How to buy residential real estate in Croatia (in 2021)

Buy Croatia real estate
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Buying residential real estate is a great way for foreigners to be allowed an extended stay in Croatia. Foreigners are allowed to purchase some types of real estate property, which allows non-EU citizens to live in Croatia for up to 9 months out of each year. However, there are limitations as well as additional requirements depending on where you are from.

In this post, we review step-by-step how any foreigner (including EU citizens) can purchase a house or apartment in Croatia including some tips on avoiding obstacles.

Before we get started, it’s important to stress that you should always engage a lawyer when buying property in Croatia regardless of whether you are a foreigner or not. It’s a very messy market rampant with fraud and misrepresentation. While we explain exactly how you can do it below, it is highly recommended to have an experienced real estate lawyer representing you in a purchase to avoid problems. If you’d like a referral, just contact us.

With that disclaimer out of the way, ajmo!

How to buy residential real estate 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. We can also connect you to a vetted real estate agent if you’d like a professional to help in your search.

If you’ve already found a property that 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 the purchase of 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.

#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 agricultural property. Anyone who is not a Croatian citizen is forbidden from purchasing land through 2023.

However, it is possible for non-Croatian 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 farm land through a company, we can put you in touch with a vetted real estate lawyer who can guide you on the process. Email us for a referral.

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). Here is a list of their offices.

If the property is residential (and you are not Croatian), you must request a certificate stating this. The cost is 40 kuna.

#3 Prepare the pre-contract

In Croatia, it is common to have 2 contracts when purchasing property. The first is a pre-contract that outlines the intent to buy.

You technically can skip the pre-contract and only make 1 contract, but it is not recommended. The pre-contract comes with certain conditions that protect both the purchaser and the seller that having only 1 full contract will not allow for.

The pre-contract will also define the deposit. The deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price, which is paid at the time of signing the pre-contract. 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 3 notarized copies of the pre-contract: one for the seller, one for the buyer and one for the government. Contracts are notarized by a javni biljeznik (notary public).

#4 Request permission to buy from Ministarstvo pravosuđa (Ministry of Justice)

Before foreigners can purchase real estate in Croatia, they must get permission from the Ministry of Justice to buy the property.  However, if you are a EU/EEA citizen, you can purchase residential property without obtaining consent from the Ministry of Justice.

The purpose of this step is for the Ministry of Justice to check 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 reciprocity agreement in place with Croatia for you to be given permission to purchase property. If you’re unsure if your country has an agreement, then check the form at the bottom of this page. We’ve only included those nationalities with permission.

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)
  • Notarized copy of the pre-contract or full contract
  • Certificate from land registry confirming that the seller is also the owner (provided by the owner)
  • Proof of citizenship of buyer (such as a passport)
  • 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

The ministry has 60 days to review your request, and then will either approve or deny it. Even though they have 60 days, most applications are reviewed within 30 days.

The cost for this procedure is 35 kuna.

If your request is denied, then you cannot purchase the property. If you made a full contract from the start instead of using a pre-contract, then you must still pay the seller the full price of the property without actually buying the property. You can get your money back, but only through a court procedure, which will likely be lengthy. This is why using a pre-contract is the smartest move and limits your liability in case things don’t work out.

#5 Make a full contract

If the ministry approved your request to purchase the property, then your next step is to prepare the full contract with the seller.

This contract should be notarized. While the contract doesn’t need to be notarized to be binding, the contract you eventually file with the land registry to be named the new owner must be notarized.

After making the full contract, you can finalize payment of the balance. If you are an EU national or have permanent residency, you may qualify to get a mortgage. We have two posts about mortgages, here and here.

#6 Register purchase with Uređena Zemlja (land registry)

Within 60 days of the last step (usually making the full contract), you must register the property purchase with the land registry.

The cost of this procedure is 250 kuna. If you don’t file with the land registry until after 60 days have passed, then the fee increases to 1.050 kuna.

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

  • Full notarized contract
  • 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)
  • 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. If the land registry denies you, then you will be forbidden from registering yourself as owner of that property for a period of 5 years. That is the penalty for non-Croatians.

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. The cost to get a copy is 20 kuna.

#7 Celebrate!

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

Need help buying real estate in Croatia?

If you need help finding and purchasing a property, we can help! We have carefully vetted a network of real estate agents and lawyers who can help you buy real estate in Croatia with confidence.

They can:

  • Answer all of your property questions
  • Find property records
  • Clean property titles
  • Help you find the right property
  • 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
  • Engage local contractors and interior designers

To get help from a vetted real estate agent, 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. Please note that to be connected with a real estate agent, you must already have financing secured.

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

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38 thoughts on “How to buy residential real estate in Croatia (in 2021)

  1. Austin Bailey
    July 22, 2020 @ 5:41 am

    Hey Sara. Love your site and newsletters. Always a great resource.

    Any advice on how to choose home insurance in Croatia? There seem to be many companies to choose from. I’m not sure where to start.

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      July 31, 2020 @ 12:19 pm

      Hi Austin,

      Good to hear from you! Thanks for following the site and newsletter. 🙂

      Hmmm, I’m not familiar with this topic. But based on living here, I’ve always heard good things about Croatia Osiguranje and Wiener Osiguranje. I would start there.

      Cheers,

      Sara

      {reply}

  2. Kristina Banden
    December 7, 2020 @ 4:25 pm

    I found that GoHome.hr is a better search site, it collects all posts posted, from njuskalo, brooker sites, index, oglasnik etc.

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      April 6, 2021 @ 4:52 pm

      Hi Kristina,

      thank you for your suggestion. We will examine GoHome!

      Regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

  3. Kristian
    December 29, 2020 @ 6:43 pm

    Great article, very useful. How about property insurance? Which company do you recommend or office for insurance?

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      January 3, 2021 @ 12:55 pm

      Hi Kristian,

      We will do a post about property insurance in the future. In the meantime, you could try Wiener or Croatia Osiguranje.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Benton
        April 19, 2021 @ 3:28 am

        Hello!
        I live in New Jersey, which apparently does not have a reciprocity agreement (not in drop-down above).
        Am I unable to purchase property in Croatia?

        {reply}

        • Marija Tkalec
          April 21, 2021 @ 4:02 pm

          Hi Benton,

          Thanks for your question. Apparently, you can not purchase a property in Croatia.

          Warm regards,
          Marija

          {reply}

        • Paul Fischer
          August 23, 2021 @ 5:06 pm

          Yes you can. It is more complicated but you can. The USA does have a reciprocal agreement with Croatia.

          {reply}

          • Expat in Croatia
            August 25, 2021 @ 9:59 am

            Hi Paul,

            To clarify, Croatia doesn’t have reciprocity with the US. They have reciprocity with individual states. Not all states have reciprocity with Croatia. We have a list here.

            Regards,

            Sara

  4. jon cowell
    January 10, 2021 @ 4:49 pm

    Can UK citizens with permanent residence in Croatia buy another building zoned property without applying for permission ( as per pre brexit ) ?

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      January 12, 2021 @ 10:53 am

      Hi Jon,

      Any non-Croatian must apply for permission to buy property.

      Regards,
      Sara

      {reply}

  5. Adel
    January 22, 2021 @ 12:05 pm

    Hi, do you know how much is the stamp fee for House property in Croatia?

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      January 28, 2021 @ 11:47 am

      Hi Adel,

      The property transfer tax is 3% of the tax office property estimate. I assume that is what you mean by stamp fee.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Luka
        February 23, 2021 @ 12:45 am

        Hi dear Sara. As here written country of nationality must have reciprocity agreement in place with Croatia to be given permission to purchase property And you have marked that countries at the and of the text, where is no Georgia on that list, when Georgia allows all countries citizens to buy property in Geoegia. Can you explain why Georgia isn’t on that list? And if you have answer, if Georgian citizen can buy residental property in Croatia? Thank you in advance.
        Kind regards

        {reply}

        • Expat in Croatia
          February 24, 2021 @ 4:12 pm

          Hi Luka,

          Georgia doesn’t have a reciprocity agreement in place with Croatia that allows Georgians to buy property in Croatia. It’s the government’s decision. If this changes, we will update the list.

          Regards,

          Sara

          {reply}

  6. kyle milne
    April 20, 2021 @ 3:50 pm

    When looking at real estate websites I often see the price + 3% realtor fee + 3% transfer tax + VAT. What does one pay the VAT on, the entire cost of the house? Thanks!

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      April 21, 2021 @ 1:21 pm

      Hi Kyle,

      If you hire an agency, they will charge a fee that is usually between 2% to 4% of the agreed property purchase price. PDV (Croatia’s VAT) of 25% will also be charged on top of this agency fee.

      Property transfer tax is 3% of the market value of the property at the time of its acquisition and it is paid by the buyer if the seller isn’t obliged to pay for PDV. PDV is paid by sellers if they are registered to the VAT register and they sell, give or transfer an ownership on building lands or buildings, their parts and the land on which they were built if these constructions and their parts were inhabited or used for less than 2 years.

      We have a post on all costs when buying a property in Croatia where you can find all additional information. Here’s a link: https://www.expatincroatia.com/croatia-real-estate-costs/

      Warm regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

  7. Prabha
    June 11, 2021 @ 7:29 pm

    Can Indian citizen buy residental property in Croatia? Thank you in advance.

    {reply}

  8. Eugene G
    June 12, 2021 @ 4:55 am

    Hi I’m from India and looking to invest in property in Croatia but our country is not listed. What can we do ?

    {reply}

  9. Danish
    June 12, 2021 @ 6:13 am

    Can Indian Citizen buy ?

    {reply}

  10. Manish
    June 13, 2021 @ 12:04 pm

    Hi Sarah,
    I am an Indian citizen. Can I buy house for staying purpose in Croatia? I want to settle down there so also help me to understand if I can setup businesses there as well?

    {reply}

  11. Llisa
    July 3, 2021 @ 1:35 pm

    If I have read correctly, so US only states included in drop down have agreement allowing property purchase requests in Croatia at this time. So if a resident in state NOT listed in drop down, unable to request property purchase, is this correct? Would only change if state added to reciprocity agreement list?

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      July 7, 2021 @ 3:13 pm

      Hi Llisa,

      Your understanding is correct. Only citizens of states that are on the list can buy a property in Croatia, due to reciprocity agreements. This can change once new agreements are closed. If anything changes, we will update this list.

      Warm regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

  12. Karthi
    July 29, 2021 @ 5:23 pm

    Hello Sara, I like to know if an Indian with German permanent residence, can buy a property in Croatia.

    Thank you 🙂

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      July 30, 2021 @ 12:09 pm

      Hi Karthi,

      Ability to buy property is based on nationality. At this time, Indian nationals cannot buy property as there is no reciprocity agreement in place.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Karthi
        July 30, 2021 @ 6:38 pm

        Thank you so much for fast response.

        {reply}

        • Marija Tkalec
          August 4, 2021 @ 5:04 pm

          You’re welcome, Karthi (:

          {reply}

  13. Dragana
    August 15, 2021 @ 7:33 am

    Hi there, I’m so glad I found your site. Can a US citizen resident in Washington state purchase residential real estate in Croatia? I’m also a citizen of Serbia, if that matters.

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      August 16, 2021 @ 4:48 pm

      Hi Dragana,

      You should be able to buy a Croatian residential property since your state is on the list on our drop-down menu below this article.

      Warm regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

  14. kevin
    September 2, 2021 @ 10:20 pm

    Great article. What kind of company can we set up in Croatia to buy real estate? What are the different steps to set up the company and taxes/accounting requirement to operate such company? Many thanks. Kind regards, Kevin

    {reply}

  15. Greg Geord
    September 12, 2021 @ 8:30 pm

    Hi Sara
    Can a South African buy property in Croatia, or would I have to open a company, and buy the property in the same of the d.o.o ?
    Kind regards
    Greg

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      September 13, 2021 @ 4:18 pm

      Hi Greg,

      Yes, as a South African, you should be able to buy a property in Croatia.

      Warm regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

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