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Everything you need to know to cross the Montenegro Croatia borders, including unknown routes that could save you time!
Questions about the Montenegro Croatia border are some of the most frequently asked questions about Montenegro.
It doesn’t take much research to realise that Dubrovnik airport is very close to Montenegro and, with plenty of inbound flights, it's a great airport to fly into when you're travelling to Montenegro.
But then come the questions about driving from Croatia to Montenegro...
“Is the border really as bad as people say?”
“What’s the best way to cross it?”
“Can I drive to Montenegro with a Croatian rental car?”
Here's what you need to know about the Montenegro Croatia borders before you arrive.
There are two border crossing options if you are driving in from Dubrovnik:
If you are driving from Split, or further north in Croatia, you'll find a secret inland route with less traffic at the bottom of this page.
Debeli Brijeg – Karasovići is the main border between the two countries. Debeli Brijeg is the Montenegrin checkpoint and Karasovići is the Croatian checkpoint. This is the border crossing most people use because it lies on the Adriatic Highway that connects the two countries.
It's important to know that there's around 5km of no-man's land between the two checkpoints. Sometimes people decide to walk between the two and don't realise the distance they'll have to drag their luggage. Added to that, the walk in the direction of Croatia is mostly uphill.
Njivice-Konfin is the second border option. It’s much smaller and can’t process the same amount of traffic as the main border. You’ll often see it touted as the local’s secret option, and that was true until a couple of years ago, but it’s quite well-known now.
To get to this border when arriving from Dubrovnik, you have to turn off the Adriatic Highway towards Molunat and then follow the country road through Vitaljina until you get to the border crossing. When starting in Montenegro, you have to turn off the highway towards Njivice (opposite Novi Mall shopping centre) and follow the road until you get to the Montenegrin border checkpoint.
Before you choose your border, make sure you have the right paperwork. You can read more about that below.
Is the Montenegro Croatia border really as bad as they say?
The answer to this isn’t straight forward.
In July and August, the wait time at either border can be anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. It’s very unpredictable.
As a general rule, the wait time will be shortest very early in the morning, around 5-7am. So if you can haul yourself out of bed before dawn, you can save yourself a few hours of waiting in the hot sun. The rest of the day will be busy through into the night as people enter and exit Montenegro and Croatia.
The good news is that outside of July and August, getting through the borders is significantly faster. Crossing usually takes 20 minutes, or up to an hour on a busy day. Considering you have to go through two checkpoints, it’s not too bad.
My advice: if you’re visiting in July or August, try to get flights into Tivat or Podgorica airports. If you do fly into Dubrovnik, consider spending a night there and then crossing into Montenegro early the next morning. Or spending the day there and crossing over in the evening, when it’s cooler.
Local's Tip: Between mid-July and mid-August, try to arrive on a weekday. The roads and borders are busiest on the weekends. If you're driving anywhere past Herceg Novi, you'll probably also face queues for the Kotor Bay Ferry and traffic through Tivat and Budva on the weekends.
A great way to check the current status of the border is to check the Karasovići (Croatian border) webcam. Of course, the length of the queue can change at any time, but it’s a good resource for checking the status of the border. Click here to go to the webcam.
You can check also the Debeli Brijeg (Montenegrin border) on the official webcam. Click here to go to the webcam.
Most people who fly into to Dubrovnik hire a rental car there and drive across into Montenegro. It’s only 20 minutes by car from Dubrovnik airport (in an area just out of Dubrovnik called Ćilipi) to the Croatian border, and only 45 minutes in total to Herceg Novi in Montenegro.
If you’re hiring a car in Croatia, or coming with your own car, you’ll need border insurance, commonly called a zeleni karton or green card here. The card gives you third party insurance cover in Montenegro. You can find out more about the Green Card scheme here.
Most rental car companies in Croatia are happy to issue you with the green card for Montenegro when you collect the car.
If you don’t get it from the rental company, or you’re coming in your own car, you’ll have to buy the insurance at the border if Montenegro isn't covered on your existing policy. Currently the price for insurance at the border is €15 for 15 days, €28 for 30 days and €205 for a year. You can find the full list of tariffs for all vehicle classes here.
When you get to the checkpoint, tell the guard you need to buy insurance and they’ll point you over to the Sava office, where you can buy it. You’ll need your ownership/registration papers and your current insurance. It’s important to note that you can only buy insurance at the Debeli Brijeg border. If you need it, you must arrive in Montenegro via this checkpoint.
Getting a private transfer across the border is an easy way to cross between countries if you don’t have a car. Unfortunately, and contrary to some claims, there’s no special lane or crossing for taxis, so the wait is the same as if you were crossing in your own car.
There’s a daily bus linking Kotor, Tivat and Herceg Novi with Dubrovnik which crosses the Debeli Brijeg-Karasovići border. There’s a special bus lane, which means the bus skips the long summer queue, but the actual crossing can take up to 30 minutes at each border (versus the usual three minutes). Sometimes everyone on the bus has to get out and get their passports stamped individually, which can take a long time.
The bus doesn’t stop at Dubrovnik airport, so if
you’re arriving there and want to catch the bus, you’ll need to get a transfer to
Dubrovnik town (there are group transfers available for most flights into
Dubrovnik) and then get the bus from Dubrovnik’s
main bus station. You can find the timetable on the Blueline website here.
If you're driving to Montenegro from further north in Croatia eg. Split, you can take the little-known inland route.
Although there's always traffic at the border crossings in summer, the wait times on this route can be significantly lower and you get the benefit of getting off the highway and seeing some lesser-known beauty spots.
On this route you take the turning for Medjugorje, Mostar and Sarajevo (all in Bosnia and Herzegovina) when the highway (E65) ends in Ploće instead of staying on the magistrala, the coastal road through Dubrovnik to Montenegro.
The highway (A1) ends shortly after you cross into Bosnia and Herzegovina and instead you drive on near-empty country roads through Čapljina and Stolac before crossing the border into Montenegro at Vraćenovići and arriving in Lipci in the Bay of Kotor.
There are several attractions you can visit on this route:
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed entry rules for many travellers. Before booking any travel to Montenegro, please check the current situation and entry requirements for your nationality.
Read More: Montenegro Coronavirus Information >