As countries prepare for the post corona era and loosen measures step by step, I needed to consider to travel back to Croatia and start organizing for the season. Last november, we travelled back to Belgium after another great touristic season on Hvar and we were still in Belgium when the pandemic broke out. The plan was to travel back to Croatia at the beginning of April but that was not an option anymore with the pandemic being at his peak. Now that we’re allowed to open our resort and beach bar again in a few days, I decided to travel to Croatia by car.
I can hear you thinking… how did he manage to travel all the way from Belgium to Croatia when people are restricted to stay at home and are not allowed to leave their own county or town.
It’s a combination of several things:
- I have a registered residence on Hvar.
- I have a registered business on Hvar.
- My company car is registered on Hvar.
I also have a registered residence and a registered business in Belgium which would allow me to travel back and forth if there would be the need.
So how was my experience traveling across Europe during corona? Well, it was much more relaxed than I imagined. Before you start dreaming, do know that I had all required documents and that I did the necessary research before to do so.
Besides the border controls, I expected some random police controls on the roads as well so I contacted each country I would pass and informed myself what documents were necessary to travel across all those countries. For the countries where I would travel through only such as the Netherlands, Germany, Austria & Slovenia, a valid residence card was enough. For Belgium and Croatia, it was a combination of all documents that gave me the opportunity to leave Belgium and set foot in Croatia.
And so I left on May 7th. I expected border controls between every country but to my surprise, not every country had border controls in place. An overview of the borders and what documents they asked me:
Belgium – Netherlands: No border control
Netherlands – Germany: No border control
Germany – Austria: Border control – They asked my ID card and my Croatian residence card
Austria – Slovenia: Border control – They asked me my ID card and my Croatian residence card
Slovenia – Croatia: Border control – They asked me my ID, my Croatian residence card and checked my business registration documents
But don’t be fooled. On top of the border controls, the police also organizes random mobile controls. I encountered 5 police controls: One in Belgium and one in Germany but on the opposite side of the highway. The third one was on the Croatian highway, on my side of the highway. The police officer asked me my E-pass (A pass that is delivered by the Civil Protection Headquarters or border police when you can present them a good reason to travel between counties and/or to the islands) The 2 last police controls were at the ferry ports. One in Split when embarking and one in Starigrad when disembarking.
When you have a good reason such as a residency / business in any EU member state, you can travel ‘home’ and you are allowed to cross the countries in between. Do your research because every country has its own rules, especially when your residency is in that country.
In my case, I was allowed to leave Belgium for work. I could cross the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Slovenia without any problem but without any unnecessary stop. I stayed on the highways.
Note that all restaurants are closed at the moment in all those countries. You can get some snacks & drinks at the fuel stations but prepare enough food for your trip.
In Croatia, you will get a pass (propusnica) at the border and the following conditions if you plan to stay longer than 72 hours:
1- You have to travel to your residential address within 24 hours
2- You have to use the highway and travel directly to your address
3- You need to stay in self-isolation for 14 days at your home
4- You need to contact the local police at arrival
5- You need to contact a local epidemiologist at arrival and report your health status regularly
I arrived on Hvar on May 8th in the evening and the next day, the police already came to control if I was at home.
I want to conclude with this: This is my situation at this moment and I only report how my experience was. Things are changing daily so the most important thing is to do your research if you have similar plans. It seems all pretty frightening but if you do your homework and you have all the necessary documents, it will all go very smoothly as the police, border patrol and Civil Protection Headquarters were very friendly and helpful in my experience. The highways were also very pleasant to drive as I had most of them almost all to myself.
The opening of the EU borders is a hot topic at the moment. And Croatia is considering to stop the need of a pass. So it might be a lot easier to travel across EU soon anyhow.