Want to live in Croatia with your Croatian spouse or significant other? As the spouse of a Croatian citizen, you are entitled to residency in Croatia as long as you meet certain guidelines. Officially your reason is called “family reunification”.
Your path to residency will vary, depending on your nationality. If you married to Croatian but also are an EU national, then head over here as this permit is a better match for you. The below post is exclusively for non-EU spouses of Croatian nationals.
Let’s go through all of the different scenarios.
You are not yet married or are in common law relationship
If you are not yet married, but plan to marry in Croatia, you can find details on how to get married within Croatia here. Once married, you can proceed with your application for residency.
Alternatively, if you can prove you have been cohabiting (living at the same residence) for at least 3 years, then you can apply based on a common law marriage.
You were married within Croatia
If you were married in Croatia, then your marriage will already be registered with “Matica vjenčanih” and you should already have a marriage certificate. You’ll need the marriage certificate as part of your residence application.
You were married outside of Croatia
If you got married outside of Croatia, but intend to live in Croatia, you will need to register your marriage with the Croatian Registry of Marriages known as “Matica vjenčanih” in Croatian. You and your spouse will need to visit the Registrar’s Office closest to your registered address in Croatia.
You’ll need to provide:
- An apostilled/legalized, translated, notarized copy of the marriage certificate
- Copy of your passport (if you are the non-Croatian)
- Proof of citizenship (if you are the Croatian)
You should already be registered at an address in Croatia before registering your marriage.
You are in a civil union or life partnership
Civil unions and life partnerships are recognized in Croatia as marriages, in almost every way. If you entered into a civil union abroad or entered into a life partnership in Croatia, the non-Croatian partner will qualify for temporary residence.
How to apply for temporary residency as the non-EU spouse of a Croatian
First, prepare for your application by gathering the necessary documents. You’ll need:
- Completed application, which the police will give you in person – Download it here
- OIB identification number
- Health insurance with HZZO
- Registered address where you reside with your spouse in Croatia
- Marriage certificate (apostilled/legalized, notarized and translated if married abroad)
- Criminal background check *NEW FOR 2021*
- People applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must now provide a criminal background check from their country of nationality. This is a brand new requirement that goes into effect January 1, 2021.
- Passports for both of you, with expiration more than 6 months out (If passport is not in English language, then you must have a copy notarized and translated into Croatian)
- Passport photo, 30x35mm
- Birth certificate (apostilled/legalized, notarized and translated)
- Proof of financial means. For third-country nationals, you and your spouse will need to prove recurring salary that exceeds the minimums for a family of your size. The police will inform you of the threshold for your situation.
Please note that the above list of requirements applies to all non-EU spouses who are third-country citizens. Of course, what you need to provide ultimately depends on the person you speak to at the police station and what kind of mood they are in.
If you are the spouse of a Croatian and also an EEA/EU citizens, then you should apply based on yourself. You can find the procedure here.
Ready to Apply
Once you have these materials together, go to the administrative police station in the city where you address is registered with your spouse.
Provide all the above materials, as they ask for it. Don’t give them anything they do not ask for. Usually, they will provide you with a list of the latest requirements.
At this time, you’ll need to complete an application form, which will be provided to you at the MUP office. It is not something you need to bring with you, but you can reference this one so you know what to expect.
Once the officer confirms that you have provided all necessary documents, they should ask you for your contact phone number. If they do not ask, make sure you give it to them and that it is written on your application (even though there is not a field for it). This is how you will be notified upon approval of your application.
And now, you wait. How long? It varies, could be a few weeks to months. Don’t get agitated or impatient. It will take as long as it takes. You are legal to stay in Croatia while your application is in process, so there is no reason to get anxious.
That being said…you should start your residence application as soon as you arrive in Croatia as a tourist. Do not wait until the last minute before your tourist visa expires. If you do, there is a high risk the government will make you leave and return after 90 days. This most commonly happens with spouses who require a visa to enter Croatia as a tourist.
You’ll be called back into the MUP once approved. At that time, your fingerprints and signature will be taken. Your application fee will also be due at this time. The MUP officer will give you a payment slip that you’ll take to a nearby bank to pay. Bring the receipt back to MUP to show proof of payment.
In exchange, the police will give you a white card that you will need to present to pick up your residence card, so DO NOT LOSE IT.
You’ll then need to wait another 3 weeks for your residence card to be made. You may or may not be called to pick it up, so good rule of thumb is to go 21 days to the day or after.
You will be granted a 1-year permit, that must be renewed annually. When you renew, you will not need to re-provide all the same items. Two months prior to your permit’s expiration, return to the police to renew. You’ll need to complete a new form, confirm you still have health insurance and reconfirm your proof of financial funds. Usually that is enough to complete your renewal application.
After completing 5 full years on temporary residence, you are eligible to apply for permanent residency. You may read about the transition to permanent residence here and how to apply for permanent residency here.
Please note that you MUST have a valid permit at all times. This means that you need to go 2 months prior to the expiration of your permit to start the application for a new one.
We have a network of immigration lawyers who have connections within immigration, are able to skip common roadblocks and can identify any risks with your application. In addition, it is rare that the police (who handle immigration) will speak English to applicants.
Our vetted lawyers can review your situation and handle your residency application from beginning to end. This service includes:
- Personalized consulting on your specific situation
- Confirming latest immigration requirements for your nationality and basis
- Assistance with putting together necessary documents
- All communication with the police on your behalf
- Assembly, submission and monitoring of your application
- Answering questions and assisting you throughout the process
To consult with an immigration lawyer to find out if you qualify to live in Croatia long term, please complete the form below and we’ll contact you as soon as possible.