Americans can live in Albania for up to a year without a visa
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Few destinations in Europe have such easy immigration rules, or an eagerness to welcome foreigners, as sunny Albania. Unlike its closest neighbours, notably Greece, Croatia and Italy, this small, largely unknown country allows Americans to stay for up to a year without applying for a visa first. You read correctly.
All Americans need to travel, and even settle temporarily in Albania, is a passport.
No European Country Loves Americans More Than Albania
Although it remained isolated from the rest of the world for most of the 20th century, due to its slow development under a strict communist regime, Albania has emerged from obscurity in recent years as a promising Mediterranean powerwith its turquoise water beaches going viral on TikTok and a rich centuries-old culture promoted by famous expats.
Among them, British popstars Dua Lipa and Rita Ora, whose family hails from the Albanian parent state of Kosovo, have campaigned tirelessly for international recognition of their ancestral homeland, alongside the government itself. These efforts were not in vain, because Albania is set to become the hottest topic in Europe each passing year.
In fact, it may be one of the few on the continent destinations without bureaucracy, at least as far as borders are concerned. Not being part of the European Union (EU) or the EU-associated Schengen area, Albania has had the freedom to establish its own entry rules, and instead of pursuing the first, well-documented , difficult controlsit actively encourages migration.
Very few foreigners need visas to travel to Albania – even Turks and Kosovo nationals, who have a very limited visa-free travel card – and what’s more, it’s one of only two european countries open to US citizens traveling long term. Specifically, only Georgia also grants Americans a one-year tourist permit upon arrival.
All Americans Need To Move To Albania This Is A Valid Passport
By landing via Tirana Airport, the country’s main international airport, or by using a land or sea crossing via one of its neighbors, namely Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo or Montenegro, Americans benefit from twelve full and continuous months to explore the jewel of the Balkans. That’s more than enough time to experience all that Albania has to offer.
Their passport must, of course, be valid for the entirety of their intended stay, otherwise they may face further problems...
As far as we are concerned, Americans are the only foreigners to benefit from this privilegeall other nationalities, including Canadians, EU and UK citizens, Australians and New Zealanders, being permitted to remain in the national territory for only three months over each six-month period, similar to the EU Schengen area.
For example, when staying in the country for more than 90 days, Britons should immediately report to the Albanian authorities and apply for a visa extension, or a Residency permit. Those who don’t regularly face legal challenges when leaving Albania – on the other hand, this rule does not apply to Americans for up to one year.
Truly, no European country loves Americans more than Albania.
Obtain Albanian residency after one year
However, American travelers face a risk: after experiencing the laid-back Albanian way of life, savoring its Balkan and Turkish-influenced cuisine, and marveling at its dramatic and rugged Adriatic coast, they may never want to leave at the end. Fortunately, they can apply for a residence permit once the year has passed.
Yes, Albania has paved an easy path to permanent migration. According to the US State Department, US citizens can easily extend their visa for one year by doing the following:
- Go to a Regional DBM Police at least 60 days before the expiry date of the permit, for example the 305th day
- Provide Albanian immigration authorities with all relevant documents they may need*
* This usually includes a birth certificate, marriage certificate if applicable and a Affidavit of Eligibility for a residence permit
The one-year period starts from the date of first entry into Albania, and it only stops at the end of the year. This means that you may not be eligible for an extension if you have been out of the country for more than 6 cumulative months in the rolling period. Visits to other countries and territories, such as Greece or Kosovo, are all considered “time away”.
When you plan to leave Albania after this period and attempt to return to reset the clock, Americans must wait at least 90 days before they can return. Be sure to keep track of your own travel dates, as Albanian border officials stop stamping passports for immigration purposes:
- Save your flight booking confirmation emails
- Hotel reservations or other rental agreements
- Tickets outside Albania and any other information you may deem valid for future verification purposes
The residence permit application fee is $50, and more information can be found at this link. However, Americans can stay in Albania without hassle for a lot longer than any other foreign tourist, making it the perfect retreat for digital nomads across the pond. This is proof that there is a strong and lasting friendship between the two nations.
Things not to miss on a year-long trip through Albania
- Tiranathe sprawling, modern capital famed for its communist-era bunker museums, large man-made lake and top-notch café culture
- Shkoderthe so-called “capital of the north”, and a hub for those escaping to the Albanian Alps, so beautiful they rival Switzerland
- Elbasana town in central Albania where visitors can explore an old town built within the walls of a medieval fortress
- Krujea small hilltop settlement that revolves around a bustling Ottoman-style bazaar and cobblestone old town
- Durresone of the most historic cities in the Mediterranean, with an iconic Venetian tower by the sea
- Vloraa seaside destination where the most developed resort area in the country is located
- Berat and Gjirokastertwo UNESCO World Heritage cities with remnants of Albania’s Ottoman past
- Syri i Kalteror the Blue Eye, a bottomless karst hole with every conceivable shade of blue
- Butrinta well-preserved Greco-Roman town with a large ancient theatre, a short drive from Saranda’s main port
- The Albanian Rivieraa Mediterranean stretch where picturesque towns like Himare, Ksamil, Dhermi and Qeparo are located
other popular international trips outside Albania include:
- The Greek island of Corfu, 35 minutes by ferry from Saranda
- ionninaa city in northwestern Greece famous for its city walls, lake and historic castle
- Montenegroa country whose border is about half an hour north of Shkoder in northern Albania
- Kosovo, populated by ethnic Albanians, The newest country in Europe dating from 2007 and sharing a border with Albania*
- Lake Ohridshared by both Albania and North Macedonia – on the North Macedonian side, Americans can visit the charming town of Ohrid, symbol of the Balkan Peninsula
* Traveling to and from Kosovo may pose problems when attempting to enter Serbia at a later date. To learn more, click here.
Albania is fully open to tourism
Recently, Albania removed all of its Covid entry requirements, allowing Americans, short-term visitors or nomads to enter without presenting any medical document:
- No registration forms
- No vaccination record
- No Booster Required
- No pre-departure tests
- No testing on arrival
- No testing after arrival
- No quarantine after arrival
Although Albania does not have entry rules in place of its own, there are no direct flights from USA to Tirana. For this reason, Americans must transit through a third state, usually in Europe, where different rules may apply.
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This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your upcoming trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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Disclaimer: Current Travel Rules and Restrictions may change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm entry of your nationality and/or any changes to travel conditions before travelling. Travel Off Path does not approve travel against government advice