Family services and child benefits in Croatia

child benefits in croatia
Croatia is a family-oriented country

UPDATED: 10.4.2024.

In family-centric Croatia, the government offers various financial assistance and child benefit programs to parents after the birth of a child. Child benefit programs provide good support and incentives, easing the financial impact of expanding your family.

We summarized the support programs for parents and children you can get from the Croatian state. If you plan to have a family in Croatia, you are in the right place.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Who qualifies for child benefits in Croatia?

To qualify, one of the parents must be:

  • Croatian citizen with a permanent stay in Croatia (prebivalište) – meaning they have lived in Croatia for at least 3 years and have obvezno state health insurance
  • EU/EEA or non-EU/EEA citizen with granted permanent residence in Croatia (stalni boravak) and obvezno state health insurance

View our guide on Croatia’s state health care obvezno insurance, what it costs, and what is included here.

If you qualify, then you can gain access to several state-funded benefits. Those benefits are listed below.

If you are planning to move or live in Croatia and don’t know where to start, you can reach out to us here. Our team specializes in Croatian bureaucracy and topics like moving, settling down in Croatia, and getting residence or citizenship – we will help you with anything you need.

[Read: Available visas and residence permits for Croatia]

Tax relief in Croatia

In the tax system of Croatia, there is a portion of every person’s salary that cannot be taxed. The purpose of this is to guarantee that each person will be able to keep some funds for themselves without tax. This basic osobni odbitak (personal allowance) is 560 euros per month.

If you have children, there are further tax breaks. For the first child, multiply the basic allowance by 0,5 to calculate the additional amount from your salary that will not be taxed. For the second child, multiply the allowance by 0,7, and 1,0 for the third child. For more information, view a personal deduction table here.

So what do all of these numbers mean exactly? Below is a simplified example, but SPOILER ALERT, there will be math.

A single person earning a monthly salary of 1.460 euros will only be taxed on the amount that remains after we subtract the basic personal deduction from his gross salary, that is:

1.460 – 560 = 900 euros

A person with two children will be taxed in the following manner:

1.460 – (560 + 280 + 392) = 328 euros

As you can see, there is a considerable difference in taxable income when you have children.

This tax relief may be used jointly by working parents. In some cases, parents with 3 or more children can avoid paying tax on their income tax altogether because their personal allowance is higher than their gross income.

More information on these regulations and other personal allowances can be found on the Croatian tax agency website.

View all the taxes you might pay in Croatia here and how to get a tax card and tax return here.

Child allowance from HZMO funds

In addition to tax incentives, families are entitled to a stipend for each child that meets certain requirements. This stipend is drawn from the HZMO pension fund, and it is called dječji doplatak or doplatak za djecu.

To qualify for this stipend, the parent(s) making the application must:

  • Have Croatian citizenship or permanent residence and at least 3 years of continuous residence in Croatia
  • Have an asylum status or the status of a foreigner under subsidiary protection or the corresponding status of a member of their family
  • Live in the same household with the children and raise them
  • Have a total household income in the previous year that does not exceed 140% of the budget base, which is determined by all household income earned in the previous calendar year (the maximum income per household member allowed to receive benefits is 618.02 euros per month)

[Read: How to apply for Croatian citizenship (hrvatsko državljanstvo)]

The monthly benefits based on income are:

  • Family with a monthly income per member of 176.59 to 264.86 euros gets 48.56 euros monthly per child
  • Family with a monthly income per member of 264.87 to 441.44 euros gets 39.73 euros monthly per child
  • Family with a monthly income per member of 618.02 euros or less gets 30.90 euros monthly per child

More fun facts about the child allowance:

  • The allowance is paid monthly until the child reaches the age of 19 or 20, depending on the length of secondary education, if the child continues with secondary education. If the child quits school after elementary school (usually when the child is 15), the allowance will be terminated. Learn how to prepare your children for Croatian schools after relocation here.
  • The amount does not change as the child ages.
  • The allowance cannot be granted to children with residence outside of Croatia unless it is stipulated differently by international agreements.
  • The allowance will be terminated if the child leaves Croatia for a period longer than 3 months (for example, to go study abroad) unless it is stipulated differently by international agreements.
  • Benefits will only change under two conditions:
    • Household income per member changes
    • New laws are implemented that affect the thresholds, resulting in a change or loss of benefits

There are special circumstances where the child allowance is increased:

  • For a child without both parents or a child whose parents are both unknown, of unknown residence, totally incapable of independent life and work, or if their business ability is taken away, the corresponding amount of allowance is increased by 25%
  • For a child with a single parent or a child with one unknown parent with unknown residence, totally incapable of independent life and work, or if the parent’s business ability is taken away, the corresponding amount of allowance is increased by 15%
  • For a child with health impairment, the parent is entitled to a 25% extra allowance added to the child’s existing obligatory allowance

Information on the application for a child allowance is available at HZMO.

Usually, these benefits are applied when the child is born. For more information on how to apply for benefits for a newborn child and pretty much everything else concerning newborn children, like registration and health insurance, head over here.

Parental support benefits in Croatia

Parental support benefits can be both monetary and temporal. These additional benefits are available to the mother and father of a child but can also be used by adoptive parents, guardians, foster parents, or other persons entrusted with the care of the newborn child.

Foreigners can use these benefits if the insured parent has permanent residence in Croatia, asylum status, or the status of a foreigner under subsidiary protection.

Here is more detail on each of these parental support benefits.

Maternity and paternity leave in Croatia

With regards to “leave”, there is maternity leave, paternity leave, and parental leave.

Every expectant new mother who is employed or self-employed must use a compulsory maternity leave called rodiljni dopust for an uninterrupted period of 98 days. 28 (and no more than 45) days should be used before the due date and the remaining 70 days after the birth of the child.

After this compulsory maternity leave, the mother has the right to additional maternity leave for up to 6 months of the child’s life. If she wants, she may transfer her leave to the father of the child with his prior consent by a written statement (paternity leave or očinski dopust).

During the maternity leave, the mother is entitled to a 100% wage compensation fee based on compulsory health insurance (without limit). To receive this benefit, the mother must have worked 9 continuous months before the start of the maternity leave or 12 months with interruptions in the 2 previous years.

If that condition is not met, the beneficiary is still entitled to maternity leave, but the salaries for the same amount are 70% of the budget base (309,01 euros).

Since 2022, Izmjene Zakona o rodiljnim i roditeljskim potporama (Amendments to the Act on Maternity and Parental Allowances) have introduced paternity leave as a new entitlement. This applies to both employed and self-employed parents. Paternity leave spans 10 working days for a single child and 15 working days for twins, triplets, or more, as mandated by the directive.

Fathers can take this leave within the first six months of the child’s life, independent of the mother’s employment status. This means they can take it concurrently with the mother’s maternity leave. Salary compensation is provided at 100% of the salary compensation base determined by mandatory health insurance regulations.

Parental leave in Croatia

An employed or self-employed parent is entitled to parental leave for a total duration of 8 months for their first and second child and 30 months for twins, triplets, or more. Parental leave is called roditeljski dopust.

This benefit can be used by both parents. If they do, it should be used evenly. It is also possible for it to be used in totality by one parent, usually by the mother.

Employed parents can use this leave at any given point before the child turns 8, simultaneously by both parents or by alternating. If they decide to use their leave in installments, it cannot be used more than twice a year, and each leave has to be a minimum of 30 days in duration. Parental leave can also be used to work part-time (half of the usual work time) in the dual duration of unused parental leave.

In the remainder of the parental leave (after the first 6 or 8 months of parental leave), salaries are 70% of the budget base (309,01 euros). The salary compensation is determined based on salary (as with maternity leave), but the amount paid is limited to a certain percentage of the budget base.

The beneficiary of this benefit can also be an unemployed parent or parent outside the working system, as long as they comply with legal requirements.

Other types of leave in Croatia

In special situations, when the child needs additional care due to illness or if a child is suffering from an incurable disease, specific types of leave are available to parents or guardians. Family doctors are usually the first person to advise on these special cases.

The final decision about granting a parent or a guardian this benefit will be based on the expert medical expertise of the HZZO medical commission, the medical documentation of the child, and the findings of the selected primary health care doctor of the child.

During this type of leave, a parent or a guardian has the right to a monetary benefit of 70% of the budget base per month for full-time (309,01 euros).

Other situations where leave can be granted may include:

  • The right to work half-time for increased childcare
  • Leave to care for a child with severe developmental disabilities
  • The right to work half-time to care for a child with severe developmental disabilities
  • Break from work for breastfeeding
  • Leave for adoptive parents
  • Leave in case of a child’s death
  • Pausing employment until the child is 3 years old.

All of these types of leaves have their special conditions and corresponding monetary benefits, or lack of them.

[Read: How to adopt a child and adoption by foreigners]

Pause for breastfeeding

If a mother returns to her job before the child’s first year of life or before the expiration of maternity leave, she is entitled to a break during the work day to breastfeed her child. The allowed pause is two hours during the work day. The break could be used once for two hours or twice, lasting one hour for each break.

Pausing employment until the child is 3 years old

This benefit is definitely an interesting one. After maternity leave has expired, one of the parents has the right not to work until the child reaches three years of age. Their employer is not allowed to deny them that right. If an employer denies their request, it is considered to be an offense for which there are fines.

During this leave, the parent receives no financial compensation, unlike the three-year leave for twins, the third and every next child. The employer is not obligated to pay contributions for the employee who opted to use this benefit.

It is up to the parent to resolve their health insurance through their spouse or by paying out of pocket. They also must pay contributions for their pension themselves. Learn how EU and Croatian citizens can apply for health insurance here and third-country citizens here.

[Read: Healthcare and health insurance in Croatia]

Allowance for newborn baby costs from HZZO funds

All mothers with health insurance are entitled to receive a one-time allowance to cover the costs associated with a newborn baby. As of this post, the one-time allowance is 309,01 euros. This benefit is not tied to income.

Applying for this benefit is part of the process of registering your newborn child. More information is available here.

Family allowances from Croatian cities and municipalities

Some cities in Croatia offer child allowances for families with a newborn in addition to the state benefits. Certain local communities pay these fees several times, and some only in a one-time sum. Parents should contact the administration of the municipality or city where they live and are registered to find out if additional benefits are offered.

For example, every new child born in Split with at least one parent who holds permanent residence in Split is entitled to a one-time benefit. The amount of money for a newborn baby depends on the number of children in the family.

This allowance is paid once for the first and second child. For each additional child, it is paid annually for 10 years.

Counseling in Croatia

For every new mother or father, counseling can be of great help. Pregnancy courses in Croatia are sporadic. Your best option is to ask your doctor about whether a pregnancy course is an option where you live or in the hospital where you are planning to give birth.

For more resources, contact information, institutions, and associations that can help you as a parent in Croatia, click here.

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View our other children’s posts


Sources:
Osobni odbitak by Porezna uprava
Uvjeti za stjecanje prava na doplatak za djecu by HZMO
Dohodovni cenzus i svote doplatka za djecu za 2022. by Porezna uprava
Korisnici doplatka za djecu i djeca za koju pripada doplatak by Porezna uprava
Rodiljne i roditeljske potpore by HZZO
Zakon o izmjenama i dopunama Zakona o rodiljnim i roditeljskim potporama

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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