How EU citizens can get temporary residence in Croatia: Guide for 2021

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Since Croatia is an EU member nation, EU citizens are entitled to live and work within Croatia. This gives them the right to apply for legal temporary residence.

For the purposes of this post, when we say “EU citizens”, we are referring to nationals of the Europski gospodarski prostor – EGP (European Economic Area – EEA) and nationals of the Swiss Confederation. The EEA includes nationals of the European Union and of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.

If you’re a British citizen, hop over to this post written just for you.

In this post, we will cover:

Let’s get started…

Types of residence for EU citizens in Croatia

For EU citizens, there are two types of residence:

  • Kratkotrajni boravak (Short-term residence) – for up to 90 days
  • Privremeni boravak (Temporary residence) – for longer than 90 days

Short-term residence e.g. tourist visa

If you are a national of an EEA country member, you have the right to stay in Croatia for up to 90 days as long as you are not a burden to the Croatian welfare system. This period starts from the date you arrive in Croatia.

In this case, you must possess a passport or identity card issued by your country of nationality.

It is important to note that you will need to present your passport or national ID card, other public document with your photo, or boravišna iskaznica if a police officer requests it. If you cannot produce it, you may be fined.

All short term residents, EU or not, must have their stays registered. If you are staying in a tourist accommodation, this will be done for you. You can learn more about how to register your tourist stay here.

Temporary residence

Any residence longer than 90 days requires a residence permit. If you are a national of any EEA country, you can get a temporary residence based on:

  1. Work purposes (as a worker, self-employment or referred worker)
  2. Studying or vocational training purposes
  3. Family reunification purposes
  4. Life partnership purposes
  5. Just because

I say that you can apply for temporary residence “just because” as technically EU nationals do not need a reason like work, study or family reunification to live and work in Croatia, since Croatia is a member nation. As long as you provide the required information, and you have financial means and health insurance for yourself and your family members, you can be approved for legal residence.

If you plan to stay in Croatia for more than 90 days, you must apply for temporary residence within 8 days of the expiration of the short-term residence period. If you don’t register within the 8-day period, you may be charged a fine.

Once approved for residence, you will be issued a boravišna iskaznica (residence card). Boravišna iskaznica is valid for up to 5 years or shorter if you plan to stay in Croatia for less than 5 years.

EU citizens don’t have the right to apply for temporary residence in 2 cases:

  • If they are a threat to public order or national security of the Republic of Croatia
  • If they have a ban on entry and residence in the Republic of Croatia

How EU citizens can apply for temporary residence in Croatia

Step #1 Contact the police station

You can apply for temporary residence at the administrative police station closest to your place of residence. The police station is called Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova or “MUP” for short. This is the ministry that handles immigration.

Here is a full list of the administrative police stations that handle immigration. At this police station, there will be a service desk specifically for foreigners (“stranci”). Due to pandemic measures, most police stations are now requiring that you make an appointment in advance or submit your application over email.

Once you make first contact with the police, tell them that you want to apply for temporary residence based on your EU nationality. They will provide you with the latest list of requirements.

Step #2 Prepare your application

The requirements can vary a little depending on your situation. Below is a list of the requirements for everybody as well as those that are specific to a particular situation.

Mandatory requirements for all EU citizens

  • A completed application form called “Obrazac prijave privremenog boravka za državljanina države članice EGP-a” (provided by the police) – Download it here
  • A valid identity card or passport (if passport is not in English language, then you must have a copy notarized and translated into Croatian)
  • Registered address in Croatia
  • OIB identification number
  • Statement of funds showing that you have enough money to support yourself and your family (addressed in more detail below)
  • Proof of valid health care (addressed in more detail below)
  • 30 x 35mm passport photo

Additional requirements for specific situations

  • Work purposes:
    • Proof of employment (if you are working for a Croatian company or were sent to Croatia to work by a company within the EU) such as an employment contract or certificate of employment from employer
    • Proof that you are self-employed person such as an excerpt from the trade register, excerpt from the court register, etc.
    • Proof that you are referred worker – Potvrda A1 (A1 certificate)
  • Studying or vocational training purposes:
    • Proof of study
    • Proof of vocational training
    • Proof of student exchange
    • Proof of student practice in Croatia
  • Family reunification purposes:
    • Proof that you are a family member of an EU citizen – birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. (It must be apostilled/legalized, translated and notarized if issued by a foreign government)
    • Proof that you are dependent on a family member of EU citizen due to your financial/social status or health condition
  • Proof that you are life partner or informal life partner of EU citizen such as a Certificate of Free Marital Status

Now, I’ll go over a few of these requirements in greater detail.

Registered address

Everyone in Croatia must have an address that is registered with the police. EU citizens can register their address in several ways:

  • Notarized rental contract
  • Non-notarized rental contract if the landlord accompanies you to the police station
  • Notarized landlord statement that states you are allowed to live on the premises
  • Non-notarized landlord statement if the landlord accompanies you to the police station

You can learn more about registering your address here.

Statement of funds

As an EU national, you are not required to be employed within Croatia. You only need to show that you have enough funds to support yourself. There are two options for how to cover this requirement:

    • Show (3) payment stubs from your employer in Croatia (if applicable)
    • Show that you have enough money in a Croatian or foreign bank account to support you and whomever is with you for (1) year

Here are the current minimums for what you need to show you have to support yourself depending on your situation.

If showing funds on a bank account, you can use a Croatian bank account or a foreign bank account in most cases. Some MUP offices will only let you show the funds on a Croatian bank account.

For more information on setting up a Croatian bank account, read this post.

Proof of valid health care

You are required to have health insurance to gain residence in Croatia. If you are employed by a Croatian employer, then they will pay for your healthcare. If you are financially independent, or your income comes from abroad, then you will need to have your own insurance policy.

Proof of health insurance may include:

  • European health insurance card (EHIC card)
  • Croatian state health insurance from HZZO
  • Bolesnički list (proof on illness) from HZZO
  • Certificate of a foreign health insurance provider
  • Proof prescribed by an international social security agreement
  • Private health insurance

1. You have health insurance in your home country

If you are an EEA/EU citizen and already have state health insurance from your home country, you are entitled to keep this policy. You will need to show proof of this health care to the police when applying for temporary residence. Usually this is done with your EHIC card.

You don’t have to exchange your health care for Croatian health care if you are an EEA national, although you can if you want to.

It is important to note that you can only use your state health insurance from your home country in Croatia for urgent care. For routine health care, you must return to your home country for it to be covered.

If you decide to change your healthcare, you will need to first discontinue your health care in your home country. Once cancelled, request proof from your home country that you no longer have state health care. You’ll need to show this proof to HZZO within Croatia to sign up for a state policy here.

2. You don’t have health insurance in your home country

If you don’t have health insurance in your home country, you must apply for Croatian health insurance within 8 days of obtaining temporary residence although it is not unusual that the police will require you to sign up for a policy before approving your residency application.

If they want you to have health insurance before your application is approved, in many cases travel insurance will cover this requirement.

The cost of state health insurance changes from year to year based on average salaries, but you can always see the latest amount here. It is also recommended that you sign up for dopunsko supplement, which eliminates any out of pocket costs.

To sign up, go to the HZZO administration office nearest to your address in Croatia. You’ll need the following documents to apply for state health insurance:

    • HZZO’s application form (You will get it at HZZO’s administration office)
    • National ID or Passport
    • A certificate which states that you don’t have health insurance in your EU/EEA home country
    • Proof that you were insured for the previous 12 months
    • Optional: HZZO’s application form for your family member’s health insurance (if you need it for your family member too)

When signing up for HZZO, you’ll be asked to prove that you were insured for the previous 12 months. If you were not insured for the previous 12 months, then you must pay 12 months of back pay. If you were insured 7 out of the 12 previous months, you’ll only need to pay 5 months of back pay.

Step #3 Submit your application

Contact MUP by phone or email to request an appointment. Bring all of your documents as noted above to the appointment. You’ll be provided with the application at that time that you can fill out. Due to the pandemic, it is possible that they will allow you to submit the full application over email. You’ll need to check with your local station for their procedure, as it varies.

MUP will review all of your documents to confirm you’ve met the requirements. If you have, they will accept your application. If not, they will ask you for something else. Be prepared to be asked for something else, especially if it’s seemingly meaningless or redundant.

If your application was accepted, make sure you provide a Croatian phone number. This is how the police will communicate with you about your application.

And now you wait…

The time to process your application can vary depending on a variety of factors, but usually it’s 2 weeks or less for EU citizens. It is best that you do not leave Croatia while your application is in process in case the police contact you for more information.

Step #4 Pay the fees and deliver your photos

Once approved, you’ll be notified either by a blue envelope to your address, a phone call to you or a phone call to your lawyer (if you’re using one).

Return to the police station with your passport photos. At this time, they will take your fingerprints and signature. You’ll also have to pay the administrative fee of 79,50 kuna.

This fee covers the cost of your boravišna iskaznica (residence card). It cannot be paid at the police station. You’ll be provided a payment slip, which you’ll need to pay at a bank or post office. Once paid, bring proof of payment back to the police station. Here is detailed info on how to pay invoices.

A residence card is issued for up to 5 years or shorter if you plan to stay in Croatia shorter.

In exchange for you giving the police all these things, they will give you a white card. This is temporary proof of your residence. DO NOT LOSE IT.

Step #5 Pick up your residence card

Three weeks from the day you got your little white card, you’ll be able to pick up your brand new residence permit. You will need to hand over that card, which is why I said in all caps DO NOT LOSE IT.

Step #6 Celebrate!

Hooray! You’re legal!

What’s next?

Your temporary residence card will be valid for 5 years, after which you will qualify to apply for permanent residence. Make sure you start preparing for your permanent application at least 2 months before your temporary residence permit expires. Here is a guide on transitioning from temporary to permanent residence.

Additional tips about applying for a Croatian Residence Permit

  • Be nice. If you get an attitude with the police, they have the discretion to make it as difficult for you as possible.
  • Do not go to the police between the hours of 11:00 and 13:00. Chances of you coming when they are at lunch or on a smoke break or grumpy because they’ve yet to have a smoke break or lunch are high. For the best results, go in the morning around 8:00 or 9:00.

Need help with your residency application?

While not required, we recommend that every non-Croatian speaker use a lawyer when applying for residency in Croatia. Lawyers have connections within immigration, are able to skip common roadblocks and can identify any risks with your application. In addition, it is rare that the police (who handle immigration) will speak English to applicants.

Our expat-vetted legal experts can review your situation and handle your residency application from beginning to end. This service includes:

  • Personalized consulting on your specific situation
  • Confirming latest immigration requirements for your nationality and basis
  • Assistance with putting together necessary documents
  • All communication with the police on your behalf
  • Assembly, submission and monitoring of your application
  • Answering questions and assisting you throughout the process

To consult with an immigration lawyer, please complete the form below and we’ll contact you as soon as possible.

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23 thoughts on “How EU citizens can get temporary residence in Croatia: Guide for 2021

  1. Ray
    December 3, 2019 @ 9:16 pm

    Thank you Marija, this could be of great benefit to us.
    Ray

    {reply}

  2. Joel
    February 15, 2020 @ 11:25 am

    I’m a non EU citizen can I bring my family when I’m coming to study masters in Croatia?

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      February 17, 2020 @ 1:15 pm

      Hi Joel,

      With a student permit, you cannot bring your spouse and children until after 2 years.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  3. Kyle Pienaar
    August 13, 2020 @ 1:00 pm

    Hi there!

    I am a student from South Africa and I currently have a residence permit valid for 1 year issued by the Belgian government. Can I also utilize the 90 entry period with this form of identification?

    Thanks!

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      August 13, 2020 @ 1:09 pm

      Hi Kyle,

      No, you cannot use your Belgian residence permit to enter Croatia. You can only enter Croatia on your passport according to the restrictions for your nationality.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  4. John
    September 11, 2020 @ 8:36 am

    Hi there, if applying for temporary 5yr residency, how long can you leave the country for in the first year? Also are there any situations where you can return home (UK) whilst application is being processed e.g deal with a tenant change in our property.
    Thanks
    John

    {reply}

  5. David Hughes
    January 31, 2021 @ 8:56 am

    Hi Marija,

    I am from an EEU country, Ireland, and have and Irish passport. My understanding was that Irish citizens could stay in Croatia as a tourist, with no restrictions ie no need to have any kind of visa or temporary residency permit on stays of any length.

    But after reading this article it seems that because I have been here longer than 3 months, I do need to apply for a Temporary Residence. Is this correct?

    I have been staying in apartments in different town/cities, and the landlords have registered my stay each time, so I assumed that was enough. I have been here 4 months and I plan to stay at least another 5 months.
    Thanks for any advice.

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      February 2, 2021 @ 9:18 am

      Hi David,

      Everyone (including EU citizens) must apply for residence no later than 8 days before the end of the 90 day tourist period.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  6. David Hughes
    February 1, 2021 @ 2:54 pm

    Hello,
    I am an EU passport holder from Ireland. Today, I went to the local police station where I am staying in Croatia, to get the application form for the Temporary Residence. I satisfy all of the requirements in the article above – EU passport holder, sufficient finances, current accomodation is registered with the Police, OIB number, valid health care policy.

    A lady came out to speak to me, very irritated and rudely wanting to know why I wanted this Temporary Residence. I kept calm and politely told her that I wanted to buy property in Croatia. She shook her head and said that is not a good enough reason, and she mentioned the reasons that are good reasons including the ones you have listed in your article:

    Work purposes (as a worker, self-employment or referred worker)
    Studying or vocational training purposes
    Family reunification purposes
    Life partnership purposes

    She did not however mention or seem aware of the final ‘Just because’ option that you have listed. I told her I didnt think there would be any problem because I am from the EU but she told me that she was the boss and she knew the rules. She kept shaking her head saying how busy she was and the phone was ringing and there was another person behind me waiting to see her. She ended up walking away from me into her office leaving me standing there.

    I am left wondering, what did I do wrong exactly? I did NOT argue with her, I was polite and respectful – unlike her – and was basically told to go away. Ive been to over 60 countries and NEVER had any experience as bad as this. Any suggestions on what I can do now? I have non-refundable accomodation booked and paid for until June on Airbnb, so leaving Croatia and having to come back just to get another 3 months tourist visa would be a major inconvenience.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      February 2, 2021 @ 8:59 am

      Hi David,

      Well, that is appalling, but yet a classic MUP experience. Which MUP station are you applying at? You are entitled to apply for temporary residence as an EU citizen. I suggest going back and trying again. If you continue to have trouble, then the next step is to get an immigration lawyer involved. You may contact me here for a referral.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • David Hughes
        February 2, 2021 @ 4:00 pm

        Thanks for the reply! I may need that referral because she was NOT budging from her stance that ‘travelling around looking for a property to purchase’ is an invalid reason for wanting temporary residence. The fact im from the EU meant absolutely nothing to her – she just shrugged it off as a ‘so what’?? Never experienced anything like it in my life. I’ll go back tomorrow for more fun and let you know how I get on.

        You dont have a link to an EU law website by any chance that supports your statement:

        “I say that you can apply for temporary residence “just because” as technically EU nationals do not need a reason like work, study or family reunification to live and work in Croatia, since Croatia is a member nation.”

        Even better if you can find it written in the Croatian because she seemed to have great distain for the English language also! 🙂

        {reply}

        • David Hughes
          February 2, 2021 @ 4:10 pm

          Found this link and seems pretty clear cut in Article 16:

          (16) As long as the beneficiaries of the right of residence do not become an unreasonable burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State they should not be expelled.

          https://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2004:158:0077:0123:en:PDF

          {reply}

        • Expat in Croatia
          February 4, 2021 @ 9:45 am

          Hi David,

          You are an EU citizen. EU citizens have a right to work and live in Croatia. Period.

          I can connect you with a lawyer that can help. To get the referral, please fill out the form at the bottom of this post.

          Regards,

          Sara

          {reply}

          • David Hughes
            February 12, 2021 @ 12:49 pm

            Hi Sara,

            So I went back to see my dear old friend in the MUP, and again I was told that my reason for wanting the temporary residence was not valid and she would not listen to my protests that Ireland was a member of the EU and the law says I have a right to live here. Despite this, she looked through all my paperwork and reluctantly accepted it, pushing it to the far side of her desk. Then while looking at it and making a face at it like it was a dirty dish cloth, she told me that she would take a look but couldn’t guarantee that she would approve it.

            About a week later my landlord said she called him looking for 3 additional documents from him that she wanted me to bring to her. I printed them out and brought them to her today. She took them off me without looking at them and handed me a piece of paper with a stamp and signature, and no explanation about what it was. She then said I needed to go to the HZZO office. This didnt sound right to me so I asked her did she not want my fingerprints and photo? She then gave me a payment invoice and told me to go to another counter to make an appointment. I made the appointment for next Monday and was told I needed to pay the invoice fee today. I asked how much it was and it was around 230 kuna which didnt sound right either. She then asked me if I was from the EU and I said that I was. She told me I had been given the wrong invoice and was given another one for the amount you stated above, 79,50 kuna. I paid this at the post office 79,50 + 5 kuna charge = 84,50.

            I also contacted an EU immigration lawyer last week for clarification on the law and was told the following:

            “Legal instrument at EU level governing this issue is Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 travnja 2004th on the right of EU citizens and their families members to move and reside freely within the EU.

            ….according to the provisions of Article 7 Directive 2004/38/EC of EU citizens have the right to stay longer than three months if they:

            a) are workers or self-employed,

            b) have sufficient supporting means in order not to become a burden for the host state,

            c) if attending higher education or vocational training and have adequate health insurance and prove that he has sufficient funds to support themselves and their family members,

            d) have a family member who is an EU citizen who meets the above requirements.

            In doing so, the national authorities cannot demand your income to be higher than the national average.

            After the first three months of your stay, you will need to register or with the police or the municipality and enclose:

            1. ID card or passport
            2. proof of health insurance
            3. proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself

            No other documents are required, therefore, it seems that you have everything required.

            Therefore to answer you question, after three months you need to have sufficient means and health insurance.

            Relevant legal acts:
            Službeni tekst Direktive 2004/38/EC možete konzultirati na ovom linku:
            http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2004:158:0077:0123:en:PDF

            So now I go back on Monday for more fun and games. No doubt ill have the wrong type of fingers and they will refuse to accept my fingerprints 🙂 Such a rigmarole. Many thanks for this article – it was a nightmare of an experience having the knowledge in it, but would have been unbearable never-ending torture without it! 🙂

            Bog!

          • Expat in Croatia
            February 16, 2021 @ 12:20 pm

            Hi David,

            WOWZA. The drama continues!! Thank you for sharing an update on this giant mess. Which MUP station is this?

            Regards,

            Sara

  7. David Hughes
    February 19, 2021 @ 4:52 pm

    Smooth sailing on Monday morning. A younger and polite lady with good english served me. Took about 10 mins. She wanted my passport and a passport photo. Scanned my two index fingers and fiddled around on the computer and printers, and gave me a piece of white card and told me to come back in 3 weeks to collect my Temporary Residence ID card. That was the end of that – or so I thought….

    Tuesday morning, im in my apartment minding my own business, doorbell rings. The landlord and a 6ft 5″ Croatian police officer greet me completely without warning. Police officer asks if he can come in to ask some some questions. I am very confused but agree to let him in. He proceeds to ask me a bunch of questions about my visa application- my home address, what am I doing here, do I work, names of my parents, how long do I plan to stay here, how much did my apartment rent cost, do I have a rental contract, do I have a car, am I married etc. This went on for about 10 minutes. Nice guy in fairness, decent english. I asked him why so many questions? He replied that it was part of his job. When he finished asking questions and got up to leave, he offered me a fist bump and told me to feel free to come down to the police station and ask for him if I needed any help with anything! lol

    If im here coming from a 3rd world country, maybe I can understand the surprise call and interrogation. But im from an EU country whose average wage is over 3x more than the Croatian average wage, and the social welfare payments are significantly higher also. What the hell are they thinking? I have come here to sponge off their social welfare system, or im in the market looking for a job paying €700/month? Mind boggling. If this is how they treat fellow EU members I can only imagine the horror that anyone outside of the EU has to endure while trying to get a long term visa here. And all this nonsense was for a miserable 1 year visa, not even a 5 year one! Ridiculous.

    One more question for you! 🙂 If I want to stay longer than 1 year and extend the temporary residency for another year, do I have to go through the whole process again, submitting a fresh application? Or because all the data is now in their system, can the second visa be processed more quickly? I think I already know the answer 🙂 From start to finish the whole thing will have taken around 4 weeks if anyone is interested, and if I didnt have my wits about me and the information in the above article it would more than likely have taken 6 weeks or longer.

    Crikvenica is the MUP branch – avoid at all costs if you are applying for a visa folks! 🙂

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      February 24, 2021 @ 4:36 pm

      Hi David,

      So many things wrong here! The interview/site visit is for third-country citizens, not EU citizens. And it happens before you get approval/give fingerprints/get the white card, etc.

      Now that I know it is Crikvenica, it’s all coming together. I’ve been getting a lot of stories just like this out of Rijeka, which is just around the corner. So I guess it’s a regional issue.

      You should have been given a 5-year permit from the get go, not 1 year. I have heard that some MUP stations will put you in for 1 year, unless you specifically request 5 years.

      You guessed right, you will have to do the application all over again next year. I’m glad you are at the tail end and now just have to pick up your ID. Man, what a hellscape. Way to stick it out!

      Cheers,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Karmjeet Singh
        March 22, 2021 @ 1:46 pm

        Hello .
        I done marriage Croatia . Soon I get tempery recidense one year . When I will apply parmanet recidense Croatia……

        {reply}

        • Expat in Croatia
          March 25, 2021 @ 11:50 pm

          HI Karmjeet,

          You can apply after 4 years if you are married to a Croatian citizen.

          Regards,

          Sara

          {reply}

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