is limited except for Tirana’s main tourist areas. Read the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Albania for additional information on U.S. - Albania relations.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
Entry into the Republic of Albania is possible at any formal port of entry (Tirana International Airport, sea ports, or land border crossing points). U.S. citizens do not need visas to enter the Republic of Albania. You must have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry into Albania. Your passport is stamped upon entry with the date of arrival by the Border and Migration Police (BMP).
Upon entering the Republic of Albania, you may stay for up to one year without applying for a Residency Permit. It is important to check that the BMP officer has stamped and entered the date correctly in your passport at the time of entry. If you depart Albania during the one-year period or after a one-year stay, you must remain outside the country for three months or more to “restart the clock.” After you have been outside of Albania for at least three months you may re-enter and stay in Albania for a new one-year period without having to apply for a Residency Permit.
If you intend to remain in Albania for longer than one year, you must apply for a Residency Permit at the office of the Regional Directorate of Border and Migration Police having jurisdiction over your place of residence. Visit the Embassy of Albania website for information on how to apply for a Residency Permit and for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Albania.
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.
Safety and Security
Public demonstrations occur throughout Albania, often with little or no notice, and can cause serious traffic disruptions. Although most demonstrations are peaceful, a demonstration in January 2011 turned violent and resulted in four deaths and injuries to many others, including to Albania State Police Officers. Travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place. The use of roadblocks and/or the blocking of public facilities has occurred. U.S. citizens should stay up to date with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Information regarding demonstrations in Albania can be found on the U.S. Embassy Tirana website.
Organized criminal activity and corruption occur in many regions of Albania. Police and news outlets often report small-scale, sporadic incidents of violence. U.S. government employees are currently prohibited from travelling to the southern town of Lazarat, one of the largest marijuana producing regions in Europe. In 2004 a police shooting of an alleged trafficker resulted in a gun battle and the destruction of the Lazarat police station. Army Special Forces were called in to restore order which resulted in the current stalemate between the government and Lazarat. In 2012, police attempted to raid marijuana plantations in the area and were repelled by several armed gangs. Since then, Albanian law enforcement has largely left the area alone with no permanent police presence and drug traffickers have been known to patrol the roads and discourage people from entering the region. Police ability to protect and assist travelers in and near Lazarat is limited.
The use of small improvised explosive devices in targeted attacks against individuals involved in contentious business or personal disputes has increased in past months and it is noted that in a recent incident involving a rocket propelled grenade has emerged as a tactic used in these clashes. The devices have been used to target vehicles occupied by these individuals as well as their residences and have resulted in serious injuries and deaths. Although the U.S. Embassy has no specific information regarding threats directed against U.S. citizens, we encourage U.S. citizens to remain vigilant when parking vehicles in unattended parking lots, to avoid parking overnight in non-secure areas, and to visually inspect their parked vehicles for any suspicious items. If any anomalies are found, do not tamper with the vehicle and contact the Albanian police immediately.
Power outages occur frequently throughout Albania. Regular outages may also disrupt other public utilities, including water service, and interfere with traffic lights and the provision of normal business and public services.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Albania’s American Citizen Services on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: High unemployment and other economic factors encourage criminal activity. Use caution and protect your valuables in Tirana, just as you would in any major U.S. city. Violent crime aimed at U.S. citizens is rare and criminals do not appear to target U.S. citizens or other foreigners, but rather seek targets of opportunity, selecting those who appear to have anything of value. Crime statistics indicate a steady increase in violent crime has occurred throughout Albania since 2009. Organized crime is present in Albania; organized criminal activity occasionally results in violent confrontations between members of rival organizations.
Pick-pocketing, theft, and other petty street crimes are widespread, particularly in areas where tourists and foreigners congregate. Pickpockets use various diversionary tactics to distract victims, and panhandlers – particularly children – may become aggressive. U.S. citizens have reported the theft of their passports and portable electronic devices by pick-pockets. Victims of pick-pocketing should report the crime to the police and cancel their credit cards as soon as possible. Exercise caution in bars and clubs in Tirana, where violent incidents, some involving the use of firearms, have occurred in the past.
Vehicle theft and theft from vehicles are not uncommon in Albania. Carjacking can also occur. You should avoid leaving valuables, including cell phones and electronic items, in plain view in unattended vehicles. You should lock the windows and doors of your residence securely when it is not occupied. In the event you are a victim of a carjacking, you should surrender your vehicle without resistance.
Travelers should take standard safety precautions when using Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Try to use ATMs located inside banks and check for any evidence of tampering with the machine before use. Be cautious when using publicly available Internet terminals, such as in Internet cafes, as sensitive personal information, account passwords, etc., may be subject to compromise. Theft of personal items from hotel rooms can also occur.
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:
- Replace a stolen passport;
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape;
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends; and
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Albania is 129; however, emergency response support is unreliable.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Albania, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. For instance, it is illegal to take pictures of certain physical structures in Albania. Be alert for signage and guidance by security personnel.
Persons violating Albanian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Albania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. In Albania, you may be taken in for questioning if you take pictures of certain buildings. Under Albanian law, police can detain any individual for up to 10 hours without filing formal charges. Although this is not a common occurrence reported by U.S. citizens, the possibility remains. We encourage U.S. citizens to carry a copy of their U.S. passport with them at all times to show proof of identity and U.S. citizenship if questioned by local officials. In Albania, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in Albania, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Engaging in sexual conduct with children is also a crime in Albania, as is the production and distribution of child pornography. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
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 that country, others may not. In Albania, police in small or remote cities that do not often interact with foreigners may not know to contact the embassy if you are arrested. 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: Albania's customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Albania of particular items. We suggest that you contact the Embassy of Albania in Washington, D.C. or one of Albania's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
The Albanian Government considers any person in Albania who has at least one Albanian parent to be an Albanian citizen. In addition to being subject to all Albanian laws affecting U.S. citizens, dual nationals may be subject to laws that impose special obligations on Albanian citizens. Please contact the Embassy of Albania in Washington, D.C. or one of Albania's consulates in the United States for further information. Also see additional information pertaining to dual nationality.
Albania is a cash economy. Credit cards are generally accepted only at major hotels in Tirana, large department/grocery stores, upscale restaurants, and some international airline offices. Travelers' checks are not widely used but can be changed at banks in larger towns or cities. ATMs are widely available in Tirana and in larger towns.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: Generally, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals are not discriminated against while living, traveling, or working in Albania. Albanian law does not permit same-sex marriage and does not recognize a marriage certificate for same-sex couples from other countries, but it does not otherwise prosecute or discriminate against same-sex relationships. Same-sex married couples are not allowed to apply for Residency Permits as a family, but each partner may register individually.
For more detailed information about LGBT rights in Albania, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012. For further information on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: While in Albania, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from in the United States. In December 2009, Albania signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Convention was ratified by Parliament in December 2012; however, very few of the convention’s terms have been implemented. The national strategy on persons with disabilities adopted for the period 2004-2014 is aimed at improving living conditions through accessibility, support services, employment, and education; at present, it is only partly implemented.
Only limited measures exist to support disabled persons. Most public buildings remain inaccessible and inconsistent inspection has resulted in construction of new facilities that are not always accessible for persons with disabilities. Public transportation for persons with disabilities is very limited.
Medical care at private hospitals and clinics in Tirana has improved in recent years, but still remains below western standards. Medical facilities outside Tirana have very limited capabilities. Emergency and major medical care requiring surgery and hospital care outside Tirana is often inadequate because of a lack of medical specialists, diagnostic aids, medical supplies, and prescription drugs. There are very few ambulances in Albania; therefore, injured or seriously ill U.S. citizens may be required to take taxis or other immediately available vehicles to the nearest major hospital rather than waiting for ambulances to arrive. If you have been previously diagnosed with (a) medical condition(s), you may wish to consult your personal health care provider before travel. As some prescription drugs may not be available locally, you may also wish to bring extra supplies of required medications.
Electricity shortages result in sporadic blackouts throughout the country, which can affect food storage capabilities of restaurants and shops. While some restaurants and food stores have generators to store food properly, you should take care that food is cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Tap water is not considered potable or safe to drink. You should purchase bottled water or drinks while in country. Air pollution is also a problem throughout Albania, particularly in Tirana. Travelers should consult their doctor prior to travel and consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on them.
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, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Albania, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The most dangerous aspect of living and working in Albania is the unsafe driving regularly encountered on roads nationwide, and the generally poor condition of the roads. Road conditions are especially poor in rural areas in winter months and at other times of inclement weather. Sporadic electricity shortages sometimes result in blackouts affecting road lighting and traffic signals. Travel at night and outside the main urban areas is particularly dangerous as road hazards are unpredictable and can be more difficult to see. Disregard for traffic laws is widespread. Traffic accidents are frequent occurrences and often result in serious injury or death. If you choose to drive in Albania, please exercise strong caution and drive as defensively as possible.
Buses travel between most major cities almost exclusively during the day, but they do not always run according to schedule and can be uncomfortable relative to buses in the United States. No public bus routes exist between cities; travelers seeking intra-city transit may use privately owned vans, which function as an unofficial system of bus routes and operate almost entirely without schedules or set fares. These private operators may not have permission to operate as a bus service and may not adhere to accepted safety and maintenance standards or driver training; you should consider the condition of the van before you choose to travel in one. In January 2013, vans carrying passengers were robbed at gunpoint near the city of Tepelene on the route from Saranda to Tirana. In the same city in January 2014 a passenger was killed when armed gunmen robbed a bus traveling from Athens to Tirana. Personal vehicles have been robbed in the same fashion. There are no commercial domestic flights and the rail conditions are poor, connections limited, and service unreliable.
You can only use an international driver’s license for one year in Albania. If you wish to drive in Albania for a period of time in excess of one year, you must apply for an Albanian driver’s license.
It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and, if caught, the police may seize your driver’s license and vehicle and impose additional penalties such as a fine or up to six months in prison.
Using a cell phone while driving is only permitted when the driver utilizes a Bluetooth or other hands-free device and failure to use such a device can result in a fine.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Albania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Government of Albania’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.