Croatia will officially be joining the Schengen Area starting from the 1st of January 2023. This means borders with other EU countries will be abolished and free movement will become the norm for Croatian borders. However, what does this mean for travelers flying to and from Croatia?

Schengen Arrival Gate at Riga Airport
Schengen Arrival Gate at Riga Airport in Latvia © Kaihsu Tai

What is the Schengen Area?

Before going further, it is necessary to know what being part of the Schengen Area implies. The Schengen Area is a type of political union created by the European Union that consists of freedom of movement between countries. Therefore, most member states of the EU have abolished border controls, and citizens can move around countries freely. This union is welcomed by most citizens as the EU plans to make travelling much easier and faster thanks to projects such as the Schengen Area or the European Single Sky.

On the 8th of December 2022, in a meeting between European leaders, it was announced that Croatia was given a positive vote in order to join the Schengen Area. This means that all border checkpoints with Slovenia and Hungary will be taken down and people will be able to drive without any controls between the countries. However, when it comes to flying, it is important to know the new changes that Croatia will implement starting next year.

Lufthansa Airbus A319 landing at Split Airport
Aircraft landing at Split Airport, Croatia’s busiest destination © Ballota

New Travel Rules for Croatia

Since Croatia will join 26 other countries in the Schengen Area, this means all flights to and from these countries will be managed as domestic flights (for a list of countries, click here). Travellers will no longer need to go through border or police controls after leaving their flight. Such a measure will allow for faster and more efficient travel, cutting time spent in airports in long queues. This also means that all airports in Croatia will need to go through certain changes in order to accommodate the new rules.

For travellers flying to Croatia from outside the Schengen Area or the European Union, you will most likely need a Schengen visa. A list of the countries whose citizens must have a Schengen visa can be found here. It is obligatory for all travellers flying from these countries to present their Schengen visa at border controls, otherwise they most likely will be denied access to Croatia. This type of visa is usually granted for tourism or business stays of up to 90 days. For more information on applying for the visa, you can access the official site for information.

Airport transit is also going to become slightly more complicated for flights coming from outside of the Schengen Area. If your final destination is not Croatia, but you will be transiting through Croatian territory, you need to apply for a Schengen airport transit visa, depending on your nationality. The list of countries is the same as the previous one.

Will you consider flying to Croatia as border controls have relaxed? Let us know in the comments down below!

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