February 8, 2023

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Croatia switches to the euro and joins the Schengen area

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With more than 1,000 miles of coastline and more than 1,000 islands and islets, Croatia is one of Europe’s most idyllic summer destinations. However, it always felt a little more exotic than France, Spain and Greece, with their own currency, the kuna.

That all changed on January 1 when Croatia joined the Eurozone, exchanging the historic Kuna for the Euro. It is the twentieth country to join the single currency.

Euro banknotes and coins are now in circulation in the country, with about 70% of the country’s ATMs already dispensing euros instead of kuna, according to the European Commission. The rest will follow by January 15th.

Kona can still be used until January 15th, although anyone who pays in Kona will receive their allowance in euros. The exchange rate is set at 7.53450 kuna to 1 euro.

Do you have kona bits left over from your last trip? You can exchange them for euros at any Croatian post office until June 30, and at any Croatian bank until the end of 2023. Exchange at a bank is free until July 1. The Croatian National Central Bank will exchange kuna banknotes for free until further notice, and coins until December 2025.

“I welcome Croatia to the euro family and to the ECB’s Governing Council table in Frankfurt,” said Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, in a statement.

Croatia worked hard to become the twentieth member of the Eurozone, and it succeeded. I congratulate the Croatian people.

Hrvatska Narodna Banka, Croatia’s national central bank, is now a member of the Eurosystem – the central banking system of the eurozone, made up of the European Central Bank and the national central banks of the eurozone member states.

“Welcome, dear Croatian friends, to this common currency,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, giving a two-minute speech about the move.

In addition to changing its currency on January 1, Croatia also joined the Schengen Area – the bloc of 26 countries that has done away with border checks within Europe, making it the largest border-free zone in the world. It is the 23rd of the 27 member states of the European Union to join Schengen. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also part of the region, bringing the total number to 27 countries and about 420 million European citizens who can travel without borders around the bloc.

Checks at internal land and sea borders were removed on January 1, while internal air borders will follow on March 26. This means that Croatia can now also issue Schengen visas.

What does that mean for visitors? Less friction while crossing borders – Previously, lines could be long on land borders with Slovenia and Hungary, and at sea crossings from Italy. However, this also means that long-stay travelers who spend 90 days of their visa-free travel period in the Schengen Area can no longer transit into Croatia to wait 90 days until they can return to Schengen.

The Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, tweeted that January 1 was a “historic day for Croatia”.

“We are the first country to enter the Schengen Area and the Eurozone on the same day,” he added.

“With the introduction of the euro, our citizens and our economy will be better protected from crises.”

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