Although Croatia became a member of the EU in July of 2013, it’s not yet in the Schengen Area / Zone. It’s working towards entry, but it’s unpredictable when Croatia will be officially accepted.
There are still borders between Croatia & other EU countries
Unfortunately, there have been many cases in recent years when people made the mistake of trying to cross the Slovenian/Croatian and Hungarian/Croatian border without proper travel documents, and were of course, denied entry. Why?...
Because they believed that since Croatia was a member of the EU, there was no longer border patrol between other bordering EU countries. This is the difference between being an EU member, and being a member of the Schengen Area.
The difference between being an EU Member State vs. being in the Schengen Area:
Being an EU Member State: this means you are a country that belongs to the European Union.
What is Schengen Area? A ‘borderless’ area inside of the EU, where border controls have been removed for all travelers, which allows a free movement of people and goods.
The Schengen area is established by the agreement signed in 1985 between member states of the EU. Schengen is actually a city in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed.
So remember, if you would like to cross the Croatian border to/from surrounding countries, be sure you have the proper travel documents (according to the passport you hold):
- An ID is enough if you are a citizen of another member state of the EU
- Passports are required if you are a citizen of another world country
Which countries are the member states of the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area includes 26 countries (compared to 28 EU member states) and is comprised of about 400 million people in total.
22 of the 26 Schengen Area countries are members of the EU and 4 are non-member states (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and the United Kingdom are not part of the Schengen Area.
In 2019, the European Commission assessed that Croatia had fulfilled all of the technical requirements for entry into the Schengen Area, however, that is not the only deciding factor of entry, and it could still be years to official entry.
For example, Romania and Bulgaria fulfilled their technical requirements back in 2011, but are still waiting to become members of the Schengen Area today.
Why is this? Because once a country has fulfilled the technical requirements, the other member states of the EU must make a political decision together on whether to admit that country into the Schengen Area.
In short, it’s very hard to say when Croatia will make its entry into the Schengen Area, so for now, don’t forget your passports when travel to surrounding countries that are in fact members