How can spouses and life partners of Croatian descendants apply for Croatian citizenship: Guide for 2024

descendant spouses

UPDATED: 14.5.2024.

Spouses and life partners of Croatian ancestors can apply for Croatian citizenship on two different bases. If you live long enough in Croatia, you may be granted citizenship based on residence. The other basis is descent – specifically, that your spouse has Croatian roots.

Whatever your scenario, the process is demanding and requires time for the Croatian Ministry of the Interior to make a final decision. We explained the process in this guide in a simple way.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to apply for Croatian citizenship as a spouse or life partner of a Croatian descendant

Spouses and life partners of Croatian citizens can apply for Croatian citizenship under two conditions:

  • Residence in Croatia
  • Croatian descent of their spouse
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What is a life partner

When the Croatian government refers to "life partners", they mean same-sex couples with a legal union or partnership registration. While Croatia recognizes common law relationships for the purposes of residence, they do not with regards to citizenship.

In the next two sections, we will describe each of these scenarios in detail.

Croatian citizenship for spouses based on residence

Croatian citizenship is regulated by the Law on Croatian citizenship called Zakon o hrvatskom državljanstvu in Croatian. You can view it here. This law also defines the termination of Croatian citizenship. You can learn how to relinquish Croatian citizenship here.

If you are a spouse of a Croatian citizen and you want to apply for citizenship based on your residence in Croatia, you must apply under Article 10 of the Law on citizenship. Learn how to get married in Croatia here and how to obtain a life partnership here.

Article 10 says:

Stranac koji je u braku s hrvatskim državljaninom i kojem je odobren stalni boravak i živi na području Republike Hrvatske, može prirođenjem steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 1-4. ovoga zakona.

Which translates to…

A foreigner who is married to a Croatian citizen and who has been granted permanent residence and lives in the territory of the Republic of Croatia can acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalization even if they do not meet the requirements from Article 8, paragraph 1, items 1-4 of this law.

This means that when applying on a residence basis, you don’t have to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a release from foreign citizenship or submit proof you will receive a release if you are admitted to Croatian citizenship
  • Live in Croatia with a registered residence for 8 years continuously until you apply for citizenship and have a permanent residence
  • Know the Croatian language and Latin script and Croatian culture and social order

So, if you already live in Croatia, you may apply under Article 10 if you meet all the requirements we list below. If you want to apply for residence, find out how in the following guides:

Croatian citizenship for spouses based on descent

Spouses and life partners of Croatian citizens who left prior to 1991 or spouses of direct descendants of Croatian citizens who permanently emigrated from Croatia may apply for Croatian citizenship. A descendant can be a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent and beyond as long as it is in a straight line and you can prove the connection.

[Read: How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on descent (prirođenje)]

The application process for spouses of descendants varies depending on:

  • Where they live
  • Whether the descendant (or emigrant) spouse or life partner already has Croatian citizenship

If you want to apply for Croatian citizenship as a spouse of Croatian descent, you must apply under Article 11 of the Law on Citizenship.

Article 11 says:

Iseljenik i njegovi potomci mogu prirođenjem steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljavaju pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 2. – 4. ovoga Zakona.

Stranac koji je u braku s osobom iz stavka 1. ovoga članka može steći hrvatsko državljanstvo iako ne udovoljava pretpostavkama iz članka 8. stavka 1. točaka 2. – 4. ovoga Zakona.

Iseljenik iz stavka 1. ovoga članka je osoba koja se prije 8. listopada 1991. godine iselila s područja Republike Hrvatske u namjeri da u inozemstvu stalno živi.

Iznimno, iseljenik iz stavka 1. ovoga članka je i pripadnik hrvatskog naroda koji se iselio s prostora u sastavu bivših država u kojima se, u vrijeme iseljenja, nalazilo i područje današnje Republike Hrvatske.

Iseljenikom se ne smatra osoba koja je iselila s područja Republike Hrvatske na temelju međunarodnog ugovora ili se odrekla hrvatskog državljanstva, osoba koja je promijenila prebivalište u druge države koje su u to vrijeme bile u sastavu državne zajednice kojoj je pripadala i Republika Hrvatska te osoba koja je iselila s područja Republike Hrvatske, a nije imala bivše hrvatsko republičko državljanstvo, odnosno zavičajnost na području Republike Hrvatske.

Which translates to…

An emigrant and their descendants may acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalization, even though they do not meet the preconditions referred to in Article 8, paragraph 1, items 2 to 4 of this Act.

An alien who is married to a person referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article may acquire Croatian citizenship even though they do not meet the preconditions referred to in Article 8, paragraph 1, items 2-4 of this Act.

An emigrant referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article is a person who emigrated from the territory of the Republic of Croatia before October 8, 1991, with the intention of living abroad permanently.

Exceptionally, the emigrant referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article is also a member of the Croatian people who emigrated from the territory of the former states in which, at the time of emigration, the territory of today’s Republic of Croatia was located.

An emigrant is not a person who emigrated from the territory of the Republic of Croatia on the basis of an international agreement or renounced Croatian citizenship, a person who changed their residence to other states that at that time were part of the state union to which the Republic of Croatia belonged, or a person who emigrated from the territory of the Republic of Croatia, and did not have former Croatian republican citizenship, i.e., homeland in the territory of the Republic of Croatia.

[Read: How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on descent]

How to apply for Croatian citizenship as a spouse or life partner

Let’s comb through the steps on how to apply for Croatian citizenship if you are a spouse or life partner of Croatian.

1. Define the article

Before you start the process, define under which article you want to apply. The requirements and the documentation you must enclose with your application vary on the claim.

If you are not sure whether you qualify to apply for Croatian citizenship or not, we can help. Contact us through this form, and we will help validate your claim.

2. Prepare the application

Preparing your citizenship application is a delicate process that includes collecting documentation from Croatia and your home country.

The documentation varies depending on:

  • Claim (article) under which you apply
  • Your personal scenario
  • Whether you are applying alone or at the same time as your spouse/life partner

The documentation may include:

  • Completed application form
    • Obrazac 1 – download it here
    • Obrazac 2 (if you are applying with children) – download it here
  • Copy of identity document, officially translated if not in English
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Biography including reasons for applying and connection to Croatia (in Croatian)
  • Marriage or life partnership certificate
  • Your birth certificate
  • Your spouse’s/life partner’s birth certificate
  • Your spouse’s/life partner’s proof of citizenship
  • Criminal background check – view a guide here
  • Proof of permanent residence (if applying based on residence) – view how to apply for permanent residence here
  • Proofs of Croatian lineage of your Croatian spouse (if you are applying as a spouse/life partner of a descendant) such as:
    • Birth certificate of a Croatian ancestor
    • Family tree
    • Proof the ancestor permanently emigrated abroad, such as ship manifest, entry at the port of call, death certificate
    • Anything else showing relative’s life in Croatia before they left
  • Proof of address, whether you are applying in Croatia or abroad
    • ID card
    • Driver’s license
    • Utility bill

All government documents MUST be new originals, including those issued by the Republic of Croatia as well as those issued by foreign governments. If they are issued by a foreign government, they must be also apostilled/legalized and officially translated into Croatian unless bilateral and multilateral international agreements define other rules.

Examples of documents that fall into this category are birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and background checks. Passports are exempt from apostille/legalization, but do need to be officially translated into Croatian if they are not in English. Ship manifests do not need to be apostilled/legalized either.

[Read: How to prepare your foreign documents for use in Croatia]

Collecting the required documentation can take a while, and it depends on the responsible institution. If you need help with preparing your application, we can introduce you to our vetted immigration lawyer, who specializes in Croatian citizenship. Learn how we built our expat-vetted lawyer network and get an introduction here.

The immigration lawyer can prepare the application on your behalf and ensure your application is correct and complete, which increases the chances of approval. To get started, contact us via this form.

3. Submit the application

Once you collect the documents, it is time to apply for citizenship.

If you live outside of Croatia, you must submit the application in person in the country of your residence. Visit the nearest Croatian consulate or embassy closest to your foreign residence and apply for citizenship. A list of Croatian consulates and embassies outside of Croatia is available here.

If you are a Croatian resident, you must apply at the closest MUP administrative police station to your residence. A legal representative or authorized proxy can submit the application on your behalf if you are a disabled person.

[Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

4. Wait for a solution

MUP may need two or more years to solve your citizenship application, especially if you applied abroad. BE PATIENT.

In case MUP needs additional documentation from you, they will come back and request it. We explained how to avoid this in step 2 (how to prepare the application).

5. Get the decision

If your application gets approved by MUP, they will issue a positive decision called Rješenje o primitku u hrvatsko državljanstvo (Decision on the admission to Croatian citizenship). You are officially a Croatian citizen from the day they deliver you this decision. Congrats!

MUP will issue you a negative decision if they deny your application. If you suspect that the denial is unjustified, you have the right to submit a complaint called tužba to the administrative court within 30 days.

No matter what the decision is, you are required to pay an administrative fee to MUP. All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here.

6. Take the solemn oath

After being granted Croatian citizenship as a spouse of a Croatian, you must take a svečana prisega (solemn oath). You will receive an invitation from MUP or the consulate.

At the ceremony, you must say:

Prisežem svojom čašću da ću se kao hrvatski državljanin/državljanka pridržavati Ustava i zakona te poštivati pravni poredak, kulturu i običaje u Republici Hrvatskoj.

Which translates to…

I swear by my honor that as a Croatian citizen I will abide by the Constitution and the law and respect the legal order, culture, and customs in the Republic of Croatia.

What to do after being granted Croatian citizenship?

After you are granted Croatian citizenship, you can apply for other Croatian documents.

Request the documentation in the following order:

  • Domovnica (proof of citizenship) – view a guide here
  • Rodni list (birth certificate) – view a guide here
  • Putovnica (passport) – view a guide here
  • Osobna iskaznica (ID card) – view a guide here

[Read: Next steps after being granted Croatian citizenship]

If you need professional help while obtaining the documents, fill out the form below this article.

For more information on types of marital unions and partnerships in Croatia, along with their rights and privileges, jump to this post.

Need help with your Croatian citizenship application?

Interested in applying for Croatian citizenship but not sure where to start? We can point you in the right direction.

Our expat-vetted lawyer network can take care of your application from beginning to end. We have excellent English-speaking lawyers across the country who specialize in citizenship and are in constant communication with the ministry. These are the same lawyers who help us vet all of our information on this site. Learn how we built this network here.

You do not have to live in Croatia to take advantage of this service.

For one flat rate, they can:

  • Validate your claim (which includes confirming if you qualify and checking the citizenship status of your relative)
  • Prepare a plan specific to your case to ensure you have the best chance of approval
  • Target possible red flags and prepare solutions
  • Collect birth records in Croatia (new copies are required)
  • Confirm exact requirements with your embassy or consulate and coordinate with them on your behalf
  • Provide guidance on preparing a successful CV biography (and coordinating translation into Croatian)
  • Prepare your family tree
  • Prepare supporting documentation
  • Coordinate translations for foreign documents, as needed
  • Assist with any issues or questions that arise after submission. They are with you throughout the process from start to approval.

As part of this service, you’ll have a dedicated Expat in Croatia caseworker who will follow up periodically to ensure you’re getting everything you need. You’ll also be able to reach out to them as well if any issues arise.

Having Expat in Croatia and our lawyer network on your side will give you the best shot at approval. It takes 1-2 years on average for applications to be processed, so best not to risk denial. This is nationality, after all, and obtaining nationality is a big deal.

View reviews from people who have used our services for citizenship here.

To get help with your citizenship application, complete the form below, and we will match you with an expert.

View reviews from our happy clients

If you are ready to learn more and talk to our experienced professionals, click here.

View other Croatian citizenship articles

Frequently asked questions

How do you get Croatian citizenship by descent?

If you have at least one parent, grandparent, or even great-grandparent who was born in Croatia, you might be qualified to apply for Croatian citizenship. View our guide to applying for citizenship based on descent here.

Can I become a Croatian citizen through marriage?

Yes. The process of becoming a Croatian citizen as a spouse and life partner of Croatian descendants is explained here. If you are married to a Croatian or of Croatian descent, you can apply for Croatian citizenship. The process may be long, but it is worth it. Here is a guide to Croatian citizenship explaining all possible ways to apply for citizenship.

What is Article 11 of the Croatian Citizenship Act?

Article 11 allows you to apply for citizenship based on a Croatian ancestor who was born in Croatia. The number of generations you can theoretically refer back to is infinite. Learn more about it here.

What is a certificate of belonging to the Croatian people?

If you are a Croatian diaspora member and want to apply for residency or citizenship in Croatia, you must submit a certificate of belonging to the Croatian people issued by the Central State Office for Croats outside the Republic of Croatia. Learn more about this citizenship basis here and residence basis here.


Sources:
Zakon o hrvatskom državljanstvu
Državljanstvo by MUP
Upute o proceduri: stjecanje hrvatskog državljanstva

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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