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Arriving in North Macedonia

Maysie Dee

Contributing writer

There are many ways to enter Macedonia, as the country enjoys a central location in the Balkan region of Europe, and shares borders with five other countries. 

Macedonia has two international airports, the most popular being the Skopje International Airport in the capital city, Skopje. There is also a smaller international airport (St. Paul the Apostle Airport) in Ohrid, in the south of the country.

There is international train service into Macedonia from Serbia and Greece, which is included in the European Inter Rail Pass (although, quirkily, part of the Thessaloniki-Skopje trip is via bus).

You can easily enter Macedonia by land via bus or car from one of several border crossings in Albania (to Macedonia’s west), Kosovo (northwest), Serbia (north/northeast), Bulgaria (east) and Greece (south). There is a continued bit of confusion about entry points/methods into Macedonia, but in this article we’ll try to cover most of the details,

Visas and tourist registration


Macedonia’s liberal visa policy allows citizens of nearly 100 countries (including all EU countries, USA, New Zealand and more) a stay of 90 days within a 180-day period.

Other countries, such as India, China, Pakistan, and some Middle East countries fall into another group. If you hold one of these passports, you’ll need to apply for and secure a visa (for some countries, e-visas are possible/easier) before being able to visit the country.

Tourist registration

According to the law, every tourist must register their entry to Macedonia with the police in the area, within 24 hours of arrival. This procedure is usually done automatically by your hotel, and you’ll be given a small slip of paper (potvrda) with the registration details. 

If you stay in a private apartment rental, with a friend who doesn’t charge you, or are camping, you’re supposed to take care of the registration yourself. However, the owner of the apartment is required to verify that you are, indeed, renting/staying at their apartment. This is a hassle for all involved, and as a result, does not always happen.

You’re meant to keep the potvrda with you, and present it upon leaving the country, but in practice, it is rarely required. Although, technically, you could be fined (max. 25 Euros) if you did not register or don’t have the paper. 

As recently as one year ago, we asked the owners of our first holiday apartment rental to accompany us to the police station (which they very kindly agreed to) and we got the little paper. But, as most travelers report, we were not asked for it upon leaving the country (in our case, this was via a land border with Albania).

This is an old regulation, but it’s still on the books in Macedonia. So, either ignore it or do it, you’ve been advised of it!

Skopje International Airport 

Macedonia’s larger airport is located just outside the capital city, Skopje, by about 20 minutes. Many travelers discovered Skopje and Macedonia when Wizz Air located a hub there, making easy and inexpensive trips from Europe an exciting new reality. 

Here are the best ways to get into town upon arrival: 

Note: There is no Uber in Macedonia and the one uber-type app (Cammeo) does not have great reviews, so better give that a skip...

Pre-arranged Private Transfer – This is my favorite option, because its so easy and no hassles! Ask your hotel or apartment owner to arrange for you because: 

1) You’ll have someone waiting for you at the arrivals/luggage area/no dealing with taxis.

2) Your accommodation will refer a trusted driver and will be expecting you: no searching for the property.

3) If you like the vehicle/driver, voilà! You now have someone you can call for additional trips around the area or for longer rides to other parts of the country or region.

Note: We paid about 3 EUR more than the usual airport taxi rate, but we thought it was worth it for the above listed reasons.

Airport Shuttle Bus - The airport shuttle bus stops at three locations: (the Central Bus Terminal, Capitol Mall, and the Hotel Holiday Inn at the city center). The cost is about 199MKD (approx.3 EUR), one way. 

The bus leaves the airport 8 times/day. You can pay with local currency in the airport or when entering the bus. The buses are the most economical way to get to town, but take longer, are often crowded, and are more difficult to negotiate if you have large luggage.

Airport Taxi - You can catch a licensed taxi outside the airport and the rate should be about 20 EUR to the city center, a bit more if your destination is beyond the center. Confirm the price before taking off to avoid hassles.

Rental Car – Most major car rental companies are present at the airport,  including regional car rental service options. Check prices and compare before booking.

Ohrid St. Paul The Apostle Airport

This smaller regional airport services those international visitors who are flying directly to Ohrid in the south and want to avoid travel from Skopje in the north. It’s located about 9 km outside Ohrid.

The airport services mostly small European airlines such as Wizz Air, LOT Polish Air, Eidelweiss, Air Serbia and others.

There is no shuttle bus from the airport to Ohrid. Taxis are available just outside the arrivals area. There are 9 rental car agencies represented, including local and international brands.

Note: The airport closes from 11:30pm-5:30am so don’t plan to stay overnight waiting for a morning flight. Taxis will be there, or you can get a pre-arranged ride by planning with a hotel/apartment rental in Ohrid, Struga, or other small villages along the lake.

Arriving by car or bus

Border crossings into Macedonia are fairly straightforward and only require that you present your passport for stamping before entering the country. 

There are a couple of more obscure crossings, such as the one between Albania and St. Naum (Ohrid), which require a bit of a walk through a no-man’s land between the borders.

Customs and restricted items 

Macedonia has restrictions on the following items upon entering the country, if 18 years or older:


  • 200 cigarettes

  • 50 cigars

  • 250 gr loose tobacco

  • Alcohol:

  • 2 litres wine

  • 1 litre alcohol (22%)

  • 2 litres alcohol (<22%)


Any amount over €10,000 in all currencies, foreign and local, must be declared upon arrival.


Prescription medicines should be accompanied by doctor’s prescription, Those containing narcotic substances need a special license with approval prior to arrival.


You’ll need a permit issued by the Ministry of Interior for all weapons and ammunition brought into the country.


A health certificate issued by the departure country is required for all pets. A pet passport is necessary for cats, dogs, and ferrets.

SIM cards and money

You can buy a SIM card at the airport in Skopje upon arrival. But if you’ve prearranged your transport, there really is no need to do so until you get into town, where the prices should be better. The available mobile providers are:

  • Makedonski Telekom

  • Lycamobile

  • A1 Macedonia (T-Mobile)

The best deal for both internet and calls is A1; a pre-paid package with 200 MB of data is around 6 EUR.

Money exchange and ATMs

Local vendors may assume that you have Euros, and will quote prices accordingly, but you’ll get a better exchange rate by changing your Euros (or US dollars) at an exchange kiosk. There are many to choose from, and they all seem to have approximately the same rates/service.

Most small businesses and shops will only accept local currency, so it’s good to have some on hand, although credit/debit card use is fairly common as well.

ATMs for local Macedonian denar (MKD) can easily be found in all major cities throughout the country. Look for Halkbank and Stopanksa Banka AD Skopje ATMs for no local ATM usage/withdrawal fees.

Before leaving the country, make sure to exchange all your denar back into foreign currency as the MKD is locked for use within Macedonia. It’s doubtful that you’ll find exchange houses outside, even in neighboring countries, willing to take them.

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Maysie Dee

Author - Maysie Dee

Maysie Dee is a freelance writer, content editor, and recipe creator. She and her husband have travelled across the world for decades as natural product consultants, collecting stories along the way.

Last Updated 31 May 2024

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