July 12, 2020 – Confusion reigns for thousands of tourists from non-EU countries heading to Croatia after a sudden change in border entry requirements which was implemented almost immediately.
Yesterday was supposed to be a very quiet day. Things were calming down on the work front and I was looking forward to a more relaxing day. So quiet in fact that I gave three TCN writers the day off. The Manjgura interns, who are being so helpful with the Total Croatia Trave INFO Viber community were also off the weekend, as was Kreso Macan, who is the brains behind – and the most resourceful part of – our Viber community.
And then late on Friday, some unexpected measures were announced – changes on border entry and the introduction of masks. Just two days after the New York Times told the world that there was just one country in the world which welcomed Americans with no testing, self-isolating or temperature checks, Croatia introduced the need for a test no older than 48 hours, or a mandatory 14-day self-isolation would be necessary. There was the possibility to lessen this to 7 days with proof of a negative test once inside Croatia.
There were two separate announcements, taking effect on two different dates.
Necessary Measure of Obligatory Use of Face Masks – effective July 13.
Recommendations, Instructions for Crossing Croatian Border – effecting at midnight July 10, just a few hours after the change was announced.
So while we had three days to get used to the idea of masks in more places, the new border rules came into effect almost immediately.
I awoke early to a flood of messages on Viber, including a panicked one from Ukraine. The lady had been informed of the news, and was already at the airport. She had not known she needed a test, did not have one, was only coming for 7 days to Croatia. Would she be allowed on the plane, into Croatia at all? Her flight was due to depart at 12:30.
I hunted around for whatever information I could find – nothing.
Pomalo. It is the weekend in peak season during the corona era. What’s the urgency?
I checked the national tourist board website, which is always full of life, but rarely full of information. And I checked it again at 05:51 this morning. Very helpful. Good job guys, I hope the summer rush is not too stressful.
I then contacted the Swiss aviation data guys at ch-aviation, who are simply the best with the latest info. They told me about the Timatic information system where governments update the system in real time, so that passengers who are ineligible for entry to the country will be denied boarding. As things change quickly, this is updated in real time and is the system that airlines use to check the latest rules.
Visa/Entry Requirements National USA (US) /Embarkation USA (US) Destination Croatia (HR)
[Visa Information – Destination] Croatia (HR) [Information For Normal Passports] Passport required.
– Passports and other documents accepted for entry must be valid for a minimum of 3 months beyond the period of intended stay. Passport Exemptions:
– Nationals of USA with an emergency passport. Admission and Transit Restrictions:
– Passengers are not allowed to enter.
– This does not apply to family members of nationals of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland (Rep.), Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
– This does not apply to family members of British nationals.
– This does not apply to passengers entering Croatia to transit by land to a third country. They must prove that they can enter the destination country.
– This does not apply to passengers traveling as tourists.
– This does not apply to passengers traveling on business.
– This does not apply to passengers traveling as students. Visa required, except for Nationals of USA for a maximum stay of 90 days. (SEE NOTE 53527) NOTE 53527: The maximum stay is granted within 180 days.
– Visitors are required to hold proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay as follows: – at least EUR 70.- per day of stay; or – at least EUR 30.- per day of stay if holding a confirmed invitation or a tourist voucher.
– Passports and passport replacing documents issued more than 10 years prior to date of travel are not accepted.
– Passengers traveling as tourist must have a confirmation of accommodation booking.
– Passengers traveling on business must have an invitation letter for a business meeting from a company in Croatia.
– Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry .
– Brexit: The United Kingdom stopped being member of the European Union (EU) and of the European Economic Area (EEA). Regulations related to the EU and the EEA apply to the United Kingdom until 31 December 2020. [Health Information] Croatia (HR) Vaccinations not required. CHECK [[TINEWS]] – CHECK LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES ON TRAVEL INFORMATION 12 Jul 2020 / 05:03 [UTC]
The Swiss guys checked again, and yep – nobody has managed to inform Timatic, it would appear, as the travel data corresponds to that of before the announcement, which was made 36 hours ago.
Pomalo, it is the weekend in peak season in the corona era.
Meanwhile, on the runway somewhere in Ukraine, the clock was ticking…
And the airline, Windrose, seemingly did a magnificent job. Here is what they announced on social media:
Followed by this.
The test cost 75 euro, and my understanding (am still hoping to get a first-hand account from the lady posting in our Viber community) is that all 200 passengers were negative after waiting 6 hours to get their test results. The plane left about 21:00 and the tourists entered Croatia without problem.
More questions on the Viber community, from Americans on the way to the airport who did not have time to take a test and get a result before departure. What where they supposed to do?
Who to ask? Pomalo, it is the weekend in peak season in the corona era. Tourism is only 20% of GDP, so why stress?
Thankfully, the two outstanding official bodies who have been heroes throughout this crisis – the Koronavirus.hr website and MUP, the Croatian police (and border control) – came at least partially to the rescue. Koronavirus published three articles with official guidelines, and a contact at MUP answered some of my questions.
MUP confirmed that the new regulations were already in effect, and that they also applied to the 15 non-EU countries on the EU’s safe list.
But there are SO many questions that have come out of this, and confusion reigns once more. I am hoping that there will be more clarity tomorrow when officials get back to their offices, and it is hard to know what to say to incoming tourists who have paid good money to visit Croatia, and then have nobody to be able to answer their basic questions. Another great example of the outstanding performance of the Kings of Accidental Tourism this summer.
My understanding (and PLEASE do not take this as official advice – we hope to bring you that tomorrow) is that original copies of tests will be required if taken in places such as Serbia and BiH (creative fake test results are apparently in circulation there), but it is not clear if that will be the same elsewhere, or if an email confirmation from the testing clinic will be enough.
What happens if your stay is shorter than a week?
What does self-isolation actually mean? Do you have to stay inside the whole time, or can you move around at distance?
What happens if your test results are not ready by the time you land?
If you are a non-EU citizen with a temporary residency in an EU country, do the testing restrictions apply?
Can you get tested at a Croatian airport?
How will the self-isolation be monitored and enforced?
And 100 questions more. The answer to most of them at the moment is I just don’t know.
But we should know more tomorrow.
And one more early piece of feedback on the new rules from the Viber community:
MUP just answered me that if I enter without the test I have to prove paid acomodation at only ONE place for 14 days. Coming from Serbia