ALBANIA

Albania Flag
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Albania continues to undergo profound social, political, and economic change. Facilities for tourism are not well developed, and many of the goods and services taken for granted in other European countries are not yet available. Hotel accommodations are limited outside the capital city of Tirana.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required, but a visa is not necessary for a tourist stay up to 30 days. An extension up to 180 days may be granted by applying at the local police station. After 180 days, the Ministry of Interior accepts extension requests. There is a departure fee of $10, payable in U.S. dollars or local currency (the lek). For additional information, please contact the Embassy of the Republic of Albania at 2100 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 223-4942.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and medicine is in short supply. There are periodic outbreaks of polio, cholera, and dysentery. Doctors and hospitals generally expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via its home page and autofax service.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747), via their autofax service at 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or its Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Albania has a high rate of violent crime. Street crime is fairly common and occurs particularly at night. Crime is generally directed at targets of opportunity, not at Americans specifically. Armed carjackings are a matter of considerable concern, especially for drivers of four-wheel drive and sport-utility vehicles, which criminals covet. Persons who are carjacked should surrender their vehicles without resistance. Those resisting carjackings or attempting to run roadblocks have been shot and wounded. Some have been seriously wounded.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables and protecting personal safety while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad." It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su docs, or http://travel.state.gov.

ROAD SAFETY/TRAVEL CONDITIONS: Major roads are passable, but they are often in poor repair. Buses travel between most major cities almost exclusively during the day, but they may be unreliable and uncomfortable. Travelers have reported attacks by bands of thieves in all parts of the country at all times of day and night. There are no commercial domestic flights and few rail connections.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor Urban Road
Condition/Maintenance: Poor Rural Road
Condition/Maintenance: Poor Availability of Roadside
Assistance: Poor

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Albania, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Albania's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Albania's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at telephone 1-703-697-7288.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use and dealing of illegal drugs in Albania are severe, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

DUAL NATIONALITY: The Albanian government considers any person born in Albania of Albanian parents to be an Albanian citizen. In the past, this has delayed notification of the U.S. Embassy about certain consular cases.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Credit cards and travelers checks are not accepted in Albania, except at the major new hotels in Tirana. Travelers checks can be changed at banks in larger towns.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens visiting or remaining in Albania are strongly recommended to register at the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Albania. Americans are asked to inform the U.S. Embassy should they depart Albania. The U.S. Embassy in Tirana is located at Rruga E Elbasanit 103, telephone (355)(42) 32875, fax (355)(42) 32222.

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