Lying on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea in southeast Europe, Croatia is bordered by Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Serbia to the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the south. Crescent-shaped, Croatia is a mixture of mountains, highlands, plains as well as more than a thousand small islands.
The area was originally settled by Croats around the year 500 and was an independent area for almost six hundred years before being absorbed into the Hungarian Empire. In the 15th century, fearing being conquered by the Ottomans, Croatia joined the Austrian Habsburg Empire. In 1868, the country was once again under Hungarian rule and this remained the situation until the second world war when Croatia became a part of Yugoslavia. Having suffered badly under German and Italian occupation during the war, Yugoslavia came under the control of the Communist Party when the war ended. As communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, Yugoslavia became a divided country as war raged between Croatia and Serbia before a peace treaty finally brought an end to the civil war in 1995.
Croatia was now an independent country and economic progress was swift. In 2013 Croatia became a member of the European Union and, ten years later, also became a Schengen Area member state.
Winters can be cold and summers mild in most of the country but Croatia also enjoys an almost Mediterranean climate along the Adriatic coast which has drawn tourists in ever-increasing numbers in the past decade. Today, tourism plays a hugely significant role in the country’s prosperity with visitors coming from not just Europe but from all over the world.
Types of Schengen Visas and Purposes
For visitors hailing from European Union or Schengen Area countries a passport is sufficient to enter Croatia. Non-European citizens from countries that do not enjoy visa-free access to Europe are deemed to be “world travellers” and require a Schengen Visa before gaining entry to Croatia or any Schengen member state.
For each type of Schengen Visa there is different supporting documentation that must accompany the visa application. Which documents are required will vary according to the type of visa being applied for.
Airport Transit Visa
Even world travellers not staying in Croatia but merely using a Croatian airport, must possess an Airport Transit Visa for this purpose.
- Flight tickets for onward part of journey
- Visa for destination country (if required)
The vast majority of world travellers visiting Croatia will require a Tourist Visa which is specifically designed for short-stay holidays.
- Letter outlining dates and destinations of any travel planned while in Croatia
- Proof of adequate funds to cover expenses of the visit
Slightly different to a Tourist Visa is the Visitor Visa which is for world travellers wishing to visit friends or family currently resident in Croatia.
- Invitation letter from the friend or family member
- Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of the stay or proof of financial support from the resident
- Copy of the resident’s identity card or residency permit
- Details of visitor’s location during the stay and of any outings planned
A Schengen Business Visa is intended explicitly for the use of world travellers who must enter Croatia for business reasons.
- Letter of invitation from the Croatian business in question
- Croatian company’s details including name, full address and contact information
- Letter from visitor’s company outlining purpose of the visit
- Letter giving dates of arrival and departure as well as any schedule of meetings, conferences etc.
- Previous six months bank statements of the visitor’s company
- Visitor’s company registration details and copy of trading license
- Proof of adequate funding from either the visitor or the host company
To attend study courses of up to three months duration at a recognised educational establishment, or a work internship, world travellers require a Student Visa.
- Official letter of acceptance and enrolment at the educational institution or copy of internship contract from the Croatian sponsoring company
- Letter of No Objection from the visitor’s current educational institution stating the student will leave Croatia at the end of the course (where applicable)
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover accommodation and expenses while in Croatia
World travellers requiring medical treatment or surgery in Croatia must possess a Medical Visa.
- Medical report from the visitor’s doctor or medical centre
- Confirmation of treatment from the Croatian medical centre concerned
- Dates and details of the treatment or surgery being undertaken
- Proof of payment for treatment in Croatia
- Proof of adequate finances to cover the stay in Croatia
These are the most commonly sought types of Schengen Visa for Croatia but there are other forms of visa for more specific purposes.
These include visas for:
- Official visits
- Attending sporting, cultural or artistic events
- Spouses of Croatian citizens
Whatever the main purpose for visiting Croatia there is most likely a specific form of visa that will cover it. It is crucial that world travellers select the type of visa that most closely matches the chief reason for visiting Croatia and not assume that a Visitor Visa will cover all purposes. Doing so will only lead to confusion, delay, possible problems entering Croatia or even result in the visa application being rejected outright.
Schengen Visa Application Process
Finding the right Schengen Visa
First and foremost it is vital that an application should be made for the correct type of visa. Educational courses require a Student Visa, medical treatment require a Medical Visa and so forth.
If there are any doubts as to which form of visa is best in a particular situation it is prudent to ask the authorities at the Croatian embassy or consulate. Never take a chance and hope for the best as this will likely end in failure and disappointment.
Required documents or other evidence
As outlined previously, every type of Schengen Visa application requires its own supporting documentation but there are two requirements that remain constant regardless of the type of visa being sought.
- Travel health insurance
- Passport – A valid biometric passport is essential for a successful visa application. Passports should be less than ten years old and have an expiration date at least six months later than the final day spent in Croatia or the Schengen Area. Furthermore, there must be a minimum of two blank pages in the passport to accommodate the Schengen Visa.
- Insurance – World travellers applying for a Schengen Visa for Croatia (or any Schengen member state) must have adequate travel health insurance in case of a medical emergency or illness. Each Schengen member country has its own rules regarding the amount of cover necessary and this should be checked with the Croatian authorities before the visa application is submitted.
Having completed the visa application form and ensured the passport and insurance cover are in order, it is time to collect any requested supporting documentation. This can be a laborious, time consuming process but it is a vital one as missing or erroneous documents will undoubtedly lead to confusion and unwanted delays in processing the application.
Schengen Visa Interview
When the form, passport, insurance and supporting documents are all in order, it is time to arrange a personal interview at the Croatian embassy, consulate or designated visa processing centre. Scheduling the interview is the responsibility of the applicant and not the Croatian embassy.
At the interview, any questions regarding the purpose of the Croatian visit will be asked by the interviewer and the submitted documents checked for omissions or errors. An applicant may also be finger-printed as part of the security process. Payment (in full) for the Schengen Visa must also be made at the interview so it is important for applicants to have an acceptable debit or credit card to hand.
Processing an application after an interview
Once all documentation is checked and in order, a response can be expected within two to three days. Although this is a quick turnaround it is best to arrange the interview for at least a week (or more) before the date of arrival in Croatia to allow for possible problems.
Once granted, the Schengen Visa grants permission to enter Croatia but does not confer an automatic right of entry on the visa holder. A refusal to enter Croatia may still occur if border authorities have grounds for believing the visa holder poses a risk to the country or the visa has been fraudulently acquired.