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Crossing the border between serbia & Kosovo: What you need to know as a tourist

This is a post for people wanting to travel to Kosovo from Serbia or to travel to Serbia after visiting Kosovo. If you are not combining these two countries in one trip then you have nothing to be concerned about and you can read any of my other amazing blog posts from the menu above!

This post will discuss the main points you should be aware of when travelling to Kosovo and Serbia. Here we go:

1. Cross by land from Serbia

    If you want to visit Kosovo directly from Serbia, you have to use the land border. There are no direct flights from Belgrade to Pristina, unless you transit in a third country (like Turkiye).

    2. No rental cars

    You cannot rent a car and travel to Kosovo from Serbia. Car rental companies will not give you the insurance you require to cross the border. I am not sure if you can rent a car from Kosovo and enter Serbia either. I have never seen a Kosovar number plate in Serbia. You can however use a vehicle if you own one otherwise your best option is the bus. You can book bus tickets and check the timings here.

    3. Plan your route

    If you look on Google Maps and try to plan a route from Kosovo to Serbia, Google Maps will provide a route through Macedonia or Montenegro. This is not the most direct route. The bus takes you on the most direct route through the Medare Border Crossing.

    4. Choose the order of countries

    Serbia does not recognise border crossings between Kosovo and other countries, thus if you want to travel to and from Kosovo, you cannot enter Serbia from Kosovo after entering Kosovo from another country. You can go to Macedonia first and enter Serbia from there if you wish to continue into Serbia from Kosovo.

    Simply put- If you did not initially enter Kosovo from Serbia, do not enter Serbia from Kosovo.

    You need to have a current, valid Serbian entry stamp in your passport in order to travel from Kosovo to Serbia. If not, you’ll have to pass through another country in transit. You will be considered to have entered the country illegally if you attempt to pass the Serbia-Kosovo border with just a Kosovo entry stamp.

    The route Serbia-Kosovo-Serbia is safest.

    5. Know your limits and visa requirements

    You should be aware that your Serbian tourist visa (or entrance stamp, which is typically valid for 90 days) will still be counted towards your trip to Kosovo if you decide to enter Kosovo and then return to Serbia. You may face overstaying your visa charges if you go beyond the deadline.

    Kosovo and Serbia have very different visa policies. Make sure your passport has the requisite visa for entering and exiting Kosovo and Serbia. For weak passports: Serbia accepts a variety of visas for entry whereas Kosovo only accepts Schengen visas, unless your passport is visa exempt.

    You cannot get a Kosovo entry visa in Serbia as Kosovo does not exist to Serbia. You must have your entry requirements to Kosovo sorted elsewhere.

    You can check the visa policies here for Kosovo and here for Serbia.

    6. Stamps are on request

    When you take the bus from Serbia to Kosovo, at the border crossing your passports will be collected for inspection by the Serbian authorities first. No exit stamp is given because in their minds, you’re just going to another province in Serbia.

    The Kosovar passport control officer will enter the bus and scan everyone’s passports. A stamp can be given if you request it but you will need to disembark from the bus and go to the office to receive it.

    Unless you actively ask for a stamp- there will be no evidence that you have entered Kosovo.

    In summary,

    If you’re planning to visit both Kosovo and Serbia in one trip, enter Serbia first.

    If you’re planning to leave Kosovo through another border (not go back to Serbia) and return to Serbia in the future, they may consider you as having overstayed your time in Serbia.

    It is simplest to do a return trip (via bus) between Kosovo and Serbia and then enter a third country from Serbia.

    Of course, political tensions can escalate at anytime and you will need to check the relevant authorities for the most up to date information.

    If you liked this post, and are travelling around the Balkans, you may also be interested in my other content from the region:

    Tips for Visiting the Tetovo Painted Mosque (Macedonia)

    Hiking to Duf Waterfall (Macedonia)

    Visiting Golubac Fortress and Veliki Buk Waterfall (Serbia)

    A Guide for visiting Subotica (Serbia)

    Spending a weekend in Uvac Canyon (Serbia)

    If your have a different experience crossing the border between Serbia and Kosovo, feel free to share it with me in the comments or DM me on Instagram.

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