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Crossing the border from Bosnia to Croatia, all you need to know. The pandemic, car insurance, documents, the migrant crisis, shopping, and the Neum corridor.

Crossing the border from Bosnia to Croatia

Crossing the border from Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) to Croatia is relatively straightforward, and there is plenty of choice. There are no less than 30 border crossings in all.

The most important of these from a tourist point of view are Doljani, from the coast towards Mostar, and the two crossings of the Neum Corridor, or Bosnian Riviera, which dissect Croatia in two, isolating Dubrovnik and southern Dalmatia from the rest of the country.

These crossing can get VERY busy in the season, and expect delays. Below you can find a couple of tips of time-saving alternatives.

Croatia is in the EU, while BiH is not. The expected entry of Croatia to the Schengen zone will make these borders an external Schengen border, which will arguably lead to increased crossing times.

Crossing the border from Bosnia to Croatia is generally trouble-free. There have, however, been tensions in recent times due to the pandemic and the border being a hot spot in the migrant crisis.

2021 Reality – Epidemiological Measures

Just like most borders in the world currently, the epidemiological measures put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the Croatian-Bosnian border. The measures on both Croatian and Bosnian side have changed over the past year, and at the moment of this writing they are:

  • All foreign citizens can enter Bosnia and Herzegovina with a negative PCR test for COVID-19, not older than 48 hours. Citizens of Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia are allowed to enter BiH even without the test when arriving from their home countries
  • All foreign citizens can enter Croatia with a negative PCR test for COVID-19, not older than 48 hours (or self-isolate for 10 days). In addition to the test, the non-EU residents need to need to provide a valid reason for entry;
  • All travelers can pass through the Neum corridor without a test, under two conditions: they need to leave the corridor within an hour (it’s 22 km), and should not leave their cars while at the BiH territory.

This info is current at time of writing (Feb 2021) and will be updated periodically. For the latest news, please refer to COVID-19 in Croatia Travel Update or get an answer in real time from the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community (you will need to download the app).

Car insurance and the Croatian-Bosnian border

As of October 19th, 2020, Bosnia and Herzegovina has joined the “License Plate Subsystem”, the Multilateral Guarantee Agreement that includes 33 EU member states, as well as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Iceland, Norway and Serbia. That means that, as of that date, no additional insurance or so-called “Green Card” is required for vehicles registered in those countries entering the Bosnian territory and vice versa.

Crossing the Neum Corridor – do I need a Bosnian visa?

Most tourists encounter the Bosnia to Croatia border on the way from Split to Dubrovnik. While both these cities are in Croatia, they are currently not connected by land. Since the borders between the former republics of Yugoslavia were established in 1946, they have not changed. When both of these countries became independent states, the border between them stayed the same. That means that BiH has access to the sea at Neum, a 22 km corridor which splits Croatia in two.

If you do not want to travel by land, therefore, you must cross the border at Neum. Technically you need a transit visa to cross the country, but in practice, nobody asks for it. Most of the time. Getting an official response on whether or not you need a Bosnian visa is a mission impossible. In practice, nobody does, and buses and cars pass through without problem. To learn more about this unusual border crossing, this is how you get from Split to Dubrovnik.

The Pelješac Bridge and the Bosnian border

The issue of the Neum Corridor and its border crossing should no longer exist in a few years. After MANY years of discussions, political promises and false starts, the Pelješac Bridge project is well underway. The strategic project will connect the mainland to the Pelješac Peninsula on the Split side of the border.

From there, there will be a road down the peninsula and then on to Dubrovnik, and Croatia will be connected completely for the first time in its modern history. A Chinese company won the tender and is building the bridge, seemingly on time, despite the obvious problems for everyone in 2020 and 2021. Once open, the bridge should reduce travel and waiting times considerably.

Webcams on the borders between BiH and Croatia

Looking to see how bad the queues are before you travel? There are no less than 17 webcams on the borders between the two countries. Croatian Road Association (HAK) maintains these cameras, and you can check the latest on your favourite Bosnian border here.

Living in Croatia, shopping in Bosnia

Many goods and services are considerably cheaper in BiH than in Croatia. As such, there is a well-established trend of Croatians crossing the border to buy anything from cigarettes and fuel to the daily shopping.

Indeed, when I first moved here, there was no VAT at all in Bosnia, and so things were very cheap compared to Croatia. Bosnia has excellent meat, for example, and I used to regularly pop in to buy 10 kg for the family. That was until one day when I was stopped at the border and asked to show what I had in the car. The border guard informed me that I could only import 1 kg of meat per person. I was welcome to leave the remaining 7 kg with him or throw it in the trash.

In early 2021, a new bylaw for the value of the goods transported across the border came into effect, and it states that you are allowed to bring in 2200 kuna worth of goods per passenger. The amount is significantly higher for those flying into Croatia from Bosnia, 3200. It is, however, significantly lower for those living in the area near the border (15 km from the border). They are only allowed to bring in 300 kuna worth of goods, and only 25 cigarettes! This has led to increased waiting times at some borders.

It should also be remembered that while the border is a physical barrier, many residents in BiH are Croats, and they see themselves very much as Croatian. Most have dual citizenship, vote in Croatian elections, and are regular visitors to family and friends across the border.

Insider tip: the fast Bosnian road to Dubrovnik in season

While many tourists in Croatia endure frustration with the Neum border delays and the slow pace of traffic on the Adriatic Highway, there is another way… During the season, I never drive along the coast, preferring an inland route through BiH which is fast, quiet and rarely used.

You can use it to drop down to Dubrovnik and its airport, or continue on to Montenegro. Find out how in this guide I wrote for Total Montenegro News.

The other useful border crossing tip I have for you concerns the popular crossing at Doljani, near Metković. This is the most direct route from the coast to Mostar and beyond. It can get very busy in the season, but there is another crossing which hardly anyone uses, which will save you time when the Doljani queues build up (and they can lead to several hours’ delay).

Using Bosnia to cross from Croatia to Montenegro

As crazy as it may sound, another reason to use the border crossing from Bosnia to Croatia is to reach Croatia from Montenegro. The main border crossing (and currently the only one open) between Croatia and Montenegro gets VERY busy in season. Delays can stretch into hours, and I try and avoid it where possible during the summer.

There are several options of smaller crossings via BiH, which may look longer on the map, but will save you time in the long run. Learn more about the BiH factor crossing the border from Montenegro to Croatia.

The migrant crisis and the Bosnia to Croatia border

The migrant crisis continues, and while it may not be in the international media as much as a couple of years ago, it is very much so on the Croatian-Bosnian border. For this is now one of the flashpoints of the crisis, with migrants complaining of Croatian police brutality and illegal returning of migrants to BiH. While this should not unduly affect border crossings for tourists, it does no harm to be aware of the issue.