Background checks and fingerprints for third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA citizens): Guide for 2022

Background check for Croatia
Image by TheDigitalArtist

UPDATED: 23/06/2022

The new Law on Foreigners (Zakon o strancima) valid from 2021 includes changes to the application process for temporary residence of third-country nationals. One of these changes is a criminal background check, which is a brand new requirement. If you are applying for Croatian citizenship, you’ll also need to submit a background check, regardless of nationality.

In Croatian, this criminal background check is called Uvjerenje da se ne vodi kazneni postupak. This document will serve as proof that you haven’t been convicted of criminal (felony) offenses.

This is stated in Article 59 of the Law:

(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 a 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 new Law on Foreigners is available here.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Who must have a background check

The background check is MANDATORY for adult non-EU/EEA foreigners if:

  • Third-country national applies for temporary residence for the first time
  • Third-country national applies for residence even after holding residence already if the residence is non-continuous
  • Anyone applies for citizenship, regardless of their nationality

This applies to students and family members of Croatian/EU/EEA citizens who are third-country nationals as well.

However, background checks are NOT MANDATORY for children under the age of 14 or for EU/EEA nationals. [Read: How non-EU family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia]

If they use the mobility from another EU/EEA Member State, instructed workers, students, researchers, and people relocated within organizations are exempt from providing background checks.

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 addition to the background check, it is mandatory to provide a certificate on the length of stay from the same country. The background check and certificate on length of stay must be written in Croatian-related languages and Latin script or in English. They must be legalized in accordance with special regulations.

Where to get your fingerprints taken

Certain countries require you to submit fingerprints for the purposes of requesting a background check, including (but not limited to):

  • Canada
  • Malaysia
  • South Africa
  • United States

Up until recently, it was nearly impossible to get your fingerprints taken if already in Croatia.

In early 2021, one of our lawyers at Expat In Croatia 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 in September 2021 and has given all administrative police stations in Croatia direction to offer fingerprinting as a service. However, this is usually done in cases of justified reasons.

Many of our readers have successfully obtained fingerprints at police stations across the country. As we all know, every police station is different and moves at its own speed, so take that with a grain of salt. We do know that Zagreb was doing it and 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

You must provide a background check from your country of nationality. If you lived in another country for at least 1 year prior to coming to Croatia, then it should be issued by your last country of residence.

The validity of foreign background checks in Croatia is 3-6 months depending on the country of issue. The validity period/date is determined according to the date when a background check is apostilled or legalized. Background checks issued by the United States are valid for up to 3 months, for example.

If you are not sure where you can get this document, check with the competent state institution in your country. You can probably ask the police for help and they will provide you with information on where to go.

In most countries, background checks can be provided by both government and private institutions. We made a list of the government and private institutions which are in charge of the issuance of the background checks in the top 10 countries that traffic our site.

For each institution, we’ve provided:

  • Name of the institution
  • Whether it is private or government
  • Application method (in person or online)
  • Processing time after the submission of the request
  • Whether fingerprints are required or not
  • Background check costs
  • Link to the official page

**Please note that we do not endorse or recommend any of the private companies listed below. We are merely providing them for reference. It is vital that you check out any company before you send them your personal documents. Our recommendation is to go directly to your government, rather than a private company.**

We hope that this information will help you save time. Jump to your country:

  1. Argentina
  2. Australia
  3. Brazil
  4. Chile
  5. Canada
  6. China
  7. Croatia
  8. France
  9. Germany
  10. Malaysia
  11. North Macedonia
  12. Netherlands
  13. New Zealand
  14. Philippines
  15. Russia
  16. Serbia
  17. South Africa
  18. Ukraine
  19. United Kingdom
  20. United States of America

#1 Argentina

Ministeria to Justicia y Derechos Humanos – government institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: 1-6 hours
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

CRS Checks – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 7-10 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Owens OnLine – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 5-7 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#2 Australia

Australian Federal Police – government institution
Application method: Via post or online
Processing time: 1-15 days
Fingerprints: Depending on the type
Web site

Checked – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1-15 business day
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Veritas Check – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 15-20 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#3 Brazil

Ministério da Justiça e Segurança Pública- government institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 30 min
Fingerprints: No
Web site

CRS Checks – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-5 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Owens OnLine – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1-7 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#4 Canada

Royal Canadian Mounted Police – government institution
Application method: In person or online (if you live abroad)
Processing time: 3/120 business days
Fingerprints: Yes (circumstantial)
Web site

C5 ID – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Within hours
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Canadian Fingerprint Agency – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-120 business days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

Commissionaires – private institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: 15 minutes
Fingerprints: Depending on the type of document
Web site

National Pardon Centre – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-10 business days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

Triton – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1 hour
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Verifications Canada – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-120 days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

#5 Chile

Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificacion – government institution
Application method: Online or in person at any consulate
Processing time: Same day
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

CRS Checks – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 8-10 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Owens OnLine – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 5-10 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#6 China

eeVoices – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-7 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

CRS Checks – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 5-7 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

ZhaoZhao Business Consulting Co- Private Institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 2-4 weeks
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#7 Croatia

Government of the Republic of Croatia – government institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: varies
Fingerprints: No
Web site

CRS Checks- private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 10-20 weeks
Fingerprints: No
Web site

ECRIS – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 17 business days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#8 France

Ministere De La Justice- government institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1 hour/24 hours
Fingerprints: No
Web site

CRS Checks – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-5 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Owens OnLine – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 5-7 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#9 Germany

Federal Office of Justice – government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: up to 5 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

CRS Checks – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-5 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

ECRIS – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 10 business days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#10 Malaysia

Royal Malaysian Police – government institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Not available
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

#11 Netherlands

Justis Ministry of Justice and Security – government institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: 2-4 weeks
Fingerprints: No
Web site

CRS Checks – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 7-10 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Owens OnLine – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 10-12 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#12 New Zealand

Ministry of Justice- government Institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Vetting Limited- private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3 business days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Veritas Check – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3 business days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Check Please – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#13 North Macedonia

Municipal court – government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: 7 days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

#14 Philippines

National Police Clearance – government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: 1 day
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

#15 Russia

Information Centre of the Ministry of Internal Affairs – government institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: 3-5 weeks
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#16 Serbia

Ministry of Internal Affairs – government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: One week
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#17 South Africa

South African Police service – government institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: 10-15 working days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

Apostil.co.za – private institution
Application method: Courier service
Processing time: 5-30 days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

Appointment Firm– private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 2 working days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

#18 Ukraine

Kyiv Legalization Center – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1-6 business days
Fingerprints required: No
Web site

Status Ko – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 2 business days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Jur Klee Translation and Legal Agency – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1-5 business days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Owens OnLine – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-7 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#19 United Kingdom

Acro Criminal Records office – government institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 12 business days/4 business days (delivery depends on cost)
Fingerprints: No
Web site

GOV.UK – government institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Up to 14 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

CRB direct – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 7-14 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

DBS check online – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 2-7 days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

Disclosure services – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-5 working days
Fingerprints: No
Web site

#20 United States of America

FBI – government institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 3-5 business days
Fingerprints required: Yes
Web site

Accurate Biometrics – private institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: Within 24 hours
Fingerprints required: Yes
Web site

Biometrics4All – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Within hours
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

IDVetting – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 2-5 business days
Fingerprints: Yes
Web site

National Background Check inc. – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 2-3 days/24 hours
Fingerprints: Yes
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 that you wish to use in Croatia must be legalized before use. This is a method of verifying a document by the issuing government, so it can be used outside of the country.

If your country is part of the Hague Apostille Convention, then you must obtain an apostille instead of going through full legalization. [Read: Apostille versus full legalization of government documents]

A full list of countries that are members of the Hague Apostille Convention is available here.

In addition, 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 have noted which are exempt and which require an apostille or legalization, along with where to obtain it.

For each institution, we’ve provided:

  • Name of the institution
  • Whether it is private or government
  • Application method (in person or online)
  • Processing time after the submission of the request
  • Link to the official page

**Please note that we do not endorse or recommend any of the private companies listed below. We are merely providing them for reference. It is vital that you check out any company before you send them your personal documents.**

Jump to your country:

  1. Argentina (apostille)
  2. Australia (apostille)
  3. Brazil (apostille)
  4. Canada (legalization)
  5. Chile (apostille)
  6. China (legalization)
  7. Croatia (apostille)
  8. Germany (apostille)
  9. Malaysia (legalization)
  10. Netherlands (apostille)
  11. New Zealand (apostille)
  12. Philippines (apostille)
  13. South Africa (apostille)
  14. Ukraine (apostille)
  15. United Kingdom (apostille)
  16. United States of America (apostille)

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

  1. France
  2. North Macedonia
  3. Russia
  4. Serbia

#1 Argentina

Argentina Government – government institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: 15 business days
Web site

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#2 Australia

Australian Government; Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – government institution
Application method: In person or via registered post
Processing time: Varies
Web site

#3 Brazil

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#4 Canada

Global Affairs Canada Authentication Sector – government institution
Application method: In person, by mail, or courier
Processing time: 15-20 days
Web site

Legalization service center – private institution
Application method: In person or by mail
Processing time: Less than 15-20 days
Web site

ALSC – private institution
Application method: Not available
Processing time: 3-10 days
Web site

International Documents Canada – private institution
Application method: In person, by email
Processing time: ~15 business days
Web site

#5 Chile

Ministry of Foreign Affairs – government institution
Application method: In person or online
Processing time: Varies
Web site

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#6 China

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#7 Croatia

Municipal courts or the Ministry of Justice and Administration- government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: Varies
Web site

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#8 Germany

Federal Office of Justice/Federal Office of Administration- government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: Varies
Web site

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#9 Malaysia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs – government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: Not available
Web site

#10 Netherlands

District courts – government institution
Application method: Depends on the court
Processing time: Depends on the court
Web site

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#11 New Zealand

Department of Internal Affairs- government institution
Application method: In person, by post or courier
Processing time: 21 working days
Web site

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#12 Philippines

Department of Foreign Affairs – government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: Not available
Web site

#13 South Africa

DIRCO – government institution
Application method: In person or via email
Processing time: 2-3 weeks
Web site

Easy apostille – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 5-7 working days
Web site

MFLA – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Not available
Web site

DOC Assist – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: ~3 working days
Web site

Apostille South Africa – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 5-7 working days
Web site

#14 Ukraine

Ministry of Foreign Affairs- government institution
Application method: In person
Processing time: 5-20 days
Web site

Schmidt & Schmidt – private institution
Application method: Online, by email
Processing time: 14 days
Web site

#15 United Kingdom

Legalisation Office – government institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Up to 10 working days
Web site

The Apostilles Group – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1-15 days
Web site

Visa Central – private institution
Application method: Online or via email
Processing time: Not available
Web site

Apostille UK – private institution
Application method: Online or email
Processing time: 1-9 days
Web site

Apostille of The Hague – private institution
Application method: Online or via post
Processing time: 1-2 days
Web site

Apostille service – private institution
Application method: Online or via post
Processing time: 1-2 days
Web site

#16 United States of America

The US has two levels of an apostille.

If your document was issued by a state, then it can be apostilled by the Secretary of State in the state that issued it. This applies to marriage, death, and birth certificates.

If your document was issued by the federal government, it must be apostilled by the Department of State. This applies to FBI identity history summaries (background checks).

Below, we have provided the federal government apostille information, plus private institutions. For state government apostille, just google YOUR STATE + SECRETARY OF STATE + APOSTILLE.

Office of Authentications – government institution
Application method: Mail only
Processing time: varies
Web site

One Source Process – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 1-14 days
Web site

Global Apostille – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Not available
Web site

US Authentication Services – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: 2-3 business days
Web site

International Apostille Services – private institution
Application method: Online
Processing time: Not available
Web site

#2 Official translation

Once you have the apostilled/legalized background check, it needs to be officially translated into Croatian. This can be done by any official translator within Croatia. They will translate both the apostille and the background check itself. If you need a recommendation, contact us.

You’re done!

After finishing all of these steps, you can submit your background check to the Croatian government as part of your residence application.

View other temporary residence posts

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

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