Everything you need to know about Croatia’s pension system: Guide for 2024

Retired men on pension in Croatia
Image by A_peach

UPDATED: 20.6.2023.

Many countries around the world have some form of a state-run retirement program. Croatia has a mandatory pension system that employers pay into on behalf of their employees. The amount paid is scaled to their salary.

Once workers reach a certain age, they can withdraw from pension called mirovina. The amount of pension accrued is directly related to the amount paid into the system by your employers during your working life.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

All you need to know about Croatia’s pension system

How Croatia’s pension system is structured

The Croatian pension system is defined by the law on pension insurance called Zakon o mirovinskom osiguranju. The system is divided into 3 pension funds called stup mirovinskog osiguranja. Some are mandatory, but not all. We’ll go through each one in detail.

The pensions funds are:

  • Prvi stup (first fund)
  • Drugi stup (second fund)
  • Treći stup (third fund)

#1 Prvi stup (first fund)

Prvi stup is mandatory, and it is under the jurisdiction of HZMO – Hrvatski zavod za mirovinsko osiguranje (Croatian pension insurance institute).

For this fund, employers pay 15% of an employee’s bruto salary monthly into the state treasury. Bruto salary is the net amount an employee receives in their bank account each month plus taxes. The money collected in this fund is used for the payment of pensions to existing pensioners.

[Read: Minimum wage salaries in Croatia]

The first and the second funds are mandatory, but some people are first-fund users only. If the employee is only in the first fund, the employer pays 20% of bruto salary instead.

People in the first fund were usually:

  • At least 50 years of age in 2002 when the second fund was founded
  • Between 40 and 50 years of age in 2002 when the second fund was founded, but they didn’t become voluntary users of the second fund at the time

#2 Drugi stup (second fund)

Drugi stup is also mandatory, and it is defined by the law on mandatory pension funds called Zakon o obveznim mirovinskim fondovima and the law on pension insurance companies called Zakon o mirovinskim osiguravajućim društvima.

It is under the jurisdiction of private pension companies, which are supervised by the HANFA – Hrvatska agencija za nadzor financijskih usluga (Croatian financial services supervisory agency).

For this fund, employers pay 5% of an employee’s bruto salary monthly into one of the mandatory pension funds of the employee’s choice. If an employee decides to change the pension fund, all the previously deposited money transfers from the old fund to the new fund.

Residents can track the amount of money paid into their second fund at Središnji registar osiguranika – REGOS webpages. To register, visit any FINA office and ask for a PIN (personal identification number).

Alternative is to use an existing account with specific banks or mobile companies to verify your identity and access your drugi stup balance. For example, I am able to use the PBZ #withKEY function to verify my identity even though PBZ has nothing to do with my pension.

[Read: Croatia’s biggest banks: Comparison of fees and services]

#3 Treći stup (third fund)

Treći stup is optional, and it is under the jurisdiction of private banks and insurance companies. This fund can be compared to investment funds. The money paid into this fund is invested in stocks, bonds, and cash deposits.

People who invest in this fund have the right to državna poticajna sredstva (state incentives), which means that the state stimulates investment into this fund. The state will match up to 15% on the total amount an employee invests into this fund within a calendar year, up to 99,54 euros maximum.

[Read: Government grants and loans for entrepreneurs in Croatia]

The money invested in the third fund can be withdrawn at the age of 55 if you started investing after January 1, 2019. If you started to invest before January 1, 2019, you can withdraw the money from the third fund when you turn 50. To pick up the saved money from the third fund, you don’t have to meet the requirements of retirement for the first or second fund.

Working life, length of service, and retirement age in Croatia

There are three important terms to know when discussing qualification for Croatia’s pension:

  • Radni vijek (working life)
  • Radni staž (length of service)
  • Mirovinski staž (retirement age)

Radni vijek

Radni vijek refers to your “working life”. Working life is the period of time during which you were capable of working, regardless of whether or not you actually worked during this time.

For those who have graduated high school, radni vijek is calculated starting from the age of 20. If you have a bachelor’s degree, then it starts from age 23. If you have a master’s degree, radni vijek starts from age 26.

Radni staž

Radni staž means length of service. This refers to the amount of time you were employed in Croatia during which your employers paid into the pension fund(s) on your behalf.

It does not refer to part-time or full-time employment but instead is calculated by the number of years paid into the system. Even if you worked only 1 hour per day within a calendar year, it is calculated as 1 year of staž (service). The absolute minimum radni staž you must have to retire is 15 years, except for disability pension.

These years of service are used as a qualification for withdrawing pension, which we’ll discuss further in this post.

Mirovinski staž

Mirovinski staž means retirement age. The standard retirement age in Croatia is 65 years. However, there are different age minimums for retirement, depending on the type of pension and a few other factors.

In the next section, we’ll review each type of pension and when a worker can retire with each.

Types of pension in Croatia

To collect a pension from either the mandatory prvi or drugi stup, you must meet certain criteria. Criteria are broken down into 4 types of pension, which may or may not relate to your personal retirement from the workforce.

The types of pension in Croatia are:

  • Starosna mirovina (old-age pension)
  • Prijevremena starosna mirovina (early old-age pension)
  • Invalidska mirovina (disability pension)
  • Obiteljska mirovina (family pension)

Now, we’ll go through each type of pension one by one in greater detail to explain the criteria you must meet to qualify.

#1 Starosna imovina (old-age pension)

The right to starosna imovina is for people who:

  • Are at least 65 years of age
  • Have contributed to the pension system for 15 years

Currently, there is a transitional period between 2020 and 2029 during which women have the right to retire early, as shown in the table available here. From January 1, 2030, women and men will have the same retirement age for starosna imovina.

The right to starosna imovina based on long-term insurance is for people who:

  • Are at least 60 years of age
  • Have contributed to the pension system for 41 years

The age minimum for retirement under starosna imovina can be lowered for:

  • People who work in very demanding job positions
  • People who work in job positions dangerous to their health
  • People who work in job positions where their physiological functions decrease over time (opera singers, dancers, chimney cleaners, etc.)
  • People with disabilities
    • Dystrophy and related muscular and neuromuscular diseases
    • Paraplegia
    • Cerebral palsy and polio
    • Multiple sclerosis and related diseases
    • Blind persons
    • Deaf persons
    • Rheumatoid arthritis and other systemic inflammatory diseases of the joints and connective tissue
  • Functional disorders prevent persons from moving without a wheelchair
  • Down syndrome

#2 Prijevremena starosna imovina (early-old age pension)

The right to prijevremena starosna imovina is for people who:

  • Are at least 60 years of age
  • Have contributed to the pension for at least 35 years

Currently, there is a transitional period between 2020 and 2029 during which women have the right to retire early, as shown in the table available here. After this period, from January 1, 2030, women and men will have the same retirement age for prijevremena starosna imovina.

The right to prijevremena starosna imovina due to bankruptcy of an employer applies to people who:

  • Have the right for prijevremena starosna imovina (as shown above)
  • Have been registered as an unemployed person at HZZ (employment service) for a continuous period of at least 2 years after the bankruptcy

#3 Invalidska mirovina (disability pension)

There are 3 types of disability pensions.

Invalidska mirovina

The right to invalidska mirovina is for people who:

  • Have partial or complete loss of ability to work
    • Partial loss – Persons with reduced working ability who can work up to 70% of working hours
    • Complete loss – Persons with a permanent loss of working ability
  • Fulfill the condition of staž (service)
    • Persons who lost their working ability before the age of 65 have the right to invalidska mirovina if they worked at least ⅓ of their working life
    • Example: You are 56 and had an accident that resulted in the partial loss of your ability to work. You have a master’s degree, so your working life started when you were 26. This means your total working life was 30 years. To get a disability pension, you must have worked 1/3 of your working life, which equals 10 years. So, your years of service must be at least 10 years to qualify.

Privremena invalidska mirovina

Disabled persons who have been unemployed long-term after they finished job training through professional rehabilitation have the right to a temporary disability pension if they:

  • Were unemployed for at least 5 years after the rehabilitation concluded
  • Were unemployed when they turned 58 years old
  • Haven’t rejected any job offers from HZZ

More information is available here.

Professional rehabilitation

Professional rehabilitation is government-provided training to disabled persons for specific jobs to preserve their remaining working ability.

More information is available here.

#4 Obiteljska mirovina (family pension)

Family members of deceased persons (such as life partners, spouses, parents, and children) have the right to obiteljska mirovina if some requirements are met.

Detailed requirements are available here and here.

View our other related articles


Source:
Mirovine by HZMO

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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