Albania Basics

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The Basics


Time: Local time in Albania is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current in Albania is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round pin attachment plugs and Shuko plugs and receptacles with side grounding contacts are in use. Voltage fluctuations are common.

Money: The currency in Albania is the Lek (ALL). There are numerous ATMs in Tirana and other main towns, as well as bureaux de change where Pounds, US Dollars, and Euros are widely accepted for exchange. Although street money changers operate openly, they do so illegally. Credit cards are not as widely accepted as one would expect, except in a few of the most up-market hotels and restaurants in Tirana. Foreign currency can be changed in banks' exchange offices (kambim valutor). The most commonly accepted currencies are the US dollar and the Euro. Keep in mind that Lek may not be exchanged outside of Albania. Banks are open only on weekdays, from 8.30am to 2.30pm.

Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: The official language of Albania is Albanian but Greek is also spoken in many areas. English is not widely understood but is spoken in some of the hotels and restaurants.

Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens are exempt from holding a passport if they have a national ID card. Otherwise, US passport holders require a passport valid for three months beyond date of arrival. Americans do not require a visa for stays of up to one year.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British passport holders require a passport valid for three months beyond date of arrival, but do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian passport holders require a passport valid for three months beyond date of arrival, but do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian passport holders require a passport valid for three months beyond date of arrival, nationals of Australia with a national ID do not require a passport. Australians do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African passport holders require a passport valid for three months beyond date of arrival as well as a visa, unless they already hold a valid Schengen Type 'C' or Type 'D' visa, or a multiple entry visa issued by either the UK or USA, in which case they are exempt from needing a visa for up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand passport holders require a passport valid for three months beyond date of arrival, but do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish passport holders require a passport valid for three months beyond date of arrival, but do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.

Passport/Visa Note: We recommend that travellers always have six months validity remaining on their passports because occasionally passport control can get pedantic about it, despite what the official guidelines say. However, officially, all travellers entering Albania must have at least three months' validity remaining on their passports. They also require onward/return tickets, all documents for their next destination, and sufficient funds for the duration of their stay. Those arriving from yellow fever risk countries must have proof of vaccination against the disease. It is possible for most visa-exempt travellers to stay in Albania longer than 90 days but they may be required to register with the authorities after this point.

Travel Health: A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for all travellers older than one year of age arriving from a yellow-fever infected area in Africa or the Americas. Vaccinations are also recommended for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Travellers spending time in rural areas and eating outside of hotels and restaurants may want to consider a vaccination for typhoid, and those at risk of animal bites should consider a rabies vaccination. Tap water is not safe to drink unless it has first been boiled, filtered or chemically disinfected. Medical facilities are limited in Albania, particularly outside Tirana. Comprehensive medical insurance, including evacuation by air ambulance is essential before travelling to Albania. All essential medications should be imported into Albania. Although it is not required, it is generally advisable to take along a signed letter from a doctor detailing what the medications are and why they are needed.

Local Customs: The Albanian attitude towards women is still conservative, especially in rural areas where modest clothing and behaviour is the norm. Homosexuality is not illegal but outside of urban areas it is still controversial and public displays of affection may attract unwanted attention. Penalties for drug related crimes are severe.

Communications: The international access code for Albania is +355. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom) and city codes are in use (e.g. 04 for Tirana and 052 for Durres). Internet cafes are widely available. Most hotels have free wifi access. In the larger towns, restaurants may also offer free wifi. Vodafone and AMC are the two mobile phone companies, which have agreements with most other European companies. Travellers with roaming enabled European cell phones should be able to use their cell phones in Albania.

Duty Free: The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Travellers to Albania may bring with them: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 250ml of eau de toilette or 50ml of perfume; one litre of spirits and two litres of wine.