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North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia) Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

25,713 sq km (9,927.8 sq miles).

Population

2,081,012 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density

81.5 per sq km.

Capital

Skopje.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Stevo Pendarovski since 2019.

Head of government

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev since August 2020.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.

The Republic of North Macedonia, formerly known as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (sometimes abbreviated as FYROM and FYR Macedonia), is underrated and under-explored. A mountainous nation at the heart of the Balkans, it’s sprinkled with picturesque valleys and shimmering lakes, offering outdoor appeal in spades. Yet that isn't its sole selling point – North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia) also has a bustling capital, a rich Hellenic heritage and an up-and-coming wine industry that appears on the cusp of international recognition.

For most visitors, the adventure begins in the capital Skopje. The cityscape is an incongruous jumble of buildings and gigantic neoclassical statuary. Monolithic socialist apartment blocks sit beside grandiloquent monuments, controversially added during an ambitious government scheme dubbed Skopje 2014. Old Ottoman and Byzantine edifices hark back to the nation's pre-communist history, while buzzing bars and clubs project its forward-looking aspirations.

Rural North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia) is far easier of the eye. Blessed with an extraordinary diversity of landscapes, the countryside is also home to serene lakeside towns such as Ohrid, which offers glorious relief from the sizzling Balkan summer. Visitors can while away lazy days on the dreamy lake’s edge, visit the region’s handsome, time-warp churches and enjoy languid evenings quaffing wine produced in the surrounding hills.

From Ohrid push on into the endless green pastures of the Šar Planina mountain range, where the tranquil glacier lakes mirror the surrounding peaks, or try trekking the mountainous Pelister National Park, a dead ringer for the Swiss Alps. Outdoor enthusiasts heading to the remote hinterlands are more likely to see wild goats than deluxe resorts, but the country’s rustic inns are welcoming and affordable. During winter, there are many opportunities for skiing and snowboarding, particularly in the Mavrovo region.

Like most countries in the region, North Macedonia (FYR Macedonia) has had its fair share of political and economic problems over the years. But shrug aside the stigma of the past and you’ll find a different Europe – one that’s fresh, crowd-free and, for the time being, incredibly affordable.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for North Macedonia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Skopje International Airport and St. Paul the Apostle Airport in Ohrid are open, and commercial flights are operating but with reduced schedules. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in North Macedonia.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test in line with UK government testing requirements.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in North Macedonia

Public transport and taxi services are permitted to operate in North Macedonia. Protective face coverings must be worn when travelling on public transport.

Public spaces and services

Wearing of protective face coverings is required when visiting indoor public spaces, such as markets, post offices, health institutions, shops, banks, including when using public transport.

Wearing of protective face coverings is no longer mandatory outdoors, unless social distancing cannot be maintained. Coverings are recommended outdoors when in larger groups.

Businesses are allowed to open including shops in shopping malls, betting shops, gyms, supermarkets and grocery stores but they may operate with reduced working hours and limits may be placed on the number of people entering at any time.

To enter catering facilities (including cafes, bars, restaurants, and shopping malls) and attend events, people aged 18 and over are required to provide proof of vaccination with at least one dose, or a certificate showing you have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 45 days

Events are allowed in indoor areas and outdoor areas subject to restrictions on capacity and in line with COVID-19 measures and protocols. However indoor festivities or celebrations (including weddings and birthdays) are banned in catering facilities.

Healthcare in North Macedonia

The Ministry of Health advises if you are in North Macedonia and develop any symptoms of coronavirus, you should call +389 78 387 194 or +389 2 15 123. Further information is on the Ministry’s website. If you take a test for coronavirus, you must self-isolate from the time the test is scheduled until obtaining the result. If you test positive you must continue to self-isolate. If you have taken a test as a result of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus and the test is negative, you must continue to self-isolate until 14 days after you had contact with that person.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in North Macedonia.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in North Macedonia

We will update this page when the government of North Macedonia announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The North Macedonia national vaccination programme started in February 2021 using the AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines as available. The Government of North Macedonia has stated that British nationals resident in North Macedonia are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme.

The Health Ministry has created an e-portal to express interest for receiving a vaccine in North Macedonia. Foreign nationals are now able to register on https://vakcinacija.mk/foreigner. COVID-19 vaccinations will be conducted in accordance with the official vaccination strategy of the Government of North Macedonia. You will have the option of choosing among several vaccine clinics located throughout the country and will be notified about your scheduled appointment (date and time) via SMS and email when an appointment becomes available.

For more information about the official vaccination strategy of North Macedonia, including vaccines and vaccination points available, see the Health Ministry’s website (only in Macedonian and Albanian)

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in North Macedonia, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further Information

Further information can be found on the Government of North Macedonia website, which is publishing information and key announcements in English.

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Crime

Personal attacks against foreigners are extremely rare. Organised criminal groups are active, particularly in northern areas the border with Kosovo. Shooting incidents, including in Skopje do sometimes occur, but are not targeted at foreigners. Gunfire can also be heard as part of a celebration. You should be vigilant at all times.

There have been several cases of pick pocketing by gangs of children and bag snatches in the main shopping and entertainment areas late at night. Foreign nationals appear to have been specifically targeted. Make sure your personal possessions are secure.

In the event of civil disorder, stay indoors as much as possible, especially after dark, and avoid crowds and demonstrations.

Keep your passport in a secure place and carry a copy of your passport data page for identification. If your passport is lost or stolen report it immediately to the local police and the British Embassy Skopje on +389 (2) 3299 299 or consular.skopje@fcdo.gov.uk.

Political situation

Political rallies and demonstrations occur in Skopje and cities across North Macedonia, usually with notice and permission from the authorities. You should check local media for the latest information, be vigilant, and avoid any large crowds and gatherings.

Local travel

Travel near the border with Kosovo should be restricted to primary roads and daylight hours only.

Lorries transiting North Macedonia borders may be subject to long delays before being allowed to cross. Make sure you have the proper customs documentation before arrival at the border.

Between November and February, Skopje and surrounding areas can experience thick fog. This can sometimes cause delays or diverted flights if visibility at Skopje airport is affected. Updates of arrivals and departures, as well as delays and cancellations due to weather conditions can be found on the Skopje airport website.

Road travel

You can drive in North Macedonia with either a UK licence or International Driving Permit (IDP).

Driving is on the right. Road conditions and driving standards vary widely. Driving styles differ significantly from those in UK. There are frequent accidents. Take care at all times while driving or on foot.

By law all vehicles must use side lights / dipped headlights during the day, and at night, on all roads. Not doing so will result in a fine of 15 euros during daytime and 35 euros at night time.

It’s illegal to use mobile phones while driving. If caught you’ll be fined 40 euros.

It’s a legal requirement for drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts. Not doing so will result in fines; 40 euros for drivers, 50 euros for passengers.

Road speed limits in North Macedonia are as follows: 130 km/h on highways, 110 km/h on roads reserved for motor vehicles, 90 km/h on other roads and 50 km/h on roads in built up areas. When travelling on major roads, you can pay the toll fare in Macedonian denars or in Euros by using cash or a credit card, Euro coins are also accepted.

The legal drink/drive limit in North Macedonia is lower than in the UK. The blood alcohol limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or 0.5 per millilitre. Drink driving whilst over the limit can result in heavy fines and the possibility of arrest. There is a policy of zero tolerance for professional (eg HGV) drivers.

If you are taking your own car, you must have vehicle registration/ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. If you do not have a green card valid for North Macedonia you will be charged a cash border insurance fee, the price of which depends on your vehicle. You should confirm that your insurance company recognises that your policy covers North Macedonia.

In case of emergency, drivers may contact the police (telephone 192), the ambulance service (telephone 194), or roadside assistance (telephone 196).

In the event of an accident, don’t move a vehicle until the police have recorded the incident and allowed you to do so.

See the AA and RAC guides to driving in North Macedonia.

Rivers and lakes

According to checks conducted by the State Sanitary and Health Inspectorate, the water in Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lakes are suitable for swimming, recreation and water sports.

However the rivers Vardar and Treska as well as Lake Treska are rated below the level suitable for swimming.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in North Macedonia.
Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. Terrorists may target religious sites, including churches.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

The authorities in the Republic of North Macedonia have conducted raids against suspected terrorists. There’s a risk of terrorist attacks inspired by extremist ideology in North Macedonia.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in North Macedonia set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to North Macedonia from 1 September

From 1 September, people aged 18 and over, entering North Macedonia will need to present either:

  • a full vaccination certificate, or
  • a negative PCR test made in the 72 hours before entering the country, or
  • a certificate of recovery from COVID-19 in the last 45 days, counting from the day of recovery

Citizens of North Macedonia and foreign nationals entering the country without a COVID-19 vaccination certificate, PCR test, or certificate of recovery from COVID-19 will be required to quarantine at home for seven days.

Foreign nationals transiting through the country will be able to do so within 5 hours with a previously signed statement of entry into the country which they will have to submit before the border control at the exit from the country.

To enter Skopje International Airport (including for a departing flight), people aged 18 and over are required to provide proof of vaccination with at least one dose, or a certificate showing you have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 45 days, or a negative PCR test made in the previous 72 hours, or rapid antigen test in the previous 48 hours.

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

North Macedonia will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Border crossings

All land border crossings in North Macedonia are open for movement of passengers and vehicles. However neighbouring countries may have different entry and exit restrictions on their side of the border. You should check before travelling.

Citizens of North Macedonia and foreign nationals entering the country without a COVID-19 vaccination certificate, PCR test, or certificate of recovery from COVID-19 will be required to quarantine at home for seven days.

Some border crossings in neighbouring countries are still closed or subject to entry requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that you can enter the next country on your journey. Check country-specific FCDO Travel Advice for details.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British passport holders don’t need a visa to travel to North Macedonia for up to 3 months.

Holders of UK Refugee Travel Documents travelling to North Macedonia or transiting the country en-route to Kosovo, must obtain visas for travel to, or transit through, North Macedonia from the Embassy of North Macedonia in London.

If you plan to stay for longer than 3 months, contact the Embassy of North Macedonia in London.

Unaccompanied minors (children under 18) must have a letter of consent from their parents or guardian. Failure to do so may result into refusal of entry and deportation.

Passport validity

Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid for a minimum of 90 days from the arrival date.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from North Macedonia. However, they must have at least 3 months validity.

Registering with the police

You must register with the local police in the town/city where you’re staying within 24 hours of your arrival in North Macedonia, unless you’re in a hotel in which case you will be registered automatically when checking in. You should retain the registration document as proof of registration until your departure from North Macedonia.

If you don’t register you may receive a fine of between 600 and 1,000 Euros, and be detained or face a court appearance (which may include a restriction on your ability to return to North Macedonia).

Travel to Serbia

Foreign nationals, including those from the United Kingdom, have sometimes been denied entry into the Republic of Serbia from North Macedonia if they hold entry/exit stamps from Kosovo.

Same-sex relationships aren’t illegal, but Macedonians/citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia are not particularly open about the issue and there are few bars and restaurants which are LGBT friendly. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Taking photographs of any military installation, establishment or site of government or strategic importance is prohibited.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for North Macedonia on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in North Macedonia.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medical treatment

There is a reciprocal healthcare agreement for British nationals, which entitles you to free emergency treatment in North Macedonia. You will need to present your British passport as proof of entitlement. If you’re resident in the UK but are not a British national, you will need to present a certificate of insurance from HM Revenue & Customs. The health system in all parts of North Macedonia is suffering from widespread shortage of medicines and other essentials and you may need to pay some of the initial costs (usually between 50 and 100 Euros). If the treatment is not deemed an emergency, you will have to pay the full cost yourself. Make sure you have adequate travel and medical insurance.

Health risks

Mosquito-borne diseases including West Nile virus are present in North Macedonia.

High levels of air pollution in cities, especially in winter, can affect public health. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. You can find further information and advice on air quality on the World Health Organization (WHO) website. Keep up to date with local information and seek medical advice on appropriate precautions.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes occasionally occur. You should familiarise yourself with steps to take in the event of further seismic shocks.

Forest fires

Forest fires can occur during summer months. Check on the outbreak of fires with local media and follow any instructions from local authorities.

On 3 August, the government of North Macedonia imposed a complete ban on movement in forest areas to protect personal safety and to prevent further spread of fires. The City of Skopje confirms that there is also a ban on movement in wooded areas on Vodno and Skopska Crna Gora. Any persons found moving on forest land without permission will face a fine.

The official currency is the Macedonian Denar (MKD). Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and shops, and ATMs increasingly accept international bank cards. British banks do not exchange Denars so you may wish to exchange any unwanted Denars before you leave North Macedonia. You should only change money through banks or official exchange offices and not through street dealers. You will be unable to exchange Scottish and Northern Irish bank notes.

You must declare any cash amount of foreign currency greater than EUR 10,000 on entry into North Macedonia. Failure to do so may result in detention and forfeiture of funds when attempting to leave North Macedonia.

ATMs are widely available in North Macedonia.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re unable to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.