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How Australian citizens can visit and live in Croatia: Guide for 2023

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Australians living in Croatia
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UPDATED: 17.2.2023.

Many Australians come to Croatia for both tourism and to live here long term.

Since Croatia’s hot summer aligns with Australia’s cold winters, it is an ideal place for Aussies to get away on holiday and blow off steam. While the cost to visit Croatia has been on the rise, it can still be relatively affordable for Australian citizens making Australian dollars.

Many Australians are also looking to put down long-term roots in Croatia, some because they love its laid-back culture, some because they married a Croatian abroad, and some because they have Croatian ancestry.

There are over 130.000 Australian nationals who have Croatian ancestry. These Crozzies are now applying for citizenship. As of January 2020, the language test has been waived for the diaspora, so it is much easier to apply for citizenship based on ancestry now.

There are a number of ways Australians can settle in Croatia. They are definitely hoops of fire to jump through, but options do exist.

We’ve created a guide specifically for citizens of Australia that includes every option available to Australian citizens to move to Croatia long term. If you’re just passing through, we cover tourist visas too.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How Australian citizens can visit and live in Croatia

Tourist visas for Australian citizens to visit Croatia

Australians enjoy visa-free travel to 115 countries around the world. Croatia is one of those countries.

Even though a visa is not needed, there are requirements for Australian citizens to enter Croatia. You can always see the latest tourist visa status here, but it’s unlikely to ever change.

How to move to Croatia as an Australian citizen

There are many options for Australian citizens to stay in Croatia long term. It will be easiest for those with Croatian heritage or whom marry a citizen. For everyone else, it will be challenging but not impossible. This guide will cover all of your options as well as what is required of you as an Australian.

Before we get started, we need to cover some vocabulary. Croatia divvies up citizens into 3 groups:

  • Croatian citizens
  • EU/EEA citizens
  • Everybody else (third-country nationals or non-EU/EEA citizens)

Australians belong to the third-country national group. This means that the following residence permit schemes apply to all third-country nationals, not just Australians.

Please note that the limited options for residency are consistent with other EU/EEA countries. In some ways, Croatia even gives more leeway than The Netherlands or France.

Now that we have the disclaimers out of the way, let’s get started. We will go through each option for temporary residency, starting with the one that allows you the least amount of time in Croatia, and moving up to the ones that allow you the most time in Croatia.

Digital nomads

Starting in 2021, digital nomads can be granted temporary residence based on their remote work as long as they are not working for any Croatian companies. Australian citizens can now apply for this permit.

Here is a post that explains the requirements and process for applying for a permit based on being a digital nomad.

View frequently asked questions about Croatia’s digital nomad permit here.

Permanent residents of EU/EEA/Switzerland

Australians who hold long-term residence in another EU/EEA member state may be granted temporary residence in Croatia.

Here are instructions on how to apply for a permit based on your permanent residence in another EU/EEA country.

Student permit

Australians have the possibility to study at one of Croatia’s many universities and get residence. You may also study the Croatian language at certain language schools and qualify for a residence permit as well.

To get a student residence, you must show proof of acceptance into a qualified Croatian institution of education as part of your residence application.

Here are instructions on how to apply for a student residence permit.

Working for Croatian company

Australians can get residence permits with the option to work in Croatia, but first, they must get a job in Croatia.

If you want to seek a work permit to live in Croatia, then start by looking for a job. We have a guide specifically on how to find a job in Croatia available here.

EU Blue Card

If you have received higher education or qualifications such as ISCED 1997 levels 5a or higher, or an associate’s degree or higher, you may qualify for an EU Blue Card.

Once you have been hired or given a binding work offer for a highly qualified position within Croatia, the company that intends to hire you may apply for a temporary residence that will allow you to work based on a Blue Card.

Our detailed guide on how to apply for an EU Blue Card in Croatia is available here.

Work permit by starting your own company

You can issue yourself a work contract as the director of a Croatian company and therefore qualify for a residence and work permit.

This option should only be used by those who legit want to open and run a company in Croatia, as you’ll be required to hire 3 full-time Croatian citizens as part of the requirements.

If you plan to open your own company, educate yourself on what operating a business in Croatia actually means. We have written many posts about opening and running businesses in Croatia, which you can view here.

In addition, view a detailed post on all the requirements associated with getting a work permit by opening your own company here.

Prepayment of rent

If you only want to live in Croatia for one year, then this option could be the right fit. It’s a great option for retired people and frequent travelers whom have the flexibility to move to a new country for a limited amount of time.

Another benefit is that it is not “merit” based or tied to work contracts and instead is tied to prepaying rent for the term you are here.

You can read more about how to apply for this permit scheme here.

Learning the Croatian language

A residence permit can also be granted if you study the Croatian language at certain language schools. To get this permit, you must enroll in a Croatian language study program (like Croaticum).

[Read: Biggest Croatian language schools in Croatia]

Our detailed guide on how to apply for temporary residence based on language study is available here.

Scientific research

If you are working on a scientific research project for which you need to live in Croatia, you can apply for temporary residence. You’ll definitely need to provide proof of the research and how long it will take. Expect it to be scrutinized.

In addition, you cannot work for a Croatian company if you own this permit.

Members of the Croatian people

Croatian descendants may get Croatian residence based on humanitarian reasons if they plan to use it for the purposes of applying for citizenship based on descent. The most common ground to apply for humanitarian reasons is being a member of the Croatian people.

Once granted temporary residence, members of the Croatian people have the right to work in Croatia without a work and stay permit. In addition, they can attend courses or vocational training, educate, and study.

View our guide on how Croatian diaspora and descendants can apply for temporary residence in Croatia if they don’t have citizenship yet here.

View our guide on applying for citizenship by descent here.

Volunteering

You may apply for temporary residence on the grounds of humanitarian or volunteer work. To apply on this basis, you must provide a contract with a non-profit organization called udruga that shows the term of work and that the role is unpaid, among other requirements.

You can read more about this permit here.

Also, view our articles on Croatian non-profit organizations that may offer long-term contracts to non-EU/EEA volunteers:

Marry a Croatian or EU/EEA national

This program is called family reunification, which means that spouses and children of Croatians and EU/EEA citizens can come to live in Croatia with their spouse or parent (if they are a minor).

For clarification, I do not encourage or recommend anyone to marry someone they are not in a relationship with just to live in Croatia. Technically that is fraud, and you would be lying to the government, which is a risk.

If you are married, in a life partnership, or a long-term relationship with a Croatian or EU/EEA national, you are entitled to residency in Croatia as long as both you and your spouse live in Croatia together at the same address. This is by far the easiest and fastest permit to get since there is an automatic trust that is inherent when a Croatian or EU/EEA citizen is involved.

[Read: How to get married in Croatia (if at least one spouse is a foreigner)]

Learn more about how to apply for a permit based on marriage here:

Croatian citizenship by descent

If you’ve got Croatian blood, then ignore everything you’ve read up to this point.

To qualify for citizenship, you must have a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc., that is Croatian. Ancestry must be in a straight line, and you must be able to prove ancestry, which can be done in a variety of ways. It is usually done with birth certificates.

[Read: How to get a copy of a birth certificate]

You can check out if you qualify for Croatian citizenship here.

Even though having heritage is the golden ticket, there are still catches. This is why we created guides on applying for Croatian citizenship, which you can view here:

In addition, view the most important things you need to know before applying for Croatian citizenship here.

Check out all of our citizenship resources here.

Requirements that apply to all situations

There are common requirements that apply to all Australians, no matter which of the options you choose from above. Below is a list of the most common requirements across all temporary residence permit applications. However, keep in mind that MUP (the police) will request additional items from you depending on your basis for residency.

Everyone must provide:

  • Completed application form Obrazac 1a
    • The police will provide you with the right application – view it here
      icon fill
  • Valid passport
    • Validity period must be 3 months longer than the validity period of the intended stay
  • Criminal background check (with certificate on the length of stay if you lived somewhere other than the US the previous 12 months) – view a guide here
  • Health insurance
    • This is usually private health insurance unless you have state health insurance from another EU/EEA state
  • Registered address in Croatia – view a guide here
    • Proof of accommodation is sufficient for the purposes of applying for residence; after approval, you’ll need a rental contract
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself – view a guide here
  • Passport photo 30×35 mm
    • Usually, there is a photo studio right by MUP where you can get these in the right size
  • Application fee
    • This is due upon approval of your application, and sometimes you may pay an administrative fee earlier in the process using tax stamps

Health insurance for Australians living in Croatia

When applying for temporary residence in Croatia as an Australian citizen, you are required to have proof of health insurance as part of your application. It will need to be some kind of private health insurance policy or a state health insurance policy if coming from another country within the EU/EEA.

Once approved for residence, you must sign up for obvezno state health insurance with a state insurance fund called HZZO unless you’re a digital nomad.

View our guides on Croatian health insurance:

HZZO is the state health insurance fund. View a list of HZZO offices in Croatia here.

Upon enrollment in HZZO, anyone who has not had an EU state health insurance policy for the previous year are required to pay 12 months of health insurance premiums for the previous year plus the monthly premium going forward. This is for all citizens, children and adults alike. Meaning that if you are a family of 4 with 2 children, you’ll need to pay these fees for all 4 members of your family.

The monthly premium changes from year to year. The current amount is always updated in this post.

Exchanging your Australian driver’s license

If you plan to drive in Croatia, you can exchange your Australian driver’s license for a Croatian license during your first year of residence. If you wait longer than one year, you may be fined and/or required to start from scratch with driving school.

You can read about the process of exchanging your Australian driver’s license here.

You can read about the process of getting a Croatian driver’s license from scratch here.

Learn how to take a driving school called autoškola in Croatia here.

Buying property in Croatia

Australian citizens are allowed to purchase any property zoned as “residential” in Croatia, as long as they hold permanent or long-stay residence in Croatia. You can see the latest list of reciprocity agreements that Croatia holds, including Australia, here.

If you’re interested in purchasing a house or apartment in Croatia, we’ve got a step-by-step guide that explains the process. Check it out here.

We can also connect you to vetted real estate agents and lawyers to help you through the process to ensure everything goes smoothly. If you’d like an introduction, please complete this form, and we’ll contact you.

Taxes

Australians living more than 183 days in Croatia each year must report their worldwide income and pay taxes in Croatia.

Currently, Australia does not have a double-taxation treaty in place with Croatia. Due to a lack of a double taxation treaty, you may also need to report your income to Australia. Whether you need to pay tax to Australia depends on a variety of factors.

Here are additional resources from the Australian Taxation Office:

Taxes are complicated. This is a very high-level view of the tax situation. If you ever want a detailed review of your tax liability while living in Croatia, contact us, and we’ll connect you with a tax expert.

How to find the Australian embassy in Croatia

Embassy of Australia, Zagreb

Contact person: Elizabeth Marianne Petrovic

Phone: +385 (0)1 48 91 200; +385 (0)1 48 91 216
Email: austemb.zagreb@dfat.gov.au
Address: Kaptol Centar, Nova Ves 11, 3rd Floor, 10 000 Zagreb – view map

[Read: All the foreign embassies and consulates in Croatia]

Conclusion

While it may not be straightforward to live in Croatia legally long-term as an Australian citizen, there are several options that will allow you to live here for at least 1 year, if not longer. It all depends on how badly you want to live here and how much patience you have.

Need help figuring out your best option for Croatian residency?

We recommend that everyone use a lawyer when applying for residency in Croatia, especially non-EU/EEA nationals. Solicitors 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.

A member of our expat-vetted network can review your situation and quickly determine if you qualify for residency, all in English. View our expat-vetted lawyer network here. If you do qualify, they can also handle your residency application from beginning to end.

This service includes:

  • Personalised consulting on your specific situation
  • Confirming the 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 solicitor 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.

View our other residency by nationality guides

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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