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Croatia switches to euro currency and joins the Schengen Area

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(CNN) — With over 1,000 miles of coastline and over 1,000 islands, Croatia is one of Europe’s most idyllic summer destinations. However, it has always felt a little more exotic than France, Spain or Greece, which have their own currency, the Kuna.

That all changed when Croatia joined the Eurozone on January 1, replacing its historic Kuna with the Euro. It is the 20th country to join the single currency.

Euro banknotes and coins are now in circulation in the country, and about 70% of ATMs in the country issue euros instead of kuna, according to the European Commission. The rest will continue until January 15th.

Kuna can still be used until January 15, but those who pay in Kuna will receive change in Euros. The exchange rate is fixed at 1 Euro to 7.53450 Kuna.

Do you have any Kuna left over from your last trip? Croatian Post Offices can exchange them for Euros until June 30th and Croatian Banks until the end of 2023. Currency exchange at banks is free until July 1st. The National Central Bank of Croatia will keep the coin until December 2025.

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

“Croatia has worked hard and succeeded to become the 20th member of the Eurozone. Congratulations to the people of Croatia.”

Croatia’s national central bank, Hrvatska Narodna Banka, has become a member of the Eurosystem, the central banking system of the euro zone, which consists of the European Central Bank and the central banks of the euro member states.

French President Emmanuel Macron gave a two-minute speech about the move, tweeting, “Dear Croatian friends, welcome to this shared currency.”

Croatia not only changed its currency on January 1, but also joined the Schengen zone. This is the block of 26 countries that have eliminated border checks within Europe, making it the largest borderless region in the world. She is the 23rd of the 27 EU member states to join the Schengen Agreement. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also part of the region, covering 27 countries and about 420 million European citizens who can travel border-free within the block.

Domestic land and sea border checks were removed on January 1st, while domestic air borders were removed on March 26th. This means that Croatia can now issue Schengen visas.

What does it mean for visitors? Less Friction at Border Crossing — There used to be long queues at the road border between Slovenia and Hungary, and by sea from Italy. However, this also meant that a long-stay traveler who had used up her 90 days of visa-free travel in the Schengen area could no longer cross to Croatia to wait 90 days until he returned to the Schengen area. I mean

Croatian Prime Minister Andrei Plenković tweeted that January 1 was a “historic day for Croatia”.

“We are the first country to join the Schengen Agreement and the Eurozone at the same time,” he added.

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

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