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I'm a US citizen traveling visa-free in Europe. It used to be the case that you could go to Croatia to bypass the Schengen Area "3 consecutive month" requirement. (That is, stay 3 months in Europe, then 3 months in Croatia, then back to Europe.) However, according to Wikipedia:

With Croatia's accession to the EU on 1 July 2013, it is also legally bound to eventually join the Schengen Area, and is working to do so within 2 years. On 16 May 2014, the Prime Minister of Croatia stated that Croatia will apply for Schengen entry on 1 July 2015.

What does this mean in practice? As of 2014, does Croatia still have its own visa-free visitation period separate from the Schengen one, or is Croatia now included in Schengen's month count? I'd rather not get into an uncomfortable situation at border control with no more Schengen days left!

  • Looks to me like they plan to join the Schengen zone, but haven't yet. What makes you think any different? – Gagravarr Aug 28 '14 at 19:14
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    Do you know people who have actually done that? By my count, after staying exactly 90 days in Croatia, there will still be one day missing to reenter the Schengen area because the days on which you cross the border count in both countries/areas. – Relaxed Aug 28 '14 at 21:54
  • Well, you could do it with three countries, then. I'm asking because I think going back to the UK every three months would get old pretty quickly. – Archagon Aug 28 '14 at 23:15
  • Why don't you apply for a long-stay visa or residence permit? – phoog Mar 18 '15 at 13:25
  • My understanding is that it's not that easy. I'd have to find a longer-term residence. I'd have to deal with the bureaucracy in the local language. I (might) have to look for a job. I'd have to open local bank accounts. I'd have to actually pick a country where I would want to stay for the next year or so. – Archagon Mar 24 '15 at 16:54
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Croatia is still not part of the Schengen area. The border between Croatia and, say, Slovenia or Hungary is treated as an external border and you should get an exit stamp, which also means the time spent in Croatia will not count towards the 90-day maximum stay in the Schengen area. Same thing if you take a flight out of a Schengen country to Croatia. Just like flights to the UK, they leave from the non-Schengen part of the airport.

In practice, the fact that Croatia is bound to join the Schengen area means it has to implement similar rules and show it can perform border controls up to a certain standard. But even if it is ready next year, there will be some time before it actually becomes part of the Schengen area (“fully implements the Schengen acquis” in the lingo).

Note that Romania and Bulgaria were supposed to join at the beginning of 2014 and were deemed ready by the European Commission but their entry was still blocked by other member states so it's not clear what will happen after Croatia officially applies.

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    Confirmed: traveled from Slovenia to Croatia, got an exit stamp from the EU and an entry stamp into Croatia. (Funnily enough, they have exactly the same design.) Thanks! – Archagon Oct 12 '14 at 17:13
  • This is correct, but crossing the Slovenia/Croatia border by bus in July 2014, our passports were checked but not stamped with exit/entry stamps as expected. However we got exit stamps when leaving Croatia to non-Schengen country. – Vince Dec 27 '14 at 16:42
  • @Vince Mistakes do happen but third-country nationals should ask for it if needed as a missing stamp can create problems later. But your previous questions suggest you are a French citizen. If that's the case, your passport should not get any entry/exit stamp in EU countries so the exit stamp from Croatia is what would be unexpected for me. – Relaxed Dec 27 '14 at 17:30
  • I am actually referring to the experience of my non-European friend that actually needed an exit stamp to prove she ended her student visa. This was all right as she got her exit stamp later on. – Vince Dec 27 '14 at 17:53
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    @Vince in my experience, land borders in former Yugoslavia are very lax, though I expect that is far less true of Croatia than it was before it joined the EU. Even traveling between Italy and Slovenia (pre-Schengen), and certainly when traveling between Bosnia and Croatia (pre-EU), by car, the officials frequently didn't open the passports, or even take them. I would hold them out and the officer would wave us through. Bus checks were more thorough. One ought to be able to ask for a stamp, though, if needed. – phoog Mar 18 '15 at 13:33

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