The European Council have announced that from 01 January 2023 checks on persons at internal land and sea borders between Croatia and the other countries in the Schengen Area will be lifted. Checks at internal air borders will be lifted from 26 March 2023, given the need for this to coincide with the dates of the International Air Transport Association’s Summer and Winter schedules.
From 01 January 2023 Croatia will also start to issue Schengen visas and will be able to make full use of the Schengen Information System.
Since its accession to the EU, Croatia has applied parts of the Schengen acquis, including those related to the external border controls, police cooperation and the use of the Schengen Information System.
The remaining parts of the Schengen acquis, which include the lifting of controls at internal borders and related measures, can only become applicable following a unanimous decision by the Council after it has been verified, in accordance with the applicable Schengen evaluation procedures, that they fulfil the necessary conditions. In December 2021, the Council concluded that the necessary conditions were fulfilled by Croatia.
Impact for recreational boaters visiting Croatia
Until now, visits to Croatia did not count towards the 90-day visa-free limit in the Schengen Area. Visits to other EU or Schengen countries did not count towards the 90-day visa-free limit in Croatia – that is now changing.
With the lifting of border controls between Croatia and the other countries in the Schengen Area, Croatia will become part of the Schengen Area. Stays in Croatia will now count towards the period of stay permitted in the Schengen Area without a visa of up to 90-days in any 180-day period.
In theory it should no longer be necessary to clear immigration when arriving in Croatia from within the Schengen Area (from 01 January 2023 for land and sea borders and from 26 March 2023 for arrival by air).
Croatia has borders with other Schengen states and with third countries (e.g. Montenegro). You will still need to clear immigration (and customs) when arriving in Croatia from a third country.
What happens now
This information will be reflected on the current specific pages of the RYA website early in 2023. Reports from anyone entering or leaving Croatia on a recreational boat in early 2023 will be very welcome, this will help us to gain a better understanding of what is happening in practice and we will then be able to share that information via the RYA website.
If you would like to share your experiences, or you have any questions relating to the above information, please email: email@example.com.