How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia: Guide for 2022

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how to apply for permanent residency in croatia
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Paolo Braiuca

UPDATED: 12/05/2021

If you are a third-country citizen that has lived in Croatia with a valid temporary residence permit consistently for a few years,  then you might qualify for permanent residence.

A third-country citizen refers to anyone with a nationality outside the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA).

This post is intended to all third-country citizens and third-country family members of permanent resident third-country citizens. We will have another post for third-country family members of EU/Croatian citizens and EU citizens who wish to apply for permanent residence soon. The rules governing permanent residence have changed so much in 2021, that we decided to split our post on permanent residence into multiple posts for the different scenarios. This is the first.

Once you hit a certain mark based on your situation, the natural next step is to apply for permanent residency, called “stalni boravak” in Croatian. First, we’ll list the basic requirements then we’ll go over each one in more detail.

That being said, it is always good to check the requirements with the local MUP. Sometimes requirements may vary depending on your case.

In this post, we cover:

Let’s get started…

Who qualifies to apply for permanent residence in Croatia

It used to be pretty simple to know who qualified for permanent residence. Everyone had to be here 5 years, that was it. From 2021, the rules on who qualifies vary depending on your situation.

Some groups of third-country nationals can get permanent residence under more favorable terms. Let’s find out which group you belong to.

Types of permanent residence

There are 2 types of permanent residence that you can get in Croatia. They are actually the same, but each of them can be granted under different terms.

As a third-country national you may be granted:

  1. Dugotrajno boravište (long-term residence)


  1. Stalni boravak (permanent residence)

Dugotrajno boravište and stalni boravak are both granted for an indefinite period. The main difference between the two is that stalni boravak can be obtained on more favorable terms.

Third-country nationals who receive either dugotrajno boravište or stalni boravak have the same rights in Croatia.

They both have the right to:

  • Work and self-employment
  • Professional development
  • Education and student scholarships (state scholarships are excluded)
  • Social welfare
  • Child allowance
  • Tax reliefs
  • Access to the market of goods and services
  • Freedom to associate and be members of organizations that represent workers or employers, or organizations whose members perform particular occupations, including fees paid to them by such organizations

Long-term residence (Dugotrajno boravište)

If you are a third-country national, you must have legal residence in Croatia for 5 years continuously and meet certain conditions before you can apply for permanent residence.

Continuous stay means that within this 5-year period, you are not absent from Croatia for more than 10 months in total or once for more than 6 months.

By legal residence, we mean one of the following:

  • Temporary residence
  • Asylum
  • Subsidiary protection

Permanent residence (Stalni boravak)

As we already mentioned, some third-country nationals can get permanent residence under more favorable conditions.

To qualify for stalni boravak, you must meet one of the below qualifications:

  • Family members, spouses and life partners of Croatian citizens can apply for permanent residence after 4 years of temporary stay in Croatia
  • Members of Croatian people with foreign nationality or without nationality who returned to Croatia can apply for permanent residence after 3 years of temporary stay in Croatia
  • People who have the status of a refugee for at least 10 years can apply for permanent residence after 3 years of temporary stay in Croatia
  • Children of third-country nationals who hold permanent residence can apply for permanent residence after 3 years of temporary stay in Croatia
  • Third-country nationals who had prebivalište (residence) in Croatia on October 8, 1991 and are users of the program of return or renovation or housing can apply for permanent residence
  • Children who have at least one parent with permanent stay or long-term residence in Croatia (with the approval of other parent) can apply for permanent residence
  • Children who have at least one parent has permanent stay or long-term residence in Croatia whose other parent is unknown, has died, has been declared dead, deprived of parental care or completely or partially deprived of the business ability in relation to parental care can apply for permanent residence
  • Third-country nationals who are born and live in Croatia but don’t have a regulated stay in Croatia for justified reasons can apply for permanent residence

How third-country nationals can apply for permanent residence in Croatia

Step #1 Contact MUP administration office

To apply for permanent residence, you must visit the administration police office nearest to your address of stay, same as you did for all of your temporary residence applications. You can find a full list of all police stations in Croatia here.

Due to pandemic measures, some police stations may require that you make an appointment before you visit. Our advice is to call them and ask for a service desk that works with foreigners. Explain that you would like to apply for long-term residence. They will provide you with the latest information.

Some police stations allow applications to be sent via email. However, after you make a call, you will be 100% sure whether you need to go to the police or not. For permanent stay applications, there will always be at least 2, possibly more, in-person visits with the police.

Step #2 Prepare the application

Prepare your application according to the requirements. Below are the basic general requirements for a successful long-term residency application in Croatia:

  • Completed application, provided by the police – Download the form here
  • Valid claim for long-term residency
  • Copy of your foreign passport (If passport is not in the English language, you must provide a copy that is notarized and translated into Croatian)
  • Proof of financial means
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Proof of knowledge of the Croatian language

Note: Persons without nationality and third-country nationals under asylum or subsidiary protection don’t have to enclose a valid foreign travel document.

Let’s go over the basic requirements in detail.

A valid claim

If you meet the threshold listed at the top of this post, then chances are you qualify to apply for permanent status, unless you are a student, volunteer or you’ve been outside Croatia for too long. Time spent on a student or volunteer permit does not count towards permanent residence in the same way as other types of temporary residence.

Depending on your nationality and situation, there are limitations on how long you can be gone from Croatia. Time outside Croatia is taken into consideration when applying for permanent residence. You can view these restrictions here.

If you are unsure whether you qualify, go to the police and ask well in advance (e.g. 2 months at least) of your current residency expiration.

Here is a guide on how to prepare for the transition to permanent residence.

Copy of Passport

Sometimes they will make a copy at the MUP, but it is best if you bring a copy of your passport with you the day you file your application just in case. Make sure you also have a copy of your national Croatian identification card.

Proof of Financial Means

This requirement has variations depending on your situation. If you are a non-EU national, you must show (3) pay stubs from a Croatian company. If applying based on marriage, your spouse can show their proof of salary payment from a Croatian company.

Regardless of your situation, these are the minimum amounts you need to have based on your family situation according to MUP (but do not be surprised if they tell you to have more). Here are the current minimums.

That being said, don’t do anything until the MUP tells you exactly what you need to provide for your situation.

Proof of Health Insurance

If you’ve made it this far, you already have this. You’ll need to provide a copy of your HZZO card and be up to date on payments.

Proof of Knowledge of the Croatian language

Third-country citizens must take a language test as part of their permanent residence application. There are several ways to fulfill this requirement:

  • Certificate from a higher education institution, secondary education institution or an adult education institution that is running a program in the Croatian language. The qualified institutions are:
    • Čakovec:
      • Centar stranih jezika Studio Žerjav, Carinski odvojak bb
    • Dubrovnik:
      • Šibenska privatna gimnazija s pravom javnosti, Sustjepanska 4
    • Karlovac:
      • Pučko otvoreno učilište Pouka, Bogoslava Šuleka 29
    • Rijeka:
      • Narodno učilište-ustanova za obrazovanje i kulturu, Školjić 9
      • Ustanova za obrazovanje odraslih Dante, Pomerio 23
    • Split:
      • Edukacijski centar, Ustanova za obrazovanje, Domovinskog rata 46
      • Šibenska privatna gimnazija s pravom javnosti, Ulica Marina Držića 8
    • Šibenik:
      • Šibenska privatna gimnazija s pravom javnosti, Andrije Kačića Miošića 11
    • Varaždin:
      • Škola stranih jezika-Žiger, Stanka Vraza 37
    • Zadar:
      • Šibenska privatna gimnazija s pravom javnosti, Ulica A. G. Matoša 40
    • Zagreb:
      • Sova jezično učilište, Ustanova za obrazovanje odraslih, Varšavska 14
      • Svijet jezika, Ustanova za obrazovanje odraslih, Vodnikova 12
  • A passing grade on a language test offered by the Filozofski Fakultet in Zagreb, Split, Osijek, Rijeka, Pula or Zadar. This test is B1 level. To schedule the test, bring a copy of your passport to the fakultet. You’ll be asked to complete an application and pay the fee for the test at a local bank or post office. The cost of the fee may vary. Once paid, return to the fakultet with your application and proof of payment. You’ll be given a test date at that time. For the test with the fakultet, you must schedule the test at least 10 days in advance as they are only given once a month.

You are exempt from taking this language test if:

  • you are of pre-school age
  • you have completed primary, secondary or higher education in Croatia
  • you are unemployed and older than 65 years

My personal experience with the test

I took this exam in March 2018 with the Filozofski Fakultet in Split. It was composed of two parts: written and oral. For the written, there were about 25 multiple choice questions that involved selecting the appropriately conjugated word to fill in the blank.

There was also an essay section where you write about yourself for half a page. For the written, only 20 minutes were allotted. Personally, I felt rushed. The other 40 people in the room all were native speakers from neighboring Balkan countries.

After the written, everyone had to wait while the tests were graded. Then people were called back into the room, in groups of 4, in order of who finished the written first. Each person is then asked questions related to their essay in speedy complex Croatian, which they then must answer in Croatian.

You’ll need to be prepared to have a two-way conversation for about 5 minutes. After the discussions for everyone in my group were complete, we each found out if we passed and could pick up our certificate at the Filosofski Fakultet where we scheduled the test after one week.

Some caveats and learnings

I was told by the woman who I scheduled the test with that there would be NO oral section. She also told this to my Croatian teacher who called before I scheduled the test. This turned out to not be true, so be prepared for an oral discussion regardless of what the fakultet tells you.

You’re probably wondering, so how hard is the test? At the time of the test, I’d been taking Croatian lessons for 2 years and had been in Croatia for 6 years. I work from home, do not have Croatian heritage and am not married to a Croatian so am not super integrated into the community. I do live in a neighborhood where nobody speaks English so I get some practice, but not as much as someone working in a business with locals.

The written was challenging. I have a decent scope of vocabulary and a good grasp of all cases and past, present and future tenses. Nevertheless, I didn’t understand most of the words on the test. My understanding of cases and tenses is what got me through the test. Honestly, there wasn’t enough time to even translate the sentences. I only had enough time to figure out what should go into the blank based on context clues.

Personally, I felt like I fell on my face during the oral and thankfully, the two gentlemen from Kosovo in my group didn’t snicker at my embarrassing display. I did really well on the written, so overall I passed. Thankfully.

In summary, this is not a test that can be crammed for. If you plan on being here for the long haul, start learning and speaking Croatian now. There will be another test as part of the citizenship application, which will definitely be harder.

Birth Certificate

This requirement primarily applies to children. If it is requested that you provide a birth certificate, it must be apostilled/legalized, translated into Croatian and notarized.

A completed application

MUP will give you the application at the time you start the process. You can also download the form for third-country nationals/non-EU nationals here.

Step #3 Submit the application

When you have prepared all of the requirements, visit the police station and submit them. The police will let you know if there are additional documents for your situation that are needed. Once they accept your application for processing, the next step is to wait.

Step #4 The interview(s)

Third-country citizens applying for permanent residence usually must meet in person at MUP at least once, but sometimes as many as 3 times (this was my situation). It all depends on your basis for permanent residence and nationality.

At some stage, you will be called in for an interview (or several) either by phone call or a summons that you receive by mail.

During this interview, they will review your documents and ask you questions like:

  • How do you support yourself, and how have you supported yourself since living in Croatia?
  • Do you work?
  • Are you married?
  • Where do you live and where have you lived since being in Croatia?
  • Do you have children?
  • Why do you want to live in Croatia?
  • Tell us about your family, where they live and what they do
  • Other questions that you have answered for all of your other permits, but they will ask again

The purpose to reconfirm you meet the requirements and get a clearer understanding of your motivations for applying for permanent residence. They may also review with you the time of your total absence from Croatia.

Step #4 Get boravišna iskaznica (residence card)

Once you receive the magical call that your permit has been approved, you’ll be called into the station. You will get the document called “Rješenje o odobrenju stalnog boravka” which is a decision on your approval of permanent residence. The administrative fee for this document is 630 kuna.

They will provide you with the payment slips to take to a bank, FINA or Pošta to pay. Then you’ll return to the police with proof of payment.

If you want to pay for this document via internet banking, here is the payment information:

Državni proračun RH
IBAN: HR1210010051863000160
Model: HR64
Poziv na broj: 5002-713-OIB (if you have Croatian OIB) OR 5002-713-number of passport or ID card (if you don’t have Croatian OIB).

Within a period of 8 days after your permanent residence has been approved, you must submit a request for boravišna iskaznica (residence card).

To get the residence card, you need:

  • (1) passport photo (35x45mm)
  • Valid foreign travel document

Passport Photo

Usually, the police ask for this once your application is approved (if applying for temporary residency), but in my experience they wanted this photo as part of the application itself before it went to Zagreb for approval. If you don’t already have some stockpiled, there is usually a photo studio by the MUP that will take your photo and prepare them to the right measurement.

You will have to pay for the administrative fee for a residence card which is 240 kuna. The police will provide you with the payment slips to take to a bank, FINA or Pošta to pay. Then you’ll return them a proof of payment. You can also pay this fee via internet banking. Here is the payment information:

Državni proračun RH
IBAN: HR1210010051863000160
Model: HR65
Poziv na broj: 7005-485-OIB (if you have Croatian OIB) OR 7005-485-RKP-number of request (if you don’t have Croatian OIB).

By the way, if you want to get a certified transcript of a permanent residence permit, the administrative cost for this is 105 kuna.

After you show proof of payment, your fingerprints and signature will be taken. You’ll then be given a white card, which will function as your temporary identification card. You’ll need to bring this with you to get your new identification card, so DO NOT LOSE IT. At this time, they will order your ID, which takes 3 weeks, same process as is with temporary.

Step #5 Enjoy the security of knowing you can stay forever

Yaaay! You are permanent! This affords you additional privileges. With permanent stay, you can be gone from Croatia for longer periods without losing your status. You can learn more about this here.

Termination of the permanent residence of third-country nationals

Termination of the long-term residence

There are several cases when the long-term residence of third-country nationals can be terminated.

Long-term residence will be terminated if:

  • A third-country national has submitted a request for the termination of their permanent stay
  • A third-country national is banned from entering and staying in Croatia
  • SIS has issued a warning for the purpose of banning the entry of a third-country national
  • A third-country national has resided outside the EEA territory for a continuous period of 12 months
  • A third-country national has resided outside of Croatia for more than 6 years
  • There are reasons of protection of public order, national security, or public health that require termination
  • A third-country national who received long-term residence status in another EEA member state
  • Third-country nationals’ asylum or subsidiary protection has been terminated

Termination of the permanent residence

There are several cases when the permanent residence of third-country nationals can be terminated.

Permanent residence will be terminated if:

  • A third-country national has submitted a request for the termination of their permanent stay
  • A third-country national is banned from entering and staying in Croatia
  • SIS has issued a warning for the purpose of banning the entry of a third-country national
  • A third-country national has moved outside of Croatia
  • A third-country national has resided outside of Croatia for more than a year
  • There are reasons of protection of public order, national security, or public health that require termination

More things you should know

    • If you are a non-EU national, this process will take a minimum of one year, but most likely closer to two years. Spouses of Croatians will get shuttled through quicker.
    • You MUST have a valid temporary residency permit during the entire application process. If you are nearing your expiration, you must reapply for temporary residency alongside your permanent application at least 2 months prior to the expiration of your current residency permit. Here is a post just about transitioning from temporary to permanent.
    • For applications related to a child, consent and signatures from both parents are required.
    • Don’t be surprised if the requirements change mid-process. Laws change all the time.
    • If you plan to apply for citizenship through naturalization, you can start that application three years from the date you BEGIN your permanent residency application or after being here for 8 years. If you are married to a Croatian, you can apply for citizenship after you are approved for permanent residence.
    • For rare cases (such as mine), I was approved for permanent residency before my current temporary residency was up. As a result, they would not order my permanent residency ID until my temporary residency ID expired.

Good luck!


Need help getting permanent residency?

The permanent residency application can be a bit of a beast, especially if you are a non-EU national with no Croatian family ties. There will be MANY interviews. Due to this, we recommend using a lawyer for the process. Lawyers have connections within immigration, are able to skip common roadblocks and can identify any risks with your application.

Our expat-vetted lawyer network can review your situation and quickly determine if you qualify for permanent residency. If you do qualify, they can also handle your permanent 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 about your case for permanent residency, please complete the form below and we’ll contact you as soon as possible.

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

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59 thoughts on “How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia: Guide for 2022

  1. Eddie White
    March 8, 2018 @ 1:14 am

    Hi. This is a very useful post.
    Just one point I would like to ask about: taking into consideration your point about the law always changing (!) I hadn’t realised that if you were unemployed and older than 65 years, that you were exempt from the language test.
    Has this been the case for a while?


    • Expat in Croatia
      March 13, 2018 @ 5:17 pm

      Hi Eddie,

      I’m not sure how long they have had the exemption for unemployed retirees. I do know they changed the permanent residency requirements on Jan 1, 2018. Unsure if this specific exemption is part of that change or not.




  2. Hannah
    March 8, 2018 @ 10:41 am

    Thanks so much for your post Sara – and congratulations on passing your exam! I’m not sure if your explanation of the test makes me feel better or worse about taking it (I’m super shy so even an oral exam in English makes me nervous – never mind in Croatian!). Ugh.

    Again, thank you for providing such detailed information – I’m so happy to have found your blog and a real, first hand account of what to expect (not only on this topic, but across the board).

    Off to study!


    • Expat in Croatia
      March 13, 2018 @ 5:19 pm

      Hi Hannah!

      Thanks so much!

      Regarding the oral exam, feel good knowing it exists. They explicitly told me there wouldn’t be one and then there was, so I was not prepared for it at all. If you prepare your essay in advance and have someone ask you questions about your essay, then you will be prepared enough for the oral.

      Good luck and keep us posted!




      • Hannah
        May 9, 2018 @ 9:33 am

        Hi Sara (& everyone…)

        I took my exam yesterday (May 8) in Split. My experience echoes yours exactly – except that there were only 7 of us writing the exam and the oral portion was done in groups of 2. I, like you, was the only native English speaker – the rest were native to Slavic based languages. Thanks to you and the information you provided, I arrived without nerves (for me, the scariest part of the test was not knowing what to expect) – I felt ready enough to ‘try’ and ok with the fact that I may need to retake the exam at a later date which helped me to remain calm and focused. I, like you, didn’t understand most of the words on the test, but was able to use context clues to choose the appropriate answers in the multiple choice area. I did not prepare a written essay in advance (I didn’t want to be caught up in memorizing something specific in case the topic of the essay might change through a rotation of exams), but this was the portion I felt most comfortable about as I was in control of what I was writing (I could choose words I am familiar with and form sentences based on tenses I am confident in using correctly). The oral conversation (the part I was most nervous about) was ok – the man who was in my group gave very detailed responses in excellent Croatian – mine were short and pointed (but still correct). The facilitators were very friendly and created a comfortable vibe in the classroom (probably easier with a smaller group). At one point of the oral portion, I did not understand a question they were asking, so, just as I would in a ‘real life’ situation, I responded with ‘ne razumijem’ (I don’t understand) and they re-asked the question – speaking more slowly and using different words (which I did understand). I passed the exam (yay!) and celebrated with ice cream at Luka Ice Cream & Cakes (best in Split!).

        Thanks again Sara for providing your information and experience with the exam – there is NO WAY I would have been prepared to walk through those doors in March as I had originally planned. My language skills have not increased in any way since then; however, knowing what to expect made ALL the difference for me.

        Best of luck to everyone taking the test in the future. Trust me – if I can do it, you can do it – nema problema.


        • Expat in Croatia
          May 29, 2018 @ 1:30 pm

          Hi Hannah,

          Congratulations!!!! Well done!!!!

          I’m so glad to hear that the information in this post helped you accurately prepare for your test. You are correct, knowing what to expect can help exponentially. 🙂



          p.s. Luka is the best in Split! I had a carrot sorbet the other day that was unreal.


        • Ram
          June 19, 2019 @ 10:48 pm

          Hi thanks .i want Tourist visa Canada . I’m from India. But now working in Zagreb restaurant .it is possibly


    • Eddie White
      March 14, 2018 @ 1:50 am

      Many thanks Sara. I will check with the Zadar police.



      • Hannah
        February 21, 2019 @ 1:06 pm

        Today, after submitting my application in June 2018, I’ve learned that my permanent residency has been refused due to lack of funds.

        For anyone interested:

        My husband (of 7 years) is an EU national (Croatian), I am non-EU (Canadian), and we have no dependents. We are required to provide 6 months of pay-stubs showing NET income of 3400HRK – the money on our bank account was irrelevant and not considered, nor was equity (we own our house – we have no mortgage payments or loans).

        Also – my medical insurance as a temporary non-EU citizen was just re-adjusted – my payment is now 520HRK per month.

        I’m not quite sure what I will do – I’m so sick of jumping through hoops while reading others’ stories of how easy it was for them. I don’t understand why there is no standard procedure across the board for everyone – or some way to get proper information up front (we had no idea, other than what you have written here, how much income was ‘enough’ – there was literally no other source to rely on (even our local police had no idea) so to be safe, we made sure we had more than enough in the bank for a 1 year period PLUS 6 months of pay-stubs showing GROSS income of 3000HRK per month – plenty for us to live on as we have been for years – but not enough to please the powers that be). I know, I know… that’s just ‘how it is’ here – but I will never get used to the inconsistencies and bureaucracy.

        Living where seasonal employment is the only option – and generally for 4 month periods (June-September), I am not sure if I will ever fulfill the requirements for a permanent visa. My temporary permit that I had to apply for while waiting for my permanent application to be processed will surely expire before we have a chance to collect 6 pay-stubs. I suppose I have until June to decide if I will continue to try to stay here, or if I will move somewhere else (and hope my husband will follow me).

        I’m so effing frustrated and sad right now. Why is this so hard?


  3. Mikki Kojakovic
    March 10, 2018 @ 9:26 pm

    Wow great post and will certainly be appreciated by all needing this. Sarah congratulations on passing, all the extra advise you have given is icing on the cake. I really wish MUP could copy your post and put it on their site 🙂 🙂


    • Expat in Croatia
      March 13, 2018 @ 5:25 pm

      Hi Mikki,

      Why, thank you! Much appreciated for the compliments . 🙂




  4. Valeria
    March 11, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

    My experience of getting permanent residency totally echoes your post here!

    I applied for permanent residency immediately after my 5-year temporary stay was up in January 2016. All I needed was to submit the documents, more or less as you have stated since I don’t remember exactly now. The major difference is that I didn’t have to take any language test. I got my permanent residency in about 3 months’ time.

    When I applied for my citizenship, I thought that I should take a language test of some kind. But the lady at the police station assured me that I didn’t have to because my husband was Croatian. Having lived here for almost 6 years by that time, I said to myself, “Let’s see when my application gets approved and we’ll know for sure.” I submitted my application in December 2016. I got my Croatian citizenship in January 2018 WITHOUT any interview or language test whatsoever.

    I must say that I was really lucky in the whole process. When I learnt that my friends have to take a language test just for the permanent residency, I was in disbelief. But we are in Croatia. So I probably shouldn’t have been.


    • Expat in Croatia
      March 13, 2018 @ 5:29 pm

      Hi Valeria,

      Thank you for the comment and sharing your experience! It is Croatia, nothing should be surprising. 🙂 Your story proves how quickly policies can change and how they can vary from person to person.




  5. Daryl Porter
    April 8, 2018 @ 7:35 pm

    Hello ,
    My wife is a Croatian national and we intend to move back to Croatia ( Zagreb ) in about 2 years .
    I am a Canadian national and speak Croatian a little .
    As the husband of a Croatian national can I apply now for PR outside of Croatia with our local Croatian consulate ?
    Can I also apply for OIB at our local consulate as we intend to purchase a home in Croatia in the next couple months .


    • Expat in Croatia
      April 13, 2018 @ 11:10 am

      Hi Daryl,

      Thanks for the question!

      When you return to Croatia, you may apply for temporary residency based on family reunification. You’ll need to apply for an OIB and start the residency application here in Croatia at the MUP in Zagreb.

      You will not qualify for permanent residency until you’ve been here for 5 years and pass a language exam. I just posted about this process here:




  6. Kaleigh Hendershot
    May 4, 2018 @ 7:58 pm

    Ah hi! I love your blog! I’m an American who moved to Croatia too because it’s just so amazing! I love how informative your blog is, I wish I’d discovered this a year ago when I was trying to stay! I just wanted to reach out as I’m launching a blog, also about life and travel in Croatia, but more of the Zagreb-version of your site! I just wanted to commend you and your site and say that it’s really wonderful.

    Hope we can connect one day!




    • Expat in Croatia
      May 29, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

      Hi Kaleigh,

      Thank you for the kind words and for following! Much appreciated.

      If you’re ever in Split, give me a shout and we can go for a coffee. 🙂




  7. Karla Swansen
    June 25, 2018 @ 4:25 pm

    Hi Sara,
    Thank you for your candor and your sense of humour. You thankfully have the knack of making light in a dark situation.
    My husband and I are immigrating in September and reassure ourselves with your blog almost weekly.
    I would like to confirm the language test issue. This is only done after our 5 years temporary stay and on applying for permanent residence and or citizenship?
    My husband will be over 65 when this happens so hopefully he will be exempt but I on the other hand will have to do it.
    So best I start learning the language from day one right?
    All the best and will hopefully meet you in Split in September if you are not too busy.
    Kindest regards,
    Karla and Anton


    • Expat in Croatia
      July 7, 2018 @ 11:34 am

      Hi Karla,

      Thank you for following the blog and for the question!

      I recommend you both start learning the language from Day 1, regardless of whether you must take a test or not. While a lot of people speak English, you will have a very difficult time with the bureaucracy and living life without knowing the language on some level.

      The first language test required by the government is at the permanent residency stage, after 5 years.

      Feel free to reach out to me in September and we can go for a coffee. Always enjoy meeting newcomers. 🙂

      Good luck!



  8. Pia Schough
    July 24, 2018 @ 10:49 pm

    Thank’s for sharing your experiences. I got 2013 a “permanent stay permit” after having been here for 5 years. I did not have to take any language test and was told It was only needed if I wanted a Croatian Passport. However, I was told to come back after 5 years again… Now when I did (some months in advance) I was told I already had a permanent stay permit and no need to do anything more… Same police woman – different message. Now Im not sure what is right. Rules seems to be changing all the time. Can I be safe with that the date on my ID -card say its valid or do I have to do anything after 5 years (totally 10 years in Croatia)… Doing wrong, even if it’s based on what the police said – can be a fatale…


    • Expat in Croatia
      August 4, 2018 @ 11:57 am

      Hi Pia,

      Are you married to a Croatian citizen? That is the only situation I have heard of where you are exempt from taking the language test for permanent residency.

      I would go by the expiration date on your card. With permanent residency, you shouldn’t need to apply for anything again, BUT you will need a valid ID. Two months before expiration of your card, go back to the police and see what they ask of you.




  9. Jonah
    September 5, 2018 @ 12:18 pm

    Hi thanks for the post
    I checked with “Office 13” in the main police station in Split, just last month with the head of “Stranac”, lovely lady, she said because I am married to a Croatian I am exempt the language test. So assume its the same for all that are married. I not above it says this exemption is no longer in force.
    Curious to know others experience that is quite recent.
    My 4yr 11m, yep you read it right, is due to expire in Jan 2019.
    So I have to apply for Temp again, for the one month, then apply for Permanent in Feb 2019.

    I will try to remember to update you on my personal experience when the time comes.

    I was also told I can hand in the PR application and then immediately apply for naturalisation as well. So I could get a HR passport. Because I am married to HR citizen I would not be required to give up my original nationality and therefore would become a dual national. Again I will update when the time comes.


    • Expat in Croatia
      September 18, 2018 @ 3:04 pm

      Hi Jonah,

      Thank you for sharing your experience!

      I heard recently (last 6 months) of a spouse of Croatian that was still required to take the language test. But most of the stories I hear is that they are exempt, like you.

      Speaking from my own experience with permanent residency, you can start the application at the same time you apply for an extension of your temporary residency.

      I would be very interested to hear if they allow you apply for citizenship immediately at the same time as permanent residency. Please keep us updated and good luck!




  10. Lynn Žardin
    October 4, 2018 @ 6:58 am

    Hi Sara

    My very recent experience (just a few weeks ago) as a UK citizen married to a Croat was just exactly as Jonah said. Filled in a short form at our friendly local police station (totally different kettle of fish to Zagreb!), no tests, bought the obligatory stamp and submitted a new photo, permanent residency card was ready to be picked up in three weeks or so. Done and dusted. A couple of local police officers did come to our house to check me out as part of my application but I already had the card in my hand!
    I feel a bit bad reading about all the hoops others have had to jump through. The police officer told me that the fast approval was because I was from an EU country, not because of my marriage. And, yes, the citizenship application (for dual citizenship) can go in immediately, although I haven’t yet done it. Again, I have a form to fill in and have to write a short ‘CV’. After that I think it can be a year’s wait til you actually get it but as long as I get it in progress before Brexit I am hoping it will be OK.

    Hope it helps to have this recent info – it really did go very easily for me … although I know the rules could change again at any time!

    Best wishes,


    • Expat in Croatia
      October 22, 2018 @ 10:39 am

      Hi Lynn,

      Thank you for sharing your experience! Glad to hear it happened quickly and easily for you. 🙂




  11. Clare
    October 30, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

    Hello Sara.

    Thank you so much for this informative post. I have kept this post open since April and it has definitely proven useful. Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

    I am based in Zagreb and my experience has been only slightly different from yours. Just last week I took my language exam (which is still very much a requirement, even for spouses of Croats–straight from the lips of the person who processes the residency applications for Zagreb), and as stated by one of your commentators about the oral segment of the test, they were not concerned with my speaking perfect Croatian, but rather being able to express myself and to understand and answer questions. One glaring difference was that my written test was NOT (all) multiple choice. Argh! That’s okay, though. The Filozifski Fakultet of Zagreb’s page has a sample test that was way more difficult than the one I took. FYI: . Another difference was that I was able to bypass the (hassle of) Filozofski Fakultet and take the test at Vodnikova škola stranih jezika, which is the only other school in Zagreb that is qualified to certify your language proficiency.

    I am willing to give more details about the Zagreb process as I go through the steps if you want, but don’t want to commandeer your comments section blabbing on and on. Again, I just wanted to express my gratitude for the reassurances and information provided by your blog and this post in particular.


    • Expat in Croatia
      October 30, 2018 @ 3:05 pm

      Hi Clare,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Do not worry about “commandeering the comments section” as all experiences are useful and helpful to the readers on this site. Croatia’s residency processes are not straightforward and differ greatly for everyone, so hearing all the possibilities is a valuable.

      Feel free to continue to add comments about any future experiences you have. It will be appreciated by me and others!

      Thank you for following the site and I’m glad to hear it has been so helpful to you. 🙂




  12. richard
    January 6, 2019 @ 9:59 pm

    hi the proccess of applying for permenant residance aftrer 5 years.
    3 january 2019.we have small form to fill in 30×35 photo .copy of passport id card and statement and proof of house ownership..
    payment slip for 79 kuna..
    and thats it…nothing about language test….


    • Expat in Croatia
      January 10, 2019 @ 3:10 pm

      Hi Richard,

      Are you or your spouse a Croatian national? Thank you for sharing your experience.




    • Preet
      January 10, 2019 @ 5:25 pm

      Hello Richard,

      Are you married with Croatian citizen? What is your nationality?
      I would like to know more about your process of permanent residency!



  13. Andre
    February 4, 2019 @ 2:36 am

    The swift changes in rules & regulations from authorities in Croatia certainly challenges one’s mental flexibility & adaptabilty. So stay awake folks. I am Australian retiree, living in Split with temporary resident permit for last three years. I plan to purchase apartment in Split. For title deeds to be transferred in my name, requires the buyer (non-EU) to be a permanent resident. How risky is it to purchase now & then wait another two years & then hopefully acquire permanent residency in order to have my name on property title & ownership?


    • Expat in Croatia
      February 8, 2019 @ 11:48 am

      Hi Andre,

      There is always a risk. Nothing is ever guaranteed in Croatia. In addition, permanent residency isn’t immediate. My permanent residency application took 16 months, so it wouldn’t be only 2 years from now. It could be at least 3 or 4 years from now.




  14. Andre
    February 4, 2019 @ 2:59 am

    Hi Richard I am keen to know how you acquired house ownership before getting permanent residency?


    • Hannah
      February 21, 2019 @ 1:25 pm

      I believe anyone can purchase property (eg. vacation homes) – but not everyone will be granted residency. My friend (USA citizenship) has owned her home here for 10+ years but is unable to apply for residency (temporary or permanent). She is fortunate enough to be able to travel every 3 months (for 3 months) – she does need to register as a tourist while she is here (and pays the daily tourist tax for the full time she is here – even as the homeowner). It’s not a great situation – and certainly not one that is possible for everyone – but she loves living here and does what she needs to to make it work.


  15. Emmanuel
    February 24, 2019 @ 12:13 am

    Hi all. Did anyone recently took a Croatian language test at Vodnikova škola stranih jezika?

    How did it go? Any samples?

    I have a test there in 12 days. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Thank you.



    • Clare
      April 17, 2019 @ 9:38 pm

      Hello Emmanuel,
      I’m so sorry I didn’t see your question earlier because maybe I could have helped a little. Hopefully someone else will benefit from this account in the future.

      My test comprised a sample test before the actual scheduled test. Because I had studied HR language at another institution, the staff said it would be in my best interest to ensure my language proficiency was actually B1, rather than waste the money on the exam only to discover that I needed more preparation. This assessment test started off as multiple choice in an empty classroom with one administrator. I suspect that it was taken directly from the Učimo hrvatski text book (Školska Knjiga). While I worked on other pages of the test, the administrator/proctor went through what I had already completed and I guess she saw that I had a good enough knowledge of grammar because she told me I could stop the written and then asked me a few questions: basic stuff about how long I’ve been in HR, why I was taking the exam, etc. I think the whole thing lasted 20 mins. The administrator said that she was happy to say that my language ability was sufficient and jokingly welcomed me to Croatian residency (maybe she saw how nervous I was and wanted to be reassuring).

      For the exam itself, the setup was much more formal with many administrators and loads of other students taking tests for different languages and levels. The written paper comprised some reading comprehension exercises (newspaper article, classifieds) that had specific answers, and another exercise that required what-would-you-do responses. And the last section of the written was to write a short bio (family, occupation, hobbies,…).

      Next, after handing in the paper, we were instructed to go to another floor to await the listening comprehension. This part was tough for me; listening exams always give me problems and the playback was a little muffled, so I used logic based on what I did hear. They played the recording twice.

      Again, we were ushered into the hallway for a bit and then two administrators called us in one by one (in the order of who finished the written portion first) and had a little chat. One of my proctors was the person whom I met the day before, and she was again reassuring and that made the conversation easier. I think that portion lasted 5 mins, even though it felt like 5 hours, at the end of which, they said that I had passed and were happy for me and that I could collect my certificate the following week.

      I hope this information helps.


  16. J Cadona
    August 17, 2019 @ 3:46 am

    I see stories all over the place. Super hard to stay in Croatia and Super easy. Its confusing.
    Im a Danish EU citizen currently living in South America with my Russian Girlfriend. We are not married. It looks like I could stay there with no problem but for her it would be a problem right?
    We have money and will most likely invest in real estate if we knew for sure we can stay long term.
    What would be a realistic view of this? Also, are rules changing now that Croatie enters EU?


  17. Ahmed
    January 2, 2020 @ 6:56 pm

    my wide is Croatian and I’m non EU citizen, I want to work in EU and I’m currently studying in Slovenia.
    how to be able to work in the EU (do I need permanent residence or temporary residence in Croatia is enough), in case I need a permanent residence how many years do I need to issue one ( I have a baby and he is Croatian as well),
    I appreciate if anyone can help
    happy new year


    • Expat in Croatia
      January 7, 2020 @ 5:41 pm

      Hi Ahmed,

      You can work if you and your wife live in Croatia legally. I can’t speak to any other countries and their requirements for you.




      • Marsida
        October 3, 2020 @ 7:37 pm

        Hello everyone. My mother have 2 years that work in coratia. But before 1 years ago she have diagnosticetit with cancer. And she have worked around 4 month . Naw her bos his preparing the documents for this “bollovania”
        And she cant work any more. Her visa finished at 1 february 2021.
        She is taking the medicine and therapie at Pulla croatia.
        And the problem is that next year that finished visa, haw can she make a new visa ? To take the therapie in croatia
        Thank u very much and have e good work


        • Expat in Croatia
          October 6, 2020 @ 8:10 am

          Hi Marsida,

          Saddened to hear about your mother. I hope she is not in too much pain.

          Work permits are tied to work contracts. She would need another work contract to get a new work permit. If she cannot work anymore, then she would need to apply for residence on some other basis. Here are all of the options:




  18. Keith Harding
    January 29, 2020 @ 10:44 am

    I have lived in Croatia on and off for the past 11 years while I worked in the UK. I have now retired and applied for a temporary 5 year visa which I got 2 years ago. I moved 6 months ago from my apartment to a house, so I had to change my address on my temporary residence card. The end date remained the same and was not extended so I have 3 years remaining.
    My question is can I apply for another 5 years temporary residence card after the 5 years expires then start my application for residence?
    The reason is I could never learn the Croatian language and will be over 65 in 6 years time, after my first 5 years expires.
    Thank you in advance for your help.


    • Expat in Croatia
      January 29, 2020 @ 6:13 pm

      Hi Keith,

      After 5 years, MUP will requires that you apply for a 1-year temporary residency permit while you apply for permanent residency to guarantee that you always have a current permit. So it shouldn’t be a problem for you to apply for another temporary residency permit while you wait until you are exempt from taking the language test.




  19. Catherine
    January 13, 2021 @ 7:19 pm

    Hi Sara,

    In regards to this latest update on the language test:
    “are a spouse of a Croatian citizen (starting January 1, 2021)“

    Is this inclusive of non EU national (ie Canadian)?
    Also, do you know the article# and paragraph# for this revision?



    • Expat in Croatia
      February 16, 2021 @ 12:28 pm

      Hi Catherine,

      This was in the change log for the new law in December. However, we’ve been unable to verify it in the new law and also we have received 3 different answers from MUP on it. We’ve taken this down for now until we can verify it.




  20. Maria
    January 19, 2021 @ 11:09 am


    According to the post, as a Non-EU spouse of a Croatian national I am not required to take the language test when applying for permanent residency (starting this year). Have you got a source for this?

    I am about to apply and would like to avoid having to take the test if I can, but I’ve been reading the new law regarding foreigners in Narodne Novine and there’s no mention of this exemption for spouses, only for school aged children and people over 65.

    Thanks in advance,


    • Expat in Croatia
      February 16, 2021 @ 12:28 pm

      Hi Maria,

      This was in the change log for the new law in December. However, we’ve been unable to verify it in the new law and also we have received 3 different answers from MUP on it. We’ve taken this down for now until we can verify it.




  21. Catherine
    February 3, 2021 @ 9:55 pm

    Hi Sara,
    I just took the language test at the Filozofski Fakultet in Split.
    As a third country national (Canada) I kinda knew I would have to take it, but 18 months ago at the police station here in Split they said that I would not need it. Skeptical, but relieved, I carried on with life. Two weeks ago I got a letter in the pošta from Zagreb stating that, yes, I would need to provide proof of language by 60 days from receiving the letter.
    I had taken a few months of lessons off and on over the past few years but always found it too difficult. Luckily I had retained most of the grammar (cases, conjugation of verbs, past, present and future tenses) but my vocabulary is very limited. I have a very difficult time understanding people and can construct sentences like a 5 year old.
    My experience:
    I had expected what you had described but it was a bit different.
    There were only 2 of us there (Covid?). We were given 2 sheets of paper stapled together. One of the women gave instructions to which I smiled and nodded.
    The first part was the instructor reading a short story. There were 5 statements on our paper regarding the story with a choice of True or False. The paper was right in front of us as she was reading and the statements were written as spoken so it was easy to answer along as she spoke. She then repeated the piece. She spoke slowly and I didn’t understand most of it but was able to correctly answer T/F.
    The next part was a written piece of about 6 sentences.

    Following that were 5 questions about the written piece. Again, the questions were worded the same way as the written piece. Just copy/paste essentially.

    Then, 3 multiple choice questions with vocabulary. The choices on all 3 questions were very long words I have never seen before. I just guessed. There was no context for me to choose the correct answer without knowing the definitions of the words.
    Then, 3 M/C questions involving cases. If you know them, it’s fine.
    Then 3 M/C questions involving conjugating verbs. Again, if you know, it’s fine.

    The final part of the written was an essay with 3 choices as to what to write about. I choose the easiest which was “my daily life in Croatia”. They asked for 100-150 words, I wrote about 50 before time was up (about 20 minutes for everything).

    The other girl and I left them room for a few minutes while they marked the exams. They called us both back, told us our scores (I won’t lie, I don’t know what they said). They then asked the other girl to tell them about herself. She spoke in very fast Croatian for 5 minutes straight . At this point I was a little terrified because I was expecting a question/answer conversation but they asked me to tell them “my story”. I was able to get out a few short sentences with proper grammar and they seem fine with it.
    Somehow I passed!!
    Thanks for this post which I referenced several times over the past few years.


    • Expat in Croatia
      February 4, 2021 @ 9:33 am

      Hi Catherine,

      Congratulations!!! That’s great news!

      Your test sounds very different, and actually a bit harder than what I experienced. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. This will be helpful to others.




  22. AC
    March 2, 2021 @ 9:45 pm


    I’m in the process of applying for my permanent residence in Croatia. I’m a third country national who is married to a Croatian citizen. I have lived in Croatia for 5 years. I understand all the rules regarding the application. but I was told at MUP that it’s better for me to apply for “EU long term residence “(dugotrajni) as opposed to “permanent residence” (stalni boravak) as you get more rights in the EU such as mobility etc. However, I’m not sure if the dugotrajni allows me to apply for citizenship as the citizenship act clearly states that a “stalni boravak” is needed in order to apply for citizenship. The lady at MUP told me there is no difference in that regard but I can’t find where it says this in the citizenship act.. Otherwise I’d rather get the dugotrajno.

    I would appreciate if you have any additional information on that.


    • Expat in Croatia
      March 11, 2021 @ 2:28 pm

      Hi AC,

      It is interesting that you have a choice between the two! We had a really hard time figuring out the differences between them when writing this post and MUP was not much help. The only difference that we could determine was who qualified to apply for each. That being said, our impression was that stalni boravak was more favorable. If you find out something more specific, please let us know! This really twisted our brain up.

      Both allow you to apply for citizenship.




  23. Katorin
    April 20, 2021 @ 8:22 am

    I read the Law on Foreigners of Croatia. It stated that “Permanent residence shall be granted to a foreigner who: has been married for three years to a Croatian citizen or a foreigner who has
    been granted permanent residence, and who has been granted temporary
    residence in the Republic of Croatia. ”
    but in the page of MUP, I read another rule: Spouses of Croatian citizens can apply for permanent residence after 4 years of temporary stay in Croatia.
    I don’t know whether here they don’t apply the law or they have some other rules?


    • Expat in Croatia
      April 28, 2021 @ 9:26 am

      Hi Katorin,

      The 3 years rule is from an old law from many years ago. It was changed to 5 years a few years ago, and now it’s been changed to 4 years.




  24. Ana Daniella
    May 11, 2021 @ 12:55 am

    Hi, Sara! I’m living in Croatia for more than 5 years and on beginning of 2021 I’ve applied for permanent residency in Zagreb (January 7th – I’m non-EU married a Croatian citizen) and until today I didn’t get any answer about it, just got a new privremeni boravak for the next 2 years. Is it right to wait for so long, since the law changed and give me rights after 4 years of living in Croatia and I’m here for more than that? Thanks, Ana Daniella


    • Marija Tkalec
      May 12, 2021 @ 4:01 pm

      Hi Ana Daniella,

      In your case, it would be best to contact MUP administration office where you’ve applied for permanent residency. Inform them about your specific case and they should tell you what’s going on.

      The whole process can take a while, plus it may be prolonged due to the epidemic. Since you are non-EU, it can take them a minimum of one year, but it could take closer to 18 months if not longer.

      Check out this article, it might be useful to you:

      Good luck (:


      • Ana Daniella
        May 18, 2021 @ 2:41 pm

        But even being a spouse of a Croatian citizen? On this website I’ve found info written that for this new 2021 law changing the process for spouses could be more shorter than usual…


  25. Matthew Jastrzemski
    September 26, 2021 @ 10:04 am

    Hey, I was at the police yesterday. And a new rule is that residency by marriage no longer requires language of any sort. But I. Was told that it can take up to a year for the paper work currently.


    • Marija Tkalec
      September 28, 2021 @ 5:04 pm

      Hi Matthew,

      Thanks for sharing your information with us. We know that spouses of Croatian citizens who meet the residence requirements don’t need to take the language test.

      Warm regards,


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