Croatia will officially enter the Schengen area on January 1, but not everything is so simple

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Croatia will officially enter the Schengen area on January 1, but not everything is so simple

The Council of the European Union has decided to include Croatia in the Schengen area from January 1, 2023.

This decision was good news for Croats and other EU citizens, however, tourists from third countries who have a visa-free entry into Schengen, were not very pleased with this turn of events.  The fact is that they previously used Croatia as a temporary shelter to extend their maximum 90-day period of permitted stay in the Schengen countries.

As a reminder, Croatia has canceled its own entry visas for travelers who do not require a visa to enter the 26 Schengen countries for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. After that, many foreigners began to use Croatia as a country where they could go, stay there for a while, after which it is quite legal to return to the Schengen countries without violating the 90-day stay rule.

Thus, Croatia until January 1, 2023 allows travelers to enter its territory without requiring an entry visa, like other European countries, however, the period of stay in Croatia is not included in the number of days during which foreigners are allowed to stay in Schengen.

Once Croatia officially becomes part of the Schengen area, i.e. January 1, the days spent in Croatia will also be counted towards the total number of days allowed to stay in the Schengen area. This means that those who used Croatia as a base for the “reset” will no longer be able to do so.

There are three other EU countries that are not part of the Schengen area — Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus, — which allow this trick so far.

Tourists can also spend some time in Albania and the Western Balkans and then return to the Schengen area, since these countries also allow visa-free entry, and none of them are part of the Schengen .

In addition, experts note that these countries may actually be better options, since they are much cheaper than Croatia.

The decision to grant Croatia the status of a member of the Schengen area has been made 8 December by the Council of the EU. The move means that, as of the first day of next year, land and sea border controls with the rest of the Schengen countries will be lifted.

Croatia will also be able to make full use of the Schengen Information System and issue Schengen visas to travelers, who need it to travel to Croatia and the other 26 Schengen countries.

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