Croatia joined the European Union in 2013 but is not yet a part of the Eurozone with the shared Euro currency, or the Schengen passport-free Area. However, the country is launching a new bid to enter the Schengen zone, supported by Finland. If the proposal is accepted, then the ETIAS for Croatia visa waiver program could come into effect by 2021.
The ETIAS for Croatia
One of the new security measures that will be used to improve border control within the Schengen Area is the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) coming into effect from 2021. The ETIAS Croatia online authorization will require previously visa-exempt passport holders from eligible countries, including American citizens, to pre-register for travel to any of the 26 Schengen member states.
Travelers coming to a Schengen zone country for less than 90 days for business, transit or tourism purposes will be required to complete a Croatia ETIAS Visa Waiver Application online. Applicants will need to fill in personal and passport information, as well as answer questions related to security, health, and their travel plans. All the data provided will then be checked against various security databases to pre-screen travelers to the Schengen Area.
The Croatia ETIAS requirements will involve having a valid passport from an eligible country, as well as a valid credit or debit card to pay the European visa waiver fee. A current email address will also be required, as the authorization will be sent to the applicant’s inbox. The ETIAS for Croatia will be valid for a total of 3 years within the Schengen zone and allows for multiple-entry stays of up to 90 days in member states.
Is Croatia a Schengen Country?
The Schengen Area is currently made up of 22 EU member states and the four non-member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Croatia is currently not part of the Schengen Area alongside six other European Union member states.
Croatia has been keen to join Schengen for some time but has faced barriers over control of its external borders to non-EU countries. Croatia previously bid to join Schengen in 2009, but this was blocked by its neighbor, Slovenia, over a border dispute.
However, Croatia’s latest bid to join the Schengen Area has received strong support from other member states, chief among them Finland, which has formally announced its backing.
Relations Between Croatia and Finland
In September 2018, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who pledged Finland’s support in Croatia’s latest bid to join the Schengen Area. The two representatives had a lot to discuss, as Finland and Croatia will chair the European Union from 2019 to 2020, alongside Romania.
Although Finland and Croatia have previously enjoyed friendly relations within the EU, the meeting also resulted in a pledge between the two countries to strengthen economic cooperation, with a trade delegation to Croatia from Finland announced. Finland has also been active in helping to modernize Croatia’s education system, and implementing cooperation between public administration.
Finland has agreed to fully support the Croatia Schengen Area application once all the criteria for entry have been met.
When Will Croatia Join Schengen and ETIAS?
In order to join the Schengen Area, Croatia must meet all the technical criteria for entry, which it hopes to achieve by the end of the year. The application will then be assessed by the European Commission, which Croatia hopes will be done before the next elections for the European Parliament in May 2019. Schengen membership for Croatia could be implemented as early as 2020 if approved.
The security of Croatia’s external borders remains a concern that will need to be resolved first. The geographical location and shape of Croatia present various challenges to border control within Schengen. A long coastline bordering the Adriatic Sea, along with extensive borders shared with non-EU countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia would make the country a key entry point to Shengen.
Many Middle Eastern and Central Asian migrants currently cross into Croatia illegally from Bosnia in an attempt to reach western EU states. However, Croatia has affirmed that implementing border control measures is a firm priority, and new security controls have already been established with Serbia and are well on the way to being finalized with Bosnia.
Once the Schengen zone membership requirements for Croatia have been met, the European Commission must give its approval, and each member state must also agree to let Croatia join the Schengen Zone. However, support is currently high, as Schengen membership would help to improve security in Croatia and the EU as a whole.
If Croatia joins Shengen in 2020, the ETIAS for Croatia online visa waiver program could come into effect in 2021.