How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization if you are an EU/EEA citizen: Guide for 2024

tick icon
This post has been verified by the ministry that handles citizenship as well as immigration lawyers specializing in citizenship.
Croatian flag in Split, Croatia
Croatian flag in Split, Croatia

UPDATED: 12.4.2024.

EU/EEA citizens can apply for Croatian citizenship if they meet certain conditions, just like anyone else. The application process is long and includes a Croatian language and culture test and a requirement to relinquish foreign citizenship.

This guide is specifically for EU/EEA citizens who wish to apply for Croatian citizenship under naturalization, which is residence-based and has the same rules applied to third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens. If you have Croatian heritage, you may qualify based on descent, so view that guide here.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Who qualifies to apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization?

According to the Zakon o hrvatskom državljanstvu (Croatian Citizenship Act), EU/EEA citizens can apply for hrvatsko državljanstvo (Croatian citizenship) on the basis of naturalization.

To apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You are older than 18
  • You no longer hold foreign citizenship or have submitted evidence that you will be released from your foreign citizenship after being granted Croatian citizenship
  • You have resided in Croatia for 8 continuous years and hold the status of a permanent resident
  • You passed the Croatian language and culture test unless you are older than 60 – learn more about this test here
  • From your behavior, it can be inferred that you respect the legal order and customs in Croatia

[Read: How EU/EEA citizens can apply for long-term residency in Croatia]

Minors can be granted Croatian citizenship based on naturalization if:

  • Both parents are also acquiring citizenship based on naturalization
  • One of their parents is also acquiring citizenship based on naturalization, AND the child is living in Croatia and has valid permanent residency
  • One of their parents is also acquiring citizenship based on naturalization, AND the other parent has no citizenship, or citizenship is unknown – even if the child lives abroad

What does Article 8 of the Croatian Citizenship Act say?

Article 8 of the Croatian Citizenship Act defines the rules for applying for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization. Below is an excerpt from Article 8.

Članak 8. (NN 102/19)

Prirođenjem može steći hrvatsko državljanstvo stranac koji je podnio zahtjev za primanje u hrvatsko državljanstvo ako udovoljava ovim pretpostavkama:

  1. da je navršio 18 godina života;
  2. da ima otpust iz stranog državljanstva ili da podnese dokaz da će otpust dobiti ako bude primljen u hrvatsko državljanstvo;
  3. da živi u Republici Hrvatskoj s prijavljenim boravkom 8 godina neprekidno do podnošenja zahtjeva i ima odobren status stranca na stalnom boravku;
  4. da poznaje hrvatski jezik i latinično pismo, hrvatsku kulturu i društveno uređenje;
  5. da poštuje pravni poredak Republike Hrvatske, da je podmirio dospjela javna davanja te da ne postoje sigurnosne zapreke za njegov primitak u hrvatsko državljanstvo.

Smatrat će se da je udovoljeno pretpostavci iz točke 2. stavka 1. ovoga članka, ako je zahtjev podnijela osoba koja je bez državljanstva ili koja će ga prema zakonu zemlje čiji je državljanin izgubiti samim prirođenjem.

Ako strana država ne dopušta otpust ili za otpust postavlja pretpostavke kojima se ne može udovoljiti, dovoljna je izjava osobe koja je podnijela zahtjev da se pod pretpostavkom stjecanja hrvatskog državljanstva odriče stranog državljanstva.

Ispunjenje pretpostavke iz stavka 1. točke 4. ovoga članka, utvrđuje se provjerom poznavanja hrvatskog jezika i latiničnog pisma, kulture i društvenog uređenja.

Osobe starije od 60 godina ne moraju ispunjavati pretpostavke iz stavka 1. točke 4. ovoga članka.

Članak 8a.

Strancu koji je podnio zahtjev za primitak u hrvatsko državljanstvo, a u trenutku podnošenja zahtjeva nema otpust iz stranog državljanstva ili nema dokaz da će otpust dobiti ako bude primljen u hrvatsko državljanstvo, može se izdati zajamčenje primitka u hrvatsko državljanstvo ako udovoljava ostalim pretpostavkama iz članka 8., stavka 1., ovoga zakona.

Zajamčenje se izdaje s rokom važenja od dvije godine.

This translates as:

Article 8 (NN 102/19)

A foreigner who has applied for Croatian citizenship may acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalization if they meet the following preconditions:

  1. they have reached 18 years of age;
  2. they have a release from foreign citizenship, or they submit proof that they will receive the release if they are admitted to Croatian citizenship;
  3. they have been living in the Republic of Croatia with registered residence for 8 years continuously until the submission of the application, and they have been granted the status of a foreigner on permanent residence;
  4. they know the Croatian language and Latin alphabet, Croatian culture, and social organization;
  5. they respect the legal order of the Republic of Croatia, they paid the due public benefits, and there are no security obstacles to their admission to Croatian citizenship.

The presumption referred to in item 2, paragraph 1 of this Article shall be deemed to have been met if the application was submitted by a stateless person or a person will lose it by naturalization under the law of the country of which they are a citizen.

If a foreign state does not allow release or imposes preconditions for dismissal that cannot be met, a statement by the person who submitted the request to renounce foreign citizenship on the assumption of acquiring Croatian citizenship is sufficient.

Fulfillment of the presumption referred to in paragraph 1, item 4 of this Article shall be determined by checking the knowledge of the Croatian language and the Latin alphabet, culture, and social organization.

People over the age of 60 do not have to meet the preconditions referred to in paragraph 1, item 4 of this Article.

Article 8a

An alien who has applied for Croatian citizenship and at the time of applying does not have a release from foreign citizenship or no proof that they will receive a release if they are granted Croatian citizenship, may be granted a guarantee of Croatian citizenship if they meet the other conditions of Article 8. , paragraph 1, of this Law.

The guarantee is issued with a validity period of two years.

The Croatian Citizenship Act is available here.

Benefits for EU/EEA citizens when applying for Croatian citizenship

During the process of applying for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization, EU/EEA citizens have the same rights as third-country citizens with regard to the procedure itself. This means that they do not have any special benefits just because they are citizens of the EU/EEA member states. During the application process, EU/EEA citizens must pass the Croatian language and culture test.

Once granted Croatian citizenship, you must relinquish all foreign citizenship. You can only have Croatian citizenship. Dual citizenship is not an available option when applying based on naturalization. If you want to learn more about relinquishing Croatian citizenship, view this post.

[Read: Rights and benefits of Croatian citizenship]

How EU/EEA citizens can apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization

Below is a step-by-step guide on how EU/EEA citizens can apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization.

#1 Confirm your basis

Before starting the process itself, you must be sure that you qualify to apply for Croatian citizenship on the basis of naturalization.

There are two primary questions you need to answer that determine whether or not you qualify:

  • Do you hold permanent residence? – your answer needs to be YES
  • Have you lived in Croatia continuously with legal residence for at least 8 years? – your answer needs to be YES

[Read: Find out if you qualify for Croatian citizenship]

#2 Prepare the documentation

If you don’t provide all the required documentation, your application won’t be valid. Be sure that you’ve collected all the documents.

You must provide:

  • One of the following application forms:
    • Application for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship by the birth of an adult (Obrazac 1) – download here
    • Application for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship by the birth of an adult and a child/children (Obrazac 2) – download here
    • Application for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship by the birth of a child/children (Obrazac 3) – download here
  • Biography with supporting documentation, including reasons for applying, written in Croatian
  • Birth certificate (apostilled/legalized and officially translated) – view a guide to Croatian birth certificates here
  • Proof of citizenship, such as:
    • Verified copy of a passport
    • Verified copy of an ID card
    • Domovnica equivalent – view a guide to Croatian proof of citizenship here
  • Background check issued by the country where you have lived the previous 12 months proving you have not been criminally prosecuted not older than six months (apostilled/legalized and officially translated) – view a guide here
  • Valid identity document with a visible photo (apostilled/legalized and officially translated)
  • Proof of permanent residence in Croatia – view a guide here
  • Proof of passing the Croatian language and culture test – view a guide here
  • Proof of address, whether you are applying in Croatia or abroad
    • ID card
    • Driver’s license
    • Utility bill

[Read: How to apply for a national ID card (osobna iskaznica)]

Children younger than 18 also need to provide:

  • Extract from the birth register if they are born outside Croatia
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Written consent of the other parent

Every foreign public document that you provide must be original, apostilled/legalized, and officially translated into Croatian. In certain cases, other rules may be specified by bilateral and multilateral international agreements. You can learn how to prepare your foreign documents for use in Croatia here and the apostille and full legalization of documents here.

If you want to be sure that you’ve properly prepared your application for Croatian citizenship, we are here to help. Our expat-vetted network of immigration lawyers can help you during the application process. Contact us, and we will introduce you to one of our lawyers.

#3 Submit the application

After you collect the documentation, you must apply at the MUP administrative office/police station closest to your place of residence. A legal representative or authorized proxy can submit your application if you are a disabled person.

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

The application process could take time, months to years. The cost to submit an application may include a symbolic administrative fee.

#4 Receive a decision

After you are granted Croatian citizenship, you will receive a document called Rješenje o primitku u hrvatsko državljanstvo (Decision on the admission to Croatian citizenship). This is a formal document that states that you have been approved for citizenship.

All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here. You can view payment information here.

#5 Obtain the rest of your documents

Once you have your rješenje, you can then request additional identity documents, including:

  • Croatian birth certificate – view a guide here
  • Croatian proof of citizenship called domovnica – view a guide here
  • Croatian passport – view a guide here
  • Croatian osobna iskaznica (ID card specifically for citizens) – view guide here

To learn all the details about the next steps after being granted Croatian citizenship, view this guide.

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 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)
  • Guide you through the embassy/consulate’s requirements, which may vary depending on your case, taking into account their extensive experience
  • 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 citizenship, after all, and obtaining citizenship is a big deal.

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

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


See what our clients have to say about working with us…

Are you ready to apply for Croatian citizenship? Click here.


View our other citizenship posts


Sources:
Acquisition of Croatian Citizenship by e-Građani
Procedure instructions: Acquisition of Croatian Citizenship by MUP
Zakon o hrvatskom državljanstvu

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.

Sharing is Caring:

We only send one email a week on Tuesdays. And no spam, we don't like that either!

Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.