How to apply for temporary residence in Croatia based on family reunification

This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration (MUP).

Anyone who is not a Croatian citizen and wishes to stay in Croatia longer than 90 days must apply for a residence permit for a long-term stay.

In certain cases, a person can apply for temporary residence in Croatia based on “family reunification” (called “spajanje obitelji” in Croatian). Family reunification is used when a person applies for residence due to their familial relationship with another person who has a right to be in Croatia on some other basis.

Both third-country nationals and EU/EEA nationals can apply for temporary residence under this purpose if they meet the basic requirements. Once granted, a residence permit for the purpose of family reunification may be valid for up to 2 years, depending on the scenario.

In this post, we cover:

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How to apply for temporary residence in Croatia based on family reunification

What is family reunification in Croatia?

Family reunification is one of the purposes under which you may apply for a temporary residence in Croatia. This option is available to close family members of third-country or EU/EEA nationals with a granted temporary or permanent stay in Croatia in certain cases.

You may be able to apply for family reunification if you are a close family member of:

  • Croatian national
  • EU/EEA national
  • Third-country national with a granted temporary stay
  • Third-country national with granted long-term residence
  • Third-country national with granted permanent stay
  • Third-country national with granted protection in line with the provisions of special legislation governing international protection.

You will be granted a temporary stay for the purpose of family reunification if:

  • You meet all the requirements when applying
  • You don’t have a ban on the entry or stay in Croatia or a warning issued in the Schengen Information System for the purpose of the ban on entry
  • You are not a threat to public order, national security, or public health in Croatia.

A residence permit for the purpose of family reunification is valid for one year. If you are a family member of a Croatian national, then your permit is valid for up to 2 years.

Time spent on temporary residence under family reunification counts when applying for permanent residence.

Who is considered a close family member?

To qualify for family reunification, you must be a “close” family member. Whether or not you are considered a close family member depends on the nationality of the person to which you are applying.

Croatia defines who is considered a close family member in 2 laws:

  • Law on Foreigners for third-country nationals  – It is available here
  • Law on Citizens of the Member States of the European Economic Area and Members of Their Families for Croatians and EU/EEA nationals – It is available here

Family members of third-country nationals

Close family members of third-country nationals are:

  • Spouses
  • Extramarital partners who have been in a relationship for 3 years or more (common-law)
  • Extramarital partners if the community lasts 3 years or shorter and it is possible to prove the stability of a permanent relationship
  • Minor children of spouses and common-law partners, life partners or informal life partners and minor children of each of them, their minor adopted children or minor adopted children of each of them who are not married, minor children of life partners or informal life partners or their minor adopted children outside of marriage
  • Parents or adoptive parents of minor children who have been granted long-term residence or permanent residence, asylum, or subsidiary protection
  • Other relatives of Croatian nationals who are third-country nationals with granted temporary residence, permanent residence, asylum, or subsidiary protection if there are special personal or serious humanitarian reasons for family reunification in Croatia

Family members of Croatians and EU/EEA nationals

Close family members of Croatians and EU/EEA nationals are:

  • Spouses
  • Extramarital partners if the community lasts 3 years or longer and it is possible to prove the stability of a permanent relationship e.g. “common law”
  • Descendants by blood in descending vertical line up to 21 years of age
  • Descendants by blood in descending vertical line up to 21 years of age of spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners
  • Adopted children up to 21 years of age
  • Adopted children up to 21 years of age of spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU nationals
  • Descendants by blood in vertical line older than 21 years of age who are dependent on EU nationals
  • Descendants by blood in vertical line older than 21 years of age who are dependent on spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners
  • Blood relatives in the ascending vertical line who are dependent
  • Blood relatives in the ascending vertical line who are dependent on spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners
  • Other people who are considered a part of the family of EU nationals or their spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU nationals who are dependent members of the family, household members, or dependent on the family due to serious health conditions

When family reunification is possible

There are many purposes for applying for temporary residence in Croatia, however, not all of them allow family reunification.

In all these cases, the relative on which you apply for residence must have a residence in Croatia and you must live with them to qualify.

Family reunification is possible for:

  • Spouses of Croatians – View the guide here
  • Family members of Croatians – View the guide here
  • Family members of EU/EEA citizens – View the guide here
  • Family members of third-country nationals with a granted permanent stay in another EU/EEA Member State – View the guide here
  • Family members of third-country nationals with work and stay permit  – View guide here
  • Family members of third-country nationals with permanent or long-term stay
  • Family members of digital nomads – View the guide here
  • Family members of EU Blue Card holders – View the guide here
  • Family members of holders of student residence – View the guide here
  • Family members of those granted protection in line with the provisions of special legislation governing international protection, asylum, or subsidiary protection
  • Family members of researchers on long-term mobility or with a residence permit issued in another EU/EEA Member State

[Read: All the types of residence permits in Croatia]

Family members of people with a work permit

If your family member is a third-country national with granted work and stay permit in Croatia through a company they do not own, you can apply for a temporary stay after your family member has had a continuous temporary residence in Croatia continuously for at least one year.

If your family member is a third-country national with granted work and stay permit in Croatia through a company they do own, you can apply for a temporary stay immediately.

You are not allowed to apply for temporary residence if your family member is a third-country national with granted work and stay permit for seasonal work OR a permit for a service provider, posted worker.

When family reunification is not possible

In some cases, family members can’t apply for family reunification in Croatia.

Family reunification is not possible for:

How to prove you are a close family member

Since every relationship is different, the documents you must provide to prove your familial connection may also differ.

Below are the documents you may need to provide depending on the type of relationship you have. However, there are some relationships that may not fit into this list. The police will confirm what documents you will need to provide for your situation.

#1 You want to prove marriage

  • Marriage certificate

#2 You want to prove a common-law union

  • Birth certificate for a child or decision of the competent adoption authority
  • Excerpt from the register of common-law union
  • Notarized statement of common-law partners on cohabitation
  • Witness statements on the existence and duration of cohabitation
  • Proof of cohabitation for 3 years in Croatia or abroad immediately before the submission of the application
  • Social media

In Croatia, a relationship is considered common law after 3 years, except when the couple has a child together.

#3 You want to prove a child-parent relationship

  • Birth certificate or decision of the competent body on the adoption of a child

#4 You want to prove special personal or serious humanitarian reasons

  • Evidence of the need for material or health care (medical documentation, proof of alimony or custody)
  • Evidence of financial dependence

Third-country citizens don’t have to enclose birth certificates or marriage certificates if marriage or birth was registered in Croatia. The birth certificate or the decision of the competent body on the adoption of a child is valid regardless of the date of issue.

Family members of Croatian nationals don’t have to provide birth certificates and marriage certificates since they will be provided from the registry office ex officio.

Standard requirements for applying for residence

There are standard requirements that most people have to meet to apply for residence. There may be additional requirements that the police will ask of you depending on your situation.

To apply, you must provide the following:

  • Application form
    • For third-country nationals, Obrazac 1a is available at MUP/diplomatic mission/consular office (view it here)
    • For EU/EEA nationals, Obrazac 1b is available at MUP/diplomatic mission/consular office or here
  • Copy of foreign travel document (like a passport)
  • Proof of financial means – View the guide here
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Background check if applying for the first time (only for third-country nationals) – View guide here
  • Proof of connection with a family member
  • 3 x 3.5 cm color photo

If you are a family member of the Croatian national, you don’t have to provide proof of financial means. If you are a family member of a third-country national with granted asylum or subsidiary protection, you don’t have to provide proof of financial means or health insurance.

In case of reunification with permanent residents of another EU/EEA Member State, you have to provide a copy of the residence permit in another EU/EEA Member State and proof of residence in a joint household in the EU/EEA Member State (lease agreement, title deed, or certificate of residence at the same address).

Family members of researchers who have a residence in another EU/EEA Member State must provide a copy of the residence permit issued in another EU/EEA Member State.

Where to apply for residence based on family reunification

According to your nationality and scenario, you may apply for a residence on the basis of family reunification in Croatia or outside of Croatia.

Some nationalities must possess a visa to enter Croatia. You can check whether or not you need a visa to enter Croatia here.

You don’t need a visa to enter Croatia

In this case, you can submit your application at:

  • MUP police administration office according to your future Croatian address, headquarters of your employer, or your workplace – List available here
  • Croatian diplomatic mission or consular office abroad – List available here

You need a visa to enter Croatia

In this case, submit your application at a Croatian diplomatic mission or consular office outside of Croatia. A list of all Croatian diplomatic missions and consular offices abroad is available here.

However, there are some exceptions. You can submit the request at MUP in Croatia according to your future Croatian address if you are in one of the below groups. However, you must enter Croatia with your family member to avoid needing a visa entry.

  • Close family member of a Croatian citizen
  • Life or informal life partner of Croatian citizen
  • Close family member of a researcher or third-country national who comes to study
  • Family members of holders of the EU Blue Card

[Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

View other temporary residence articles


Sources:
Rules on the residence of third-country citizens in the Republic of Croatia
Temporary stay for the purpose of family reunification
Third Country Nationals
Residence and work of citizens of EEA member states and their family members

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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