COVID-19 Tech Hit: Croatian Border Form Saves 21.7 Years Queueing in 3 Months

Total Croatia News

August 28, 2020 – Croatia is not famous for efficient bureaucracy, but one Croatian border form has helped 4.6 million visitors in the first 3 months, saving an estimated 21.7 years of waiting time. 

It is one of the most impressive initiatives of 2020 in Croatia in my opinion, and yet very few people in Croatia know much about it. An initiative which was realised in just 10 days, and which has helped reduce waiting times at Croatia’s borders, allowing tourists to have a much smoother arrival to their holidays here. 

And it has been a total hit. 

Today marks the three-month anniversary of the launch of the Enter Croatia online form by the Croatian border police. Although not mandatory to fill in prior to entry, about 70% of visitors are doing so, and in the first 3 months of operation, some 1,901,138 vehicles, carrying 4,660,426 people have benefited from a 30-second border screening process, rather than a much lengthier wait. 

The problem was simple, and well highlighted during a TCN visit to the main Bregana border with Slovenia on May 17.  Due to corona, it was necessary to document where arrivals were staying, as well as take their contact details so that they could be contacted in case of an outbreak of the virus. As we saw first hand, this was a very time-consuming process, with average time 5-8 minutes. While this was not a huge problem due to the light traffic in May, it would be catastrophic in peak season.

The Croatian border police reaction was superb – the creation of an online form, now in 10 languages, where tourists could pre-announce their arrival, filling in all the data that needed to be collected, so that when they arrived at the border, everything was already in the system. The passport was swiped, and they were free to go. Total border formalities time – less than 30 seconds. Marina Mandic, the Croatian police spokesperson explained a little more:

EnterCroatia is a system that was established on 28.5.2020 and its purpose is for foreigners, through previous applications to this system, to shorten the time of border control and take other information we need to implement subsequent epidemiological measures.

Foreigners, our guests, but also others who wanted to enter the Republic of Croatia for economic reasons, reluctantly accepted such a system.
There are several reasons, this system is operational, simple, available in ten different languages and works in practice.

the system was established from idea to realization in just 14 days by the Ministry of the Interior’s development engineers, and that there are no system errors or difficulties in functioning. It is operational not only in the field through the work of police officers but also in a digital sense.

Special EnterCroatia lanes were set up at some borders (see lead photo), enabling those who had registered to join shorter queues with shorter waits. It has proved to be an extremely efficient system, and the Croatian police deserve much credit in the way that they have facilitated traffic flow and information flow during this pandemic. Indeed, some crude calculations of these numbers give some kind of perspective. 

The average time to deal with the border formalities prior to the Croatian border form was 5-8 minutes, or 6.5 minutes. For those using the form, that wait is now less than 30 seconds, so a 6-minute saving per pre-registered vehicle. With almost 2 million vehicles successfully using the system, that equates to an incredible 21.7 YEARS of waiting time which has been eradicated. In just 3 months. 

Imagine how much more efficient Croatia could be if we could replicate initiatives like these into other parts of our daily lives. 

The Croatian police have been the unsung heroes in recent months in my opinion, and their efficiency and organisation, as well as transparent sharing of information has been appreciated by many. They even found themselves having to answer all the tourist enquiries for some reason, this in a country with a national tourist board, 20 regional tourist boards, 319 local tourist boards, a ministry of tourism, and a dedicated tourism department in the Chamber of Economy. The response and effectiveness of the Ministry of the Interior and the official tourism sector could not have been starker, with many tourists complaining that official tourist information was almost impossible to find regarding the latest travel advice. It was one of the reasons we started the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community and associated chatbot which now has over 21,000 users.  Such was the lack of presence of the official tourism bodies that ABC News came through our Viber community for help during their recent 6-part series on Dubrovnik, the first of which was broadcast to 12.5 million people on Good Morning America. 

Apart from facilitiating entry into the country, the EnterCroatia form has proved invaluable in helping travellers trying to get Croatia. With so many unknowns, trying to board flights to transit to Croatia has been a very stressful experience for many. A print out of acknowledgement of the form has been enough to convince many flight check-in clerks to let the passenger proceed. 

All in all, an outstanding effort, and congratulations to all involved. It feels nice to be writing articles of praise about Croatian bureaucracy, and I would be happy to do so again. 

So what’s next in the Croatian Bureaucracy 2.0 revolution?

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