Stretching along the Adriatic Sea at the northern edges of the Mediterranean, the Central European country of Croatia has become increasingly popular among international tourists in recent years. And, it’s no wonder why.
The unassuming nation closely neighbors such long-celebrated destinations as Italy and Greece, and boasts similarly rich cultural, architectural, and historical attractions, distinctive cuisine, scenic landscapes and natural diversity, but Croatia can typically be experienced at a fraction of the cost.
Some popular spots among tourists that you may have heard of include Zagreb, Croatia’s capital and major metropolis; Split, in Dalmatia, with its beaches and Roman ruins; and the picturesque, seaside city of Dubrovnik, filled with intact Medieval architecture and surrounded by 13th-century stone walls.
While the Republic of Croatia joined the European Union (E.U.) back in 2013, it has only just been accepted as the 27th member of Europe’s border-free Schengen Area, at the same time adopting the Euro as its official currency on January 1, 2023.
What does that mean for U.S. travelers looking to make Croatia their next destination or part of their grand European tour? Well, fortunately, it doesn’t change much for inbound American visitors coming to the country for tourism and business purposes.
That’s because, under an existing visa waiver arrangement, U.S. nationals visiting any of the Schengen Zone’s member countries are exempt from its visa requirements, provided that their stay does not exceed 90 days within any given 180-day period.
As it’s concisely defined by SchengenVisaInfo, the Schengen Area is the product of, “an agreement between several European countries to have free borders, and a joint visa policy and travel requirements for non-E.U. nationals.”
With Croatia’s recent integration into the Schengen Zone, it adopts the bloc’s shared rules and regulations regarding international visitors, including visa requirements. Also, henceforward, Croatia’s consular offices will issue Schengen visas, as opposed to visas specific to the country.
With that shift, the biggest thing for U.S. tourists to bear in mind is that time spent in Croatia will now count towards the maximum total of 90 days that non-Schengen nationals (yes, even visa-exempt ones) are allowed to remain in the region (that is, any and all of its 27 member countries).
However, it’s important to remember that American travelers are still required to hold a U.S. passport, which should remain valid for a minimum of 90 days beyond their planned length of stay in Croatia.
In terms of COVID-related travel restrictions, such as the world has become accustomed to during the pandemic, there are no vaccination or testing requirements for U.S. nationals looking to enter Croatia.
If you’re doing some research for a trip to the Continent, perhaps it’s worth pointing out that non-E.U. countries are also sometimes referred to as “third countries” and non-E.U. residents as “third-party nationals” as you’re perusing the various travel policies.
Prospective visitors should also note there are some E.U. member nations that have opted out of the open-border Schengen Area: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Ireland. Conversely, there are four Schengen Area member states that are actually not part of the E.U.: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. So, be sure you’re aware of your destination country’s status among Europe’s different collectives as you’re readying your travel documents.
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