All EU members are exempt from visa requirements and may enter Bosnia and Herzegovina at any time. Once the UK fully leaves the European Union, documentation requirements for UK citizens may change. Check before travelling. American and Canadian citizens are not required to have visas for entry to the country either. Bosnia and Herzegovina can only be entered with a valid passport, as the country’s border authorities do not accept any other type of personal identification.
For those countries that do require a visa, they are issued by BiH’s diplomatic missions. Visas for private travel require an application form and a certified letter of intent of a BiH citizen. This can normally be arranged through a tour operator. Business visas require an application form, an invitation from a BiH business partner and a certified letter of intent from the BiH trade office. For certain countries, visa applicants should also submit evidence of possession of cash assets, as well as HIV test results.
Foreigners are required by law to register with the local police within 48 hours of arrival if you intend to stay more than three days. However, in practice, this law appears not to be enforced very often, especially for short stays, and bureaucratically they don’t make it very easy at all. Visitors who stay in hotels may be registered automatically by the hotel, but it is best to ask at check-in. Not registering could cause problems at the border, but this appears to happen rarely. For more information, you can visit sps.gov.ba or contact the Service for Foreigners’ Affairs.
For a full list of BiH embassies and consulates overseas and a list of foreign embassies and consulate within BiH, go to embassypages.com/bosnia.
Getting there and away
With the increased interest in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a tourist destination, particularly from those travelling from Arab countries, the number of direct daily flights into Sarajevo has been steadily increasing from both the Middle East and western Europe. Flights from the United States are fairly pricey as there are no direct connections and will run anywhere from US$800+ in the off-season to over US$1,200 during peak season.
Most airlines have local offices at Sarajevo International Airport. The airport was reconstructed after the war and is one of the smallest and most laid back in the Balkans. Airline tickets to Sarajevo tend to be a bit more expensive than the other major cities in the region due to its low traffic rate.
As Bosnia and Herzegovina has only about 24km of coast, at Neum, there are no ferries that dock in BiH. The ports of Split and Dubrovnik, however, are very popular and provide an efficient means of transport from Italy (Ancona and Bari). The bus station in Split is located at the port, making the transfer an easy and hassle-free one. Ferries from Ancona to Split and Bari to Dubrovnik are run by SNAV and Jadrolinija.
Dubrovnik’s bus station is also located near the port. It does not have the same volume of traffic as Split, but nonetheless has several weekly ferries from Bari on the southeastern coast of Italy. The ferry schedules vary depending on the season.
The main bus operator in BiH is called Centrotrans and almost every connection can be made through them. They work together with the main European bus operators, including Eurolines (now owned by FlixBus). Bus schedules, online reservations and main European office addresses can be found on the website.
Direct connections from Europe to BiH by bus are mainly from Germany (Berlin, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Duisburg, Essen, Frankfurt, Hildesheim, Ingolstadt, Mannheim, Munich, Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Ulm) and Croatia (Dubrovnik, Makarska, Pula, Rijeka, Split and Zagreb), as well as from Antwerp, Rotterdam, Vienna, and Ljubljana (Slovenia). Ticket prices vary from 30–250KM depending on the distance.
Travelling by car is by far the easiest way of seeing the country the way you would like and at your own pace. It wasn’t too long ago that BiH was a very isolated province in the heart of the Dinaric Alps, but today the country enjoys a well-connected road system, thanks to Tito’s road improvement launch in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This project connected every city and town with asphalt roads. The roads are in decent condition and short sections of motorway have been completed over the last decade, with more sections planned. Most of the roads are curvy and wind through river valleys and up and over mountains.
It is important to travel with a good map and not be overly reliant on Google Maps, as you might find that it will lead you down unpaved, impassable roads in some of the more remote parts of the country. Road signs in some areas are frequent and accurate, but all of a sudden there may not be a sign in sight at all. Travelling through the Republika Srpska can also be a challenging experience as the road signs are mainly in Cyrillic.
Renting a car is very easy and with the small boom in tourism has become less expensive due to increased competition. The normal daily rate for car hire runs from 75–150KM. There is a discount for longer hires. All major cities have car-hire companies, and if you arrive at the airport in Sarajevo, there are several international companies with desks there.
The public and private bus system in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the best available transportation option next to having your own car. Literally every town and most villages are connected one way or another by very reliable bus routes. Every city and town will have a bus station and the daily departure and arrival times should be posted on the wall of the station. If not, ask the person behind the counter. They are not likely to speak English but will point you in the right direction. Asking a person who is standing around waiting is also a good idea, to double check that you are getting on the right bus. People are very willing to help.
Centrotrans is the main intercity bus line but there are many other companies operating throughout the country.
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s rail system was badly damaged during the war and over the past 25 years or so it has gone through phases of marked improvement and deterioration. It has improved tremendously for national travel over the past few years, however, and the domestic rail service now has a well-functioning website, where you can find reliable, up-to-date information about train schedules and even purchase tickets.