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Croatian Passport Controls on Intra-Schengen Flights to Remain Until March 26
This past New Year’s Day was a historic day for the country of Croatia. In fact, at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, the country officially became the 20th E.U. country to adopt the Euro as its official currency, and at the same time, it became the 27th country to enter the Schengen area.
It is the first time a country joins both the Euro and the Schengen area on the same day.
The Euro was already widely accepted in Croatia, given the geographic location of the country very close to the established Euro area but in particular due to Croatia’s heavy reliance on tourism for its economy. Almost a quarter of the country’s GDP is in fact linked to tourism and the official adoption of the Eurozone official currency will certainly help recover the lost ground during the years of COVID-related travel restrictions.
But from a travel-related perspective, it is probably more significant that Croatia has also joined the Schengen area. This means there will be no more systematic passport or customs checks when traveling between Croatia and the other 26 countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement, including the bordering Slovenia and Hungary but also Italy, Austria, France and Germany, and even some non-EU countries like Switzerland and Norway. Flights to and from these destinations will be treated exactly like domestic flights therefore there will be immigration checks.
But while land borders have been eliminated immediately on Jan. 1, air passengers will have to wait a bit longer to enjoy this new regime. In fact, airports will have to adapt their infrastructure to allow a much larger volume of “domestic passengers” who now require to bypass passport control. For this reason, border controls at airports will remain in place until Mar. 26 so that airport operators can redistribute airport surfaces and facilities based on the expected throughput of passengers coming from the different destinations.
But, most importantly for foreign visitors, Croatia now follows all the same rules as the other Schengen countries as far as visas and entry regulations are concerned. There will be no need to obtain a separate visa for Croatia, and if a non-exempt foreign citizen wants to visit the Schengen area starting their visit in Croatia, they will need to apply for a Schengen visa to the Croatian consular authorities.
Furthermore, next November a new electronic system for travel authorization called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) will be launched in order to control the flow of foreign visitors coming from Schengen visa-exempt countries. These are currently slightly over 60 countries and territories including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and a large number of countries from the Caribbean and South America. Every prospective visitor to the Schengen area will have to obtain in advance an electronic authorization linked to their passports similar to what happens for those intending to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. The cost will be 7 Euros (approximately $7.50) and the authorization will be valid for three years.
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