Background checks and fingerprints for third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens: Guide for 2024

Background check for Croatia
Image by TheDigitalArtist

UPDATED: 3.7.2023.

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:

The facts are these…

Background checks and fingerprints for third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens

What does the Croatian law say?

Article 59 of the Zakon o strancima (Law on foreigners says):

(1) Državljaninu treće zemlje odobrit će se privremeni boravak ako:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.

Who must have a background check?

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

[Read: How non-EU family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia]

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.

[Read: How EEA permanent residents can get temporary residence in Croatia]

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
  • Visa
  • 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.

[Read: How to apply for the digital nomad residence permit in Croatia]

Where to get your fingerprints taken in/outside Croatia

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.

Many of our readers have successfully obtained fingerprints at police stations across the country. Since every police station is different and moves at its own speed, take that with a grain of salt. We know that Zagreb was doing it, but now they aren’t anymore. They are directing everyone to a private detective agency. This is the only station thus far that has discontinued this service.

Where to get a criminal background check outside Croatia

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:

Argentina

Ministeria to Justicia y Derechos Humanos
Web site

Australia

Australian Federal Police
Web site

Brazil

Ministério da Justiça e Segurança Pública
Web site

Canada

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Web site

Chile

Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificacion
Web site

China

eeVoices
Web site

Croatia

Government of the Republic of Croatia
Web site

France

Ministere De La Justice
Web site

Germany

Federal Office of Justice
Web site

Israel

Israel Police
Web site

Japan

Osaka Prefectural Police
Web site

Malaysia

Royal Malaysian Police
Web site

Netherlands

Justis Ministry of Justice and Security
Web site

New Zealand

Ministry of Justice
Web site

North Macedonia

Municipal court
Web site

Philippines

National Police Clearance
Web site

Russia

Information Centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
Web site

Serbia

Ministry of Internal Affairs
Web site

South Africa

South African Police service
Web site

Thailand

Royal Thai Police
Web site

Ukraine

Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine
Web site

United Arab Emirates

Ministry of Interior UAE
Web site

United Kingdom

Police certificates
Web site

GOV.UK
Web site

United States of America

FBI
Web site

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.

[Read: How to prepare your foreign documents for use in Croatia]

#1 Apostille/Legalization

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.

[Read: Apostille versus full legalization of government documents]

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:

Due to bilateral agreements, legalization or apostille is not needed for:

  • France
  • North Macedonia
  • Russia
  • Serbia

Argentina

Argentina Government
Web site

Australia

Australian Government; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Web site

Brazil

National Council of Justice (CNJ)
Web site

Canada

Global Affairs Canada Authentication Sector
Web site

Chile

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Web site

Croatia

Municipal courts or the Ministry of Justice and Administration
Web site

Germany

Federal Office of Justice/Federal Office of Administration
Web site

Israel

The Branch for Certification of Public Documents
Web site

Japan

Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo
Web site

Malaysia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Web site

Netherlands

District courts
Web site

New Zealand

Department of Internal Affairs
Web site

Philippines

Department of Foreign Affairs
Web site

South Africa

DIRCO
Web site

Ukraine

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Web site

United Kingdom

Legalisation Office
Web site

United States of America

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
Web site

For state government apostille, google YOUR STATE + SECRETARY OF STATE + APOSTILLE.

#2 Official translation

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.

You’re done!

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

View our other citizenship posts


Sources: 
Legalization of documents by e-Građani
Legalization of documents by MVEP

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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