How EU/EEA and Croatian citizens can purchase property in Croatia: Guide for 2024

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Beautiful traditional house in Dubrovnik
Traditional stone house in Dubrovnik

PUBLISHED: 27.02.2024.

Croatia is a member of the European Union and participates in its common market. This allows free trade between citizens and legal entities from the EU/EEA area, including property purchases – real estate and agricultural properties.

Croatians, as well as citizens of the European Union or European Economic Area, can freely buy real estate and land within Croatia or in other member states. This post will make your life easier and help you learn how EU citizens can buy property in Croatia, including agricultural land.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to purchase property as EU/EEA and Croatian citizens

For those who ask themselves, “Can foreigners buy property in Croatia?” there are two answers. If you come from an EU/EEA country, you can purchase property under the same conditions as Croatian citizens. We explained the procedure in the section below.

However, if you want to buy property in Croatia as a foreigner coming from a third country, the rules will be different. View this post for more information on how third-country citizens can buy residential real estate in Croatia.

Who can buy property in Croatia?

Citizens of the European Union and European Economic Area all have the same rights to purchase property in Croatia as Croatian citizens. This also applies to legal entities from the EU/EEA who can purchase a property like those registered in Croatia.

Here is the list of countries whose citizens and legal entities can buy property in Croatia under the same rules as Croatian citizens:

  • EU countries
  • Republic of Iceland
  • Principality of Liechtenstein
  • Kingdom of Norway
  • Swiss Confederation

How EU citizens can buy property in Croatia

Whether you are an individual buying property or a legal entity, every property purchase is a big step that must be taken seriously. To ensure everything is going well with your purchase, you must take the following steps.

1. Find the property in Croatia

Most Europeans are interested in buying property on the Adriatic coast. However, the real estate market is booming in continental Croatia as well, with Zagreb leading in property prices. Before looking for a property, you must pick the best place to buy property in Croatia according to your needs.

After narrowing down the location, the next step is considering the property type. Is it going to be a traditional or modern home? Is it a house or an apartment? Will you use it for holidays only or buy property in Croatia and get residency?

The best places to look for the desired property are online marketplaces like Njuškalo or real estate agencies that can help you find the ideal Croatian property. Online marketplaces have a mix of posts from agencies and individual sellers.

[Read: An English guide to Njuškalo (Croatia’s Craigslist)]

If you are unsure where to look and how to start, contact us. Our relocation specialist can answer all your questions about buying property in Croatia and find the perfect real estate.

2. Check property records

After you have found your dream property and want to make an offer, it is important to check property records. Do not trust sellers blindly, and make a pre-purchase property inspection of all documents yourself or by hiring a lawyer.

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Why should you use a lawyer for your property purchase?

Buying property in Croatia can get sticky, so it is vital that you have a skilled advocate who is looking after your interests. If you have questions related to buying your desired property in Croatia, lawyers from our legal network can help if you contact us.

The most important things to check when buying property in Croatia are:

  • How ownership is registered in the land registry
  • Liabilities
  • If the records match the property
  • Energy certificate
  • Zoning

The land registry extract serves as the sole evidence of ownership or any other rights eligible for registration in the land registry.

An energy certificate, prepared by authorized individuals known as energy certifiers, outlines a building’s energy characteristics and remains valid for a decade from its issuance.

When purchasing a property that is under construction, the investor must provide you with an approved building permit or a relevant construction document. Alongside the building permit, the use permit holds equal significance. It is recommended to request an examination of the main project, an integral part of the construction permit.

Note: The investor or building owner must obtain an energy certificate before issuing a use permit.

[Read: How to get a building permit (građevinska dozvola) in Croatia]

Additionally, it is crucial to independently verify the property’s zoning since this information is not included in the land registry extract. Checking the zoning is vital because converting agricultural land to building land and obtaining the necessary permits for building a house can be challenging if the land is initially categorized as agricultural.

3. Prepare the contracts and make the purchase

There are two phases in signing the contract when buying property in Croatia:

  • Preliminary contract
  • Purchase contract

Preliminary contract

When you’re in the process of buying real estate, it’s common to sign a pre-contract. You can learn why it is useful here.

This document includes:

  • Cadastral municipality
  • Plot number and land registry entry number
  • Description of the real estate
    • Address
    • Floor
    • Apartment number
    • Room description, which includes the total area
  • Price
  • Date of the conclusion of the final contract and payment of the down payment for the property

Most buyers must pay kapara, which functions as a deposit. If the buyer cancels, the seller keeps the deposit, and if the seller cancels, they must pay the buyer double the deposit. The usual amount is 10% of the value of the property.

Purchase contract

After the pre-contract, your lawyer will prepare the final purchase contract. In addition to what’s covered in the pre-contract, the real estate sale contract typically includes details like:

  • Date of handing over the property to the buyer
  • Seller’s assurance that no third-party rights encumber the real estate

Make sure to get the sales contract certified in multiple copies by a notary public. Each copy has its purpose:

  • One stays with the seller
  • One is for you, the buyer
  • One remains with the notary public
  • One is for the land registry when you go to register ownership
  • One goes to the Tax Administration for reporting real estate sales tax
  • One copy is for the bank if you are purchasing the property with the bank loan

Note: When buying real estate, the seller must hand over the energy certificate or a copy of one.

[Read: How to create a legally binding contract in Croatia]

4. Pay the tax, if applicable

The notary public is obligated to report the purchase of an apartment or house to the Tax Administration in the area where the property is located within 30 days from the date of signing the sales contract. The real estate transfer tax rate is 3% of the market value of the real estate at the time of its acquisition and is paid by the buyer. Learn more about Croatian taxes here.

The real estate taxpayer must pay the tax liability within 15 days from the delivery date of the decision on determining the real estate tax since the appeal does not delay the execution of either the temporary or the tax decision. EU/EEA citizens who are buying property in Croatia have to pay this tax at the same rate as Croatian citizens.

In certain cases, the buyer is exempt from paying real estate tax. If you are buying a property directly from an investor who is a legal entity and the apartment is already in the PDV (VAT) system, you are not paying the tax. However, the rules of tax exemption are determined on a case-to-case basis, and it is best to talk to a professional to find out if you must pay taxes.

5. Register purchase with the land registry in Croatia

Ownership rights for the property, as per the sales contract, aren’t gained automatically. To officially be listed as an owner of your property, you must register in the land register within 60 days of the purchase.

This step can only be done by a lawyer or notary public. It is advised to have your lawyer do it, as notary publics only recently gained the ability to make changes to land registry so they do not have the necessary experience just yet. There is a lot of nuance the land registry and mistakes can take years to unravel.

After the land registry confirms your listing as the new owner, you may request a copy of the ownership certificate. Your lawyer will provide you one.

View our guides on the land registry:

How to correct or change property records with the land registry in Croatia
How to find property ownership records in Croatia

6. Celebrate!

You are now officially the owner of your Croatian home. Čestitamo!

The next step is to change all of the utilities into your name. Learn how to do it in this guide.

How EU/EEA and Croatian citizens can purchase agricultural land in Croatia

Croatia has fertile agricultural land and large areas of forests, attracting the attention of domestic buyers and foreigners from other EU/EEA countries. Some of them are buying agricultural land in Croatia so they can sell it later when the price goes up, while others are interested in investing in the land and Croatian economy.

Who can buy agricultural land in Croatia?

In addition to Croatians, agricultural land in Croatia can be bought by citizens of the European Union and European Economic Area from July 1, 2023. Legal entities from the EU/EEA can also purchase agricultural land in Croatia.

Here is the list of countries whose citizens and legal entities can buy agricultural land in Croatia under the same conditions as Croatian citizens:

  • EU countries
  • Republic of Iceland
  • Principality of Liechtenstein
  • Kingdom of Norway
  • Swiss Confederation

Note: Swiss citizens must present proof of residency in Croatia when submitting a proposal for ownership registration to the competent land registry court.

[Read: How third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens can apply for temporary residency in Croatia]

How to buy agricultural land in Croatia as an EU/EEA citizen

Croatia allows EU and EEA citizens to purchase agricultural land and have the same rights as Croatian citizens. This means they can own, use, and resell it, following Croatian laws.

Similarly to buying residential property in Croatia as an EU citizen, when you want to acquire agricultural land, you must follow a couple of steps to ensure everything is correct.

To learn how to buy agricultural land, view this section.

Need help buying real estate in Croatia?

If you need help purchasing a property, we can help! We have carefully vetted a network of real estate lawyers who can help you buy real estate in Croatia safely and with confidence. Buying property in Croatia can get sticky, so it is vital that you have a skilled advocate who is looking after your interests.

Real estate agents usually have an existing network of lawyers that they work with. However, those lawyers are focused on the interests of the real estate agency first and the seller second. As the buyer, it’s imperative to have your own lawyer to protect your interests.

Our vetted property lawyers can:

  • Answer all of your property questions
  • Find property records
  • Clean property titles
  • Help you purchase a property and represent you during the process
  • Ensure you are not taken advantage of by property sellers
  • Prepare and review contracts
  • Help you sell a property
  • Get approval by the Ministry of Justice (for non-EU/EEA citizens)
  • Change ownership records with the land registry
  • Engage local contractors and interior designers

View our latest reviews from our legal network here.

To get help from a vetted real estate lawyer, please share your needs with us using the below form. Based on those needs, we’ll match you with the right person best suited to help.

Reviews from our happy clients

If you are ready to talk to our expert, click here.

Frequently asked questions

Is it a good time to buy property in Croatia as an EU citizen?

The real estate market is growing, and with the citizens of the EU/EEA being allowed to purchase land as well as property in Croatia, prices are rising over time. This means the purchase price will be higher in a couple of years, whether you buy residential real estate or agricultural land, and you will profit.

Can you buy property for investment in Croatia as an EU citizen?

Yes, you can buy property as an individual or legal entity in Croatia if you are an EU/EEA citizen, and you can use that property as an investment. This means that you can later sell the property when the price is higher or you can build on the land or invest in companies that will use the property.

Can foreigners buy land in Croatia?

Foreigners that come from EU/EEA countries can freely buy land in Croatia. If you are coming from a third country, that is outside of the EU/EEA, you must get approval from the state. The entire process is explained here.

View our other Croatian property articles


Sources:

Zakon o poljoprivrednom zemljištu
Zakon o porezu na promet nekretnina
Kupnja nekretnina za strane državljane
Stjecanje prava vlasništva stranih osoba
Porez na promet nekretnina

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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