Croatia Joins Schengen Zone and Adopts the Euro — What That Means for Tourists

Travelers can move from country to country without border controls.

People walking through the streets of The Old City of Dubrovnik situated on the Dalmatian coast in Croatia

Sasipa Muennuch/Getty Images

The European Union’s border-free area got a new edition this year as Croatia joined the Schengen zone and switched its currency to the euro. 

The new changes went into effect on Jan. 1 and opened Croatia’s border to its EU neighbor Slovenia with police putting up "free passage" placards at the crossing at midnight, Reuters reported. Croatia first entered the EU in 2013 and now becomes the 27th country to join the Schengen area and the 20th to adopt the euro as its currency.

The Schengen zone includes 26 other EU countries and allows travelers to move from country to country without border controls, according to the European Commission. Three of Croatia’s neighbors, Slovenia and Hungary by land, and Italy by sea, are included in the Schengen zone. Croatia’s other land border neighbors — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro — are not.

Border control-free crossing will then go into effect by air with all other Schengen countries in March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on Jan. 1.

“Today, Croatia joins the Schengen area and the Eurozone. Two immense achievements for the youngest Member State of the European Union, and both reached on the very same day,” von der Leyen said. “So indeed, this is a day for the history books.”

Before adopting the euro as its currency, Croatia used the kuna with 1 Croatian kuna equalling about 14 cents in the United States. Currently, 1 euro equals about $1.06 in the U.S. 

The euro is already circulating in Croatia with about 70% of ATM’s distributing the currency, according to CNN. The rest are expected to follow by Jan. 15.

Beyond Croatia, several other countries in Europe are in the process of “transposing (or integrating) EU legislation” into their national law as candidates to join the EU, according to the European Commission, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Moldova, Montenegro, and Ukraine.

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