How Croatian diaspora and descendants can apply for temporary residence in Croatia (if you don’t have citizenship yet)

People swimming in the Adriatic Sea in Croatia

UPDATED: 18.1.2023.

In 2020, the Croatian government changed the Law on Citizenship making it easier for the Croatian diaspora to apply for citizenship based on descent. There is now no limit on generations, spouses can apply at the same time and the language and culture test is now waived.

The process of applying was only made harder in one way – where you apply is based on your residence. Before 2020, you could come to Croatia on a holiday and apply for citizenship and obtain it quickly. This is no longer the case.

If you are without residence in Croatia, you must apply abroad from a consulate or embassy. This process takes a bit longer, so many descendants are instead moving to Croatia and obtaining residence so they may apply from here.

While there are many purposes on which you can apply for temporary residence, there is one path that is unique to Croatian descendants – humanitarian reasons. This basis is called humanitarni razlozi in Croatian.

There are several grounds that qualify a person to apply based on humanitarian reasons. The most common is being a member of the Croatian people. This is specifically for those who qualify to apply for citizenship based on descent and plan to apply once they obtain residence in Croatia.

Once granted temporary residence, third-country nationals who are considered a member of the Croatian people have the right to work in Croatia without a work and stay permit as well as attend courses or vocational training and have access to education and study similar to citizens.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to apply for temporary residence as a member of the Croatian people

Types of residence based on humanitarian reasons

When applying for Croatian residence based on humanitarian grounds, you must belong to one of the following groups:

  • Victim of human trafficking
  • Abandoned minor
  • Member of the Croatian people
  • Refugee or returnee
  • Third-country national who cooperates with competent authorities in criminal proceedings
  • Other serious justified humanitarian reason

The documentation you must provide with your application depends on the basis you apply.

Who can apply for residence as a member of the Croatian people

The Law on Foreigners regulates the requirements of applying for temporary residence based on humanitarian reasons for members of the Croatian people.

It may be approved for third-country nationals if they are members of the Croatian people with foreign citizenship or without citizenship and have a certification from the state administration body responsible for relations with Croats outside Croatia.

How to apply for residence based on humanitarian reasons as a member of the Croatian people

Below we describe the process of applying for residence on the basis of humanitarian reasons for members of the Croatian people step by step.

Step #1 Obtain your certificate as a member of the Croatian people

The Central State Office for Croats Abroad is the state administration body responsible for relations of Croatia with Croats outside Croatia (Croatian diaspora). This office is called Središnji državni ured za Hrvate izvan Republike Hrvatske in Croatian.

When applying for humanitarian temporary residence for members of the Croatian people, third-country nationals must provide a certificate from the Office for Croats Abroad. This certificate is called Potvrda o pripadnosti hrvatskom narodu (certificate of belonging to Croatian people).

An example of this certificate is shown below.

Example certificate confirming member of the Croatian people providing by Office for Croats Abroad
Sample certificate for members of the Croatian people – issued by Office for Croats Abroad

To get the certificate, contact the Office for Croats Abroad and they will set up an appointment with you. Since everyone’s case is different, what you need to provide to get the certificate may vary. During the interview, they will examine your scenario and conclude which documentation you must provide. After the interview, deliver the required documentation.

The documentation usually includes:

  • Your personal data
  • Documentation proving your family tree
  • Personal data of your family members

Upon the delivery of documents, they will process your case and decide whether they will provide you with the certificate or not.

If you need more information on obtaining this certificate, contact us.

[Read: Croatian Central State Office for Croats Abroad]

Step #2 Collect the documentation

All foreign documents that you provide within your residence application must be originally translated to Croatian and not older than 6 months.

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

You must provide:

  • Application form Obrazac 1a – View it here
  • Copy of a passport/valid travel document
  • Certificate from the Croatian Central State Office for Croats Abroad
  • Foreign background check and certificate of the length of stay in a foreign country – Certificate of length of stay is required for people who lived the last 12 months in a country other than the country of their nationality.
  • Color photography 3×3,5 cm

[Read: Background checks and fingerprints for third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA citizens)]

The good news is that third-country nationals do not need to provide proof of financial means and proof of health insurance when applying for humanitarian reasons as members of the Croatian people.

The validity period of a foreign passport or travel document must be 3 months longer than the validity period of the temporary stay.

Step #3 Submit the request

If you have collected all the required documentation, it is time to visit the official premises and apply for residence.

You can apply at:

  • Croatian diplomatic mission or consular office abroad – A list is available here
  • Police administration office (MUP) according to the place of your Croatian residence

[Read: How to find police administration offices in Croatia]

The request for temporary residence is approved if all mandatory requirements prescribed by the law are met. However, when applying for residency based on humanitarian grounds as a member of the Croatian people, the application that does not meet all the requirements may also be considered and approved.

Step #4 Get the residence card

Once granted temporary residence, you must pay the administration fees and get your biometric residence card called biometrijska dozvola boravka.

Visit the same MUP police station with your passport photos and proof of payment of the administrative fees. They will take your fingerprints and signature and give you a white card. This card will serve as proof of your residence until they issue a biometric residence permit. It usually happens within 3 weeks.

The residence permit based on humanitarian reasons for members of the Croatian people can be granted for up to a year.

The Ministry may extend the validity period of the residence permit if you provide proof of humanitarian reasons that prevent you from leaving Croatia. You must provide this document before the expiry of your temporary residence.

A valid example would be that your citizenship application has not yet been approved.

Administrative fees

All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here.

You can get the required payment slips at MUP or pay the fees via online payment. More information on online payment is available here.

[Read: How to pay bills in Croatia]

How to get help with proving your lineage and applying for citizenship

Our expat-vetted lawyer network can help you get the documents from Croatia needed to prove you are a member of the Croatian people and qualify to apply for Croatian citizenship based on descent, which overlap.

They can also prepare your citizenship application to give you the best chance of approval. We have excellent English-speaking lawyers specializing in citizenship that are currently helping people across the world apply for Croatian nationality.

If you live abroad, you must apply for citizenship at an embassy or consulate. While our attorneys cannot file applications on behalf of those abroad, they can:

  • Validate your claim
  • Collect birth records in Croatia
  • Confirm exact requirements with your embassy or consulate (as the requirements can vary)
  • Provide guidance on preparing your CV biography (and coordinate translation into Croatian)
  • Prepare your family tree
  • Prepare supporting documentation
  • Coordinate translations and getting notarization 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.

Having a lawyer prepare and review your application will increase your chances of approval on the first try. To get help with your application for citizenship or with your residence as a member of the Croatian people, complete the form below and we’ll match you with an expert.

View our other temporary residence articles

Decision on the Proclamation of the Law on Foreigners
Rules on the Residence of Third-country Nationals in the Republic of Croatia

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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