Not so fast: since the publishing of this article (unrelated) Croatia experienced a spike of covid-19 cases andthe country is taking steps to ramp up safety measures, including requiring covid-19 testing if travelers from outside the EU want to avoid quarantine. For travelers outside the EU/EEA/UK, you’ll need a recent negative covid-19 test taken within 48 hours, if you wish to avoid quarantine when traveling for tourism. This includes: US Travelers, and even those on the 15 country approved list from the EU, like Canada.
You’ve probably seen the headlines: Europe is closed to Americans. It’s not fake news – the European Union really added guidance for member states to allow entry from outside to 14 countries, but due to new spikes in cases, the United States was not one of them. Although Croatia is definitely in Europe, Americans are definitely actually able to still visit, opening up one of the most extraordinary destinations, and values in all of Europe, to travelers without too many choices this summer.
It all started when I made the brave decision to read the comments section of my own website on the internet. Someone posted “but, what about Croatia?”. I’d heard the rumors, but I was having a tough time reading up on the Timatic restrictions – the system airlines use to verify entry requirements – and seeing any place where Americans were mentioned at all.
When you run a large travel blog, you don’t really want to go telling people to book tickets to a place they can’t actually go…
It turns out, they’re not mentioned at all, and that’s ok, because Croatia is open to anyone coming for the purpose of tourism, and by anyone, they pretty much mean anyone. That’s probably not enough to compel anyone to book, and it wouldn’t be for me either, so that’s when I started digging, and found a treasure trove of information.
As for the Timatic info, you just need to politely mention to anyone questioning your brilliant travel savvy that they need to scroll past the first bit where it talks about only allowing Europeans in, and down to where it says anyone “traveling as a tourist with a confirmation of accommodation booking” can enter.
Other foreigners who do not hold the citizenship of an EU/EEA Member State or the aforementioned countries, nor have regulated stay in those countries and are not members of the families of citizens of these countries, may enter the Republic of Croatia, but upon arrival at the border crossing point they must prove their reason for entering the Republic of Croatia.
Ok, so that’s a positive sign for potential American visitors, but I still feel like there’s a but. But, there’s not. One of the acceptable categories of visitor is simply a tourist. It’s either that, business reasons, urgent personal reasons or property ownership, but tourism is just fine. In fact, the Croatian Government states…
tourist – it is necessary to present a confirmation of the reservation or paid accommodation in one of the accommodation facilities in the Republic of Croatia (e.g. confirmation of the reservation of accommodation of all accommodation providers / all registered types of accommodation, lease contract or lump sum payment of a camp, permanent berth contract in a nautical tourism port, confirmation of berth reservation in a nautical tourism port, travel agency voucher, etc.)
That’s about as clear as mud – chalk it up to translation – but it basically states you’ll need a confirmed reservation for a hotel or accommodation, even including an Airbnb. That’s it. If you’ve got that, and you state specifically you’re coming for tourism, you’re good to go, err, almost. You’ll need to gather a few pieces of “evidence” to make your journey much-much easier.
Americans (or anyone outside of the EU directives) hoping to visit Croatia needs to submit a request to be a tourist, and also fill out another form. According to all the data points I’ve seen, it’s all very straightforward and quick acceptance is all but guaranteed once you do. When you get your acceptance, you need to print out a copy(s), of each and keep them with you when you travel.
You’ll end up with a copy of an email from Croatian officials, and the acceptance of your tourist request, and chances are you’ll need both, if you want to avoid any hassle in transit. This matters, because there’s a fair chance the person checking you in for your flight will tell you you cannot travel, because Europe is closed to Americans, and you can point out that Croatia is an exception.
Total Croatia News has the best resource on the subject showing data points of the many people who’ve recently made the journey and following this advice have had zero issues, perhaps beyond a 10 minute wait at check in while a person consulted a supervisor. Transiting through Europe – aka going through a country where you’re not welcomed to enter, just to catch another flight without leaving the airport is totally fine.
For example, an American could fly KLM from the USA to Amsterdam, transit via Amsterdam Schipol Airport without leaving the airport, and then carry on to Zagreb, or another Croatian destination without any issue, even though there’s theoretically a ban on Americans. Same goes for British Airways via London, Air France via Paris, Lufthansa via Frankfurt and so forth.
This all means you really can visit Croatia this summer, even you Americans.
Should you? Obviously the world doesn’t need any more covid-19 problems, so someone at risk, or who’s been in contact with covid-19, or currently sick should sit this one one. For anyone traveling responsibly, wearing masks and using the best hygiene practices, it’s an amazing opportunity to catch a buzzing, upcoming destination with fewer visitors than usual.
What’s there to do in Croatia? Everything! The country is blessed with some of Europe’s best beaches, hikes, castles, food and even some decent wine. It’s a culture creature paradise, but also a great place to be a lazy bum.
Like any destination in the world, plans are subject to change, so it’s important to keep an open mind and take extra care in reading any change and cancellation policies airlines and hotels are offering before booking. The long and the short of it is the more flexible, the better. See you in Croatia?