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:
- Types of legal residence for EU citizens in Croatia
- How EU citizens can apply for temporary residence in Croatia
- Requirements for EU citizens
- How to transition to permanent residence
- Additional tips for apply for temporary residence
- How to get help with your residence application
For EU citizens, there are two types of residence:
- Kratkotrajni boravak (Short-term residence)
- Privremeni boravak (Temporary residence)
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 without registering with the police or the need for an official residence permit. 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. The good news is that you don’t have to register your short-term residence. Having a passport or an identity card will be enough.
However it is important to note that you will need to present your passport or national ID card if a police offer requests it. If you cannot produce it, you may be fined 200 kn.
Any residence longer than 90 days requires a temporary residence permit. If you are a national of any EEA country, you can get a temporary residence for:
- Work purposes
- Studying or vocational training purposes
- 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, you can gain 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 in the amount of 200 kn.
Step #1 Visit 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.
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. You can likely get this over email now due to pandemic measures instead of visiting in person.
The requirements can vary a little depending on the basis of the residence. 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 (provided by the police)
- A valid identity card or a passport
- 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)
- (1) 30 x 35mm passport photo
Additional requirements for specific situations
- Proof of employment (if you are working for a Croatian company or were sent to Croatia to work by a company within the EU)
- Proof of study, vocational training, student exchange or a student practice in Croatia
Now, I’ll go over a few of these requirements in great detail.
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 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.
There are two situations that Croatia will accept for your health care requirement IF you are not employed by a Croatian company.
- You have state health insurance in your home country
- You have state health insurance in Croatia through HZZO
1. You have health insurance in your home country
If you are an EPG/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 EPG 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.
State health insurance will cost approximately 560 kn monthly per person. This amount changes from year to year based on average salaries. It is also recommended that you sign up for dopunsko supplement, which eliminates any out of pocket costs.
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
- Optional: HZZO’s application form for your family member’s health insurance (if you need it for your family member too)
HZZO will ask for proof that you’ve been 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.
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).
You’ll 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.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.