From the beginning of this year Croatia became an even more integrated part of the European Union, by adopting the Euro and entering the Eurozone and by becoming a member of the border-free Schengen zone.
As of the 1st of January 2023 Croatia became the 27th member of Schengen, the world’s largest visa free zone. The benefits for tourists who live inside the border-free zone are clear, but how does Croatia’s entering the Schengen zone affect tourists coming from outside the region, so called “third country nationals.”
After receiving a number of questions from American travellers on how this new visa regime could affect their travel to Croatia this summer we’ve dug a little deeper. The first good news is that it really doesn’t affect travel from the US that much at all.
There is a visa waiver agreement in force between the US and Schengen members, basically meaning that US tourists can visit any member of the Schengen area without requiring a visa. There is a caveat that the stay can’t exceed 90 days within a period of 180 days. The same rule applies to British nationals after Brexit meaning that UK citizens are now classed as third country nationals.
So if you are planning on a two-week tour of Croatia, or indeed the whole of the Schengen zone you won’t have to worry about the 90-day limit. And the US Department of State also state that “Make sure you receive a stamp in your passport when you enter and exit the Schengen area. Without a stamp from your first Schengen port of entry, you may have problems if you encounter local authorities while in the Schengen area or with immigration officials when you depart.”
What is the Schengen 90/180-day rule?
Yes, you can stay for 90 days inside 180 days but can you just leave the Schengen zone for a day and come back and stay for another 90 days. This isn’t really a question for people on vacation, unless you plan on having a long, long holiday. “Under the terms of Schengen, non-EEA nationals cannot spend more than a total of 90 days within a total period of 180 days without a visa. Furthermore, once you’ve used up your quota of 90 days, you cannot return to Schengen until 90 more days have passed,” states the website costaluzlawyers.es. So 90 days inside 180 days inside Schengen and then a three month wait before you can spend your other 90 days, in basic terms you can stay for 180 days a year as long as you get the timings right.
Added bonus for third country nationals entering Croatia
Before Croatia entered the EU border-free zone US tourists were required to have a visa for Croatia as well as the Schengen area, those days are gone since Croatia is now in the zone. From now Croatian consular offices issue Schengen visas, as opposed to country-specific visas. This makes it decidedly easier to travel, and more importantly for US travellers to combine Croatia into the grand tour of Europe. And these tours are extremely popular with American travellers. Of course, you’ll need to bear in mind that the time you now spend in Croatia will count towards your 90 days inside the 180 days.
Of course you’re going to need a passport and that passport must remain valid for a period of 90 days beyond your intended time of departure from the Schengen zone.
And getting to Dubrovnik from the US has never been easier with direct flights from New York. In fact, Dubrovnik is the only Croatian city to have direct flights from any US destination. And this year American Airlines will operate flights from Newark Airport in New York to Dubrovnik, with the inaugural flight on the 26th of May. This flight link will be operated four times a week by American Airlines until the 27th of September.