Albania visa

Albania Flag


 Albania, a Balkan country, declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. However, it was subsequently conquered by Italy in 1939 and occupied by Germany in 1943. In 1944, communist partisans took control of the country. Albania initially aligned itself with the Soviet Union until 1960, after which it allied with China until 1978. In the early 1990s, Albania transitioned from 46 years of isolated communist rule to a multiparty democracy. This transition has been challenging, as successive governments have grappled with high unemployment, widespread corruption, dilapidated infrastructure, powerful organized crime networks, and combative political opponents.


Despite these challenges, Albania is a country of natural beauty, rich history, and culture. Its soaring mountain peaks, crystal Mediterranean waters, and diverse cultural heritage make it a destination of interest for even the most seasoned travelers. However, travel to Albania can still be challenging. This travel guide aims to provide readers with the necessary tips and tricks for successful travel in Albania.


Albania has made progress in its democratic development since its first multiparty elections in 1991. However, deficiencies remain, and most of Albania's post-communist elections have been marred by claims of electoral fraud. Nevertheless, international observers have judged elections to be largely free and fair since the restoration of political stability following the collapse of pyramid schemes in 1997. Albania joined NATO in April 2009 and became an EU candidate in June 2014. In April 2017, the European Commission recommended that Albania open EU accession negotiations following the passage of historic EU-mandated justice reforms in 2016. Despite economic growth, Albania remains one of the poorest countries in Europe, with a large informal economy and weak energy and transportation infrastructure posing significant obstacles.

Albania, located in southern Europe and the most western part of the Balkans, boasts a population of nearly 3 million and is bordered by the stunning Adriatic Sea. The country offers a plethora of attractions, including beautiful beaches, a rich cultural heritage, and remarkable historical landmarks. 


In terms of religion, Albania has a Muslim majority of 56.7%, with Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity making up 10% and 6.8% of the population, respectively. Atheism, Bektashi (a Sufi order), and other religions account for 2.5%, 2.1%, and 5.7% of the population, respectively, while 16.2% of the population remains unspecified (2011 est.). 


Regarding drinking water sources, Albania has a high percentage of improved sources, with 96.8% of the urban population and 95.3% of the rural population having access to improved sources. The total percentage of the population with access to improved sources is 96.2%, while the percentage of the population with unimproved sources is 4.7% in urban areas, 4.7% in rural areas, and 3.8% overall (2017 est.). 


The capital city of Tirana serves as a starting point for many visitors to Albania. While not necessarily known for its beauty, Tirana offers several interesting attractions, including the Piramida, a derelict building that has become a symbol of the city, and Skanderbeg Square, which features the clock tower, Et’hem Bey Mosque, and the National Historic Museum. Bunkart, a Cold War museum housed in a communist-era bunker, is also worth a visit. 


Berat, known as the “City of A Thousand Windows,” is a UNESCO World Heritage City that boasts a stunning mountaintop castle complex, the Berat Castle (The Kala), and the National Ethnographic Museum, which houses a collection of Albanian artifacts and clothing through the centuries. The city is traditionally split into Muslim Mangalam and Christian Gorica, which have coexisted for centuries. 


Shkodra, located in northern Albania, is home to the largest lake in the Balkans and serves as the entrance to the wilderness of the Accursed Mountains and popular hiking spots like the National Park in Theth. Visitors can explore the Rozafa Fortress, which has provided shelter since Illyrian times, and take a voyage on the Lake Koman Ferry for breathtaking scenery. 


Ksamil, located in the southernmost part of Albania, is a quaint beach town that offers access to Butrint National Park, a nature reserve that has been owned and fortified by various civilizations throughout history. Visitors can also take guided tours to the “Blue Eye,” a natural spring with crystal-clear water. Ksamil is a quieter alternative to the tourist city of Sarande, which offers more nightlife and highrise condos.

Borsh and Dhermi are two coastal towns in Albania that offer unique experiences for tourists. Borsh, in particular, is an underrated spot that has yet to attract international tourists. The town boasts a beautiful white pebble beach with clear blue waters, surrounded by the Albanian Alps. While Borsh only has a few seaside cafes and guesthouses, the main town up the hill offers several lovely restaurants, including the stunning Ujevara, built over a series of waterfalls. Visitors can also take a walk up to the abandoned "castle" for a breathtaking view of the mountains and the sea. Dhermi, on the other hand, is a beachside town that is considered one of the best beaches in the country. As tourists move farther north along the coast, the cities get bigger, and the oceanside promenades become more glamorous and busy. 


Albania is a member of various international organizations, including BSEC, CD, CE, CEI, EAPC, EBRD, EITI, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, OAS, OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SELEC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, and WTO. 


Albania's flag is red with a black two-headed eagle in the center, which is claimed to be the design of 15th-century hero Georgi Kastrioti Skanderbeg, who led a successful uprising against the Ottoman Turks that resulted in a short-lived independence for some Albanian regions. Albanians see themselves as descendants of the eagle, referring to themselves as "Shqiptare," which translates as "sons of the eagle." 


Albania gained independence from the Ottoman Empire on November 28, 1912. Independence Day, also known as Flag Day, is celebrated on November 28. Albania's current constitution was approved by the Assembly on October 21, 1998, adopted by referendum on November 22, 1998, and promulgated on November 28, 1998. The constitution can be amended by a two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly, and amendments approved by referendum are effective upon declaration by the president of the republic. 


Tourists visiting Albania should be aware of the dos and don'ts of the country. While it is acceptable to join in traditional games like Backgammon, tourists should avoid talking about how cheap everything is, as it may be considered insensitive. Albanians are passionate and may engage in heated conversations in public, but tourists should engage in conversation and attempt to learn a few words of Albanian. Albanians follow a code of faith and trust, and it is considered rude to refuse a gift. Tourists may be invited to join in celebrations or dinners, and while it is acceptable to ask questions, declining an invitation is considered impolite. When dining at restaurants, tourists should ensure that they will not have to pay for additional food offered.


It is recommended to consume Raki with caution, as it is a locally produced moonshine that varies in strength and taste. Albania, while not a top-tier tourist destination, offers a refreshing and authentic experience that may require flexibility and patience. Albanian cuisine is hearty and fresh, with a variety of dishes to indulge in at affordable prices. The legal system in Albania is primarily civil law, with customary law still present in rural areas. Albania accepts the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court but has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration. Citizenship in Albania is granted by birth only if at least one parent is a citizen, and dual citizenship is recognized. The residency requirement for naturalization is five years. 


Albania is a developing country with a modern open-market economy that has faced challenges due to its close trade, remittance, and banking sector ties with Greece and Italy. The agricultural sector, which accounts for over 40% of employment, is limited due to a lack of modern equipment, unclear property rights, and small, inefficient plots of land. Albania's poor business environment is attributed to complex tax codes and licensing requirements, a weak judicial system, endemic corruption, poor enforcement of contracts and property issues, and antiquated infrastructure. However, the government has launched an ambitious program to increase tax compliance and bring more businesses into the formal economy. Albania's electricity supply is uneven, but the government has taken steps to upgrade the distribution grid and enforce electricity contracts. Albania has also embarked on an ambitious program to improve the business climate through fiscal and legislative reforms, resulting in increased inward foreign direct investment. 


Albania has many bilateral or multilateral visa agreements with different countries worldwide, allowing citizens of these countries to stay in Albania for 90 days within a 180-day period without employment. Albania is located between Greece and Croatia and is often overlooked by travelers to Southern Europe. Albania is one of the least developed countries in Europe, and its population has endured a complex religious and historical situation, including outlawed formal religion under communist rule. Despite these challenges, Albanians are known for their resilience and determination.


Rewritten:


The history of Albania is complex and subject to varying interpretations among its population. It is advisable for non-experts to refrain from making comments on topics such as religion, history, architecture, or economics. However, Albanians are generally enthusiastic about discussing these subjects and are open to respectful inquiries.


Albania is a small country with a population of 2.8 million, the majority of whom are Albanian in ethnicity and share a rich history, language, and culture. The Albanian language is unique among Balkan languages, and its Indo-European roots do not resemble those of its neighboring languages.


The official currency of Albania is the lek, with a conversion rate of approximately 117 leks to one US dollar (as of 2022). While credit card machines are common, it is advisable to carry cash at all times, as the lek is not widely accepted outside of Albania.


Mercedes cars are popular in Albania, and name-brand clothing is also highly valued. Albania's landscape is breathtaking, with mountains, the Adriatic Sea, and picturesque countryside. The country boasts well-preserved historical sites from various periods, including Greek, Roman, Venetian, Ottoman, and Soviet eras. Albania's culture is a unique blend of Middle Eastern hospitality and European familiarity.


Traveling in Albania can present challenges, such as navigating the public transportation system, which lacks a central bus station in most cities. Renting a car is a viable option for reaching remote destinations. Women may find themselves in the minority in some areas, particularly in rural villages. Despite these difficulties, Albania is an affordable and charming destination with much to offer visitors.


1. Safety Concerns for Solo Female Travelers in Remote Regions of Albania


Albania is generally considered a safe country, where visitors are treated with warmth and hospitality. However, due to traditional views and the challenges of language and transportation, it is not recommended for solo female travelers to venture into more remote regions, unless they are experienced and well-prepared. While there may not be any immediate danger, social discomfort and difficulty in meeting people may be encountered.


2. Environmental Issues in Albania


Despite its breathtaking natural beauty, Albania is plagued by issues of littering and poor maintenance in certain areas. This can be a source of frustration for both locals and tourists, who may come across trash and debris in unexpected places. While not a ubiquitous problem, it is not uncommon to see people carelessly discarding their garbage on the ground.


3. Limited Tourist Infrastructure in Albania


The tourism industry in Albania is still in its nascent stages, and as such, visitors may find that there is a lack of organized tours and convenient transportation options. While there are some excellent accommodations available in popular areas such as Sarande, Gjirokaster, and Ksamil, getting around may require some effort and planning. Additionally, some of the major attractions may not be well-marked or easily accessible, requiring visitors to navigate on foot.


4. Communication Challenges in Albania


While English is becoming more widely spoken in Albania, visitors may still encounter some difficulties in communication, particularly in more remote areas. The Albanian language itself is unique and unrelated to other languages, making it challenging for non-native speakers to learn. However, many young people in urban areas are fluent in English, and visitors may be able to get by with the help of translation tools and the assistance of locals who speak multiple languages.


5. Multiple Names for Places and Destinations


Visitors to Albania may encounter confusion when it comes to the names of hotels, towns, and other destinations. It is not uncommon for a single location to have multiple names, with variations in spelling and pronunciation. This can make it challenging to navigate and find specific locations, and visitors are advised to double-check addresses and directions before setting out.


6. Driving and Transportation in Albania


Driving in Albania can be a challenging experience, with reckless driving and disregard for traffic regulations being common. Road conditions can also be poor, particularly in rural areas and during inclement weather. Visitors are advised to exercise caution when driving or using public transportation, and to be aware of the potential for minor disputes to escalate quickly.


The acceptance of international driving permits (IDP) issued under the 1949 Geneva Convention is universal in Albania. However, it is important to note that an international driving permit is only valid for one year. If an individual intends to drive in Albania for a period exceeding one year, they must apply for an Albanian license. Driving in Albania is on the right-hand side of the road, and it is mandatory for all passengers in a vehicle to wear seat belts. The use of mobile phones while driving is permitted, but only with a hands-free set. Third-party insurance is mandatory.


It is crucial to be aware that emergency response services in Albania are inadequate, and first responders have limited medical training and equipment. In the event of an accident, victims are often transported to the nearest hospital in the car of a passerby. Traveling at night and outside of urban areas is particularly dangerous. While fuel and repair services are readily available in populated areas, there is no formal roadside assistance, and tires and replacement parts may not be readily available.


In terms of traffic laws, individuals may be required to present their passport in addition to a U.S. or international driver's license if stopped by the police. Police officers should provide a written ticket citing any fines issued, and fines should not be paid directly to police officers. Instead, they will be collected at a local police precinct or court. In the event of an accident, individuals should not move their car and wait for the police to arrive. Disregard for traffic laws is widespread in Albania.


U.S. or international driver's licenses are valid for non-resident status in Albania. However, U.S. citizens staying in Albania for more than one year must register and apply for resident status and an Albanian driver's license. It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol at any detectable level, and Albania practices a zero-tolerance policy. The police will seize an individual's driver's license and vehicle if caught, and they may also be fined or receive up to six months in prison. The use of a mobile phone without a hands-free device while driving is also illegal and may result in a fine.


Public transportation options in Albania are limited and not generally recommended for visitors. However, marked taxis are considered safe and recommended for use. There are no commercial domestic flights in Albania, and rail conditions are poor, limited, and unreliable. Private buses operate between most cities during the day on variable schedules. Intra-city transit is an unofficial system of privately-owned vans operating without schedules, set fares, or, occasionally, government permission. It is important to consider the condition of the van before traveling in one.


Tap water in Albania is not potable, and it is recommended to drink bottled water and beverages. Many restaurants and hotels may serve tap water unless bottled water is specifically requested, and ice for drinks may be made using tap water.


There are three types of Albanian visas: Type "A" for transit purposes, Type "C" for a 90-day stay within a period of 180 days for various purposes, and Type "D" for a stay exceeding 90 days and obtaining a residence permit. The application for an Albania e-Visa is an online procedure through the e-Visa service provided by the Albanian government. If approved, the e-Visa is an electronic authorization stamp that is emailed to the applicant. The Albania sticker visa is an authorization on the applicant's passport, and once the Albania visa application has been approved, the applicant must go in person to the Republic of Albania embassy, consulate, or representation office where they applied to receive their approved Albania sticker visa.


Albania's Visa Regulations


Numerous countries worldwide are permitted to enter Albania without a visa. However, if one's country of origin is not eligible for visa-free entry, an Albania visa must be obtained, and the following visa regulations must be taken into account:


1. The passport must be valid for more than three months from the anticipated date of arrival in Albania.

2. Children under the age of 18 must present a statement of parental consent.


Albania's Visa Requirements


Schengen Countries' Visa Requirements for Albania


Albania is in the process of becoming a member state of the European Union, and citizens of Schengen area countries, as well as Balkan countries, should not encounter any difficulties when entering Albania.


US, UK, and Canada's Visa Requirements for Albania


Albania does not require visas for citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and they may enter Albania with passports that are valid for more than three months from the expected arrival date.


Non-European Visa Requirements for Albania


Foreign nationals whose nationality is not eligible for visa-free entry to Albania may visit the country freely if they have multiple entry visas to Schengen area countries, the United States, or the United Kingdom.


Albania's Visa Fees


Albania has a visa fee regulation based on reciprocity, which means that applicants for an Albanian visa will pay the same amount as an Albanian citizen would pay for a visa in their country. For example, as of March 2020, an adult Belgian citizen would pay 80 EUR for an Albania visa, and an Albanian citizen would pay 80 EUR for a Belgium visa.


How Long Does it Take to Obtain an Albania Visa?


An Albania visa is issued within 15 days. In exceptional cases, it may take up to 30 days.


Does My Previous Nationality Affect My Ability to Obtain an Albania Visa?


Although border control and consulate officers have the right to refuse entry to Albania, they do not frequently exercise it. Your previous nationality is not a significant reason for them to deny a visa.


Can I Obtain a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa?


It is possible to obtain a multiple entry tourist visa to Albania with a maximum stay of up to 90 days in a 180-day period.


What Happens if My Albania Visa Application is Rejected?


Your application may be rejected without a refund for various reasons, including invalid insurance, insufficient proof of financial subsistence, incorrect information, or lack of accommodation proof. If your application is rejected, you may appeal the decision or reapply.

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