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I'm thinking of heading from Romania to Serbia to Albania, possibly via Kosovo (on an Australian passport).

Since Kosovo becoming a country wasn't unanimously popular in the region I'm a bit concerned that Serbia or Albania might not fully approve of me visiting Kosovo. Are there any border crossing difficulties for tourists, or will having a Kosovo stamp in my passport cause issues when entering neighbouring countries? (Do all Kosovo's neighbours even recognize Kosovo?)

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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Officially it varies - the UN doesn't recognise Kosovo, but several others do. The big problem for you, as you observed - is Serbia, which considers it to be another province, and indeed administers five of the municipalities.

The best warning I can find seems to come from Wikitravel:

Visa Restrictions:

Serbia officially states that it will block passports containing stamps or visas from Kosovo. However, in practice, immigration officers would usually just cancel the Kosovan stamps and replace them with Serbian ones.

If you are just visiting the region, visit Serbia first. You will not be given a Serbian exit stamp if you enter Kosovo from Serbia. If you are living in or intend to travel frequently to Serbia, you should get matching pairs of entry and exit stamps; this would mean backtracking and leaving through Serbia via a regular border crossing point. If you travel a lot in the region, your passport will be crowded with stamps anyway and border guards may not be able to find the matching stamps, and normally let you pass. Just avoid mentioning Kosovo. You can ask Kosovar authorities not to stamp your passport at the border.

So unless you obsess with stamps (which I can empathise with), the simplest solution would be to ask them not to stamp the passport, much like many travellers do with Israel.

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I don't collect passport stamps but I've had trouble once in Central America where one of many border guards/immigration officials forgot to stamp me into one country which I only found out as I was leaving it for the next country. I should be going into Kosovo from Serbia and out the other side into Albania so it looks like it might be OK. Thanks. –  hippietrail Aug 22 '11 at 4:52
    
@hippietrail I think this can be trouble if you are again visit Serbia. –  VMAtm Aug 22 '11 at 5:36
    
@VMAtm: I should be heading east from Albania to the Republic of Georgia and don't expect to be back in Serbia any time soon. Might need a new passport anyway by that stage since it's getting pretty full now. –  hippietrail Aug 22 '11 at 8:59
    
@hippietrail Good luck with that then. –  VMAtm Aug 22 '11 at 9:06
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Going from Romania into Serbia, then into Kosovo and on to Albania should be no problem at all.

The only problematic situation I know of is moving from a third country into Kosovo and then into Serbia and finally leave to another country. This is because when entering Serbia through Kosovo you don't get a Serbian entry stamp and therefor have not entered legally.

Some friends of mine did exactly that and when they left Serbia for Hungary the immigration officials just crossed out the Kosovo stamp.

When travelling from Serbia into Kosovo you usually don't get a Kosovo entry stamp but you may get a Kosovo exit stamp when you leave.

I have entry stamps but no corresponding exit stamps for several Balkan countries including Serbia.

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I went to Kosovo 4 times in 2011, got two stamps 3 times, once they forgot one. Serbians are not so good with stamping, I didn't get one when leaving to Bulgaria. That means that you can just ask the Kosovars not to stamp your passport when you leave Kosovo once you entered it from Serbia.

What is important to remember is that entering Serbia from Kosovo after entering the latter from a 3rd country may prove impossible or problematic. I read an account of a Polish cyclist who was refused entry to Serbia although some German cyclists in front of him were allowed to enter. Afterwards, he was smuggled in by Polish peacekeeping soldiers through a green border into Serbia :) I met those same soldiers one day in Macedonia when they were on a weekend off and they confirmed this story.

So... even when you are refused entry to Serbia after entering Kosovo from a third country, you still stand a chance if you meet Polish KFOR! ;-)

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I traveled to Serbia and then Macedonia before going to Kosovo. I was on a bus from Kosovo to Bosnia. Serbia did not like my Kosovo passport stamp. Another passenger asked them to please let me and my two kids into Serbia.

It was a dark night and I could see a tank. I was so very scared. I am so happy they did let me in. Good luck to all other travelers.

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protected by Ankur Banerjee Aug 5 '13 at 11:25

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