How spouses of Croatians can apply for residence

Want to live in Croatia with your Croatian spouse?

As the spouse of a Croatian citizen, you are entitled to residency in Croatia as long as you meet certain guidelines. Your path to residency will vary, depending on your nationality. The requirements for residency will differ depending on whether you are an EU EEA national or a Swiss citizen or if you are a national from outside the EU (known as a third-party national).


Let’s go through all of the different scenarios:

Getting Married in Croatia

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.

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:

  • A translated and notarized copy of the marriage certificate
  • A 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.

How to apply for temporary residency as the spouse of a Croatian

First, prepare for your application by gathering the necessary documents. You’ll need:

  • OIB identification number
  • Health insurance with HZZO
  • Registered address where you reside with your spouse in Croatia
  • Marriage certificate (notarized and translated if married abroad)
  • Passports for both of you, with expiration more than 6 months out
  • Passport photo, 30x35mm

Please note that the above list of requirements applies to all non-Croatian spouses, regardless of nationality. There are additional requirements for residency on top of the above list, depending on your nationality, which are listed below.

Applying as an EU EEA national or a Swiss citizen

If you are an EU EEA or Swiss national who is married to a Croatian, you are entitled to residency on your own regardless of your marriage to a Croatian. In addition to the above requirements, you’ll also need to show proof of financial means e.g. how will you support yourself while living in Croatia.

Either a Croatian bank account statement or proof of recurring salary will qualify. There are thresholds you must meet for both, which the police will inform you of depending on the size of your family.

Applying as a Third-Party National

If you are a national from a country outside of the EU/EEA area and are not a Swiss citizen, then you are considered to be a third-party national. Third-party nationals have additional requirements for gaining residency.

Third-party nationals that are spouses are not entitled to residency based on their nationality like EU/EEA nationals or Swiss citizens, so you will need to apply for a temporary stay permit under Family Reunification.

In addition to the requirements already listed above, you’ll also need to bring:

  • A copy of your university transcript
  • A translated and notarized copy of your birth certificate
  • Proof of financial means. For third party 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.

Ready to Apply

Once you have these materials together, go to the MUP office 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.

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.

What next?

The length of your permit may vary. Some spouses have received 5-year permits and some have received 1-year permits, that must be renewed annually. If you must renew annually, 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 5 years passes, you become eligible to apply for permanent residency. You may read about 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 request an extension of your temporary permit so that you may apply for permanent residency once you hit the 5-year mark as the process for permanent residency takes much longer than temporary residency.

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Expat in Croatia

Sara is an American expat based in Split. After globetrotting between New York, Amsterdam and California, she moved to Croatia in 2012. Sara's blog Expat in Croatia is a guide for foreigners living and traveling in Croatia.