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Enter Croatia website fail / gate agent fail

We were prepared to go to Croatia today. I had my party of 6 get tested ahead of time. We all are vaccinated. I saved everything electronically. I had receipts for all our rentals. I thought I was prepared.

The night before, once we got the latest test result, I tried the https://entercroatia.mup.hr/ website. I had to enter information for the 6 of us, I had to upload our results. I had to enter information for 6 different pre-paid locations we were planned on staying. It took a long time. I hit submit and it failed with an error on my 6 file uploads for proof. Tried PDFs. Tried photos. Tried photos of PDFs. Nothing worked.

Today we make the 3 hour trek to ORD. We get to the TAP Air Portugal counter. They would not let me check in without having a bar code from the site. I explained the situation from the previous night. They then directed me to re enter all of the information using my cell phone. For over 2 hours, I kept trying. Same error. Completely out of my control

In the end, they would not allow us past the check in counter. Agent explained that the site worked for other passengers, therefore we couldn’t go. Ridiculous. I had to get my father to turn around and come back to get us. Vacation ruined. I’ve been to Europe several times previously. I am a senior IT professional with 25 years experience. I don’t think the site was tested with this many people with this many destinations.

IMHO, the site is there to speed the process. Not BE the process. We should have been allowed to board and worked it out with customs in Croatia. I should have been able to assume that risk myself. I also have barcodes from registering with Portugal. Didn’t matter. Still can’t check in.

If you want travel to come back, this needs to be fixed. Maybe the vaccine passport is the solution

The worst part is, the next flight out is in 5 days. No way to know whether the site will work and that we won’t face this again! Ugggh

Now the refund game. Endless emails and calls.

Posted by
4863 posts

How frustrating, to say the least! Sorry to hear about your experience - for the 6 of you, plus your father, the shuttle driver. And you followed all the rules, and got turned away due to an apparent Internet glitch. And it supposedly worked for “other passengers” ... for how many “others” did it not work?!?!? Perhaps there are a lot fewer people in Croatia now, due to that glitch. I hope you get better results in 5 days. This is probably yet another casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Posted by
11 posts

There were at least 50 different people going to different destinations that were not able to board. TAP Air Portugal just started flying out of ORD. I heard there was at least one other party going on to Zagreb that also had issues. It was a perfect storm

Posted by
431 posts

From the website:

*If family members are going to different places, each passenger must fill in a separate form and / or the person guarantees that all people on the form are going to the same place.

So I assume this is what you did rather than put everyone on the same form? Also, don't fly TAP. There are a number of us still waiting on refunds from a year ago.

Posted by
11 posts

We were all flying and traveling together. My wife, 3 teenage daughters and my niece. I should have been able to fill in 1 form. And I didn’t see any place on the website for enter croatia to contact them. I tried filling in a form and they have a control number. No idea what that is. And I can’t even tell them of my issue.

I have little confidence that I can get this rebooked even for Thursday. I am starting to agree with you on your TAP comments

Posted by
4863 posts

Maybe this is an impossibility, but could/would the State Department, your Representative or Senator, or an embassy somehow get you results for next week?

Posted by
11 posts

Good advice. This is all dependent on getting a reservation on that flight. The line was 40+ deep on other parties all trying to rebook. Not all were going to Croatia. Many to Portugal and Spain. In order to get to Croatia on TAP, I need to rebook through Lisbon and compete with those who are also trying to rebook. Many were trying to fly home or see family. I still need to call when TAP opens in the morning.

I went to TAP’s website and you can’t even search on a ORD to ZAG combo

Posted by
436 posts

I imagine you're committed to this trip but if it were me I would consider moving on to another less strenuous destination. It seems you are going to be pushing rope uphill on this one for some time to come and you might consider letting Croatia go in favour of some trip planning that will be more productive.

Posted by
25598 posts

It sounds from your description of the error that your files were too big. Did you try saving as much smaller pdfs?

I've had similar problems with other websites here in the UK when submitting documentation.

And if 6 people with 6 destinations is too many, perhaps doing 2 or 3 smaller submissions?

Posted by
7535 posts

This is one of the most horrible travel stories yet. You are amazingly calm after such an event; I’d be ranting in all caps and !!. I hope it can be straightened out quickly, and thank you for warning others.

The airline would be fined if they put you on the Portugal to Croatia flight without the documents , but it’s too bad that they wouldn’t allow you, and all the others denied boarding, to get as far as Portugal and keep working on getting the website to work, or fly on to Italy and go from there by land.

Please come back to let us know the outcome. We have a regular contributor who is married to a Croate and travels there often.

Posted by
2029 posts

I was reading through your link about the requirements for entry to Croatia and it mentions proof of vaccine OR negative test. Could the required form be completed, say a week or two before? When I read through the website it didn’t specify. Did the airline require the negative test in addition to the proof of vaccine? We haven’t decided which airline we are going to fly to Croatia yet, but it will definately not be TAP. Still looking at Direct flight options even though it isn’t the city we want.

Posted by
6412 posts

We should have been allowed to board and worked it out with customs in Croatia. I should have been able to assume that risk myself.

Unfortunately, that's not at all how it works. If the airline brings you to a country where immigration officials won't let you enter, the airline is on the hook to return you to the United States on their dime.

I am very sorry for what you have been through.

Posted by
6699 posts

There's no way to tell why the site wouldn't work for you (it could be an infinite number of things), but your problem is with the site/ Croatia, not the airline (although it's easy to make the airline "the bad guy" because they have a human presence). The airline has to use uniform gatekeeping/ entry requirements for everyone, they can't just let some people assume risks. The risk is all on the airline if you are unable to enter another country since they'd have to get you back. If an additional 2 hours didn't produce a positive end result, there's no evidence that an extra 10 hours (or whatever) flying there would do the trick.

I wonder, how will you deal with pre-booked (and I assume "pre-paid) lodging reservations? I would think the hotels won't want to assume all the risk either for you switching dates. It's not their fault either that the Croatia site didn't work for you. Tough situation all around, and undoubtedly frustrating.

I'm not surprised that these kind of kinks exist with any website that's rolled out quickly, perhaps without rigorous end-to-end testing.

Posted by
2540 posts

I'm sorry to hear about your very frustrating experience, and I totally understand your exasperation. I also want to thank you for sharing your story here. It is a cautious tale regarding international travel in 2021. Even when a traveler does everything within her or his power to follow the established rules, that might not be enough to get the traveler to his/her destination.

This is a fundamental risk anyone traveling during these COVID-19 transition times is accepting by booking travel in 2021.

This categorically is not a gate agent fail. The airline agent did what was required of her. If Croatia requires a bar code from the Enter Croatia website prior to boarding your flight and you do not have that (even if through no fault of your own), the airline cannot allow you to board your flight. There is zero wiggle room on this issue for airlines. To expect the agent to allow you to check in when you do not have the required documentation is to expect the agent to put her job/livelihood at risk. That's a no-brainer for the agent, though she likely has no discretion in this matter.

Posted by
11 posts

It sounds from your description of the error that your files were too big. Did you try saving as much smaller pdfs?

No mention of file size or Image type. File name would be there, but disappear on the final edit checks

Posted by
2540 posts

IMHO, the site is there to speed the process. Not BE the process.

I will respectfully submit that Croatia requires a bar code from the site in order for you to board your plane. Therefore, Croatia seems to have established that the website is indeed the process.

Posted by
11 posts

I was reading through your link about the requirements for entry to Croatia and it mentions proof of vaccine OR negative test. Could the required form be completed, say a week or two before?

kids got their last dose Monday. We were to fly Saturday. I got PCR tests for 5 of us Thursday to meet Portugal requirements and Naat tests for the kids to meet Croatia requirements. I had all the images saved on my IPad.

When I read through the website it didn’t specify. Did the airline
require the negative test in addition to the proof of vaccine?

They looked at 3 results. They realized this was going to take too much time, so they sent me to the side of the counter to get the bar code at enter Croatia. We kept trying it. They told me I needed it

Posted by
11 posts

There's no way to tell why the site wouldn't work for you (it could be an infinite number of things), but your problem is with the site/ Croatia, not the airline (although it's easy to make the airline "the bad guy" because they have a human presence). The airline has to use uniform gatekeeping/ entry requirements for everyone, they can't just let some people assume risks. The risk is all on the airline if you are unable to enter another country since they'd have to get you back. If an additional 2 hours didn't produce a positive end result, there's no evidence that an extra 10 hours (or whatever) flying there would do the trick.

I thought it was possible that the gate agent had no choice. Thanks for the additional insight

I wonder, how will you deal with pre-booked (and I assume "pre-paid) lodging reservations? I would think the hotels won't want to assume all the risk either for you switching dates. It's not their fault either that the Croatia site didn't work for you. Tough situation all around, and undoubtedly frustrating.
I'm not surprised that these kind of kinks exist with any website that's rolled out quickly, perhaps without rigorous end-to-end testing

As an IT professional, I can guarantee this was rushed without rigorous testing. Hopefully they have tools on the backend that can see my session traffic and use this for a future test case. (i recommend Dynatrace).

Posted by
11 posts

This categorically is not a gate agent fail. The airline agent did what was required of her. If Croatia requires a bar code from the Enter Croatia website prior to boarding your flight and you do not have that (even if through no fault of your own), the airline cannot allow you to board your flight. There is zero wiggle room on this issue for airlines. To expect the agent to allow you to check in when you do not have the required documentation is to expect the agent to put her job/livelihood at risk. That's a no-brainer for the agent, though she likely has no discretion in this matter.

Fair enough. I changed the title accordingly

Suggestions to improve this at Enter Croatia (feel free to reach out to me directly):
1. Allow for incremental saves - waiting to the end to see all the errors is problematic
2. Establish identity and sessions for users so they can set everything else up before final results come back
3. Make sure you have proper tools in place to be watching users and when users are taking too long or are experiencing issues like myself, reach out to them to assist
4. Stress test the system - add 10, 20, 30 people. Add 10, 20, 30 destinations. Know where it breaks. And state that on the form. ‘If you have more than XXX people in your party or XXX places you are staying, use additional forms
5. State what doc types are accepted. We tried JPG, PDF, and photos uploaded on the form
6. State what the limit of the doc size is in the error message

Posted by
11 posts

I will respectfully submit that Croatia requires a bar code from the site in order for you to board your plane. Therefore, Croatia seems to have established that the website is indeed the process.

If that’s true, then on the Enter Croatia website, clearly state that you will be refused boarding without completion of this form on any International Flight. I could have saved myself a long trip to the airport and tried to work it out before leaving. Airline should also state the same thing.

These are tools to make the process more efficient. All systems need backups or ways to at least have process flows to work outside the system. Examples: A chat button, an email link, or a click here button to handle exceptions

Posted by
25598 posts

I have read all your thread, and I see that you changed from gate agent fail to gate agent frustration.

The gate agent was doing their job. They even gave you time to try to fix your issue on your phone.

I think that frustration with the gate agent is really unfair. Your issue is with the Croatia system.

Posted by
11 posts

Based on all of your feedback. Thanks for commiserating with me, I agree. I will change it again

Posted by
11 posts

I tried changing the title but it breaks the link..

Posted by
5 posts

I also had difficulties with the Enter Croatia online form. It took a long time and many attempts for our party of 3. Unfortunately I don't remember what I did to make it all work out since I tried so many different variables (pdf, jpg, etc.). We left JFK for MXP on AA covid tested flight (with rapid antigen test even though we're vaccinated). Spent a few days in Italy then flew on Ryanair to Zagreb today. I was worried we would have trouble at the airport but in the end no one looked at our Enter Croatia form. They only looked at our passports and vaccination cards. When we arrived in Zagreb, same thing...didn't ask for entry form or accommodations (I had the documents printed). It could be that they have all the information since I painstakingly entered everything in the Enter Croatia site. So sad to hear of the difficulties faced by others. Good luck everyone.

Posted by
2773 posts

I'm so sorry this happened to you, but appreciate your warning the rest of us. Travel to Europe appears to be really chaotic right now, although according to posters in this forum, the Covid-free flights to Italy do seem to be working properly.

Posted by
2 posts

I too had problems filling out the form but finally got it to work. The confirmation did not have a barcode. It simply stated the following:
You have successfully submitted the form---
Announcement of entry into the Republic of Croatia---
Number: XXXX---
Period: Dates of our trip---
Purpose of travel to the RC: Tourist

We have not left for the trip yet so hopefully this is what we need.

Posted by
5 posts

loriann1167 - I got a similar confirmation letter. When others talked about a barcode it made me nervous and I spent a lot of time looking through the internet and found that the letter I received from Enter Croatia (with no barcode) is the latest format. Like I said, was really worried but in the end no one asked to see the letter but I had it anyway. Sounds like you should be okay.

Posted by
12329 posts

imax731 Ditto. zip had no problems with the site and hit the from letter immediately. No bar code.

You have successfully submitted
the form
Announcement of entry into the Republic of
Croatia
Number: XXXXXX
7/12/2021 - 7/20/2021
Period:
Purpose of travel to the RC:
TOURIST

Posted by
7407 posts

Looks like some modifications/improvements have been implemented since OP's unfortunate encounter

Posted by
5 posts

I read this and freaked out a bit. Granted Europe seems to be opening up more and more daily so it would seem international travel is getting easier, especially if you have proof of vaccination (we do). But as a precaution I just filled out the form (traveling to Croatia next month but we're coming by way of Slovenia, so not sure it's even necessary). On first Submit, I got an error. I had to re-upload our Covid card scans and hit submit again, and it went through the second time. The next screen was simply a confirmation that it went through and a button to 'download certificate' which was a page with the pertinent info I entered and a number. Pretty sparse. I also got an email confirmation. I printed the confirmation page and have it with my other travel documents.

Posted by
12329 posts

I did the form online while sitting in Istanbul. No issues. No bar code.. Just a receipt.

Now on day 5 in Croatia. Pretty nice trip so far

Posted by
146 posts

Verrrry interesting, as Laugh-In used to say.
1)Airlines get fined thousands for ANY passenger let on without correct documentation, its a long-standing rule.

2)The stated purpose of the 'Enter Croatia' system is to have all the Tourist data pre-entered on their computer so a swipe of your passport brings it all up and they can pass you through swiftly. So they don't need to ask and see other paperwork. In theory.
Remember most tourists to Croatia come by car or in planeloads. Line ups are legendary.

Will see how I fare if I make my annual visit - skipped last year, obviously. Travel via Italy is out - quarantine.
Agree with flying to Croatia directly or via Frankfurt, which no longer demands tests if in transit (but check).
PCR tests are still needed for Croatia entry. PCR tests, not anything else.

Europeans will soon all have the Digital Vaccination App on their phones, for easy EU travel. but N. Americans cannot get it.
Interestingly Germany does not accept photos of documents on your phone, it says. Paper or digital versions only.

Reminder: Croatia is outside the Schengen Zone of the EU, so the Slovenian border is still a hard one.
See from Total Croatia News that the season is doing better now, and it looks great there...aah.