Canadians will need ETIAS to travel to Croatia starting in 2023
If you’re planning to travel to Croatia, you should know about the new travel regulations that will make ETIAS mandatory starting in 2023. What would that mean for a Canadian traveler in Italy looking to visit Croatia?
Croatia joined the European Union in 2013. However, the country has yet to join the Schengen Area. This will allow for visa-free travel within Europe. The Schengen Area includes 22 EU member countries and four non-members states (Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway).
Croatia has met all criteria for joining the Schengen region. The ETIAS is required for countries joining Schengen, even though they may not yet be full members. ETIAS will be implemented in May 2023. It will then be mandatory for travelers to Croatia.
Croatia-EU Historical Relationship
Due to the unique conditions of establishing a Croatian government and democratic order, the path to full EU membership was complex and lengthy. These are structural and socio-cultural elements that have an endogenous structure. They include the activity and structure of political actors and the functioning of institutions. This was a result of their historical and authoritarian political legacy.
The other was a war on aggression and a struggle for freedom and independence that had long-lasting, difficult political and social consequences. These conditions, which none of the other acceding nations had, slowed down the process for democratization and, therefore, hampered EU accession.
Croatia has not fully utilized the EU’s economic opportunities, especially in the first few years after it joined. It is one of the most popular travel destinations in Central Europe. This was mainly due to insufficient preparation. Nonetheless, EU membership has accelerated institutional capacity and improved the use of European Structural and Investment Funds.
The open EU market has created opportunities for people, goods, and capital to move freely. However, this double effect also had an impact on the economy. It strengthened the economy through a more excellent orientation towards the EU market. But it also led to slower economic growth due to structural issues (the lingering power and regulations to the market) and increased emigration among the younger, highly educated population (chronic labor-force gap).
However, Croatia’s participation within the EU institutions is a significant benefit. The real benefits of full membership are increasingly becoming visible, and the feeling of integration into the EU’s cultural, social, and economic spaces is increasing. At the same time, EU membership affects the further improvement of the normative-institutional framework of Croatia.
Why isn’t Croatia in Schengen?
Croatia was required to join the Schengen passport-free area when it joined the European Union in July 2013. Before that happens, however, Croatia must first satisfy all technical requirements to be admitted to the Schengen Area.
The EU started a one-and-a-half-year-long technical evaluation in 2015 for Croatia’s accession to Schengen. It was successful. This means that Croatia will have the chance to join Schengen by 2024 if all goes according to plan.
Croatia applied for EU membership and became a member in 2013. The country joined the Schengen Area in 2020. Those countries that sign the EU Treaty of Accession must implement Schengen rules.
Disputes for Croatia’s Schengen Bid
Hungary had previously contested the 2015 Croatian entry to the Schengen Area. Croatia had already allowed migrants to enter.
Slovenia blocked a previous bid from the neighboring country back in 2009. They have a long-standing border issue with Croatia. This is a result of the 1991 dissolution of Yugoslavia, and Slovenia threatened to block any future bids.
Another reason that Croatia is not joining Schengen continues to be the security of its borders. An influx from Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries has been a problem. They crossed into Croatia from neighboring countries and then to the rest of Europe.
Nonetheless, the country strengthened its border control policy. The government has already implemented new security measures at its Serbian border and is working to establish new rules at the border with Bosnia.
Croatia is a great entry point to Schengen due to its long coastline and many borders with non-EU countries.
Can Croatia join Schengen?
Croatia’s request to join the Schengen Area visa-free zone was approved by the Commission and the other members of the European Union.
The Council of the EU affirmed that Croatia met all criteria to become a Schengen State in December 2021. This is a condition for Croatia’s accession to the Schengen system. It brings Croatia closer than ever before to the goal of becoming a full member.
Croatia’s Schengen membership will be complete by 2024. However, it is essential to note that the ETIAS for the Croatia system will be mandatory starting in May 2023.
Other member states also supported the last bid, believing that Croatia’s Schengen membership could improve security in Croatia and the EU. Finland is the strongest supporter of Schengen membership for Croatia, having established a friendly relationship with it within the EU.
Croatia’s Schengen ETIAS is available
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which will take effect in May 2023, means that Croatia is eligible for the ETIAS system. This will change the way how people travel to Croatia.
To strengthen the Schengen Area’s border security, the ETIAS visa waiver has been implemented. Its validity of 3 years means any non-EU traveler holding an ETIAS authorization can travel for up to 90 days within Schengen territory for leisure, business, or other purposes as long as it is a short stay. Before traveling to the Schengen Area, visa-exempt passport holders must pre-register an ETIAS online application to obtain the ETIAS for Croatia.
All information submitted to the Croatia ETIAS website will be pre-screened against European databases such as SIS or Interpol. This will enable any travelers deemed to pose a security or health risk to be identified before entering Schengen.
It will strengthen European borders and make travel safer, and Croatia joining Schengen is in everyone’s best interests.
What does joining Schengen mean for Croatia?
It will be much easier to travel from Croatia starting January 1, next year, as the Balkan country will become part of the single Schengen region.
The Council of the European Union recently proposed that border controls at Croatia’s land- and sea borders with Schengen nations be eliminated starting January 1, 2023. The EU Council proposed that border checks at Balkan country airports be abolished starting March 26, 2023.
This means that the Balkan country will be an official member of the Schengen Zone. This will also make it easier to travel to Croatia.
According to the Croatian Aviation Report, if all goes well, border checks at seaports will be removed at road crossings on January 1. The same should apply at Croatian airports on March 26.
These changes will allow travelers flying directly from Croatia to Schengen zones to be eligible for the exit without crossing borders or going through a police check.