It can’t have escaped the attention of many who visited Croatia in 2013 that a big, momentous event took place on 1st July 2013…the country finally became part of the EU.
But what does that mean for those travelling to Croatia? If we’re honest, not too much changed initially, but we thought we’d put together a page to help those that plan on visiting in the near future.
If you’re interested in more about the process of the country joining the EU or the political side of things, the BBC News website featured a great series of articles and video reports in 2013 under the series Croatia Direct.
Incidentally, here’s a fun little Visit Croatia tale for you. On our Croatia Today page, we used to have a brief sentence stating that “Croatia is not currently in the EU, but is in talks to join. It is expected to join the EU in the year xxxx”. We first put that sentence up in the early 2000s with the year given as 2005, and as each year went on, we had to amend it! So today, we feel very lucky that we no longer have to amend that sentence…
Croatia in the EU – Currency
This one’s easy! Croatia did not join the Eurozone on 1st July 2013. Croatia joined the ERM II in July 2020, which is considered the ‘waiting room’ to join the Euro. With all proceeding well, it looks like Croatia may join the Euro in 2023.
The currency in Croatia remains the Kuna – read more about it, and the best way to obtain Kunas both before your trip and during it, on our Money in Croatia page.
Croatia in the EU – Visas
For many travellers to Croatia, particularly those from Western Europe (the EU!), North America, Australia and New Zealand, the issue of Croatia joining the EU has barely any relevance to entering the country. Citizens of these nations already did not need to obtain a visa to visit the country for a stay of up to 90 days. The difference now is that some – i.e. those from other EU countries – will no longer get a stamp when entering the country. Which is no big deal, but a shame for those of you who like collecting stamps in your passport…
By joining the EU, however, Croatia has had to conform to the union’s general visa regulations. This means that certain rulings the country was previously able to make – such as suspending visas for Russian tourists to encourage visitors from that country – are no longer able to exist. Some visitors will therefore find that they suddenly require visas to visit Croatia again, especially those from Russia (as mentioned), the Ukraine and Turkey. Citizens of these countries can apply for a Croatian visa online at crovisa.mvep.hr.
Do also check on more details about this on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Consular Information page.
Croatia is not currently part of the Schengen Zone but applied to join on 1st July 2015. The important word in that previous sentence is ‘apply’ – Croatia did NOT become part of the Zone on that date, as the country needs to go through an approval process. The latest news is that the country expects to join the Schengen Zone before the end of 2022.
However, Croatia does currently allow holders of valid Schengen Visas and residence permits of Schengen Area countries to visit without the need for an additional Croatian visa. Once again, do read specific details of this – in particular which visa types are deemed ‘valid’ – on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Consular Information page.
Croatia in the EU – Mobile phone usage
On 15th June 2017, roaming charges in the EU were scrapped. This means that EU citizens can use their ordinary mobile phone allowance to make calls and send texts, and use data, in any EU country. It now costs the same to use your phone abroad (in the EU!) as it does at home.
As part of the EU, it won’t cost you any more to use your phone in Croatia then it would at home. But please do check with your home mobile operator to make sure you don’t get any nasty bill surprises…just in case!
If you’re travelling to Croatia from outside the EU, it would probably be best to contact your home network provider to see if there are special roaming packages available for the EU. You might also find a company offering SIM cards for travel that will also help you keep costs down.
Alternatively, once you’re in Croatia, you could purchase a local SIM card to use in your phone (providing it is unlocked), or a data SIM for your tablet. See our Telephones and Mobile Phones in Croatia page for a few more details.
Croatia in the EU – Health
As the country is now part of the EU, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is now valid in Croatia. If you’re the citizen of an EU country, we would highly recommend that you obtain a EHIC card; it is free, after all. However, we would still of course advise travellers to take out a travel insurance policy as well.
Croatia does also have reciprocal health arrangements with some non-EU countries. We advise you to check with your country’s Foreign Office for more information.
Croatia in the EU – Free wi-fi
Although not especially linked to joining the EU, on the 1st July 2013 Croatia set up around 270 free wi-fi hotspots across the country, with 244 hotspots in coastal regions. Utilising these will definitely help you save on data roaming charges! There’s more on this on the Ministry of Tourism‘s site, although at present the info is only in Croatian.
Croatia and the EU – Celebrations
Understandably, joining the EU was marked by a number of celebrations around the country on the stroke of midnight on the 1st July 2013. Celebrations were perhaps more muted than might have been expected, what with a general mixed mood surrounding the country joining the union, but there were still fireworks and ceremonial activities nevertheless. To give you an idea, here’s a video report from The Guardian: Croatia celebrates joining the EU.