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Travel Security Advice for Croatia

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COUNTRY DESCRIPTION:

Croatia is a well-developed nation under a parliamentary democracy and is in the process of accession to the European Union (EU).Facilities for tourism are available throughout the country, and the Adriatic coast is a popular tourist destination. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Croatia for more information.

 

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Croatia are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate at the Department of State travel registration page, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS:

A passport is required for travel to Croatia. A visa is not required for U.S. passport holders for tourist or business trips of fewer than 90 days within a six-month period. All foreign citizens must register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival as well as inform them of any change in their address. Registration of foreign visitors staying in hotels or accommodations rented through an accommodation company is done automatically by the hotelier or accommodation company. Failure to register is a misdemeanor offense; some Americans have been fined for failing to register.

U.S. citizens already in Croatia who wish to remain in Croatia for more than 90 days must obtain a temporary residence permit. Please note that the first temporary stay permit must be obtained from the Croatian Embassy or Consulate in the United States.

For further information on entry requirements for Croatia, including information regarding requirements for residency and work permits, travelers may also contact the Embassy of Croatia at 2343 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 588-5899, the Croatian Consulates in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles or the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Office for Foreigners, tel. +385 (1) 456-3111. Further information is available at the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In support of a residency application, applicants will need to provide a copy of their birth and, if applicable, marriage and divorce certificates, obtained no more than 90 days before application, as well as an FBI Identification Record Request authenticated for use abroad. All documents should be translated into Croatian and have an “apostille” stamp certifying their authenticity. Information on apostilles and authentication of documents is available from the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

Information on obtaining FBI Identification Record Requests is also available.

If an extension of an approved temporary stay is needed, U.S. citizens should submit a request to the local police having jurisdiction over their place of residence in Croatia no later than 30 days in advance of the last day of authorized stay. Please also see the latest information on procedures for obtaining residence or work permits see.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Croatia.

Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page and Croatia’s Customs Information page for specific information about Croatia.


THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY:

Although hostilities in all parts of the country ended in 1995, de-mining of areas along former confrontation lines is not complete. It is estimated that de-mining operations will continue until at least 2010. Mine-affected areas are well-marked with Croatian-language warning signs using the international symbol for mines. Travelers in former conflict areas, including Eastern Slavonia, Brodsko-Posavska County, Karlovac County, areas around Zadar and in more remote areas of the Plitvice Lakes National Park should exercise caution and not stray from known safe roads and areas. Mine clearance work may lead to the closure of roads in former conflict areas. For more information about mine-affected areas and de-mining operations in Croatia, please visit the Croatian Mine Action Center’s website.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs' website. It contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.

Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s extensive tips and advice on traveling safely abroad.


CRIME:

Croatia is a relatively safe country; violent crime is rare. Foreigners do not appear to be singled out. Travelers are advised to safeguard their belongings in public areas, especially in bus or railroad stations, airports, and gas stations, and on public transportation. As in many countries, outward displays of wealth may increase a traveler’s chances of being targeted by thieves.

While violent crime is rare, there have been isolated attacks targeted at specific persons or property, which may have been racially motivated or prompted by lingering ethnic tensions from Croatia’s war for independence.

American citizens are urged to be cautious when frequenting so called "gentlemen's clubs." A few such establishments have presented foreign patrons with grossly inflated bar bills, sometimes in the thousands of dollars, and threatened those customers who refuse to pay.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines.


VICTIMS OF CRIME:

If you are the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (see end of this sheet or see the Department of State list of embassies and consulates). This includes the loss or theft of a U.S. passport. The embassy/consulate staff can, for example, help you find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in Croatia is 112.

Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.


CRIMINAL PENALTIES:

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.


SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES:

With numerous automated teller machines (ATMs) and ever-wider acceptance of credit cards in Croatia, traveler’s checks are accepted less frequently or exchanged at an unfavorable rate. Western Union money transfer is available. For information on money transfers, call + (385-11) 4839-166 or fax + (385-1) 4839-122.

Recreational Boating: The Croatian government requires all recreational skippers chartering Croatian flagged vessels to have a certificate of competence. Under Croatian law, the Ministry of Sea, Tourism and Transport can only recognize licenses issued by the national authorities of other countries. As no such national licensing regime exists in the United States, Americans wishing to charter and pilot a Croatian-flagged vessel may be required to pass a certification test at the Ministry’s offices in Zagreb or at a designated harbormaster's office on the coast.

Tourists in Croatia can be certified at harbormasters' offices in Pula, Rijeka, Senj, Zadar, Sibenik, Split, Ploce and Dubrovnik, as well as at the Ministry in Zagreb. Candidates should contact the harbormaster's office or the Ministry to schedule the test. Please note that the test will be administered only to groups, so individuals may need to wait until there are a sufficient number of interested applicants. The certification costs 850 KN (roughly $170) and is valid indefinitely. A study guide is available and the test can be taken in Croatian, English, German, and Italian.

For travelers arriving by private marine craft, please refer to the nautical information and regulations website..


MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:

Health facilities in Croatia, although generally of western caliber, are under severe budgetary strains. Some medicines are in short supply in public hospitals and clinics. The number of private medical and dental practitioners is substantial, and private pharmacies stock a variety of medicines not readily available through public health facilities. Croatian health care facilities, doctors and hospitals usually expect immediate cash payment for health services and generally will not accept credit cards. Tick-borne encephalitis, a disease preventable with a three-shot vaccination series, is found throughout inland Croatia but is not prevalent along the coast.

For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.


MEDICAL INSURANCE:

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad. Important questions are whether the policy applies overseas and whether it covers emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.

Americans who plan to stay in Croatia for more than 90 days may be required by Croatian authorities to pay into the Croatian health insurance system for the period of their stay in Croatia, regardless of whether they hold private American insurance or not.



TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.

Road conditions and maintenance in Croatia vary widely. Two modern highways linking Zagreb with Rijeka and Split opened in 2004. Construction is complete between Zagreb and Split and Zagreb and Rijeka, but work is still ongoing between Split and Dubrovnik; this work may cause delays and road closures. Additionally, there are stretches of highway with average travel speeds up to 130 km/hour that are only one lane in each direction. Opposing traffic may not be separated by a divider. Highway tolls are higher than in the United States and must be paid by cash or credit card. Primary roads, including roads along the coast, are generally adequate, but most have only one lane in each direction. Coastal roads are narrow and congested, and tend to be slippery when wet. Rock slides are also possible on roads along the coast, as well as through the mountain regions of Lika and Gorski Kotar. There is heavy congestion on major routes on weekends (towards the coast, for example) and in major cities during rush hours. Congestion on coastal routes, at border crossings, and at tunnels is especially heavy in the summer months. Drivers should be prepared for sudden slowdowns when approaching tunnels at any time of year.

Drivers tend to be aggressive in Croatia. Passing on curves or in oncoming lanes is common on highways and poses a higher risk of accidents. Accidents, when they do happen, very often involve fatalities. Drivers traveling though former conflict areas should stay on paved roads to reduce the risk of encountering unmarked mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the 1991-1995 war. In Zagreb, motorists and pedestrians alike should also pay special attention to trams (streetcars), which in downtown areas may travel at a high rate of speed through the narrow, congested streets. Information on current road conditions and toll fees is also available.

Right turns on red lights are strictly forbidden in Croatia, unless an additional green light (in the shape of an arrow) allows it. At unmarked intersections, right of way is always given to the vehicle entering from the right. The use of front seat belts is obligatory and passengers in vehicles equipped with rear seat belts are required to use them. Special seats are required for infants, and children under age 12 may not sit in the front seat of an automobile. The use of cellular phones while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited unless the driver is using a hands-free device. By law, headlights of vehicles must be used during the winter, during fog, and/or during inclement weather.

According to Croatian law a driver may drive with a blood alcohol level of up to 0.05 percent, however it is illegal for a professional driver and those younger than 24 years of age to drive with a blood alcohol level greater than 0.00 percent. A driver involved in an accident is also forbidden to have a blood alcohol level greater than 0.00 percent. Police routinely spot-check motorists for drinking and driving and administer breath-analyzer tests at even the most minor accident. Drivers who refuse to submit to a breath-analyzer test are automatically presumed to have admitted to driving while intoxicated. In case of accidents resulting in death or serious injury, Croatian law requires police to take blood samples to test blood alcohol levels. Punishment for traffic violations can be severe, including fines up to 2,000 Euros and even prison sentences.

Within Croatia, emergency road help and information may be reached 24 hours a day by dialing 987, a service of the Croatian Automobile Association (HAK), staffed by English speaking operators. The police can be reached by dialing 112 or 92 and the ambulance service by dialing 94. Additional road condition and safety information may be obtained from HAK at tel. + 385 (1) 464-0800 ext. 0 (English speaking operators available 24 hours), or + 385 (1) 455-4433 or +385 (1) 661-1999. During the tourist season, traffic information in English is also available at 98.5 FM on Croatian radio thirty minutes past the hour between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

According to Croatian law, U.S. citizens visiting Croatia for tourism or business may use a U.S. driver’s license for up to three months. U.S. citizens with an approved extended tourist visa or a permit for permanent residence may continue to use a U.S. driver’s license for up to twelve months. However, a Croatian driver’s license is required for stays longer than twelve months. A driver must be at least 23 years old and have a valid driver’s license in order to rent a car. Foreigners who have been granted temporary residence in the Republic of Croatia and who are in possession of a vehicle registered abroad (with valid registration documents and insurance), may use their car a maximum of three months following the day of entry into Croatia, after which period the vehicle must be re-registered in Croatia. For specific information concerning Croatian driver’s permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Croatian National Tourist Office, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4003, New York, NY 10118; phone 1-800-829-4416 or 212-278-8672; fax 212-279-8683.

In cases of traffic accidents involving a foreign-registered vehicle, the investigating police officer on the scene is required to issue a vehicle damage certificate to the owner of the foreign-registered vehicle. This certificate is necessary to cross the border. Upon written request, the police station in the area where the accident occurred will issue a Traffic Accident Investigation Record. For further information, please visit the Ministry of the Interior Website. Please also refer to our Road Safety page for more information.


AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Croatia’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Croatia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA safety assessment page..


CHILDREN'S ISSUES:

Please see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction.


REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Croatia are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy at the Department of State travel registration page, so that they can obtain updated information on local travel and security. Registration is important; it allows the State Department to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in Zagreb is located at 2 Thomas Jefferson Street, 10010 Zagreb, tel. + 385 (1) 661-2200. The Embassy is located in the southern outskirts of Zagreb near the airport. For emergencies on weekends, holidays and after hours, the embassy duty officer can be reached at tel. + 385 (1) 661-2400.

This replaces Country Specific Information dated October 14, 2008, to update sections: Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Crime, and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.

 


 

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office also has information regarding travel to Croatia HERE.....

Looking for an Embassy ?, You can also check out our World Wide Embassy Listings Section HERE (For US Citizens) or HERE (For UK Citizens)...........

Regards

The SW Team......


 

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