How can spouses and life partners of Croatian descendants apply for Croatian citizenship: Guide for 2023
Spouses 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.
The same rules for spouses also apply to life partners of Croatian citizens. Whatever your scenario is, the process is demanding and requires time for the Croatian Ministry of the Interior to bring a final decision.
If you are a Croatian descendant and want to apply for citizenship, take a look at this article.
In this article, we cover:
- Citizenship based on residence
- Citizenship based on descent
- How spouses can apply for Croatian citizenship
- Next steps after granting citizenship
- How to get help with your citizenship application
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
In the next two sections, we will describe each of these scenarios in detail.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- How non-EU/EEA spouses of Croatians can apply for residence
- How to apply for temporary residence in Croatia based on family reunification
- How EU/EEA citizens can get temporary residence in Croatia
- How third-country citizens can apply for temporary residency in Croatia
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 connection.
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.
Let’s comb through the steps on how to apply for Croatian citizenship if you are a spouse or life partner of Croatian.
Step #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.
Step #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
- 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)
- 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
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.
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 that 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.
Step #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.
Step #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.
Step #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 injustified, 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.
Step #6 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.
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
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.
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 that 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 our other citizenship articles
- 11 things to know before applying for Croatian citizenship
- All about the Croatian citizenship test
- Croatian Central State Office for Croats Abroad
- How children of Croatians can register their citizenship
- How members of the Croatian people can apply for Croatian citizenship (Article 16)
- How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization if you are an EU/EEA citizen
- How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on special interest
- How to apply for Croatian citizenship (hrvatsko državljanstvo)
- How to apply for citizenship based on descent
- How to get proof of citizenship (domovnica)
- How to relinquish Croatian nationality
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.