Do you want to build a new house or a building, or remodel an old one in Croatia? If the answer is yes, you need to get a building permit called “građevinska dozvola” before you get started. Otherwise, your construction project might be stopped by the Croatian government.
To obtain this important permit, you need to collect a number of documents, which can take a while. This post will help point you in the right direction and save you time.
In this post, we cover:
- What is a building permit
- When do you need a building permit in Croatia
- How to apply for a building permit in Croatia
- When a building permit must be changed
- When a building permit is not mandatory
The facts are these…
A building permit is a legal permit from the state that allows you to start construction or reconstruction of a house or some other property. This type of permit is called “građevinska dozvola” in Croatian.
This permit includes all the construction standards including security, material, housing, and construction. If you are an investor in a future building, you must apply for the issuance of a building permit. The investor is called “investitor” in Croatian. Once a permit is approved, you can start construction.
In Croatia, construction rules are defined by:
- Zakon o gradnji (Construction act) – It is available here
- Zakon o prostornom uređenju (Spatial planning act) – It is available here
You are required to obtain a building permit if you plan to implement the following construction projects:
- Construction of a new building
- Expansion of an existing building
- Conversion of an attic of an existing building
- Adding a new housing unit to an existing building
This means that you are not legally allowed to start without a building permit from the state.
The application process is demanding and includes several stages described below.
#1 Check if you are allowed to build
Before you start with a building or reconstruction project, you must check what kind of construction is allowed on your property. This involves checking the purpose of the plot in the spatial plan of your city or municipality. The spatial plan is called “prostorni plan”.
It is vital to know whether or not you can build on your property. On some properties, construction is forbidden. If construction is allowed, then you must get a building permit. It is also possible that other types of permits will also need to be obtained before you start with the work.
The Croatian information system of spatial planning is available here.
#2 Collect the documentation
To apply for a building permit, you must obtain mandatory documentation from the state. Certain documents are required in all building scenarios, while others are required only in certain cases.
Below is a list of all possible documentation that you might need to enclose:
- Main project plan – 3 copies
- Designer’s statement confirming the main project was made according to the spatial plan and other regulations
- Written report on the control of the main project (if control is required)
- Certificate of nostrification of the main project (if the project is made according to foreign regulations)
- Certificates from state bodies confirming the main project is designed according to the special regulations OR proof that a request for the issuance or determination of these certificates or conditions is submitted
- Confirmation that the main project is designed according to the decision on the environmental acceptability of the project (if the project might imply environment and ecological network)
- Proof of legal interest for the issue of a building permit
- Proof that the investor is capable of being an investor (in cases when a special law prescribes who can be an investor)
- Proof that the owner of the construction land has transferred their part of the ownership to the ownership of the local self-government units OR has made a contract on establishing easements of transit and/or passage (if this is prescribed by a special law that defines spatial planning)
The main project is called “glavni projekt” in Croatian. It is a collection of coordinated projects that represent a technical solution for the construction. It proves that basic requirements for the construction and other important conditions defined by the law are met.
Depending on the type of future building, the main project may include:
- Architectural project
- Construction project
- Electrical project
- Mechanical project
- Geodetic project
Keep in mind that the main project has to be created by certified architects (arhitekti) and engineers (injženeri).
A list of certified architects and engineers in Croatia is available here.
Proof of legal interest
Different documents can serve as proof of legal interest including:
- Excerpt from the land register showing that the investor is an owner or holder of the right to build on the building property
- Pre-contract, contract, or contract concluded on the condition on the basis of which the investor has already acquired or will acquire the right of ownership or construction
- Decision of the competent authority on the basis of which the investor acquired the right of ownership or construction
- Partnership agreement with the owner of the property with a goal of construction
- Written consent of the owner of the property
- Written consent of the fiduciary owner given to the previous owner who is the investor
Notice of special conditions
Investors must prepare the main project according to special conditions defined by the law. Special conditions may vary according to the location of the future building and implementation methods of the laws.
If you are an investor, you have the right to ask competent bodies where to obtain the latest information on these special conditions. When requesting this notice on special conditions, you may have to deliver a copy of a cadastral plan and a description and presentation of the future building.
The competent bodies should provide you with a notice of special conditions within 8 days after you submit the request.
A list of all public bodies that provide this notice is available here.
#3 Submit the request
After you collect the required documentation, it is time to submit the request. It must be submitted to the competent state body responsible for administrative affairs of construction according to the location of the property.
You can hand over your application in person or via eDozvola, an online service of e-Građani web application. [Read: e-Građani (e-Citizens) – Online portal for Croatian government services]
eDozvola allows you to:
- Submit the building permit application
- Monitor the application status
- Attach a required documentation
- Manage cases
- Solve cases
- Official application forms
- Information on procedure of the application process
- Information on competent state bodies
- Information on public law bodies
- Information on authorized designers
- Information on valid building regulations
- Information on spatial planning
You can also use its feature called “eKonferencija” (eConference) which allows submission. It allows you to collect other required documents that you are obliged to enclose during the application phase. Collecting the documents online can save you a lot of time since you won’t have to visit many different institutions in person.
eDozvola e-service is available here. To log in to eDozvola, you must have a high-security level credential (level 3), which is only granted to Croatian citizens at this time.
Their customer support is available via email eDozvolaemail@example.com.
#4 Checking the conditions
Before they approve your building permit, the competent authorities will check whether you meet all the requirements or not.
Below are the requirements:
- Your application for a building permit includes all required documents
- All required certificates for the main project are issued
- Main project is prepared according to the implementation of interventions in space prescribed by the spatial plan
- Main project is designed by an authorized person
- Main project is properly marked
- Main project is prepared in a way that it is impossible to change or replace its content
- Urban development plan is adopted for areas prescribed by a special law
- Building plot or building can be connected to the traffic area or a building permit for the construction of the traffic area is issued
- Building plot or building can be connected to the public wastewater drainage system if the spatial plan doesn’t allow connection to its drainage system
- Building plot or building has an autonomous electricity supply system or can be connected to the low voltage electricity network
#5 Issue of building permit
Before you get your building permit, you have a right to inspect the case and declare it to the competent authority if necessary. If you meet all the requirements, you will get the building permit.
If you don’t appeal or initiate an administrative dispute, the permit will become final.
#6 Payment of contributions
The competent body will also deliver a building permit to:
- Competent administrative body responsible for determining communal contributions (together with the data for the calculation)
- Competent administrative body responsible for determining water contributions (together with the data for the calculation)
You have to pay communal and water contributions according to the special regulations.
More information on the communal contributions is available here.
More information on the water contributions is available here.
#7 Start of construction
The building permit is valid for 3 years from the day of becoming final. If you don’t start with the construction within this period, you will lose the right to build.
The validity of the building permit can be extended for an additional 3 years. This is possible only if the construction conditions defined by a spatial plan haven’t changed. In this period, you must form a building plot. Eight days before the start of the construction, you have to notify the competent state body about the start date via written notice.
The notice must include:
- Registration number
- Date of issuance of the building permit
- Supervising engineer
- Proof that a building plot is formed in the cadastre (for buildings for which a building plot must be defined)
If you are building a family house, the construction must be completed within 7 years from the start date. If you have to change or supplement a building permit, deadlines remain the same.
In some cases, a building permit has to be changed. Below are the most common scenarios.
Change of location conditions
If location conditions for buildings that don’t require location permits change during the construction, you must get a paper called “Rješenje o izmjeni i/ili dopuni građevinske dozvole” (Decision on modification and/or supplementation of the building permit). This decision must be brought in accordance with a spatial plan on the basis of which the building permit was issued OR which is valid at the time of the decision.
To get the Rješenje, you must deliver the documentation affected by the changes to the competent bodies. If changes are related to the external size of the building, size and shape of the building plot, or the location of the building on the building plot, you have the right to inspect the case and declare if necessary.
Change of investor
It is possible that the investor changes during the construction. In this case, a new investor must request the change of the building permit within 15 days. It is necessary to change the name of the investor and/or the investing company. Without these changes, a new investor cannot continue with the construction.
This request must include:
- Proof of legal interest in issuing building permit OR consent of the previous owner
- Proof that the new person can be an investor if a special law defines who can be the investor for this type of building
- Other act prescribed by special condition.
For certain construction projects, you don’t need to get a building permit, design the main project or stick to the spatial plan. Examples are below.
Construction without a building permit and main project
For some simple construction projects, a building permit and the main project are not required.
Some of them include:
- Garden arbors
- Small agricultural buildings
- Terraces up to 20 square meters
- Fences up to 2.2 meters measured from the lowest part
- Paths and footpaths
- Container for municipal waste
However, these projects must be built in accordance with the spatial plan.
Construction without a building permit
Certain construction projects require only the main project but don’t require a building permit.
Some of them include:
- Auxiliary buildings up to 50 square meters
- Parking lots on construction lots
- Underground and aboveground fuel tanks up to 10 cubic meters
- Swimming pools
- Solar collectors
- Fences higher than 2.2 meters
- Fence walls higher than 1.6 meters
- Children’s playground inside the park
- Remodeling of the existing interior
- Walls (but not the load bearing walls)
- Implementing new interior and exterior windows
- Urgent and necessary repairs
- Setting up the electronic communication
However, these projects must be built in accordance with the spatial plan.
Construction opposite to the spatial plan
Certain construction projects don’t require the main project, nor a building permit, and they don’t have to be built in accordance with the spatial plan
Some of them include:
- Water tanks
- Septic tank up to 27 cubic meters
- Solar collection system
- Photovoltaic module system with the purpose of producing heat and electricity without the possibility of transmission to the network
However, this doesn’t apply to national parks and parks of nature where it is necessary to build in accordance with the spatial plan. [Read: National parks in Croatia PLUS detailed visitor guides]
Have you ever built a house or any other building in Croatia? Did you get a building permit?
View our other Croatia property articles
- 8 things to know about buying Croatian property
- 11 things to know about getting a mortgage in Croatia
- All costs when buying real estate in Croatia
- How to buy residential real estate in Croatia
- How to find property ownership records in Croatia
- How to get a mortgage loan in Croatia
- How to get a residence permit based on property
- How to set up utilities for a new apartment in Croatia
- Prebivalište and boravište: two addresses that must be registered with the police
- Residential property prices in Croatia’s biggest cities
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.