Frequently asked questions about Croatia’s digital nomad permit: Guide for 2023

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This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration. It also reflects the experiences of those already approved.
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UPDATED: 14.3.2023.

At the beginning of 2021, the Croatian government launched the digital nomad residence permit (colloquially, but inaccurately, referred to as the “digital nomad visa”).

This residence permit allowed workers who work remotely for a business registered outside of Croatia to live in Croatia for up to 12 months at once. It is the most favorable residence program for non-EU/EEA nationals to live in Croatia right now.

We get lots of questions about this permit, so we collected the most frequently asked questions and compiled them into one list just for you.

Frequently asked questions about the digital nomad permit in Croatia

Jump to what you need:

Q: Does Croatia have a digital nomad visa?

A: Croatia has a digital nomad residence permit. In Croatia, a visa is used to enter Croatia on a short-term stay. Residence permits are for long-term stays. Therefore, Croatia does not have a digital nomad VISA – it has a digital nomad RESIDENCE PERMIT.

While it may be catchier to say, any reference to a “digital nomad visa” in Croatia is technically inaccurate.

Q: For how long does the digital nomad permit last?

A: The maximum term for the digital nomad residence permit is 12 months.

Q: Is the digital nomad permit renewable?

A: Croatia’s digital nomad permit is not renewable. You may apply for it again, however, you must wait a full 6 months plus 1 day after the expiration of your last permit before you can start a new application. During these 6 months, you will need to exit the country for 90 days before returning as a tourist for 90 days.

Q: Who can apply for the digital nomad permit in Croatia?

A: Croatia’s digital nomad permit is strictly for third-country nationals – e.g. non-EU/EEA nationals. EU/EEA citizens are not allowed to apply for the digital nomad permit.

EU/EEA citizens are entitled to temporary residence already. View our instructional guide on how to apply here.

Q: Do digital nomads pay tax in Croatia?

A: Yes and no. By law, those with residence in Croatia based on being a digital nomad have a tax exemption on working income.

They do not have an exemption on passive income – like investments, capital gains, rents, pensions, and specific types of crypto trading. If you have passive income, it is obligatory to report your income to Croatia’s tax authority and pay tax according to the tax agreements in place between Croatia and your home country.

It is important to note that only the digital nomad has this tax exemption. Spouses and partners do not.

If you wish to have your tax liability in Croatia evaluated by a vetted Croatian tax advisor, contact us.

Q: Do digital nomads need a visa to enter Croatia?

A:  Yes and no. If no visa is required for your nationality to enter Croatia as a tourist, then you do not need a visa to enter Croatia and apply for the digital nomad permit.

If a visa is required for your nationality to enter Croatia, then you must apply for the digital nomad permit abroad at an embassy or consulate or online. Once you are approved for the permit, you must apply for a D Visa also abroad. The D Visa will allow you to enter Croatia to claim your residence permit at a police station within the country.

Learn how to apply for a visa to enter Croatia here.

Q: How can I become a digital nomad in Croatia?

A: To become a digital nomad in Croatia, you must meet the requirements and then apply for and be granted a residence permit. Read our detailed guide on how to apply here.

Q: What are the requirements for digital nomads in Croatia?

A: There are a number of requirements one must meet to apply for the digital nomad permit in Croatia.

The requirements include:

  • Completed application form Obrazac 1a
    • Provided by the police/embassy/consulate – View it here
  • Proof you are a digital nomad, such as:
    • Employment contract
    • Company formation documents
    • Freelance contracts
  • Copy of a valid passport
  • Government-issued background check from your home country or the country where you have lived the previous 12 months, if you are applying for temporary residence for the first time OR your previous residence was broken
    • If using a check from the country where you lived the last 12 months, you must also provide proof of that residence
  • Marriage certificate, if you have a spouse (apostilled/legalized and officially translated)
  • Proof of valid private/travel health insurance policy that covers you while in Croatia for the full term of your permit
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself, which must exceed 2.539,31 euros per month
  • Proof of accommodation in Croatia

You can learn about these requirements in more detail within our digital nomad residence guide here.

Q: How can I apply for the digital nomad permit in Croatia?

A: There are several ways to apply for Croatia’s digital nomad permit.

Option #1 – Apply abroad at the embassy or consulate

This option can be used by anyone, regardless of nationality. However, this option is required for those who require a visa to enter Croatia.

Here is a list of Croatia’s consulate offices and embassies abroad.

Option #2 – Apply in person at a police station in Croatia

This option can be used by anyone who does not need a visa to enter Croatia. We recommend this option over alternatives as it allows you to maximize your stay in Croatia.

Let us explain.

When you enter Croatia as a tourist (assuming you do not need a visa), you can be in Croatia for 90 days. When applying for residence, you must start the application at least 8 days before the end of your tourist stay. However, the police do not like when you wait until the last minute, so best to start your application at least 2 weeks in advance.

While your application is in process, you are allowed to stay in Croatia. This means you can be in Croatia for a solid 2 ½ months before applying PLUS the time it takes to approve your application PLUS the maximum 12 months allowed on the residence permit.

To start the application, contact the closest administrative police station to where you are staying. Contact them first by email or phone if possible to see if you need to make an appointment. While some smaller stations still allow you to walk in, many of the larger ones are requiring appointments or applications submitted by email.

Here is a list of the administrative police stations in Croatia, along with their contact information.

Option #3 – Apply online

We do not recommend this option.

In addition, it comes with several downsides:

  • If applying in person in Croatia, you can maximize your time in Croatia. This isn’t possible if you apply online.
  • Applying online makes it hard to plan your move since you don’t know when you’ll be approved.
  • Once you are approved, you need to enter Croatia within 30 days.
  • The police will communicate with you by email. Frequently their emails go to spam. If you apply online, you need to keep an eye on your junk folder just in case. If you miss an email, you may get denied.

If you wish to give it a try anyway, here is the online application.

Q: Can I apply for Croatia’s digital nomad permit online?

A: Yes, but it’s not our recommendation. Click here to see why.

Q: Can I bring my family with me?

A: Yes! Digital nomads are allowed to bring their immediate family (spouses, children) with them to Croatia.

If bringing a spouse, make sure to bring proof of marriage/partnership. Your partner must also have a background check.

If bringing a child, you will need to bring their birth certificate.

All documents issued by foreign governments must be apostilled/legalized, then officially translated into Croatia. You can read more about how to prepare documents for the Croatian government here.

Q: Can I bring my pet with me?

A: Yes! As long as your pet meets the requirements for entry, then your pet can join you in Croatia.

Here are the requirements for animals to enter Croatia.

Q: Do I need a lawyer to help me apply?

A: It is not required, but many find it helpful when applying from within Croatia – especially if they have families.

While most police stations have a dedicated foreigners desk for processing residence permits, most of the workers will still not speak English. Either they don’t speak it, are not comfortable speaking it, or they just want to make it as difficult for you as possible. They are under no obligation to speak English to you.

In addition, Croatia does not have a standardized residence process like western European nations. There is a lot of a gray area and tons of discretion on the part of the individuals working for the police. They can make it harder, and stonewall you entirely if they feel like it.

While some can sail through the process on their own, it is the exception, not the rule.

If you wish to have legal help with your application, we can introduce you to a lawyer who can file your application on your behalf, represent you and translate if needed. Just contact us. You can also learn about your vetted legal network here.

If you’re in Split and just need help with translation, one of our team members can accompany you to the police, help you prepare your documents, and translate on your behalf. Just contact us.

Q: Does the digital nomad permit qualify for permanent residence in Croatia?

A: Possibly, in a roundabout way.

For a third-country national without Croatian family connections to qualify for permanent residence, they must live in Croatia continuously for 5 years. By continuously, we mean you must have temporary residence permits back-to-back without leaving Croatia for more than 90 days in a 12-month period or 30 days at once – and not more than 10 months in total during the 5 years.

If applying for the digital nomad permit, there must be 6 months in between residence permits. Due to this, a person who has residence based on being a digital nomad doesn’t qualify to apply for permanent residence.

However, there is a strategy that we suggest that may allow a person to stay continuously, which can get someone on a path to permanent residence. To learn if this is something you could do in your situation, schedule a consulting call with us, and we can advise on your situation. To request a session, complete the form below.

Q: Can I get the digital nomad permit and travel around Europe?

A: Many digital nomads and remote workers ask us this. They wish to get a residence permit in Croatia, then use it as a basis for traveling around Europe without restrictions.

There is some flexibility here, but not as much as you might think.

First, Croatia requires that non-EU/EEA nationals (who are not married to an EU/EEA/Croatia citizen) be in Croatia for at least 9 months per year. This means you cannot travel outside Croatia for more than 90 days per year – and no more than 30 days at once.

This guide goes into this in more detail.

Second, you are still limited by Schengen/country rules, which are typically limited to 90 days within a 180-day period. Just because you have a Croatian residence permit, doesn’t mean you can stay in other EU/EEA countries longer.

Q: Can Croatia’s digital nomad permit get me into other EU/EEA countries?

A: Maybe, maybe not. Your nationality is the primary factor that determines if you are allowed to enter a country. If your nationality requires a visa for entry, then you need to check with the country you wish to enter to see if your Croatian residence permit will cover this visa requirement.

Q: Where can digital nomads stay in Croatia?

A: For the purposes of applying for residence, digital nomads and remote workers can stay in accommodations like a hotel, hostel, or apartment rental. Once approved for residence, you must have a long-term rental contract where you can register the address with the police.

Check out our guide on how to find a long-term place to stay here.

Q: Can I work remotely in Croatia?

A: Yes! As long as you have a residence permit based on being a digital nomad. If you are a non-EU/EEA national doing work for a business that is registered outside of Croatia and you have a digital nomad residence permit, you may do that work while on the territory of Croatia.

Q: What is the cost of living in Croatia?

A: The cost of living in Croatia varies by the part of the country you are living in, as well as the part of the city in which you live. Tourist areas are more expensive. Living by the sea is more expensive.

This is a fairly accurate representation of the cost of living in Croatia. You can also filter by city.

Please do your research before showing up in Croatia, especially when it comes to long-term rentals. The influx of digital nomads has resulted in the inflation of apartment prices.

Just because rent is cheap compared to where you came from, doesn’t mean it is cheap here. Do your due diligence and negotiate with the property owner. This is not just for your sake, but also for those of us who live in Croatia full-time and make Croatian salaries.

Q: What are internet speeds like in Croatia?

A: Depends on where you plan to live. In cities with cable infrastructure, the internet can be quite fast and reliable. In villages and on the islands, internet connectivity is usually slower and can disconnect with bad weather.

Q: How long can I stay in Croatia as a digital nomad?

A: You may enter Croatia as a tourist for up to 90 days. Then, you can stay an additional 12 months once granted a residence permit. If you wish to apply for the digital nomad residence permit again, you must wait 6 months from the expiration date of your first permit before applying again. Usually, this means 90 days outside Croatia, then re-entering as a tourist for 90 days.

If you want personalized guidance on how to stay in Croatia continuously without leaving, schedule a consulting session with us.

Q: Do I need a background check to live in Croatia?

A: In most cases, yes! The criminal background check must be provided in two situations. This check should be issued by the national government in the country where you have lived for the previous 12 months. This only applies to non-EU/EEA citizens.

Situation no. 1 – You are applying for residence in Croatia for the first time

Situation no. 2 – You have lived in Croatia before, but your residence was broken. By broken, we mean that you did not have residence permits back to back without interruption.

If providing a background check from the country where you lived the previous 12 months that is NOT your country of nationality, you must also provide proof of this residence.

View our guide on background checks and fingerprints for third-country nationals here.

Q: Do I need health insurance?

A: Yes! Everyone needs to have health insurance to apply for residence in Croatia. This health insurance should be valid for 1 year and cover you while on the territory of Croatia.

Once you are approved for residence, you have the option of applying for Croatia’s state health insurance, but it is not required. This is a benefit only available to digital nomads (but not their families).

View our guide on how to sign up for state health insurance in Croatia here.

Q: Do I have to pay back premiums for my kids to HZZO?

A: Yes. To set context, HZZO is the state health insurance fund. The digital nomad is exempt from signing up for state health insurance. However, their spouse and children must sign up for state health insurance. When signing up for the first time, you must pay one year of back pay (12 months of premiums) to register into the system.

View our guide on state health insurance including costs here.

Q: Are there any downsides to being a digital nomad in Croatia?

A: Currently, the only “downside” is that it is not renewable, and you must wait 6 months in between permits. Due to this 6-month wait in between permits, the digital nomad permit does not put you on a direct path to permanent residence or citizenship.

If you want personalized guidance on how to stay in Croatia continuously without leaving, schedule a consulting session with us using the form below.

Q: Do I need to open a bank account?

A: Nope. You can open a bank account, but we only recommend it for people who are working for a Croatian company and receiving a salary.

Nevertheless, if you want to open a bank account, check out our guide on Croatia’s biggest banks and the comparison of their fees and services here.

If you need to pay bills, you can do that easily at a bank or post office. Here is our full guide on how to pay bills.

Skip the research! Save time and talk to EIC.

We crafted this post to be as detailed as possible, but sometimes questions still arise because everyone’s situation is different. If you’d like personalized guidance on your situation, we can help.

Save yourself the time and uncertainty of trying to navigate the ever-changing rules for living in Croatia by scheduling a private chat with us.

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Repeat clients can book a 30-minute session with an EIC consultant as a stand-alone appointment.

During your chat with us, we will answer all of your questions about Croatia. You can tap into our expertise on anything you want; whether it be residency, citizenship, healthcare, buying property, letting accommodation, operating a business, what it’s like to live here, personal experiences with bureaucracy, or cultural nuance. It’s all tailored to you.

In addition, you’ll receive a follow up with additional resources based on your situation, Sara’s Croatia Restaurant Guide as well as introductions to vetted professionals like insurance, law, real estate, translation and tax.

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We have an extensive Frequently Asked Questions about this service here.

Who will I speak with?

Expat in Croatia has two experienced consultants, Sara Dyson and Carol Anne Škorvaga. You may choose your consultant.

Carol Anne Škorvaga, known to us as “CAM”, is a first-generation Croatian-Canadian living in Jastrebarsko with her family. She grew up entrenched in the Croatian community surrounded by culture and folklore, attended Croatian school in Canada and then returned to Zagreb to attend Filozofski Fakultet. CAM is fluent in Croatian and has firsthand knowledge of being both a Canadian expat and a Croatian returnee, building a home in Croatia and being a parent with children in local schools.

Meet CAM in this quick 2-minute video here.

Sara Dyson is the founder of Expat in Croatia. She has lived in Split, Croatia as a US citizen since 2012 and experienced first-hand applying for temporary residence, long-term residence and Croatian citizenship. She’s also operated 2 companies, purchased a home, and written about Croatia and its bureaucracy extensively since 2013. Her application is citizenship is based on her work through Expat in Croatia. Read Sara’s full bio here.

Meet Sara in this quick 2-minute video here.

What is the cost?

The below costs are per 30 minutes and include VAT (25% tax mandated by the Croatian government). If additional time is requested, it is billed in ¼ hour increments.

First-time clients automatically get an extra 30 minutes with an English-speaking lawyer from our vetted network.

Carol Anne Škorvaga

  • First-time clients  |  150 euros (includes session with lawyer)
  • Repeat clients  |  75 euros

Sara Dyson

  • First-time clients  |  250 euros (includes session with lawyer)
  • Repeat clients  |  150 euros

It takes a tremendous amount of hands-on, human work to research and vet our information that we provide during sessions. This process includes extensive web research, phone calls to the government, collaboration with licensed Croatian professionals, and visits to government, collaboration with licensed Croatian professionals, and visits to government offices.

It’s not something that ChatGPT can do. We must employ skilled, full-time employees who live in Croatia and that comes with a cost.

Reviews from our clients

“Sara’s knowledge of Croatia is nothing short of encyclopaedic. I achieved so much more clarity in just a single session, and I would not hesitate to another if needed. Invaluable.” – Todd, United Kingdom

“During our call, Sara patiently answered all of my questions and provided me with invaluable information that would have taken hours to sort through elsewhere. She was thorough, professional, and incredibly helpful throughout our entire conversation.” – LeAnn, United States

You can view our last few reviews here or all of our reviews here.

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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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