COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Croatia is a well-developed parliamentary democracy and became a member of the European Union (EU) on July 1, 2013. Facilities for tourism are available throughout the country, and the Adriatic coast is a popular tourist destination. Read the Department of State's Fact Sheet for more information on U.S.-Croatia bilateral relations.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit Croatia, please take the time to tell our embassy about your trip. If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Your enrollment will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. Here’s the link to the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
The U.S. Embassy Zagreb is located in the southern outskirts of Zagreb, near the airport.
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a passport to visit Croatia. The U.S passport should be valid for at least three months after the date of planned departure. You don't need a visa if you are a U.S. passport holder coming for tourist or business trips of less than 90 days within a six-month period. Visit the Embassy of Croatia website for the most current visa information.
Although Croatia is a member of the European Union, note that it is not yet a member of the Schengen area, and a passport is required for travel between Croatia and other European Union member states. For further details about travel into and within Schengen countries, please see the State Department’s Schengen Fact Sheet.
All foreign citizens must register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival and inform them of any change in their address. If you are staying in a hotel or in accommodations rented through an accommodation company, the hotelier or accommodation company will register you automatically. Failure to register is a misdemeanor offense; some U.S. citizens have been fined for failing to register.
U.S. citizens already in Croatia who wish to remain in Croatia for more than 90 days must obtain a temporary residence permit. Please note that the first temporary stay permit must be obtained from the Croatian Embassy or Consulate in the United States.
In support of a residency application, applicants must meet strict documentation requirements. Due to the complexity of the process, those planning to apply should begin gathering the required documentation well in advance and should submit the application as soon after arriving in the country. Necessary documents include a copy of their birth and, if applicable, marriage and divorce certificates, obtained no more than 90 days before application, as well as an FBI Criminal History Summary authenticated for use abroad. All documents must be translated into Croatian and have an "apostille" stamp. Information on applying for apostilles and authentication services is available from the website of the Department of State’s Office of Authentications.
U.S. citizens who need extensions of approved temporary stays should submit requests to the local police having jurisdiction over their place of residence in Croatia. You should submit requests no later than 30 days in advance of the last day of authorized stay. Please see the embassy's website for the latest information on procedures for obtaining residence or work permits. Please also be aware that the U.S. Embassy is not able to expedite or intervene in the issuance of Croatian visas.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Croatia.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page. You can also go to Croatia's Customs Information page for specific information about Croatia.
MILITARY/SOFA TRAVELERS: While active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter Croatia under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders, all SOFA family members, civilian employees, and contractors must have valid passports. Active-duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport before leaving the United States to accommodate off-duty travel. DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide, DOD 4500.54, before leaving the United States.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Although hostilities in all parts of the country ended in 1995, de-mining of areas along former confrontation lines is not complete. We estimate that de-mining operations will continue until at least 2018. Mine-affected areas are well-marked with Croatian-language warning signs using the international symbol for mines—a skull and crossbones inside a red, upside-down triangle. Be cautious in former conflict areas, including Eastern Slavonia, Brodsko-Posavska County, Karlovac County, areas around Zadar, and in more remote areas of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, and stay on known safe roads and areas. Mine-clearance work may lead to the closure of roads in former conflict areas. For more information about mine-affected areas and de-mining operations in Croatia, please visit the Croatian Mine Action Center's website.
While civil disorder is rare in Croatia, there are occasional strikes, protests and other public demonstrations. As all demonstrations can potentially turn confrontational or even violent, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid these events whenever possible, and to exercise caution when in the vicinity of any such gathering. For additional information, we encourage U.S. citizens to check the Embassy’s website and register with STEP Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
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CRIME: While violent crime is rare, there have been isolated attacks targeting specific persons or property, which may have been racially motivated or prompted by lingering ethnic tensions from Croatia's war for independence. Foreigners do not appear to be singled out by criminals. We advise you to safeguard your belongings in public areas, especially in bus or railroad stations, airports, and gas stations, and on public transportation. As in many countries, outward displays of wealth may increase your chances of being targeted by thieves.
We urge U.S. citizens to avoid going to so-called "gentlemen's clubs." A few such establishments have presented foreign customers with grossly inflated bar bills, sometimes in the thousands of dollars, and threatened those customers who refuse to pay.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy. We can:
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Croatia is 112.
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in Croatia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own, and criminal penalties vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods, for example. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Croatia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: With numerous automated teller machines (ATMs) and ever-wider acceptance of credit cards in Croatia, traveler's checks are accepted less frequently or exchanged at an unfavorable rate. Facilities are available for the wiring or transferring of funds.
If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips on the Women Travelers page on travel.state.gov.
LGBT RIGHTS: Although lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals enjoy full rights in Croatia, they may face legal challenges as same sex couples. The LGBT community is protected by anti-discrimination laws, and there are no legal or governmental impediments to the organization of LGBT events. However, in previous years with the rise of LGBT activism, there were incidents related to hate towards LGBT groups, notably during annual pride events, both in Zagreb and Split. Individual cases of attacks on members of the LGBT community have been recorded and processed by the authorities. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our Information for LGBT Travelers page.
RECREATIONAL BOATING: The Croatian Government requires all recreational skippers chartering Croatian flagged vessels to have a certificate of competence. Under Croatian law, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport, and Infrastructure recognize licenses issued by the national authorities of other countries. Although no such national licensing regime exists in the United States, Croatia does recognize certain certificates issued by the U.S. Sailing Association. Regulations are complex and vary by class of license. Details on class of license recognized by country can be found at the Ministry’s website. Tourists in Croatia can also be certified at harbormasters' offices in Pula, Rijeka, Senj, Zadar, Sibenik, Split, Ploce, and Dubrovnik, as well as at the Ministry in Zagreb by passing a test.
For travelers arriving by private marine craft and other information on nautical regulations, please refer to the Ministry’s maritime affairs website.
ACCESSIBLITY: While in Croatia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what is found in the United States. Croatian law mandates access to transportation, communication and public buildings for persons with disabilities. However, the law does not demand that facilities be retrofitted. Persons with disabilities will find marked differences in new construction compared to old construction, where access can still be limited. Croatia’s geography is hilly and often steep, including along the coast, and presents challenges to some persons with disabilities. Universal access on public transportation may not always be available. Outside of urban areas, accessibility generally worsens significantly.
CLIMBING AND HIKING: If you intend to hike in the Croatian mountains or climb in the numerous rock climbing areas, always seek local guides’ expert advice. The weather in the Croatian mountains can change quickly, even in the summer months, and temperatures can get very low overnight. There have been reports of hikers getting lost in the mountains when they have gone out alone, without expert guides, and left marked paths. Hikers have also been lost in stormy weather, and there have been fatal accidents as well. If in trouble, call the emergency number 112 and the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service will help you as best they can. Rock climbers in Paklenica National Park should consult a local guide or contact the National Park for more information.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Health-care facilities in Croatia, although generally of Western caliber, are under severe budgetary strain. Some medicines are in short supply in public hospitals and clinics. There are numerous private medical and dental practitioners, and private pharmacies stock a variety of medicines not readily available through public health facilities. Tick-borne encephalitis, a disease preventable with a three-shot vaccination series, is found throughout inland Croatia, but is not prevalent along the coast.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
The cost of a medical evacuation via air ambulance from Croatia back to the U.S. averages $80,000-100,000. The Embassy works with cases every year of U.S. citizens unexpectedly injured or who become seriously ill while traveling in Croatia who do not carry traveler’s insurance and are not able to afford long-term care or a medical evacuation here. Options for U.S. citizens in these cases are extremely limited, and the assistance the Embassy can give is very restricted. Travelers should take note that the U.S. Embassy is not able to pay for medical evacuations.
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service, and generally will not accept credit cards. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
U.S. citizens who plan to stay in Croatia for more than 90 days may be required by Croatian authorities to pay into the Croatian health insurance system for the period of their stay in Croatia, regardless of whether they hold private insurance from the United States.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in Croatia, you may encounterroad conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
Road conditions and maintenance in Croatia vary widely. Modern highways link Zagreb with Rijeka and Split. Construction work is still ongoing between Split and Dubrovnik, causing delays and road closures. Highway tolls are higher than those in the United States and can be paid by cash or credit card. Information on tolls is available from the Croatian Motorways website. Primary roads, including roads along the coast, are generally adequate, but most have only one lane in each direction. Coastal roads are narrow and congested, and tend to be slippery when wet. Rock slides are also possible on roads along the coast, as well as through the mountain regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar. There is heavy congestion on major routes on weekends (towards the coast, for example) and in major cities during rush hours. Congestion on coastal routes, at border crossings, and at tunnels is especially heavy in the summer months. Drivers should be prepared for sudden slowdowns when approaching tunnels at any time of year.
Drivers tend to be aggressive in Croatia. Passing on curves or in oncoming lanes is common on highways and poses a higher risk of accidents. Accidents, when they do happen, very often involve fatalities. Drivers traveling though former conflict areas should stay on paved roads to reduce the risk of encountering unmarked mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the 1991-1995 war. In Zagreb, motorists and pedestrians alike should also pay special attention to trams (streetcars), which in downtown areas may travel at a high rate of speed through the narrow, congested streets. Additionally, drivers in towns and cities should be aware that pedestrians crossing streets in designated white striped crosswalks have the right of way. Drivers must stop to allow these pedestrians to cross.
Right turns on red lights are strictly forbidden in Croatia unless an additional green light (in the shape of an arrow) allows it. At unmarked intersections, right of way is always given to the vehicle entering from the right. The use of front seat belts is obligatory, and passengers in vehicles equipped with rear seat belts are required to use them. Special seats are required for infants, and children under age 12 may not sit in the front seat of an automobile. The use of cellular phones while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited unless the driver is using a hands-free device. By law, headlights of vehicles must be used all winter, as well as during fog and other inclement weather.
According to Croatian law, a driver may drive with a blood alcohol level of up to 0.05 percent; however it is illegal for a professional driver and those younger than 24 years of age to drive with a blood alcohol level greater than 0.00 percent. A driver with an alcohol level greater than 0.00 may be found guilty if involved in an accident. Police routinely spot-check motorists for drinking and driving and administer breath-analyzer tests at the scene of even the most minor accident. Drivers who refuse to submit to a breath-analyzer test are automatically presumed to have admitted to driving while intoxicated. In case of accidents resulting in death or serious injury, Croatian law requires police to take blood samples to test blood alcohol levels. Punishment for traffic violations can be severe, including fines up to 2,000 euros and even prison sentences.
Within Croatia, emergency road help and information may be reached 24 hours a day by dialing 1987, a service of the Croatian Automobile Association (HAK), staffed by English-speaking operators. The police can be reached by dialing 112 or 192, and the ambulance service by dialing 194. Additional road condition and safety information may be obtained from HAK at ( 385 1) 464-0800 (English-speaking operators available 24 hours), or ( 385 1) 661-1999. Croatian Radio broadcasts programs in foreign languages designed for tourists in Croatia on several frequencies. A daily program is broadcast in English at 8:05 pm on channel one, lasting approximately 10 minutes. For a list of frequencies, see the Croatian Radio website.
During the summer season, approximately mid-June through mid-September, channel two of the Croatian Radio broadcasts foreign news, traffic information, and other important information in English and German, in addition to their normal reporting. See the Croatian Radio website for a list of frequencies.
According to Croatian law, U.S. citizens visiting Croatia for tourism or business may use a U.S. driver's license for up to three months, but should also have an International Driver’s Permit. U.S. citizens with an approved extended tourist visa or a permit for permanent residence may continue to use a U.S. driver's license for up to twelve months; however, a Croatian driver's license is required for stays longer than twelve months. A driver must be at least 23 years old and have a valid driver's license in order to rent a car. Foreigners who have been granted temporary residence in Croatia and who are in possession of a vehicle registered abroad (with valid registration documents and insurance) may use their car a maximum of three months following the day of entry into Croatia, after which period the vehicle must be re-registered in Croatia. For specific information concerning Croatian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please contact the Croatian National Tourist Office, P.O. Box 2651, New York NY 10108.
In cases of traffic accidents involving a foreign-registered vehicle, the investigating police officer on the scene is required to issue a vehicle damage certificate to the owner of the foreign-registered vehicle. This certificate is necessary to cross the border. Upon written request, the police station in the area where the accident occurred will issue a Traffic Accident Investigation Record.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. For additional information, please visit the Ministry of the Interior website. Also, we suggest that you visit the websites of the Croatian National Tourist Office and the Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport, and Infrastructure.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Croatia’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Croatia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for Croatia dated January 2013, to update the Country Description and information on Entry/Exit Requirements for U.S. Citizens, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.