The European Union has been experiencing of anguish over the security situation that has got worse in some parts of the continent. This has led to a new method of performing advanced security checks on people who wish to visit Europe, including Croatia before they arrive. Many of the member states think that Europe has been too lax with border controls up to now.
The new system is a sort of visa waiver like the American ESTA and is intended for that group of non E.U. citizens who do not need a visa for travel to Europe at the moment. Obtaining an ETIAS will involve a 10 minute online application form and a small fee of €7 (free for under18s) at least 96 hours before travel. Once one application has been successful there will be no need to reapply for another 3 years. The new system is called the E.U. Travel Information Authorisation System or ETIAS for short, and is not expected to be rolled out until early 2021.
I’ve heard that Croatia is not yet a member of Schengen. How does that affect its relationship with ETIAS?
Croatia only joined the E.U. in 2013, but is not yet a member of Schengen. It is expected to join Schengen sometime in the next few years, so it may or may not be a full member by the time ETIAS begins. Whether Croatia is or isn’t a member of Schengen doesn’t really affect other E.U. passport holders as Croatia is obliged to allow them free movement in and out of Croatia as well as there being no customs control. However, it does make some difference to non E.U. citizens as up to the time Croatia remains outside Schengen theoretically gives them the option of choosing their own restrictions and rules. In practice, they will probably use the ETIAS system and share information that is obtained using the online form once it is in operation.
Is Croatia still an attractive tourist destination?
Croatia has always been a very attractive destination for tourists. It has a long and beautiful coastline, which remains the main drawcard, but old and interesting cities like Dubrovnik and Split are also part of the attraction of a Croatian holiday.
The Dalmatian coastline of Croatia is studded with islands and inlets. Many of the islands are now national parks. The climate along this coast varies with latitude with the more northern section being more temperate than the more southern section which is closer to Albania and Greece. Most of the summer, the weather is hot and sunny, which is ideal.
There are many ways to see some of this impressive coastline. You can take one of the many ferries that ply from one end to another. There are a number of cruise ships and smaller locally based tourist boats. You can also rent a yacht from a charter yacht agency.
Who will need to apply for a Croatia ETIAS?
As has been already mentioned, the Croatia ETIAS is a visa waiver for those who currently don’t need visas to visit the Schengen area. In fact, there are around 60 countries in all parts of the world whose citizens do not have the freedom to come and go whenever they like as citizens of the E.U. itself do but who do not need to apply for permission (e.g. a visa) in advance.
These visa-free travellers just need to arrive at the Schengen border and get their passports stamped to be admitted into the Schengen area. This group of visitors includes passport holders from North America, parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Pacific Rim countries such as Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Passport holders of these countries will need to apply for an ETIAS authorisation from the beginning of 2021 if they wish to travel to Croatia and everywhere else in Europe for a period of up to 90 days.