Serbian Airbnb host refuses to register me with police
July 8, 2023 12:17 PM   Subscribe

I am a U.S. citizen visting Serbia as a tourist. I have been staying at an Airbnb in Belgrade for a week, with three weeks to go. In Serbia, tourists are required to register their address with local police. Usually, hotels/Airbnb hosts will do this automatically for their guests. But my host refuses to help me register. Will this cause me trouble if I want to take a two-day return bus trip out of the country next weekend, or when I'm departing Serbia for good via air in three weeks?

My host says that she won’t register me with police because the owner of the apartment died and the “paperwork isn’t done.” I went to the police myself, and they told me that they couldn’t register me unless the owner accompanies me to the police station with notarized proof that they own the building that I am staying in.

So I am now at risk for a hefty fine if the authorities somehow realize that I am unregistered — I am supposed to carry around a “white card” with my registration info in case I am stopped by the police. I will be leaving Serbia via air at the end of this month, and technically they could ask for this at the airport upon my departure.

But, apparently, according to anecdotal evidence online, Serbian authorities usually don’t check for this white card when tourists depart by air. Thus, although I am a little annoyed with my Airbnb host, I’m not too worried about getting caught at the airport or while walking around Belgrade.

However, next weekend I am interested in taking a bus trip to Pristina, Kosovo, and returning to Belgrade the next day. I have read online that Serbian authorities will sometimes check for this white card if tourists depart via a land border.

Does anyone have any experience leaving Serbia for a weekend via bus, visiting Kosovo, and returning to Serbia (or taking a weekend return trip from Serbia to another adjacent country via land)? Will Serbian authorities be likely to harass/fine me when I am exiting/reentering Serbia without this white card? And at the end of the month in this country, are authorities likely to check my white card when departing Serbia at the airport in Belgrade? I am heading to Armenia via Greece.

As an aside, I am well aware that there is tension in Kosovo right now, so you don’t need to inform me about this (I’m not going to visit the northern part of Kosovo, where most of the discord is happening). I also know that Serbia doesn’t officially recognize Kosovo, even though there are border checkpoints between the two places and there is steady traffic through these legitimate checkpoints. I have wanted to visit Kosovo for decades, so I am determined to go there next weekend unless my lack of lodging registration is likely to cause me problems.

Thank you in advance for any knowledge you can provide!
posted by fenwaydirtdog to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
I have not been, but I know others who have. Please find another host. Without the white card, I'm 95% certain you will be fined and treated like dirt going anywhere near Kosovo.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 2:12 PM on July 8, 2023 [7 favorites]

I can’t speak to any of the specifics regarding the Serbian white card issue, but have you tried contacting AirBnb customer support directly? It sounds like your host is (potentially) putting your safety at risk, which is something Airbnb would likely be interested in remedying directly. They may cover replacement lodging for you.
posted by bluloo at 2:33 PM on July 8, 2023 [17 favorites]

I've made this trip but it was 15 years ago so don't remember how it worked, but just spitballing here, could you pay for one night at a hostel and procure the card that way?
posted by acidic at 3:08 PM on July 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

The card probably has dates on it.

Your host not registering you is most likely illegal so get Airbnb to sort it. It sounds as if they can’t legally register you because they can’t prove they own the building. That also raises questions about insurance etc.

If Airbnb won’t help you consider moving into a hostel or other legal accommodation.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:10 PM on July 8, 2023 [7 favorites]

Probably worth checking with the US embassy in Serbia:
Link here
posted by amtho at 5:46 PM on July 8, 2023 [3 favorites]

Your host is super sketchy. Might be better to go to a hotel.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:10 PM on July 8, 2023 [7 favorites]

The US Embassy in Serbia
posted by virago at 7:43 PM on July 8, 2023

Was in Serbia last September, stayed in a hotel, was never given any white card, and tbh, never even knew (until reading this post?) that I needed one. Later departed Serbia by road to Croatia (in rental car though, not bus), returned to Serbia by road from Romania, stayed again at a hotel, then departed Serbia by air. Never knew of or was asked about a white card at any point.

The only thing I would maybe think about is that you will stand out as a foreigner transiting between Serbia and Kosovo and may attract more questions.
posted by ryanbryan at 7:50 PM on July 8, 2023 [1 favorite]

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