(CNN) — With over 1,600 kilometers of coastline and over 1,000 islands and islets, Croatia is one of the most idyllic summer destinations in Europe. However, until now it had always seemed a bit more exotic with its own currency, the kuna, than countries like France, Spain and Greece.
Everything changed on January 1, when Croatia entered the Eurozone and replaced its historic Kuna with the Euro. It is the 20th country to join the currency.
According to the European Commission, euro banknotes and coins are already in circulation in the country, and around 70% of ATMs dispense euros instead of kunas. The rest will do so before January 15.
Kuna can continue to be used until January 15, although anyone who pays in kuna will receive change in euros. The exchange rate was set at 7.53450 kunas for 1 euro.
Do you have any leftovers from your last trip? You can exchange them for euros at any Croatian post office until June 30, and at any Croatian bank until the end of 2023. Change of bank is free till 1st July. The Croatian National Central Bank will exchange kuna banknotes free of charge until further notice, and coins until December 2025.
“I welcome Croatia to the euro family and to the ECB Governing Council table in Frankfurt,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said in a statement.
“Croatia has worked hard to become the 20th member of the Eurozone, and they have succeeded. I congratulate the Croatian people.”
The national central bank of Croatia, Hrvatska narodna banka, has now become a member of the Eurosystem, the central banking system of the euro area, composed of the European Central Bank and the national central banks of euro member states.
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “Welcome dear Croatian friends to this shared currency” while delivering a two-minute speech on the move.
Dragi hrvatski przetelji, dobro dosli u euro. Dear Croatian friends, welcome to the common currency, the Euro! pic.twitter.com/uQSQ1TCTj2
– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 1, 2023
In addition to changing its currency on January 1, Croatia also joined the Schengen Area, a grouping of 26 countries that has abolished border controls in Europe, making it the world’s largest borderless region. It is the 23rd of the 27 EU member states to be part of Schengen. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also part of the space, bringing the total to 27 countries and around 420 million European citizens who can travel without borders across the bloc.
On 1 January, controls on internal land and sea borders were abolished and on 26 March controls on internal air borders were abolished. This means that Croatia can now issue Schengen visas as well.
What does this mean for visitors? Fewer barriers when crossing borders: Previously, lines could be longer at the land borders with Slovenia and Hungary, and at the sea with Italy. But it also means that long-term travelers who use their 90 days without a visa in the Schengen area will no longer be able to wait 90 days in Croatia until they can return to the area.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic tweeted that 1 January was a “historic day for Croatia”.
Historic day for Croatia!
we are the first country #schengen I #eurozone enters on the same day. Even today, cars pass without formalities and controls, and with the introduction of the euro, our citizens and the economy will be better protected from crises.
— Andrej Plenkovic (@AndrejPlenkovic) January 1, 2023
“We are the first country to enter Schengen and the Eurozone on the same day,” he said.
“With the introduction of the euro, our citizens and the economy will be better protected against crises.”