Background checks and fingerprints for third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens: Guide for 2024
As of 2021, third-country nationals applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the first time must provide a criminal background check. If you are applying for Croatian citizenship, you must also submit a background check, regardless of nationality.
A criminal background check is called Uvjerenje da se ne vodi kazneni postupak in Croatian. This document proves you haven’t been convicted of criminal (felony) offenses.
This guide covers only foreign background checks, so if you want to get a Croatian criminal background check, view this guide.
In this post, we cover:
- What the Croatian law say
- Who must have a background check
- Where to get your fingerprints
- Where to get a background check
- What to do after obtaining a background check
The facts are these…
Background checks and fingerprints for third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens
Article 59 of the Zakon o strancima (Law on foreigners says):
(1) Državljaninu treće zemlje odobrit će se privremeni boravak ako:
- uz zahtjev za odobrenje prvog privremenog boravka priloži dokaz da nije pravomoćno osuđen za kaznena djela iz matične države ili države u kojoj je boravio duže od godine dana neposredno prije dolaska u Republiku Hrvatsku, osim ako je upućeni radnik odnosno student, istraživač ili osoba premještena unutar društva koja se koristi mobilnošću iz druge države članice EGP-a.
Which translates as:
(1) A third-country national shall be granted temporary residence if:
- together with the request for approval of the first temporary residence, encloses proof that they have not been convicted of criminal offenses from their home country or the country where they resided for more than one year before arriving in the Republic of Croatia unless the person is a posted worker or student, researcher or person transferred within a company using mobility from another EEA Member State.
The Law on Foreigners is available here.
A background check is MANDATORY for:
- Third-country nationals applying for temporary residence for the first time
- Third-country nationals applying for residence even after holding residence already if the residence is non-continuous
- Anyone applying for citizenship, regardless of their nationality
This also applies to students and family members of Croatian/EU/EEA citizens who are third-country nationals.
A background check is NOT MANDATORY for:
- Children younger than 14 when applying for residence
- Children younger than 18 when applying for citizenship
- EU/EEA nationals applying for residence
Instructed workers, students, researchers, and people relocated within organizations are exempt from providing background checks if they use mobility from another EU/EEA Member State.
A background check is also not required for third-country nationals who are permanent residents of EU/EEA Member States since they have already been “vetted” by the EU/EEA Member State where they already have permanent residence.
In some cases, providing a certificate of the length of stay from the same country is mandatory in addition to a background check. This certificate is required for people who lived the last 12 months in a country other than the country of their nationality. Both documents must be in Croatian-related languages and Latin script or English and legalized following special regulations.
As a certificate of the length of stay, you may enclose:
- Residence permit
- Other certificates/verifications of the authorities of that state
Note: If you spent the last 12 months in more than one country, you must get a background check from the country of your nationality, and a certificate of the length of stay in a foreign country is not required. This is a typical case with digital nomads.
Certain countries require you to submit fingerprints to request a background check, including (but not limited to) Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and the United States. Up until recently, it was nearly impossible to get your fingerprints taken if you were already in Croatia.
In 2021, one of our lawyers made an official request to MUP asking them to offer fingerprinting as a service to US citizens who need them for their background checks. MUP responded and has given all administrative police stations in Croatia the direction to offer fingerprinting. However, it is usually done in cases of justified reasons.
You must provide a background check from your country of nationality. If you lived in another country for at least 1 year before coming to Croatia, then it should be issued by your last country of residence.
Note: The validity of foreign background checks in Croatia is 6 months from the date of issue of the document, not the date of apostille or legalization.
If you are unsure where to get it, check with the competent state institution in your country. You can probably ask the police for help, and they will tell you where to go.
In most countries, background checks can be provided by both government and private institutions. The processing time may vary in different countries since each government is different, so you must plan ahead.
To save you time, we made a list of the government institutions in charge of issuing background checks in the top countries that traffic our site.
Jump to a country:
- North Macedonia
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Ministeria to Justicia y Derechos Humanos
Australian Federal Police
Ministério da Justiça e Segurança Pública
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificacion
Government of the Republic of Croatia
Ministere De La Justice
Federal Office of Justice
Osaka Prefectural Police
Royal Malaysian Police
Justis Ministry of Justice and Security
Ministry of Justice
National Police Clearance
Information Centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Ministry of Internal Affairs
South African Police service
Royal Thai Police
Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine
Ministry of Interior UAE
What to do after you obtain your background check?
After you get your background check, you must prepare it for use within Croatia. This involves two steps.
Foreign government documents you wish to use in Croatia must be legalized before use. Legalization is a method of verifying a document by the issuing government so that it can be used outside the country.
If your country is part of the Hague Apostille Convention, you must obtain an apostille instead of going through full legalization. A complete list of countries that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention is available here.
Some countries are exempt from both legalization and apostille due to bilateral agreements with Croatia. We’ve represented the countries from the previous section below and noted which are exempt and which require an apostille or legalization, along with where to obtain it.
Jump to a country:
- Argentina (apostille)
- Australia (apostille)
- Brazil (apostille)
- Canada (legalization) – Canada has formally joined the Apostille Convention as of January 11, 2024
- Chile (apostille)
- Croatia (apostille)
- Germany (apostille)
- Israel (apostille)
- Japan (apostille)
- Malaysia (legalization)
- Netherlands (apostille)
- New Zealand (apostille)
- Philippines (apostille)
- South Africa (apostille)
- Ukraine (apostille)
- United Kingdom (apostille)
- United States of America (apostille)
- North Macedonia
Australian Government; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
National Council of Justice (CNJ)
Global Affairs Canada Authentication Sector
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Municipal courts or the Ministry of Justice and Administration
Federal Office of Justice/Federal Office of Administration
The Branch for Certification of Public Documents
Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Department of Internal Affairs
Department of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The US has two levels of an apostille.
If a state issued your document, it can be apostilled by the Secretary of State in that state. This applies to marriage, death, and birth certificates.
If the federal government issued your document, it must be apostilled by the Department of State. This applies to FBI identity history summaries (background checks).
Here is the federal government apostille information:
Office of Authentications
For state government apostille, google YOUR STATE + SECRETARY OF STATE + APOSTILLE.
Once you have an apostilled/legalized background check, it must be officially translated into Croatian. Any official translator within Croatia can do this. They will translate both an apostille and a background check itself. If you need a recommendation, contact us.
After finishing all these steps, you can submit your background check to the Croatian government as part of your residence application.
View our other residence posts
- How to apply for family reunification
- How to get an EU Blue Card in Croatia
- How to get a residence based on property
- How to get a residence based on prepaying rent
- How to get a residence for language study
- How to get a work permit in Croatia
- Residence guide for digital nomads
- Residence guide for American citizens
- Residence guide for Australian citizens
- Residence guide for British citizens
- Residence guide for Canadian citizens
- Residence guide for family members of Croatian/EU/EEA citizens
- Residence guide for retirees
- Residence guide for South African citizens
- Residence guide for students
- Residence guide for volunteers
View our other citizenship posts
- How can spouses and life partners of Croatian descendants apply for citizenship
- How to apply for citizenship based on naturalization if you are an EU/EEA citizen
- How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on special interest
- How to apply for Croatian citizenship (hrvatsko državljanstvo)
- How to apply for citizenship based on descent
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.