Croatia is a moderately developed nation in transition to a market economy. Facilities for tourism are available throughout the country, and the Adriatic coast has traditionally been a popular tourist destination.
A passport is required. For tourist or business trips of less than 90 days, a visa is not required for U.S. passport holders. Visas are required for all other types of stays and must be obtained prior to arrival in the country. Unless the traveler is staying at a hotel, all foreign citizens must register with the local police within 48 hours of arrival. Failure to register is a misdemeanor offense: some Americans have been fined and/or expelled as a result of their failure to register. Additional information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Croatia at 2343 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. (202) 588-5899, or from the Croatian consulates in New York City, Cleveland, Chicago or Los Angeles. Overseas, inquiries may be made at the nearest Croatian embassy or consulate. The Internet home page of the Croatian Embassy is http://www.croatiaemb.org.
Though fighting in all parts of the country ended in 1995, the conflict over Croatia’s independence led to the laying of land mines on Croatian territory, mostly along the former confrontation lines. De-mining is not complete; marking of mined areas is similarly incomplete. Travelers in former conflict areas should exercise caution and not stray from known safe roads and areas.
There are no known indigenous terrorist groups in Croatia. There are occasional attacks targeted at specific persons or property as a result of organized criminal activity or actions prompted by ethnic tensions residual from Croatia’s war for independence. There were no reported terrorist actions in Croatia during the past 12 months.
Croatia has a relatively low crime rate, and violent crime is rare. Foreigners do not appear to be singled out; however, as in many cities, displays of wealth increase chances of becoming the victim of a pickpocket or mugger. Such crimes are more likely to occur in bus or railroad stations. The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on safeguarding valuables and protecting personal safety while traveling abroad is provided in the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad. It is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs or http://travel.state.gov.
Health facilities in Croatia, although generally of Western caliber, are under severe strain due to serious budgetary problems. Croatian citizens using these services find that some medicines are in short supply in public hospitals and clinics. The number of private medical and dental practitioners is substantial, and pharmacies stock a variety of medicines not readily available through public health facilities. Because of the weaknesses in funding, Croatian health care facilities, doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services.
U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provisions for medical evacuation. Please ascertain whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment or deposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Deparment of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via its home page and autofax.
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Croatia is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maitenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
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.
Since gaining independence in 1991, Croatia has seen an increase in the number of cars, leading to heavy congestion on major routes on weekends (towards the coast, for example) and in major cities during rush hour. Parking can be difficult and expensive in city centers. Drivers can be aggressive and, in Zagreb, motorists must also pay special attention to trams (streetcars). Primary roads are generally adequate, but most have only one lane in each direction, including roads going to and from the coast. Drivers traveling through former conflict areas should stay on paved roads to reduce the risk of encountering mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the war. Emergency road help and information may be reached by dialing 987. Additional road condition and safety information may be obtained from the Croatian Automobile Association (HAK) at tel. (385)(1) 455-4433.
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and regulations of the country in which they travel, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under the U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Croatian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Croatia are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy and obtain updated information on travel and security within Croatia. The U.S. Embassy in Zagreb is located at Andrije Hebranga 2, tel. (385)(1)455-5500, Internet home page: http://www.usembassy.hr. On weekends, holidays, and after hours, an Embassy duty officer can be reached at tel. (385)(1)455-5281.