Over the past decade, Croatia has become one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. Nautically-minded travelers worldwide flock to this Mediterranean paradise to embrace its impossibly blue water, jagged seaside cliffs, and expansive network of over 1,000 islands. From boats to beaches, Croatia’s unmatched coastline offers something for everyone.
As early as 2023, Croatia and many other countries in the European Union will require non-EU citizens to register with ETIAS before visitation. ETIAS is an electronic visa-waiver program that automatically links to the applicants’ passports upon approval, creating a streamlined method of enhanced border security.
Are you planning a trip to Croatia? Learn how ETIAS might affect your trip.
What Is the Purpose Behind ETIAS?
While ETIAS will provide the EU with various benefits, its primary scope is to protect its member states further. Over the past several years, several EU member countries have experienced dwindling security conditions. In 2016, ETIAS was officially proposed to address four concerns:
- Each year, around 200 million people cross EU borders, which continues to rise.
- As a result of several international crises, the number of refugees and people seeking asylum has risen sharply.
- Terrorist attacks have become disturbingly frequent, threatening the lives of citizens who call Europe home.
- Technological advancements have made electronic pre-travel authorization a realistic and practical way of maintaining border security.
ETIAS aims to alleviate these issues, providing significant benefits to EU citizens, customs agents, and international travelers.
What Will ETIAS Change?
Until ETIAS, non-EU travelers, including U.S. citizens, could travel visa-free throughout the Schengen Area. Countries currently in the Schengen Area include:
- Czech Republic
Such travelers can continue to travel visa-free throughout this popular group of countries; however, pre-registration will now be required.
Before travel, non-EU travelers will pre-register their information with ETIAS. Upon authorization, ETIAS authorization will be linked to each applicant’s passport.
How Will ETIAS Improve Security?
Due to the massive number of people passing through European countries each year, customs agents are overwhelmed. Every day, customs agents are faced with hoards of unknown travelers who must be vetted and authorized for entry on the spot.
With ETIAS, these agents will know beforehand who they will be greeting. On top of that, customs agents can cross-reference the travelers’ approved ETIAS with their physical documents, creating an adequate verification system.
Will ETIAS Make Traveling to the EU More Difficult?
While registration through ETIAS requires an extra step for non-EU travelers, ETIAS aims to make travel more efficient for all citizens. Due to the electronic database that ETIAS provides, travelers can move through customs much quicker than before.
Registering for ETIAS is also very easy. Most applicants will receive their decision within minutes of applying. Furthermore, ETIAS authorization remains valid for at least three years, eliminating the need to re-apply within that window.
How Croatia Not Being a Member of Schengen Affects Its Relationship with ETIAS
ETIAS will affect all countries within Europe’s Schengen Area. While the Schengen Area encompasses most countries in the EU, several EU countries are not included, including Croatia.
That being said, Croatia, which gained EU membership in 2013, is expected to join Schengen in the next few years and is already a eurozone member.
Do You Need To Register for ETIAS to Visit Croatia?
Suppose Croatia is not a full Schengen member by the time ETIAS is implemented. In that case, ETIAS may not be required right away. After becoming a full Schengen member, though, Croatia must enforce ETIAS at its borders. All Schengen countries implement the same border security procedures.
Until Croatia becomes a part of the Schengen Area, it can choose to implement whichever border procedures it wants. In all likelihood, Croatia will use the ETIAS system even before they become a Schengen country.
In What Cases Will a Schengen Visa Be Required Over ETIAS?
ETIAS is not a replacement for the Schengen Visa. Instead, it’s a visa-waiver program for travelers who do not require a Schengen Visa.
Some travelers, though, must register for a Schengen Visa instead of a visa. Notable cases that will require a Schengen Visa over ETIAS include:
- Travelers who are citizens of any country not on the list of 62 approved countries
- Travelers who plan to stay within the Schengen Area for longer than three months within six months
If you are unsure whether ETIAS applies to you, find out with the ETIAS online assessment.
Why Is Croatia a Popular Vacation Destination?
Croatia is an ideal destination for summer travel due to its warm, sunny weather and wealth of coastline. On top of that, Croatia has a vibrant culture that includes unique cuisine, historical sites, and natural wonders.
While Croatia is a small country, it boasts nearly 4,000 miles of total coastline. This is made possible by its network of more than 1,000 islands. As a result, Croatia hosts some of the most sought-after beaches in all of Croatia. Some of the most popular options include:
- The picturesque cape of Zlatni Rat.
- Banje Beach and its surrounding ancient town.
- Punta Rata’s soft sand and crystal clear water.
- The pine-tree laden Sakarun Beach
- Nugal Beach and its nearby waterfall hiking.
While each of Croatia’s beaches holds a variety of unique features, what they all share is their Mediterranean water. Croatia is nestled alongside the Adriatic Sea, and each beach features exceptionally warm water. During the summer months, the water temperature can range from 72 to 86 °F.
With its expansive coastline, it's not a surprise that Croatia is a Mecca for boat enthusiasts worldwide. Many sail for weeks at a time, navigating through Croatia’s network of islands.
One of the most popular routes is from Split to Dubrovnik. This week-long expedition will take its sailors on a tour of Croatia’s best islands and the incredible cities of Split and Dubrovnik.
However, lengthy nautical adventures are not needed to enjoy Croatia’s sailing culture. Many opt to rent boats for just a few hours at a time. The Croatian coast beckons if the goal is to sail, fish, or just relax beneath the Mediterranean sun.
Its wide array of natural features separates Croatia from the rest of Europe’s coastal countries. For a small country, Croatia offers plenty to explore for outdoor adventurers. This is due to its unique location between the Mediterranean Sea and Dinaric Alps.
The result is a rugged coastline, flat plains, and mountainous highlands. Visitors can enjoy not just world-class beaches but also hiking, white-water rafting, and rock climbing.
Best Time To Visit Croatia
Because Croatia mainly attracts outdoor-minded tourists, summer is its busiest season. Between the months of June and September. During this time, visitors will be rewarded with sunny weather between 66°F and 86°F.
These conditions are perfect for boating and swimming in Croatia’s beautiful water. Additionally, the summer is when visitors can experience such cultural events as Nights of Diocletian, Festival of Flowers, Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and Zagreb Design Week.
Those seeking lesser crowds may consider visiting in the shoulder months of fall and winter when both crowds and prices are lesser. While the weather will not be as ideal, conditions should still be inviting enough to enjoy Croatia’s beaches.
What Do You Need to Visit Croatia?
If you currently travel throughout Europe without a visa, there are no immediate requirements to enter Croatia. ETIAS will eventually change that, however. Upon its implementation in 2023, ETIAS will require all non-EU travelers to enter the Schengen Area, which will soon include Croatia. If Croatia is on your bucket list, plan by seeing how ETIAS applies to you.
Differences between ETIAS and Schengen Visas | ETIAS
15 Tips For An Amazing Sailing Vacation In Croatia | Forbes
The best time to visit Croatia: festivals, weather, and seasonal highlights | Lonely Planet