How third-country citizens can buy residential real estate in Croatia: Guide for 2024

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Real estate in Split, Croatia – buildings and houses

UPDATED: 26.10.2023.

Buying residential real estate is an excellent way for foreigners to be allowed an extended stay in Croatia. Foreigners are allowed to purchase some types of real estate property, depending on their nationality, as the ability to purchase is based on reciprocity agreements between Croatia and other countries.

When buying property in Croatia, you should always engage a lawyer regardless of whether you are a foreigner or not. It’s a very messy industry rampant with fraud and misrepresentation. An experienced real estate lawyer representing you in a purchase can avoid problems. If you’d like an introduction to an expat-vetted professional, contact us.

This guide reviews step-by-step how third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens can purchase a house or apartment in Croatia, including some tips on avoiding obstacles.

Jump to a step:

With that disclaimer out of the way, ajmo!

How can non-EU/EEA citizens buy a property in Croatia

If you haven’t yet found a property to purchase, there are many resources online for finding a home in Croatia. The one locals use is called Njuškalo.

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

If you’ve already found a property you’re interested in, what do you do next?

#1 Look up the property records

Checking the records on a piece of real estate is a vital step in purchasing a property. Doing so can help you avoid a messy negotiation or inheriting burdens that have nothing to do with you.

The following information can all be found in public records:

  • Size in square meters
  • Purpose of the property
  • Owner name(s)
  • Owner OIB(s), in some cases
  • Owner registered address(s)
  • Any burdens or rights to the real estate

You can find detailed instructions on how to find this information on a property in this post. It is highly recommended that you have a trusted lawyer perform this step.

[Read: How to correct or change property records with the land registry in Croatia (pojedinačni ispravni postupak)]

#2 Check how the real estate is zoned

Next, you must check if the property is zoned as residential or agricultural. Unfortunately, the zoning information is not included in the public information you’ll find in Step #1.

The zone type is important because not everyone can purchase an agricultural property. Anyone who is not a Croatian or EU/EEA citizen is forbidden from purchasing agricultural land through 2023.

However, it is possible for third-country citizens to purchase land for agriculture if purchased through a Croatian company that they own. It is still not as simple as it sounds. There are many hoops to jump through. If you are interested in purchasing farmland through a company, we can put you in touch with a vetted real estate lawyer who can guide you through the process. Contact us for a recommendation.

To find out how a property is zoned, you must file a request with the Upravni odjel za graditeljstvo i prostorno uređenje (Administrative Department for Construction and Physical Planning).

If the property is residential (and you are not Croatian), you must request a certificate stating this. The approximate cost is 6 euros.

#3 Prepare the contract

The sales contract is typically prepared by the purchaser – specifically, the purchaser’s lawyer. This is how you can guarantee that your interests, assets, and money are safeguarded.

The contract will outline the deposit (if needed) and purchase terms. It is common to pay a 10% deposit, called kapara. If the buyer doesn’t fulfill their end, then they lose the deposit and the property. If the seller doesn’t meet the requirements on their side, they must refund the buyer double the deposit.

You need to get notarized copies of the contract: one for the seller and one for the buyer. Contracts are notarized by a javni bilježnik (notary public).

[Read: How to get something notarized]

#4 Request permission to buy from the Ministry of Justice

Before third-country citizens can finalize the purchase of a real estate in Croatia, they must get permission from the Ministarstvo Pravosuđa (Ministry of Justice) to buy the property. EU/EEA citizens do not require this consent.

As part of this process, the Ministry of Justice checks existing reciprocity agreements with your country of nationality. Your country of nationality (or state/province in the cases of the USA and Canada) must have a reciprocity agreement with Croatia for you to be permitted to purchase a property.

If you’re unsure if your country has an agreement, we have the latest list here.

To request permission, you must file a request with Ministarstvo pravosuđa.

This request should include:

  • Original certification from Upravni odjel za graditeljstvo i prostorno uređenje (what you did in step #2)
  • Purchase contract – original or certified copy
  • Certificate from the land registry confirming that the seller is also the owner (provided by the owner)
  • Proof of citizenship of buyer (such as a passport, notarized)
  • Notarized copy of driver’s license for US and Canadian citizens to show proof of your last address (since reciprocity is with the state and province, respectively)
  • Copy of your residence ID in Croatia (if applicable)
  • Original power of attorney for a representative within Croatia who can receive mail on your behalf, if you do not have a registered address within Croatia

The ministry has 60 days to review your request and then will either approve or deny it, although it can take longer. If your request is denied, then you cannot purchase the property.

The cost for this procedure is approximately 5 euros.

#5 Pay the remaining balance

Once you receive approval from the ministry, you can pay the remaining 90% of the sales price.

You may qualify for a mortgage if you have permanent residency in Croatia. We have two posts about mortgages, here and here. Usually, banks require approval from the ministry, if applicable, before they will process your application for financing.

#6 Register purchase with the land registry

Within 60 days of the last step, you must register the property purchase with the land registry called Uređena zemlja.

The cost of this procedure is around 33 euros. If you don’t file with the land registry until after 60 days have passed, the fee increases 5 times.

When registering the purchase with Uređena Zemlja, you must provide:

  • Purchase contract – original or certified copy
  • Certification from Upravni odjel za graditeljstvo i prostorno uređenje
  • Decision on approval to buy from Ministarstvo pravosuđa
  • Proof of citizenship of buyer (such as a passport, notarized)
  • Proof of paid administration costs
  • Original power of attorney for a representative within Croatia whom can receive mail on your behalf, if you do not have a registered address within Croatia

During this process, the land registry reviews all of your purchase documents and will either approve or deny the change in the land registry. It is imperative that all of your documents are 100% accurate. Even the tiniest mistake, like one wrong digit in an OIB, can result in denial.

Once you receive approval from the land registry that you have been listed as the new owner, you can request a copy of the certificate of ownership. You can get the first example free of charge. Every additional example is charged 0,66 euros.

#7 Celebrate!

Once you have the certificate of ownership, you are officially the owner of a home in Croatia. Čestitam!

The next step is to change all of the utilities into your name. Here is a guide that explains how to do this.

Need help buying real estate in Croatia?

If you need help purchasing a property, we can help! We have carefully vetted a network of real estate lawyers who can help you buy real estate in Croatia safely with confidence. Buying property in Croatia can get sticky, so it is vital that you have a skilled advocate who is looking after your interests.

Real estate agents usually have an existing network of lawyers that they work with. However, those lawyers are focused on the interests of the real estate agency first and the seller second. As the buyer, it’s imperative to have your own lawyer to protect your interests.

Our vetted property lawyers can:

  • Answer all of your property questions
  • Find property records
  • Clean property titles
  • Help you purchase a property and represent you during the process
  • Ensure you are not taken advantage of by property sellers
  • Prepare and review contracts
  • Help you sell a property
  • Get approval by the Ministry of Justice (for non-EU/EEA citizens)
  • Change ownership records with the land registry
  • Engage local contractors and interior designers

View our latest reviews from our legal network here.

To get help from a vetted real estate lawyer, please share your needs with us using the below form. Based on those needs, we’ll match you with the right person best suited to help.

Reviews from our happy clients

Ready to get started? Click here.

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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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