Citizens of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have almost always travelled haggle-free to their neighbouring country, Croatia, the three of which were once part of the same federated country – Yugoslavia.
While the first two are neither part of the European Union bloc nor the Schengen Area, Croatia has been an EU member since 2013, and only recently, on January 1, 2023, became a full Schengen Area member, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Up until now, travellers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, only needed to show their valid passports at the Croatian borders, in order to enter the country.
However, starting from November 2023, every Bosnian and every Serb will need to apply for an online travel authorization called ETIAS – which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System – in order to be able to enter Croatia, and the other 26 Schengen Area Member States.
The ETIAS is a system on which the EU has been working on since 2016, and was supposed to start operating in 2021, but due to technical issues has been postponed several times. The current date for its launch is November 2023.
The reason behind the creation of such a scheme is that the EU wants to enhance security in the bloc by knowing who is coming even before the travellers start their trip.
Bosnians and Serbs will need to apply online for an ETIAS, by going to the ETIAS website, which hasn’t been created yet, and completing the application form. The form will ask simple questions like the traveller’s name and surname, date and place of birth, passport data, and some background security questions.
Travellers will also have to upload their photo in the system and a scan of their passport.
Once the application is approved, the ETIAS will be granted and will be valid for either three years, or until the passport expires, whichever happens first.
Bosnian and Serbian travellers will be able to use the same ETIAS to travel to Croatia, and the other Schengen Area countries.
Around 1.4 billon people from over 60 different world countries, will have to apply for an ETIAS before any trip to the Member States, starting from November 1, 2023. Travellers from other Western Balkan countries that have a visa-free agreement with the EU will also need an ETIAS – which area Albania, Montenegro, and North Macedonia.
Citizens of Kosovo for now still need to apply for visas, but after the ETIAS becomes effective, the EU is going through the necessary procedures to grant Kosovo with visa liberalization on January 1, 2024, the latest, which means that Kosovo citizens will also need an ETIAS, though at a later point.
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