(CNN) – With more than 1,000 miles of coastline and more than 1,000 islands and islets, Croatia is one of Europe’s most idyllic summer destinations. However, it has always felt more exotic than France, Spain and Greece, with their own currency, the kuna.
Everything changed on January 1 when Croatia joined the eurozone, exchanging the historical kuna for the euro. It is the twentieth country to join the single currency.
Euro banknotes and coins are now in circulation in the country, with about 70% of the country’s ATMs already dispensing euros instead of kuna, according to the European Commission. The rest will follow by January 15th.
The kuna can still be used until January 15th, although anyone who pays the kuna will receive their allowance in euros. The exchange rate is fixed at 7.53450 kuna per euro.
Do you have any Kona pieces left over from your last ride? You can exchange them for euros at any Croatian post office until June 30 and at any Croatian bank until the end of 2023. Exchange at any bank is free until July 1. The Croatian National Central Bank will exchange kuna coins for free until further notice and coins until December 2025.
“I welcome Croatia to the euro family and to the ECB’s Governing Council table in Frankfurt,” said Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, in a statement.
“Croatia worked hard to become the twentieth member of the Eurozone and succeeded. I congratulate the Croatian people.”
Hrvatska Narodna Banka, the national central bank of Croatia, is now a member of the Eurosystem – the central banking system of the eurozone, consisting of the European Central Bank and the national central banks of the eurozone member states.
“Welcome, dear Croatian friends, to this single currency,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter, giving a two-minute speech about the decision.
In addition to changing currencies on January 1, Croatia also joined the Schengen Area – the bloc of 26 countries that removed border controls in Europe, making it the largest borderless area in the world. It is the 23rd of the 27 member states of the European Union to join Schengen. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also part of the region, bringing the total to 27 countries and about 420 million European citizens can travel without borders in the bloc.
Internal controls at land and sea borders were abolished on January 1, while internal air borders will follow on March 26. This means that Croatia can now also issue Schengen visas.
What does this mean for visitors? Less friction when crossing borders – Previously, lines could be long at land borders with Slovenia and Hungary, and at sea crossings from Italy. However, this also means that long-term travelers who spend 90 days of their visa-free travel period in the Schengen Area can no longer transit through Croatia to wait 90 days before they can return to Schengen.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic wrote on Twitter that January 1 was a “historic day for Croatia”.
“We are the first country to enter Schengen and the eurozone on the same day,” he added.
With the introduction of the euro, our citizens and our economy will be better protected from crises. »