Rights and benefits of Croatian citizenship

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PUBLISHED: 30.1.2024.

If you have Croatian descent, are married to a Croatian, or have spent 8 years in Croatia, you may qualify for hrvatsko državljanstvo (Croatian citizenship). No matter where you come from and if you are from the European Union or outside of the EU/EEA region – if you follow the requirements for applying for Croatian citizenship, you can get approved.

Once granted, Croatian citizenship brings a lot of benefits but also a lot of joy. Becoming a part of this warm and welcoming nation allows you to live, work, and travel around the country and throughout Europe without needless obstacles. In addition, you can apply for state subsidies, get your Croatian documents, and work in Croatia without additional requirements.

For all of you considering applying for Croatian citizenship, we bring all the benefits of being a Croatian citizen. To apply for Croatian citizenship, view our citizenship guide with all valid claims in this post.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

What are the rights and benefits of Croatian citizenship?

Serenity that comes with Croatian citizenship

The moment you are approved for Croatian citizenship, the era of applying for residency ends. Your new citizenship grants you all the rights every other Croatian has. You also get other benefits like voting in the elections, healthcare, or free education.

Croatians are very proud of their history and heritage. When you gain citizenship of Croatia, you share that pride, too – you have found your new tribe. Having citizenship of the country where you plan to live gives you peace of mind. Just knowing that something is yours and that you have rights that no one can take away from you is calming.

[Read: How to understand the Croatian culture]

Rights and benefits of Croatian citizenship

#1 Right to live and work in Croatia

When staying in Croatia on temporary residency, you have to continuously extend your temporary residency until you gain permanent residency. This can be every year or two if you are a third-country citizen or every five to ten years if you are an EU/EEA citizen.

However, gaining Croatian citizenship erases that struggle. Once you become a Croatian citizen, you have the right to live and work in Croatia without visiting the police station and renewing your work permit or temporary residence.

[Read: Your rights as a worker in Croatia]

If you want to visit Croatia short-term or apply for temporary residence in Croatia, view our guide to all available Croatian visas and residence permits here.

#2 Ability to buy property in Croatia

If you are not a Croatian or EU/EEA citizen and want to buy property in Croatia, you can only purchase residential property and are required to obtain approval from Ministarstvo pravosuđa i uprave Republike Hrvatske (Ministry of Justice and Public Administration) before completing the purchase.

In general, foreigners are allowed to buy property in Croatia, but certain restrictions and conditions apply. These regulations can vary depending on the citizenship of the buyer, the purpose of the purchase, and the specific location of the property.

Once you become a Croatian citizen, you can buy property from companies or private owners without restrictions.

View our property guides:

#3 Access to healthcare and social services in Croatia

When you live in Croatia as a citizen or as a foreigner with residency, there is a mandatory health insurance everyone needs to have, and it is called Obvezno zdravstveno osiguranje. Foreigners, if they are not employed by a Croatian company, have to pay for this insurance out of their pocket. Croatian citizens, even if they are unemployed, have insurance covered by the state as long as they are listed as unemployed at Hrvatski zavod za zapošljavanje (Croatian Employment Service).

Another benefit Croatian citizens have regarding health insurance is that their children have free healthcare until the age of 18 or until they finish their studies. They must be regular students, and they can be insured as students only until the 26th year of age.

After they finish their studies, they turn 26 while still studying, or they turn 18 and do not want to study, they have 30 days to sign up for their health insurance independent of their parents. They have the right to free health insurance until they find their first job when the employer covers the insurance.

Croatia has several types of health insurance, each bringing particular benefits, including:

  • Mandatory health insurance called obvezno – view a guide here
  • Public or private supplemental health insurance called dopunsko – view a guide here
  • Additional private supplemental health insurance called dodatno – view a guide here

Beyond healthcare, Croatian citizens benefit from an array of social services, including welfare programs, financial assistance, and support for vulnerable populations.

Learn how third-country citizens sign up for state health insurance in Croatia here and EU/EEA and Croatian citizens here.

#4 Right to vote in Croatian elections

In Croatia, there are four different types of elections: parliamentary elections, presidential elections, local elections, and European parliament elections.

Living in a country where you cannot vote and have a say in the political system can be frustrating. Having Croatian citizenship allows you to vote in national and local elections or even join political parties and be a candidate yourself.

[Read: How to vote in Croatia]

#5 Ability to travel and live in EU/EEA countries visa-free

If you are a legal resident of Croatia, you may come across some restrictions on travel once you want to visit some other country. You can learn more about traveling restrictions here. However, by holding Croatian citizenship, you can skip this problem.

Croatia has one of the strongest passports in the world. In 2024, it ranked 26th place according to the Visa Guide passport index, which you can view here. Croatian citizens can travel visa-free to 145 countries, including Albania, Argentina, Canada, the Philippines, and many more.

View how to apply for a Croatian passport in this guide.

Since Croatia is a member of the Schengen zone, Croatian citizens can travel visa-free to 26 Schengen Area countries. The 90-day within the 180-day rule that applies to third-country citizens when traveling to Schengen does not apply to Croatian and EU citizens.

[Read: Croatia joined Schengen – what this means for Croatian residents and tourists]

On the other hand, membership in the European Union allows Croatian citizens to permanently live in any EU/EEA country if they want to – as long as they follow the registration rules of that country.

#6 Access to grants and subsidies reserved only for Croatians

Croatia offers various grants and subsidies for Croatian citizens, including:

  • Starting your own business – view a guide here
  • Getting a first job – view a guide here
  • Getting an education – view a guide here
  • Buying your first apartment – view a guide here

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

There are also certain grants provided by EU funds to Croatian citizens, which you can view here.

#7 Ability to work for the state of Croatia

Državni službenik (civil servant) is a person who works for the government in Croatia. Some places where they can work are state administration offices, the judicial system, the professional service and offices of the government of the Republic of Croatia, including Croatian ministries and other state services and offices.

The general conditions for admission to the civil service are the appropriate level of education, appropriate professional knowledge, and work experience, except in the case of accepting interns, medical capacity to perform the duties of the position to which you are admitted, and last but not least – Croatian citizenship.

[Read: What is HZZ (Croatian Employment Service) and how they can help you find a job or an employee]

#8 Ability to have dual citizenship

Croatia’s policy allowing dual citizenship presents a unique opportunity for individuals to enjoy the benefits of being both a Croatian citizen and a citizen of their home country. However, it’s crucial to understand that not all countries permit dual citizenship, and regulations can vary significantly.

You should check the laws of your home country to ensure compliance and avoid any potential conflicts. Some countries may require individuals to renounce their original citizenship upon acquiring a new one, while others may have specific conditions or restrictions.

[Read: How to relinquish Croatian citizenship]

#9 Ability to get Croatian documents

As a Croatian citizen, you can obtain Croatian documents such as:

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

Your personal information, such as date of birth, address, gender, residence, and Croatian citizenship, are all verified by osobna iskaznica. When going outside of Croatia, putovnica serves as identification and evidence of citizenship.

Rodni list is a document that presents your birth information including information about your parents. A domovnica is a certificate of your Croatian citizenship that you will need to present for several Croatian application procedures.

[Read: Next steps after being granted Croatian citizenship]

#10 Ability to get a bank loan in Croatia

Buying a home or starting a business is sometimes only possible with a helping hand from the bank. If you need a bank loan in Croatia, especially for buying property, most banks will not consider your loan without citizenship.

Having Croatian citizenship opens the door to buying property through a loan or getting a loan to purchase a car. You can learn how to buy a car in Croatia here.

Certain Croatian banks might allow you to get a loan before gaining citizenship, but these cases are very few and depend on individual circumstances. For most people, getting a bank loan in Croatia is impossible without Croatian citizenship.

[Read: Croatia’s banks that offer mortgages and who they will consider for a loan]

View a guide to Croatia’s biggest banks and a comparison of their fees and services here.

#11 Ability to qualify for free education in Croatia

Education in Croatia is generally considered free or low-cost compared to some other countries. State elementary and high schools are free of charge and funded by the government. Universities are only partially free of charge, and if you do not qualify for a free university education, you must pay the scholarship fee.

To qualify for a tuition-free university education, you must be a Croatian citizen. Third-country citizens pay tuition in full. EU/EEA citizens are equal to Croatians when it comes to tuition in Croatian universities. They can qualify for free-of-charge studying if they are regular students.

If you want to study in Croatia and gain a student residence permit, view this guide.

[Read: How the Croatian education system looks like]

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 or jump to this section to view the last 20 reviews.

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

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View our other Croatian citizenship posts


Sources:
Zakon o hrvatskom državljanstvu
Državljanstvo by MUP

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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