December 3, 2020 – Confusion reigns once more, with the official advice different to the realities on the ground, as American tourists continue to arrive in Croatia, despite official advice to the contrary.
I haven’t left the house all week.
And with the blanket of snow growing thicker in the garden, that is not about to change any time soon.
With the pandemic, the cold weather and many things closed in Croatia due to the new measures, it is not really the best time to be travelling anyway. But each to his own.
The question is – CAN you travel to Croatia at the moment?
After months of a very clear situation, the recent update on November 30 is causing confusion once more for those (admittedly far fewer) tourists travelling at this time of year.
The lack of clarity of the situation is not helped by erroneous reports on global B2B travel portals, such as the one we reported on yesterday that had an incorrect headline – Croatia Completely Closes to Foreign Tourists. This is completely untrue, and this article yesterday looks deeper into the issues. So please read if you are interested in the details of the current situation.
More authoritatively, the US Embassy in Zagreb updated its travel advice for its citizens yesterday, in which it stated the following (in addition to lots of additional clauses, all of which you can read here):
- Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? No
- IMPORTANT: Entry for tourism is not permitted.
The period of the new restrictions is currently set from December 1 – 15.
A very authoritative and very official source.
A much less official, but in many ways very authoritative source (and one which served very well this year) is the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community, which has been helping tourists in real time to navigate the murky waters of clear Croatian travel information in 2020. One of the best parts about the community has been the real time feedback from the community, many of whom have posted their actual experiences at border crossings. This has enabled us to build up a true picture of what is happening on the ground. A picture that is often different to the official advice. I am not saying the official advice is technically, as it follows the official guidelines, such as they are.
This was Total Croatia Travel INFO Maja’s experience yesterday evening, after the embassy update and a day after the new rules came into effect: Maja is an American tourist, and she was flying from Los Angeles to Zagreb via Frankfurt:
Hi Everyone! I am an American citizen traveling to Zagreb right now. I am in Frankfurt waiting for my flight. I am still awaiting my Covid test results via email. I did my test 24 hours ago.
I will let you know my experience at the border. Fingers crossed
A few hours later.
Ok I am in!!!!!
I showed them my paperwork from embassy that I am a tourist
My hotel accommodations
And my Rapid Covid test results
I told them my PCR test is pending. The man in customs told me to contact an epidemiologist if I have any symptoms. Then he said, “Dobro došli “
So what is the answer? Can Americans enter for tourism at the moment?
The US Embassy is right with its advice, which errs necessarily on caution. Technically for tourism, it is not open, as it wasn’t earlier this year either for non EU/EEA citizens. There was a requirement to provide proof of paid accommodation, so that the visit could be classified as economic activity.
But can you visit Croatia as an American tourist right now? Maja’s experience would suggest that you can.
The most important thing the authorities are worried about at the moment is a negative test. The grey area is whether or not a tourist visit can be interpreted as an economic (paid accommodation) or business activity. I suspect there are different interpretations to that, and I would expect persuading boarding agents at airlines to be a little harder to convince than perhaps earlier this year. If you are flying, I would strongly recommend you print off all the documentation you can for the airport check in – this will be the biggest challenge. Proof of paid hotel reservation, email confirmation from EnterCroatia form, letter of invitation if you have, negative test results, IATA guidelines.
Would I personally travel across the borders at the moment?
As I said, snow is falling and I haven’t left the house for a week.
If you do have plans to travel, or have just travelled and are willing to share your experiences to improve the information flow, join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.
December 3 travel experience from American flying from Rome via the Viber community:
Here’s my experience so far, as I wait to board my flight from Rome to Zagreb. Check-in at Rome was much like check-in when I flew to Croatia directly from the US in July. What I mean by that is both times I was well-prepared with a tidy folder packed full of documents. This time I had a negative COVID test result, a letter from the dentist I will see in Zagreb, proof of accommodation for the whole trip, Enter Croatia form, and the fine print of the entry rules. Both times, I was asked if my US passport was my only passport (it is)—and today I was told I’m not allowed to enter until Dec 15th. I expected the agent would say that, and I asked if they were looking at the IATA website. They said yes, and I explained that the site does not contain the full details and exceptions. At the bottom of the Croatia info on IATA, there is a link to the official Croatia site for more info. I told the agent that, and I had that fine print ready in my folder. At that point, they gave me the A-OK to go. No one ever looked at my paperwork in detail (although I imagine they will a bit more once I land). They just took my word for it that the mass of documents I was rifling through and explaining were legit (and they are). I think in general the gate agents I’ve met with have been so surprised by the level of preparation that they know I know the ins and outs of the rules. Anyway, hopefully that is also the case at the border—otherwise it’s gonna be a long night! I’m on my plane and ready for take off. More from the other side!