How to buy a car in Croatia: Guide for 2024

Yellow Volkswagen bug on the streets of Split, Croatia

UPDATED: 3.10.2023.

When buying a car in Croatia, the most important thing you must do is decide whether to buy a new or used car. However, there are some general rules that should be taken into consideration no matter what you decide.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to buy a car in Croatia

Things to know when buying cars in Croatia

Generally, it is cheaper to buy a car abroad than in Croatia, but the risk is much higher. The car may be faulty, find evidence of severe damage, or discover the number of kilometers is inaccurate. In cases like these, you can sue the seller. If you decide to sue them, you must return to the country where the car was purchased.

Buying from a Croatian auto kuća (car dealer) is a much safer option. They can’t afford to risk their reputation with scams. If anything goes wrong, you can visit them and request to fix the problem immediately.

Buying a used car in Croatia is often more cost-effective than buying a new one. It is best to buy a car between 1 and 5 years old. Furthermore, buying a rental car isn’t a great option since many people have driven the car.

You may consider unfamiliar brands, as the brands available most commonly may not be the same as those in your home country. Volkswagen and Škoda have the best reputation in Croatia.

Foreign citizens and non-residents can buy a car in Croatia regardless of whether they have residency in Croatia (both third-country and EU/EEA citizens). However, to register a car, you must have a Croatian residence, whether that’s a residence permit or a Croatian ID card called osobna iskaznica with a Croatian address. In practice, some car salesmen won’t even sell a car to a non-resident or a Croatian citizen with a foreign address on their Croatian osobna iskaznica because they will not be able to register it. Learn more about the registration requirements in this guide.

When buying a car in Croatia, paying attention to several vital factors is necessary. Let’s go through each of them.

#1 Budget

Your budget should include the purchase price, taxes, registration, import costs (if doing so), and regular maintenance. A suitable method is to set aside approximately 25% of your monthly income for car costs.

[Read: How to import your car and belongings to Croatia]

#2 New vs. used car

Decide whether you want to buy a new or used car or a car through leasing. If you are a young driver, buying a used car might be better since it is cheaper. It won’t be such a waste if you scratch it a bit.

In Croatia, your car will get scratched either by you or some other driver. Parking lots tend to be small and cramped.

[Read: Guide on driving in Croatia including highways, tolls, gas stations, car washes, and parking]

#3 Research

Make a short list of several cars you’d like to buy and do proper research. You can also ask friends, acquaintances, or expat groups for help and advice.

[Read: Expat Facebook groups in Croatia]

Take time to examine all desired cars since the cost is vast. Also, make sure a car can easily get serviced in Croatia.

#4 Credit options

If you need a loan, check the options with your bank and compare them with the car offer. Learn how credit works in Croatia here.

[Read: Croatia’s biggest banks: Comparison of fees and services]

#5 Discounts

Check out all available discounts from manufacturers, including promo codes on their web pages, mobile applications, or flyers.

#6 Test drive

Take enough time for a test drive and test everything you can imagine. Visit all sellers you’re interested in, and don’t rush the decision.

#7 Car history

It is possible to check a car’s history before buying it. It will help you determine if the car has had any significant damage or accidents that the seller may not disclose.

You can check a car’s history here for a small fee.

Tips for buying a used car in Croatia

A well-known Croatian traffic expert has pointed out that if you buy a used car under 13.270 euro, there is no point in buying it outside Croatia. You would save approximately 1.000 – 2.000 euros, but you take the risk that the car is faulty.

You must hire a lawyer if you are buying from a person and want to sue the seller. In this case, you would spend more than you saved when buying.

Buying a car from a person is usually cheaper than from a car dealer. However, buying from a car dealer is safer since they offer a warranty on the car.

If you consider importing a car from an EU/EEA member state, ask yourself what you would do if something were wrong with the car. Getting service may require costs for travel and accommodation outside of Croatia.

[Read: How to import your car and belongings to Croatia]

Buying a used car from a Croatian car dealer is the safest option. Car dealers give you a test period of several days, and you can take the car home and test it. Plus, they offer a warranty of up to 2 years.

A more verified option is buying a used car from someone you know or based on recommendations. This way, you may decrease the risk of fraud or something wrong with the car.

Traveling abroad (especially in Germany) could bear fruit if you want to buy a luxury car. If you estimate a car is in good condition, you can save a lot of money. Good condition usually implies that the car is well-maintained and the kilometers are accurate. Some people saved 2.000 to 2.650 euros or more when buying a car for 19.900 euros.

Let’s dive into tips on buying used cars.

#1 Ask an expert for help

Sellers sometimes paint cars to hide damaged parts or rust. Take a car expert or someone with good knowledge of cars with you to hear their opinion. A car mechanic is called automehaničar, and a tinman is called limar in Croatian.

#2 Ask for proof of ownership

Ask for proof of ownership from the current owner to determine how many owners the car has had. Otherwise, someone might fool you. You don’t want to be the 10th owner of the car.

#3 Check kilometers

Be sure to check the number of kilometers. You can check it at any technical inspection station called stanica za tehnički pregled. A map of all technical inspection stations in Croatia is available here.

Sellers sometimes lower the number of kilometers, although it is criminal. The car may be old if the seats or the wheel are worn. A motor that sounds rough or is washed is also a sign the car has been driven many kilometers.

#4 Check if there is a car lease

Check if the car is still under credit or leasing, or a subject of enforcement. This is possible to find out at FINA. A map of all FINA branches in Croatia is available here.

#5 Make a purchase contract

Make a purchase contract with the car seller and certify it by a notary public. This way, you will be officially protected from scams.

[Read: How to get something notarized]

Where to find car offers in Croatia

Here are the most prominent car brands available in Croatia:

There is a good offer of cars on the Njuškalo pages here. You can find car offers both from private sellers and car dealers.

[Read: An English guide to Njuškalo (Croatia’s Craiglist)]

In addition, a well-known car fair at Jakuševac in Zagreb happens every Sunday throughout the year. Visit their pages here.

View vehicles and car dealers selling cars in Europe here and here.

Car loans available in Croatia

Most Croatian banks offer car loans according to the regular credit procedure to people with creditworthiness.

[Read: How credit works in Croatia]

Car loans in Croatia are usually approved for a period between 3 and 5 years. Amounts can vary up to 35.000 euros.

Getting a car loan implies steps you must pass to get a loan, including:

  • Loan request submission
  • Loan request processing
  • Contract documentation preparation
  • Signing contract
  • Loan usage

Once a loan is approved, the bank gives it to a client according to regulations from a contract.

Croatian banks regulate car loan terms and conditions according to their internal acts. Usual terms require that potential clients have regular monthly incomes and pay debts on time. Car loans can be paid directly from banks or car dealers.

[Read: Croatia’s biggest banks – comparison of fees and services]

Insurance instruments banks use for car loans are:

  • Jamac (guarantor) – a person who pays credit debts if a user doesn’t pay them on time
  • Zadužnica (debenture) – allows a bank to seize a salary
  • Fiducij (fiduciary) – ownership of the vehicle transfers in case debts are not paid
  • Kasko osiguranje (Casco insurance policy) – covers expenses that arise due to a crash or collision of the car

[Read: Everything you need to know about car insurance in Croatia]

Car loans from different Croatian banks can be compared here.

How to register a car in Croatia

Car registration in Croatia is done at a technical inspection station called stanica za tehnički pregled vozila. Before an (annual) car registration, a car must pass a technical inspection, also at a technical inspection station.

After their staff confirms your car is roadworthy and safe for driving, they will issue you a prometna dozvola (traffic license).

For a more detailed guide on registering a car or motor vehicle and getting it inspected in Croatia, read this guide.

View our other driving posts

Gdje kupiti auto, u Hrvatskoj ili inozemstvu? by
10 savjeta za kupnju novog ili polovnog auta by Kompare
8 koraka: kako kupiti rabljeni automobil by Večernji list
Novi automobili u Hrvatskoj u svibnju: Rast prodaje od 106,3 posto u odnosu na isti mjesec 2020. by

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.

Sharing is Caring:

We only send one email a week on Tuesdays. And no spam, we don't like that either!

Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.