How to apply for Croatian citizenship (hrvatsko državljanstvo): Guide for 2023

This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that approves citizenship.
Croatian citizens
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UPDATED: 21/11/2022

Croatian citizenship is an elusive golden goose reserved predominantly for those with Croatian heritage, those who married into heritage and those who have invested a substantial amount of time living in the country.

In this post, we will cover:

  1. Who qualifies to apply for Croatian citizenship
  2. How to apply for Croatian citizenship including requirements and fees
  3. What to do after you get Croatian citizenship
  4. How to get help with preparing your Croatian citizenship application

Let’s get started…

Who qualifies to apply for Croatian citizenship

To apply for citizenship in Croatia, you must prove that you have a claim. You may make a valid claim based on the following situations:

We will now go through each individual claim included in the Croatian Citizenship Act in detail as well as provide the excerpts from the law itself that apply in each situation.

You can download the full Croatian citizenship act in English here.

How to apply for Croatian citizenship (hrvatsko državljanstvo)

Citizenship Based on Origin

The following groups of people may apply for or request citizenship on the grounds of origin:

  • People born abroad, with at least one parent that was a citizen at the time of their birth and had their birth registered with an embassy, consulate or Matični ured before the age of 21
  • People born abroad that are older than 21 years old, with at least one parent that was a citizen at the time of their birth and had their birth registered with an embassy, consulate, or Matični ured as long as they make the request before January 1, 2023 (the deadline was prolonged in November 2021)
  • People born abroad after October 18, 1991 to a parent that was a Croatian citizen at the time of their birth
  • Children born and/or found within Croatia without knowing their parents. They will be considered Croatian if their true origin is not established before they turn 14 years of age.
  • People born in Croatia, with at least one Croatian parent, but only if they apply for Croatian citizenship before they turn 18 years of age
  • People born abroad and adopted by two Croatian parents

If any of the below situations below apply to you, then you can REQUEST rather than APPLY for citizenship:

  1. If you were born after October 18, 1991 AND at least one of your parents was a Croatian citizen at the time of your birth AND you are younger than 21, then you qualify to request your citizenship.
  2. If you were born after October 18, 1991 AND at least one of your parents was a Croatian citizen at the time of your birth AND you are older than 21, then you qualify to request your citizenship before January 1, 2023 (the deadline was prolonged in November 2021).
  3. If you were born between January 8, 1977, and October 8, 1991, AND both parents were Croatian citizens at the time of your birth – you qualify to register your citizenship before January 1, 2023 (the deadline was prolonged in November 2021).

To get step-by-step instructions on how to request citizenship, view this post.

The excerpts from the law on citizenship regarding origin is as follows:

Članak 4. (NN 102/19)

Podrijetlom stječe hrvatsko državljanstvo dijete:

1. čija su oba roditelja u trenutku njegova rođenja hrvatski državljani;

2. čiji je jedan od roditelja u trenutku rođenja djeteta hrvatski državljanin, a dijete je rođeno u Republici Hrvatskoj;

3. stranog državljanstva ili bez državljanstva kojeg su prema odredbama posebnog zakona posvojili hrvatski državljani.

Članak 5. (NN 102/19)

Podrijetlom stječe hrvatsko državljanstvo osoba rođena u inozemstvu, čiji je jedan roditelj u trenutku njezina rođenja hrvatski državljanin, ako do navršene 21. godine života bude prijavljena u diplomatskoj misiji ili konzularnom uredu Republike Hrvatske u inozemstvu ili u matičnom uredu u Republici Hrvatskoj radi upisa u evidenciju kao hrvatski državljanin.

Podrijetlom stječe hrvatsko državljanstvo i osoba starija od 21. godine života, rođena u inozemstvu čiji je jedan roditelj u trenutku njezina rođenja hrvatski državljanin, ako u roku od dvije godine od dana stupanja na snagu ovoga Zakona podnese zahtjev za upis u evidenciju hrvatskih državljana, a Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova prethodno utvrdi da ne postoje zapreke iz članka 8. stavka 1. točke 5. ovoga Zakona.

Osoba rođena u inozemstvu, čiji je jedan roditelj u trenutku njezina rođenja hrvatski državljanin, a ne udovoljava pretpostavci iz stavka 1. ovoga članka, stječe hrvatsko državljanstvo ako bi ostala bez državljanstva.

Citizenship Based on Lineage

Croatian emigrants and their descendants in a straight line (e.g. children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc) and the spouses of those descendants, in certain situations, may apply for citizenship.

The requirement to take the language and culture tests is no longer required for those applying based on lineage starting January 1, 2020.

There are exceptions:

  • If your ancestor (or Croatian emigrant spouse) left Croatia at any point and moved to another country within Yugoslavia or former Yugoslavia, then their descendants (or spouses) cannot apply for Croatian nationality.
  • If your ancestor (or Croatian emigrant spouse) left Croatia after October 8, 1991, then their descendants (or spouses) cannot apply for nationality.

The excerpts from the law on citizenship regarding lineage is as follows:

Članak 11. (NN 102/19)

Iseljenik i njegovi potomci mogu prirođenjem steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljavaju pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 2. – 4. ovoga Zakona.

Stranac koji je u braku s osobom iz stavka 1. ovoga članka može steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 2. – 4. ovoga Zakona.

Iseljenik iz stavka 1. ovoga članka je osoba koja se prije 8. listopada 1991. godine iselila s područja Republike Hrvatske u namjeri da u inozemstvu stalno živi.

Iznimno, iseljenik iz stavka 1. ovoga članka je i pripadnik hrvatskog naroda koji se iselio s prostora u sastavu bivših država u kojima se, u vrijeme iseljenja, nalazilo i područje današnje Republike Hrvatske.

Iseljenikom se ne smatra osoba koja je iselila s područja Republike Hrvatske na temelju međunarodnog ugovora ili se odrekla hrvatskog državljanstva, osoba koja je promijenila prebivalište u druge države koje su u to vrijeme bile u sastavu državne zajednice kojoj je pripadala i Republika Hrvatska te osoba koja je iselila s područja Republike Hrvatske, a nije imala bivše hrvatsko republičko državljanstvo, odnosno zavičajnost na području Republike Hrvatske.

Citizenship Based on Naturalization

According to the Croatian Citizenship Act, foreigners that fulfill the following conditions may apply for Croatian citizenship:

  1. They are more than 18 years old
  2. They no longer hold their foreign nationality, or have submitted evidence that he or she will be released from their foreign nationality if he or she is granted Croatian citizenship
  3. They have resided in the Republic of Croatia continuously for 8 years and hold the status of a permanent resident
  4. Passed a test of the Croatian language and culture (unless the person is over 60 years old)
  5. From his or her behavior can be inferred that he or she respects the legal order and customs in the Republic of Croatia.

Underage children can be granted Croatian citizenship on the basis of naturalization:

  • If both of its parents are being granted citizenship on the basis of naturalization
  • If only one of its parents is being granted citizenship on basis of naturalization AND the child is living in Croatia and has valid permanent residency
  • If only one of its parents is being granted citizenship on basis of naturalization AND the other parent has no citizenship, or citizenship is unknown – even if the child lives abroad

The excerpts from the law on citizenship regarding naturalization is as follows:

Članak 8. (NN 102/19)

Prirođenjem može steći hrvatsko državljanstvo stranac koji je podnio zahtjev za primanje u hrvatsko državljanstvo ako udovoljava ovim pretpostavkama:

1. da je navršio 18 godina života;

2. da ima otpust iz stranog državljanstva ili da podnese dokaz da će otpust dobiti ako bude primljen u hrvatsko državljanstvo;

3. da živi u Republici Hrvatskoj s prijavljenim boravkom 8 godina neprekidno do podnošenja zahtjeva i ima odobren status stranca na stalnom boravku;

4. da poznaje hrvatski jezik i latinično pismo, hrvatsku kulturu i društveno uređenje;

5. da poštuje pravni poredak Republike Hrvatske, da je podmirio dospjela javna davanja te da ne postoje sigurnosne zapreke za njegov primitak u hrvatsko državljanstvo.

Smatrat će se da je udovoljeno pretpostavci iz točke 2. stavka 1. ovoga članka, ako je zahtjev podnijela osoba koja je bez državljanstva ili koja će ga prema zakonu zemlje čiji je državljanin izgubiti samim prirođenjem.

Ako strana država ne dopušta otpust ili za otpust postavlja pretpostavke kojima se ne može udovoljiti, dovoljna je izjava osobe koja je podnijela zahtjev da se pod pretpostavkom stjecanja hrvatskog državljanstva odriče stranog državljanstva.

Ispunjenje pretpostavke iz stavka 1. točke 4. ovoga članka, utvrđuje se provjerom poznavanja hrvatskog jezika i latiničnog pisma, kulture i društvenog uređenja.

Osobe starije od 60 godina ne moraju ispunjavati pretpostavke iz stavka 1. točke 4. ovoga članka.

Članak 8a.

Strancu koji je podnio zahtjev za primitak u hrvatsko državljanstvo, a u trenutku podnošenja zahtjeva nema otpust iz stranog državljanstva ili nema dokaz da će otpust dobiti ako bude primljen u hrvatsko državljanstvo, može se izdati zajamčenje primitka u hrvatsko državljanstvo ako udovoljava ostalim pretpostavkama iz članka 8., stavka 1., ovoga zakona.

Zajamčenje se izdaje s rokom važenja od dvije godine.

Citizenship Based on a Marriage to a Croatian National

Spouses of Croatian citizens who hold permanent residence in Croatia may apply for Croatian nationality based on Article 10. The primary requirements are permanent residence and that they respect the legal order and customs in the Republic of Croatia.

If a Croatian descendant living abroad wishes to apply for Croatian nationality based on lineage, their spouse may also apply for citizenship without holding residence in Croatia. In this case, it is recommended that spouses only apply once their Croatian descendant spouse is granted citizenship.

If a Croatian born in Croatia moved abroad, then their spouse can qualify to apply for citizenship under Article 11 without holding permanent residence ONLY IF the Croatian emigrant left Croatia prior to October 8, 1991.

The excerpt from the law on citizenship regarding marriage is as follows:

Članak 10.
Stranac koji je u braku s hrvatskim državljaninom i kojem je odobren stalni boravak i živi na području Republike Hrvatske, može prirođenjem steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 1-4. ovoga zakona.

According to the Same-Sex Life Partnership Act, a person who is in a same-sex life partnership with a Croatian citizen can acquire Croatian citizenship under the same conditions as a person who is married to a Croatian citizen.

The excerpt from the law is as follows:

Članak 77.

Osoba koja je u životnom partnerstvu s hrvatskim državljaninom može steći hrvatsko državljanstvo pod istim uvjetima kao i osoba koja je u braku s hrvatskim državljaninom.

Special Interest to the Republic of Croatia

Foreign nationals whose Croatian citizenship would represent a benefit to the Republic of Croatia may apply for citizenship through naturalization as long as they show, through behavior, that they respect the legal order and customs of Croatia and have lived in Croatia with legal residence for at least 1 year.

Their spouse can then apply for residency based on family reunification.

The Ministry of the Interior and any other relevant ministries are in charge of deciding whether the person applying for citizenship based on special interest to the Republic of Croatia has a valid claim to it due to their capabilities or knowledge.

The excerpts from the law on citizenship regarding special interest applications is as follows:

Članak 12. (NN 102/19)

Stranac čije bi primanje u hrvatsko državljanstvo predstavljalo interes za Republiku Hrvatsku, može prirođenjem steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 1. -4. ovoga zakona.

Hrvatsko državljanstvo može steći i bračni drug osobe iz stavka 1. ovoga članka koja je stekla hrvatsko državljanstvo, iako ne udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 1-4. ovoga zakona, ako godinu dana živi u Republici Hrvatskoj s odobrenim boravkom.

Na zahtjev Ministarstva unutarnjih poslova, nadležno ministarstvo odnosno središnji državni ured daje obrazloženo mišljenje iz kojeg nedvojbeno proizlazi postojanje interesa Republike Hrvatske za primitak u hrvatsko državljanstvo stranca iz stavka 1. ovoga članka.

Re-admission to Croatian Citizenship

A person who at some point had Croatian nationality, but had asked to be released from it in order to become a citizen of some other country, can request to be granted Croatian citizenship again.

To qualify, they must show they respect the legal order and customs in the Republic of Croatia AND have valid residency in Croatia at the time of application.

The excerpt from the law on citizenship regarding re-admission is as follows:

Članak 15.

Hrvatski državljanin koji je tražio i ishodio otpust iz hrvatskog državljanstva radi stjecanja kojeg stranog državljanstva, što mu je kao pretpostavka za obavljanje kakvog poziva ili djelatnosti postavila strana država u kojoj ima prebivalište, može ponovo steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 1.-4. ovoga zakona te živi u Republici Hrvatskoj i ima odobren boravak.

A Member of Croatian People

People who do not have Croatian nationality, but had at some point in their life stated in some type of legal document that they feel an affiliation to Croatian people, or they can prove that they were active in the protection of rights and the promotion of the interests of the Croatian people and/or they have participated in Croatian cultural, scientific and sports associations abroad can also request Croatian citizenship.

Like all of the above cases, they must show they respect the legal order and customs.

The excerpt from the law on citizenship regarding being a member of the Croatian people is as follows:

Članak 16. (NN 102/19)

Pripadnik hrvatskog naroda koji nema prebivalište u Republici Hrvatskoj, može steći hrvatsko državljanstvo ako udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točke 5. ovoga Zakona.

Pripadnost hrvatskom narodu utvrđuje se ranijim deklariranjem te pripadnosti u pravnom prometu, navođenjem te pripadnosti u pojedinim javnim ispravama, zaštitom prava i promicanjem interesa hrvatskog naroda i aktivnim sudjelovanjem u hrvatskim kulturnim, znanstvenim i sportskim udrugama u inozemstvu.

Iznimno od stavka 2. ovoga članka, dokaze o pripadnosti hrvatskom narodu ne mora priložiti osoba za čije je roditelje nesporno utvrđena pripadnost hrvatskom narodu.

Citizenship Based On International Treaties

The Croatian Citizenship Act allows the possibility for the question of citizenship to be regulated on the basis of international treaties. However, at the time that this article was written, no such agreement was mentioned in the law.

How to Apply for Citizenship in Croatia

Step #1 Identify your claim

The very first step to applying for Croatian citizenship is identifying your claim. Your claim determines which documents and information you must provide as part of your application.

If you’d like to view all of the possible claims, click here.

If you’re unsure if you qualify for citizenship, you can find out in less than 60 seconds here.

Step #2 Prepare your application

Once you’ve identified which claim makes sense for your situation, you can start putting together your application. Each claim requires different documentation. Below is a comprehensive list of the common requirements as well as the ones that would apply to specific scenarios.

Everyone must provide:

  • A completed application – one of these depending on your scenario:
    • Application for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship by the birth of an adult – Download form OBRAZAC 1 here
    • Application for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship by the birth of an adult and a child/children – Download form OBRAZAC 2 here
    • Application for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship by the birth of a child/children – Download form OBRAZAC 3 here
  • Your biography with supporting documentation – include the reasons for applying (written in the Croatian language)
  • Your birth certificate (original, apostilled, officially translated if it is a foreign birth certificate) – if you are born in Croatia, a birth certificate isn’t required
  • Proof of nationality (such as a verified copy of a passport or an ID card, or domovnica equivalent)
  • Background check issued by your country of nationality proving you have not been criminally prosecuted. Must not be older than six months. (original, apostilled, officially translated)
  • A valid identity document with a visible photo (with a copy apostilled, officially translated)

Depending on your claim, you may also need to provide:

  • Marriage certificate, if applying on the basis of marriage (must be original, apostilled, officially translated if married outside Croatia) – if the marriage is solemnized in Croatia or entered into the Croatian marriage register, a marriage certificate isn’t required
  • Proof that you have passed the Croatian language and culture test if naturalizing
  • Proof of lineage
    • Proof is anything that shows your ancestor was a citizen like a domovnica or birth certificate. You also need to show all documents that connect you to that ancestor. For example, if your grandparent was Croatian, then you need to provide their birth certificate, your parent’s birth certificate, and your birth certificate as that makes the connection. If you need help locating a birth certificate, contact us.
  • Proof of when your ancestor left Croatia (if applicable)
  • Proof of emigration from the territory of the Republic of Croatia (for emigrants)
  • Proof of relation to the emigrant (for descendants of emigrants)
  • Proof that you provide a benefit to the Republic of Croatia, if applying based on special interest
  • Proof of residence, if naturalizing or applying based on special interest, member of Croatian people, or readmission
  • Proof that you have advocated for the interests of Croatian people, if applying based on member of Croatian people:
    • Proof of their previous declaration of nationality in legal transactions (originals or certified copies of employment records, certificates, military records, student’s courses and grade books, extracts from the birth register, extracts from the marriage register, etc.)
    • Proof of protecting the rights and promoting the interests of the Croatian people
    • Proof of active participation in Croatian cultural, science, and sports organisations abroad
    • Children of members of Croatian people enclose proof of parents’ declaration of nationality

For children under the age of 18, you also need:

  • An exact from the birth register (if they are born outside Croatia)
  • Proof on citizenship
  • Written consent of the other parent

Please note that ALL foreign public documents MUST be originals that are apostilled, officially translated to Croatian language (unless other rules are specified by bilateral and multilateral international agreements). Read more about the apostille and full legalization of documents here.

If you’d like help with the preparation of your application to ensure you meet all requirements and have the best chance of acceptance, click here.

Step #3 File your application

The application for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship must be submitted in person in the country of your residence. This change was effective as of January 1, 2020. Prior to this time, non-residents could apply from within Croatia.

If you live outside of Croatia, then you must apply at the closest consulate or embassy to your residence. If you hold legal residence within Croatia, you can apply at the administrative police station, closest to your place of residence.

If the applicant is a disabled person, the claim may be filed by their legal representative or authorized proxy.

The application process for citizenship can take a significant amount of time, especially if you are a third-party national applying based on residency and not marriage. Expect to wait a minimum of  two years or more.

Fees

The fees vary depending on where you apply. Each consulate and embassy have their own fees.

If applying from within Croatia, you must pay an administrative fee in the amount of 20 kuna when submitting the application. If your request is granted, you must pay 1.050,00 kuna to get “Rješenje” if you applied in Croatia.

Here is the payment information:

Recipient: Državni proračun Republike Hrvatske

Account number: HR1210010051863000160; Reference number: HR64-5002-713

An official will help you to fill in additional information on the slip.

Consular and embassy fees should be slight variance of these fees.

Step #4 Apply for your other documents

Once approved, you will receive a document called a “Rješenje o primitku u hrvatsko državljanstvo” (Decision on the admission to the Croatian citizenship), which is the formal decision that you have been approved for citizenship. After getting this decision, there are still some additional steps to take to get your identity documents, if you so choose.

Below is a list of the 4 identity documents you can request, in the order that you can request them.

#1 Domovnica

This is a document proves the new status of a Croatian citizen can be acquired at any Registrar’s Office in Croatia. This document is called “domovnica”. Here are instructions on how to get your domovnica.

#2 Birth certificate

This is your official birth record. All Croatian citizens have a birth certificate, even if they were not born in Croatia. Here are instructions on how to get your birth certificate.

#3 Passport

After you have your domovnica and birth certificate, you can apply for a Croatian passport. Here are instructions on how to get your passport.

#4 Osobna iskaznica

An osobna iskaznica is a national ID. If you live abroad, you don’t really need this. However, you can get one if you want. You can use this ID card to travel within the EU without your passport. It also gains you access to additional services through the e-Građani system.

Here are instructions on how to apply for an osobna iskaznica.

Our vetted lawyers can help get all of these documents for you once you’ve been granted nationality. Just contact us for help.

Once the Ministry of the Interior delivers a positive decision, you become a Croatian citizen. After this, you are entered into the Register of Citizens at the competent registrar’s office.

Need help with your Croatian citizenship application or locating birth certificates?

Our expat-vetted lawyer network can take care prepare your citizenship application for you including locating birth records within Croatia. We have excellent English-speaking lawyers that are currently helping people across the world apply for Croatian nationality.

If you live abroad, you must apply for citizenship at an embassy or consulate. While our attorneys cannot file applications on behalf of those abroad, they can:

  • Validate your claim to citizenship
  • Collect documents needed to prove your right to citizenship including birth records, domovnica, etc.
  • Write your CV biography (in Croatian)
  • Coordinate official translation of your foreign documents
  • Review your application and identify any gaps or risks

Having a lawyer prepare and review your application will increase your chances of approval on the first try. To get help with your application for citizenship, complete the form below and will match you with an expert.


Sources:
Državljanstvo
Obrasci

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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