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Safety Travel Safety: Europe: Croatia

Croatia: Republic of Croatia
Capital: Zagreb
Population: 4,390,751
Currency: kuna (HRK)
Languages: Croatian 96%, other 4% (including Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, and German)
Religions: Roman Catholic 76.5%, Orthodox 11.1%, Muslim 1.2%, Protestant 0.4%, others and unknown 10.8% (1991)
Borders: Bosnia and Herzegovina 932 km, Hungary 329 km, Yugoslavia 254 km, Slovenia 670 km

Croatia is a moderately developed nation in transition to a market economy. Facilities for tourism are available throughout the country, and the Adriatic coast is an increasingly popular tourist destination.

Although hostilities in all parts of the country ended in 1995, de-mining of areas along former confrontation lines is not complete. At the end of 2003, it was estimated that 300,000 mines spread over 1,350 square miles remained in Croatia and that demining operations will continue until 2010. Travelers in former conflict areas, including the Danube region (Eastern Slavonia), Brodsko-Posavska county, areas around Karlovac, and the former Krajina, should exercise caution and not stray from known safe roads and areas. Mine clearance work may lead to the closure of major roads. For more information about demining operations in Croatia, please see the Croatian Mine Action Center's website at

Croatia has a relatively low crime rate, and violent crime is rare. Foreigners do not appear to be singled out; however, as in many countries, 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 or on public transportation. 

There have been isolated attacks targeted at specific persons or property as a result of organized criminal activity or actions prompted by lingering ethnic tensions from Croatia's war for independence.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to the laws and regulations of the country in which they travel. Such laws sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under 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 heavy. Engaging in illicit sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Health facilities in Croatia, although generally of western caliber, are under severe budgetary strains. Some medicines are in short supply in public hospitals and clinics. The number of private medical and dental practitioners is substantial, and private pharmacies stock a variety of medicines not readily available through public health facilities. Croatian health care facilities, doctors and hospitals may expect immediate cash payment for health services and generally will not accept credit cards. Travelers to Croatia may obtain a list of English-speaking physicians and dentists at the Embassy's website: or tel.: (385)(1) 661-2376, or after working hours at tel.: (385)(1) 661-2400. Ambulance services can be reached by dialing 94.

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. 

Road conditions and maintenance in Croatia vary. Primary roads are generally adequate, but most have only one lane in each direction, including roads going to and from the coast. Coastal roads are narrow and congested, and tend to be slippery when wet. There is heavy congestion on major routes on weekends (towards the coast, for example) and in major cities during rush hours. Drivers tend to be aggressive in Croatia. Passing on curves or in oncoming lanes is common on highways and poses higher risk of accidents to drivers. A major highway expansion project between Zagreb and Split can cause delays and closures of section of road on that route. Drivers traveling though former conflict areas should stay on paved roads to reduce the risk of encountering unmarked mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the 1991-1995 war. In Zagreb, motorists and pedestrians alike must also pay special attention to trams (streetcars), which in downtown areas may travel at a high rate of speed through the narrow congested streets. 

Right turns on red lights are strictly forbidden in Croatia, unless an additional green light (in the shape of an arrow) allows it. At unmarked intersections, right of way is always to the vehicle entering from the right. The use of front seat belts is obligatory and passengers in vehicles equipped with rear seat belts are required to use them. Special seats are required for infants and children under age 12 may not sit in the front seat of an automobile. The use of a cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited unless the driver is using a handsfree device. 

Croatia has adopted a policy of zero tolerance in regards to driving under the influence of alcohol and it is illegal to have blood alcohol content greater that 0.00. Police routinely spot-check motorists for drinking and driving and will administer breath-analyzer tests at even the most minor accident. Drivers who refuse to submit to a breath analyzer are automatically presumed to have admitted to driving while intoxicated. In case of accidents resulting in death or serious injury, Croatian law obligates police to take blood samples to test blood alcohol levels. 

Within Croatia, emergency road help and information may be reached by dialing 987, a service of the Croatian Automobile Association (HAK), staffed by English speaking operators. The police can be reached by dialing 92 and the ambulance service by dialing 94. Additional road condition and safety information may be obtained from HAK at tel. (385)(1) 455-4433 or (385) (1) 461-2975 for Zagreb, at (385) (1) 661-1999 for anywhere else in Croatia, or via their web page, During the tourist season, traffic information in English is also available at 98.5 FM on Croatian radio thirty minutes past the hour between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. 

For specific information concerning Croatian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Croatia's National Tourist Office, 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 4003, New York City, NY 10118; phone 1-800-829-4416 or 212-278-8672; fax 212-279-8683.

As there is no direct commercial air service between the United States and Croatia, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Croatia's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with ICAO international aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's internet web site at

All foreign citizens must register with the local police within 24 hours of arrival and inform the office about any change in their address. Registration of foreign visitors staying in hotels or accommodations rented thorough an accommodation company is done automatically by the hotelier or accommodation company. Failure to register is a misdemeanor offence; some Americans have been fined as a result of their failure to register. U.S. citizens planning to remain in Croatia for more than 90days must obtain a temporary residence permit from the local police having jurisdiction over their place of residence in Croatia. Additionally, U.S. citizens should obtain a police report from their state of residence in the U.S. or from the country where they permanently reside. If an extension of temporary stay Is needed, the request should be submitted no later than 30 days in advance of the expiration date.

Please also refer to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

November 1, 2004

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