From the 1st of January 2023, border controls between Croatia and the other countries in the Schengen area will be lifted. Checks at internal air borders will be lifted from the 26th of March 2023, given the need for this to coincide with the dates of IATA summer/winter time schedule. From 1 January 2023 Croatia will also start issuing Schengen visas and will be able to make full use of the Schengen Information System.
This is the country’s second milestone in European integration this year, having received approval to join the euro zone as well. From January 1st 2023, Croatia will be the twentieth where payments can be made with the euro. Of the 27 EU countries, only Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden will not have introduced the euro as of the 1st January, as reported by Belga news agency. Denmark has negotiated an opt-out clause in the context of the Maastricht Treaty and is therefore not obliged to join the eurozone in the long term.
I am confident that these successes will pave the way for other member states who fulfill the conditions to take the next step in their European journeys.Vít Rakušan, Czech Minister of Interior Affairs
Border controls with Slovenia and Hungary will disappear and, according to Croatian authorities, the change should make it easier for tourists to access the holiday destination on the Adriatic coast.
In terms of flights, planes departing from Croatia to other Schengen countries will be treated as domestic. Passengers on direct flights from Croatia to destinations within the Schengen Area and vice versa can exit their flight without being required to go through the border or police controls.
At the same time, airports in Croatia will be undergoing significant changes to adjust the passenger flows for arrivals and departures. The changes within the airport and from the airlines are expected to be fully implemented later on. It also means that passengers arriving in Croatia from certain countries might need to apply for a Schengen visa.
Romania and Bulgaria were also supposed to join Schengen at the same time as Croatia, all three countries having been touted with adherence over the past year. In November, the European Commission officially gave the green light for all three countries to join the area, however, a few days before the Council meeting, Austria announced it would veto Romania and Bulgaria’s application, so the decision for the two countries was postponed. The Netherlands has also indicated opposition towards their admission.
Officials were still hoping that, despite the opposition, the Council would at least establish a concrete timeline for Romania and Bulgaria’s admission to Schengen, but, to the countries’ frustration, that issue has been left unresolved.