How Canadian citizens can visit and live in Croatia: Guide for 2024

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Canada embassy
Embassy of Canada in Zagreb

UPDATED: 15.1.2024.

Croatia has been especially popular with Canadians in the last few years. Some are coming here as tourists to experience this magnificent country, and others have picked up and moved to Croatia permanently.

While the cost to visit Croatia is steadily going up, there are still bargains to be had by those making Canadian dollars. Depending on where and when you go, much of Croatia is still undiscovered by tourists and is much safer, unlike mega destinations like London, Paris, and Rome. With the right destination and right time of year, you may find yourself among only locals.

Many Canadians are putting down roots, making Croatia their long-term home. Loads of Canadians have Croatian heritage and are applying for citizenship now that the language test has been waived for the diaspora, with plans to relocate once approved.

Others have married a Croatian abroad and have decided to build their life in an inherited family home. The rest just think it’s nice and are looking for a change of pace that maybe involves living by the sea. It’s the perfect place for snowbirds, eh?

There are several options for Canadians to settle in Croatia. They aren’t all easy, but anyone with determination can make them happen. We’ve created a guide specifically for Canadians that includes every option available for moving to Croatia long term. If you’re only here for a short time, we cover tourist visas too.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How Canadian citizens can visit and live in Croatia

Tourist visas for Canadian citizens to visit Croatia

Canadians are allowed visa-free travel to 126 countries around the world right now. Croatia is one of those countries.

Even though a visa is not needed, there are requirements for Canadian citizens to enter Croatia. You can find more information here.

You can always see the latest tourist visa status here, but it’s unlikely to ever change because Canada is full of nice people that do not piss off other countries as a general rule.

How to move to Croatia as a Canadian

While there are nearly a dozen options for staying in Croatia long-term, most only offer limited stays, and the ones that let you stay the longest are the hardest to get. This guide will cover all of your options as well as what is required of you as a Canadian citizen to apply for residency.

Before we get started, we need to cover some vocabulary. Croatia divvies citizens into 3 groups: Croatian citizens, EU/EEA citizens, and everybody else (third-country nationals or non-EU/EEA citizens). Canadians belong to the third-country national group. This means that the residence permit scenarios we cover below apply to all third-country nationals, not just Canadians.

The ministry that handles immigration is called Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova, although we may refer to it as MUP or the police for short.

[Read: All the Croatian government ministries and what they do]

Now that we’ve finished our schooling, let’s get started. We will go through each residency option in greater detail.

Digital nomad permit

Digital nomads can be granted temporary residence based on their remote work as long as they are not working for any Croatian companies. Canadians can apply for this permit.

Here are instructions on how to apply for a permit based on being a digital nomad.

View frequently asked questions about Croatia’s digital nomad permit here.

Permanent residents of EU/EEA/Switzerland

Canadians who hold long-term residence in another EU/EEA member state may be granted temporary residence in Croatia.

Here are instructions on applying for a permit based on your permanent residence in another EU/EEA country.

Student permit

Canadians are allowed to study at one of Croatia’s many universities across the country. Their universities offer specialties in a variety of subjects. Many foreign citizens attend medical school here. You can also study Croatian at certain institutions. All of these options give you a basis for temporary residency.

To get a student residence permit, you must include proof of acceptance into a qualified Croatian institution of education with your residence application.

Here are instructions on how to apply for a student residence permit.

Work permit

Canadians can apply for a residence permit with the option to work in Croatia.

If you want to seek a work permit to live in Croatia, start by seeing which jobs are available. Our guide on how to find a job in Croatia will prove helpful.

Here are instructions on how to apply for a work permit.

EU Blue Card

If you have received higher education or qualifications such as ISCED 1997 levels 5a or higher or an associate’s degree or higher, you may qualify for an EU Blue Card.

Once you have been hired or given a binding work offer for a highly qualified position within Croatia, the company that intends to hire, you may apply for a temporary residence that will allow you to work based on a Blue Card.

Our detailed guide on how to apply for an EU Blue Card in Croatia is available here.

Work permit by opening your own company

If you’d rather start your own company, you can issue yourself a work contract as the company owner and, therefore, qualify for a work permit.

This option involves entangling yourself in an endless tax bureaucracy capable of strangling the life right out of you, so it is not recommended if you don’t intend to use the company for business. This option should only be used by those who really want to open and run a company in Croatia.

If you plan to go this route, make sure you educate yourself thoroughly so you know what you are getting yourself into. We have written a heap of posts about opening and running businesses in Croatia, which you can view here.

Read more about the option of getting a work permit by opening your own company in this guide.

Prepayment of rent

If you only want to live in Croatia for one year, then this option could be the right fit. It’s a great option for retired people and frequent travelers whom have the flexibility to move to a new country for a limited amount of time.

This permit is not “merit” based or tied to work contracts and instead is tied to prepaying rent for the term you are here. Of course, there are catches…

Here are instructions on how to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent.

Learning the Croatian language

A residence permit can also be granted if you study the Croatian language at certain language schools. To get this permit, you must enroll in a Croatian language study program (like Croaticum).

[Read: Biggest Croatian language schools in Croatia]

Our detailed guide on how to apply for temporary residence based on language study is available here.

Scientific research

If you have a scientific research project that you wish to work on in Croatia, you can get a residence permit. You’ll definitely need to provide proof of the research, which will likely involve a detailed plan of what you hope to accomplish, why you need to be in Croatia, and the time frame in which you plan to accomplish it. Expect a close review. However, you cannot work for a Croatian company with this permit.

Members of the Croatian people

Croatian descendants can apply for Croatian residence based on humanitarian reasons as being members of the Croatian people.

Once granted temporary residence, members of the Croatian people have the right to work in Croatia without a work permit. They can attend courses or vocational training, educate, and study.

View our guide on how Croatian diaspora and descendants without Croatian citizenship can apply for temporary residence in Croatia here.

Volunteering

It is possible to gain residency on the grounds of humanitarian or volunteer work. To apply on this basis, you’ll need to provide a contract with a non-profit organization that shows the terms of work and that you are not being paid for this work, among other requirements.

You can read more about this permit here.

View our articles on Croatian non-profit organizations that may offer long-term contracts to volunteers from third countries:

Marriage or partnership with a Croatian or EU national

This program is called family reunification, which essentially means that spouses and children of Croatians and EU/EEA citizens can come to live in Croatia with their spouse or parent (if they are minors).

If you are married to a Croatian or EU/EEA national, you are entitled to live in Croatia with legal residency as long as both you and your spouse live together at the same address. This is by far the easiest and fastest permit to get since there is an automatic trust that is inherent when a Croatian or EU/EEA citizen is involved.

[Read: How to get married in Croatia (if at least one spouse is a foreigner)]

Learn more about how to apply for a permit based on marriage here:

Croatian ancestry

If you have Croatian lineage, you’ve won the lotto. The Croatian government really really really wants Croatians from abroad to return to Croatia to live and work.

To qualify for citizenship, you must have a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc., that is Croatian. Lineage must be in a straight line, and you must be able to prove the connection, which can be done in a variety of ways (usually through birth certificates). Find out if you qualify for Croatian citizenship here.

You can see how to apply for Croatian citizenship here. We also have a specific guide on applying for citizenship based on descent here.

Learn about the most important things you need to know before applying for Croatian citizenship here.

Our citizenship resources are available here.

Requirements that apply to all situations

Canada embassy entrance
Entrance to the Canadian embassy in Zagreb

There are standard requirements that apply to all citizens of Canada no matter which basis applies to you. Below is a list of the most common requirements. Keep in mind that MUP will request additional items from you depending on your basis for residency, as noted above.

Everyone must provide:

  • Completed application form Obrazac 1a
    • The police will provide you with the right application – view it here
  • Valid passport
    • Validity period must be 3 months longer than the validity period of the intended stay
  • Criminal background check and certificate on the length of stay – view a guide here
  • Health insurance
    • This is usually private health insurance unless you have state health insurance from another EU/EEA state
  • Registered address in Croatia – view a guide here
    • Proof of accommodation is sufficient for applying for residence, and after approval, you’ll need a rental contract
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself – view a guide here
  • Passport photo 30×35 mm
    • Usually, there is a photo studio right by MUP where you can get these in the right size
  • Application fee
    • This is due upon approval of your application. All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here. In some cases, you must pay an administrative fee earlier in the process using tax stamps.

Health insurance for Canadians living in Croatia

When applying for temporary residence in Croatia as a Canadian citizen, you must have proof of health insurance as part of your application. It will need to be some kind of private health insurance policy (or a state health insurance policy if coming from another country within the EU/EEA).

Once you are approved for residence, then you must sign up for Obvezno state health insurance with HZZO unless you’re a digital nomad.

View our guides on Croatian health insurance:

HZZO is the state health insurance fund. View a list of HZZO offices in Croatia here.

Upon enrollment in HZZO, all non-EU citizens are required to pay 12 months of health insurance premiums for the previous year plus the monthly premium going forward. This is for all citizens, children and adults alike. Meaning that if you are a family of 4 with 2 children, you’ll need to pay these fees for all 4 members of your family.

The monthly premium changes from year to year. The current amount is always updated in this post.

Exchanging your Canada driver’s license

If you wish to drive in Croatia, you can exchange your Canada driver’s license for a Croatian one as long as you do it within your first year of residence. If you wait longer than one year, you may be fined and/or required to start from scratch with a driving school.

You can read about the process of exchanging your Canadian driver’s license here.

You can read about the process of getting a Croatian driver’s license from scratch here.

Learn how to take a driving school called autoškola in Croatia here.

Buying property in Croatia

Canadian citizens are allowed to purchase any property zoned as “residential” in Croatia, depending on the province they are from. You can see the latest list of reciprocity agreements in place with Canadian provinces here.

If you’re interested in purchasing a house or apartment in Croatia, we’ve got a step-by-step guide that explains the process. Check it out here.

We can also connect you to vetted real estate agents and solicitors to help you through the process. If you’d like an introduction, please complete this form, and we’ll contact you.

Taxes

Canadians living more than 183 days in Croatia each year must report their worldwide income and pay taxes in Croatia.

Currently, Canada has a double taxation treaty with Croatia in place.

Here are some additional resources from the CRA:

Taxes are complicated, especially when you reside outside of your home country. We’ve provided a 50.000-foot (meter) view of the tax situation. If you ever want a detailed review of your tax liability while living in Croatia, contact us, and we’ll connect you with a tax expert.

[Read: Comparison of Croatia’s taxes with taxes of the 10 largest EU/EEA Member States]

How to find the Canadian embassy in Croatia

Embassy of Canada, Zagreb

Contact: Alan Bowman

Telephone: +385 (0)1 4881 200; +385 (0)1 4881 230

Email: zagreb@international.gc.ca

Address: Prilaz Gjure Deželića 4, 10 000 Zagreb – view map

Conclusion

With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can live in Croatia for at least a year, if not longer. There will be some challenges, but it can totally be worth it in the end. Croatia is a beautiful country with kind people, gorgeous weather, untouched nature, and a high quality of life.

It all comes down to how badly you want to live here and how much patience you have.

Skip the research! Save time and talk to EIC.

We crafted this post to be as detailed as possible, but sometimes questions still arise because everyone’s situation is different. If you’d like personalized guidance on your situation, we can help.

Save yourself the time and uncertainty of trying to navigate the ever-changing rules for living in Croatia by scheduling a private chat with us over video chat.

How does it work?

All first-time clients get 30 minutes with an Expat in Croatia coach PLUS 30 minutes with a vetted English-speaking lawyer from our network that you can use at any time.

Your session will be completely tailored to you and your needs whether it’s bureaucracy, culture, or daily life. All legal advice will be handled by our vetted lawyer network. We can help you with everything else.

In addition, you’ll receive a follow up with additional resources based on your situation, our Croatia Restaurant Guide as well as introductions to vetted professionals like insurance, law, real estate, translation and tax.

We have an extensive FAQ about this service here.

Ready to get started? Click here to jump to the form.

Who will I speak with?

Carol Anne Škorvaga, known to us as “CAM”, is a first-generation Croatian-Canadian living in Jastrebarsko with her family. She grew up entrenched in the Croatian community surrounded by culture and folklore, attended Croatian school in Canada and then returned to Zagreb to attend Filozofski Fakultet. CAM is fluent in Croatian and has firsthand knowledge of being both a Canadian expat and a Croatian returnee, building a home in Croatia and being a parent with children in local schools.

Meet CAM in this quick 2-minute video here.

What is the cost?

The below costs are per 30 minutes and include VAT (25% tax mandated by the Croatian government).

  • First-time clients  |  150 euros (includes 30-min session with lawyer)
  • Repeat clients  |  75 euros

If additional time is requested, it is billed in ¼ hour increments.

We offer a 100% money back guarantee. If your session was not helpful, then you will be refunded – no questions asked.

We vet our information through hands-on, human work. This process includes extensive web research, phone calls to the government, collaboration with licensed Croatian professionals, and visits to government.

Reviews from our clients

“My husband and I are looking to obtain our Croatian citizenship through heritage. CAM was exceptional and was extremely informative about the process required, timelines, contact people, both in Croatia and at home, lawyers and services offered by Expat in Croatia. She was able to easy our anxiety and we felt that we will have solid support and direction going forward. She was professional and friendly. Thank you CAM for your support.” ~ Carol W., Canada, February 5, 2024

“After months of Dr Googling we were left with some ideas but had no confidence in which process to citizenship to follow and if any of it was right. Actually at the time of our consultation the laws had changed and CAM was already on top of them. We left the consultation with a clear path to citizenship and in-depth explanation of everything we needed to do in SA before leaving. On top of this when moving to a new country you don’t know how people may react or approach you. I was apprehensive about this and CAM melted all of that away. On the facts she was professional and serious but when welcoming us, making jokes and telling us about Croatia she was so warm, kind and lifted all my fears of moving. My heart now completely lies in Croatia and we have within 2 weeks a complete plan and working on all the documents we need to gather. Every country needs an expat Croatia with such high integrity.”~ MaryAnn V., South Africa, January 17, 2024

You can view our latest reviews here or all of our reviews here.

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View our other residency by nationality guides

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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