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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Replacement of Yugoslav passports by passports of Bosnia and Herzegovina; issuing procedures; entry requirements for citizens of neighbouring former Yugoslav republics

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 15 July 2008
Citation / Document Symbol BIH102900.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Replacement of Yugoslav passports by passports of Bosnia and Herzegovina; issuing procedures; entry requirements for citizens of neighbouring former Yugoslav republics, 15 July 2008, BIH102900.E, available at: [accessed 18 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

On 7 July 1992, Reuters reported that the "rump Yugoslav state" had ceased issuing passports to residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina [also spelled Hercegovina] (BiH) who were leaving due to the war. Since the signing of the 1995 peace accords which ended the war, BiH has been composed of two governing entities: the Bosniak-Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) (BBC 30 June 2008).

In 11 July 2008 correspondence sent to the Research Directorate, a consular official from the Embassy of BiH in Ottawa stated that BiH began issuing its own passports in December 1992 and ceased recognizing the validity of passports issued by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in November 1993.

The Hina Croatian News Agency reported in March 1999 that BiH began issuing new passports in 1999 to comply with provisions in the Dayton peace agreement that all citizens of BiH should have equal passports (2 Mar. 1999). The new passports also meant that citizens of the Republika Srpska would no longer require a visa to enter neighbouring Croatia (Hina 2 Mar. 1999). Hina reports that the new passports would be valid for a period of 5 years (Hina 2 Mar. 1999; BiH 1999, Art. 29), although passports for persons under 16 years old are valid only for 2 years (ibid.).

Bosnia and Herzegovina's 1999 Law on Travel Documents describes the 32-page passport (BiH 1999, Art. 8) as dark blue in colour, with the title "Bosnia and Herzegovina" and the country's coat of arms on the cover (ibid. Art. 6). The passports indicated on the cover whether the bearers were citizens of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina or citizens of the Republika Srpska (ibid.).

Sources report that the old passports, which carried the insignia of either the Republika Srpska or the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH Press 20 Apr. 2001), expired in November 2002, after which they were replaced with a new passport (ibid.; TV Bosnia-Hercegovina 17 Oct. 2001). The Consular Official stated that regular citizens of BiH hold "only one type of BiH passport as a valid travel document for the entire country" (BiH 11 July 2008). The new passport has a Bosnian crest visible over the date and place of issue, and the text throughout the document is in Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and English (US n.d.).

In order to obtain a passport for the first time from outside BiH, citizens may apply to a consulate (BiH n.d.), either in person or by proxy (BiH 1999, Art. 18). Within BiH itself, applicants apply directly to the Ministry of Interior (BiH 15 July 2008). Passport requests made both in BiH and abroad are processed by the Central Information Processing Unit in BiH (ibid.).

According to the Consular Official at the Embassy of BiH in Ottawa, passport application procedures for persons residing in neighbouring states of the former Yugoslavia are the same as for those citizens living in other countries (BiH 11 July 2008). The Official provided the following list of required documentation for all passport applicants: a completed and signed application form; two stamped and signed passport-sized photos; an original birth certificate and citizenship certificate, both of which must carry a 13-digit personal identification number (Jedinstveni matični broj građana, JMBG) and have been issued within the previous six months; proof of legal status in the country of residence; and a money order cheque (consular fees depend on the age and employment status of the applicant) (BiH 11 July 2008).

BiH passports are not renewable, and applicants have to apply for a new passport every five years (BiH 15 July 2008). When applying for a new passport, applicants may submit a copy of their old passport if it is in their possession (ibid.).

Holders of SFRY passports must apply for a new BiH passport, following the same steps as those listed above; those who cannot submit original copies of the birth and citizenship certificates along with their JMBG will have their applications rejected (ibid.).

While in principle, any person who has obtained BiH citizenship is entitled to a passport, certain categories of applicants are ineligible, including persons who willingly relinquished their BiH citizenship, or whose citizenship has been revoked, as well as persons undergoing federal court proceedings (ibid.). In addition, Article 21 of the Law on Travel Documents defines those categories of applicants who may be ineligible to receive a passport of BiH, including those prosecuted with a criminal offence carrying at least one year's imprisonment (ibid. Art. 21).

In February 2007, Hina reported that there remained 2,043 "refugees" from BiH living in Croatia, half of whom "have not been able to locally integrate in Croatia," according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Hina reported that 25 of these persons received BiH passports, "remov[ing] the last obstacle to their return" (Hina 21 Feb. 2007).

According to the June 2008 issue of the Travel Information Manual (TIM) published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Slovenian citizens do not require a passport to enter BiH; a national identity card is adequate. As of 1 January 2004 (AP 5 Dec. 2003), citizens of Croatia entering BiH directly are also exempt from carrying passports if they have a national identity card (TIM June 2008). A similar passport exemption applies to travellers entering BiH who hold a travel document issued to permanent residents of Kosovo by the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (ibid.). However, residents of Kosovo with an UNMIK-issued travel document do require a visa to enter BiH (ibid.; Onasa 26 Aug. 2004). Citizens of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia do require a passport to enter BiH, but are not required to obtain a visa for travel to BiH if their stay is limited to 90 days (TIM June 2008).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Associated Press (AP). 5 December 2003. "Croatia, Bosnia, Sign Pacts on Econ Cooperation, Passports." (Factiva)

BH Press [Sarajevo, in Serbo-Croat]. 20 April 2001. "Sarajevo Canton Starts Issuing New Bosnian Passports." (Factiva/BBC Monitoring European – Political)

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). 15 July 2008. Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Ottawa. Telephone interview with a consular official.
_____. 11 July 2008. Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Ottawa. Correspondence from a consular official.
_____. 1999. Law on Travel Documents of Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Legislationline) [Accessed 3 July 2008]
_____. N.d. Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Ottawa. "Consular Information." [Accessed 4 July 2008]

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 30 June 2008. "Country Profile: Bosnia and Hercegovina." [Accessed 10 July 2008]

Hina-Croatian News Agency. 21 February 2007. "25 Bosnian Refugees in Croatia Given Passports to Return Home." (Factiva)
_____. 2 March 1999. "Bosnian Nationals Can Receive New Passports in Croatia." (Factiva)

Onasa New Agency [Sarajevo, in English]. 25 August 2004. "Bosnia Introduces Visas for Passport Holders Issued by UNMIK in Kosovo." (Factiva/BBC Monitoring European 26 Aug. 2004)

Reuters. 7 July 1992. "Yugoslavia Stops Issuing Passports to Bosnians – Hungary." (Factiva)

Travel Information Manual (TIM). June 2008. "Bosnia Herzegovina (BA)." Badhoevedorp, Netherlands: International Air Transport Association (IATA) Netherlands Data Publications.

TV Bosnia-Hercegovina [Sarajevo, in Serbo-Croat]. 17 October 2001. "Current Bosnian Passport to Remain in Use Until November 2002." (Factiva/BBC Monitoring European – Political)

United States (US). N.d. Department of State. "Bosnia & Herzegovina Reciprocity Schedule." [Accessed 10 July 2008]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Ottawa, Ministry for Civil Affairs and Communications of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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