Announcement The Croatian government is in the process of updating kuna to Euro. We will update our site as they do.

Does Croatia have a “golden visa”?

Croatia does not have a “golden visa”. Unequivocally, bluntly, without a shadow of a doubt, DOES NOT HAVE.

A “golden visa” is a term that refers to an immigration program whereby a person can obtain residence in a country by making a substantial investment.

Different countries define investment differently.

For example, in Portugal, you can buy a property or create 10 jobs or fund research, or simply deposit 1,5 million euros into a bank account. In Italy, you can make a 2 million euro donation or buy government bonds. In the UAE, you can deposit 2 million AED into an investment fund among other options.

In a nutshell, a “golden visa” is when a person is paying for the privilege to live in a country not of their nationality. Their money is all that matters.

In some instances, they only need to spend a small amount of time in the country, and they can get on a guaranteed path to permanent residence and citizenship.

Croatia does not have a golden visa residence program.

That does not stop some web sites from claiming that Croatia has a golden visa and that they can help you obtain one – for a fee, of course.

I’ve even seen some claim there is also a “100% tax exemption” that comes with it, which was clearly pulled out of someone’s butt and then published on the internet without any due diligence.

Periodically, we receive emails from people asking about it. Usually, they do not ask “if” Croatia has a golden visa. More commonly, they say, “I heard Croatia has a golden visa. What are the terms?”

“Well, there are no terms because it’s not true.”

“But somebody on YouTube said Croatia has a golden visa.”

“Well, that somebody on YouTube is lying.”

“Uhhhhh, but I want it to be true.”

“I want abs like Jennifer Aniston, but we can’t all get what we want.”

“Why doesn’t Croatia want my money?”

“Croatia wants your money; they just don’t want you to accompany that money. If you’re willing to gift it to the state, but never step foot into the country, I think that is something Croatia might be interested in.”

While Croatia doesn’t have a purely money-in-exchange-for-residence program, they do have a couple programs that could be deemed as forms of investment, but there are strings and limitations, unlike the traditional golden visa programs.

If you are an EU/EEA citizen or a family member of one, this post doesn’t apply to you.

  • Click here if you’re an EU/EEA citizen
  • Click here if you’re the family member of an EU/EEA citizen
  • Click here if you’re the family member of a Croatian citizen

Everybody else may kindly proceed to learn about investment-adjacent options for living in Croatia.

The facts are these…

Residence based on buying property in Croatia

Buying property in Croatia is not a privilege that is open to all, but more people can buy here than you might think.

Residential property can be purchased by a citizen of any country with a reciprocity agreement. Reciprocity essentially means… our citizens can buy property in your country; your citizens can buy property in our country.

Croatia has reciprocity agreements with many, though not all, countries in the world. Croatia’s reciprocity with Canada is with its individual provinces. Similarly, Croatia has agreements with individual states in the USA, rather than the federal government. Bosnia and Herzegovina is broken up into three regions, all with different rules.

Additionally, just because your country/state/province has reciprocity, doesn’t mean the rules are all the same.

For example, Australian citizens can only buy property in Croatia if they hold permanent residence in Croatia – which is a Mount Everest-sized summit nearly impossible to reach. A Malaysian citizen must spend at least 55.000 USD and can only use the property for commercial purposes. Albanians can only purchase if the price is 3X the value of the land.

View all the current reciprocity agreements here.

So, let’s say that you are legally allowed to purchase property here. How can you live in Croatia based on buying a property?

Croatia has a program prescribed in the Zakon o strancima (Law on foreigners) referred to as “other purposes” in English. This is a broad catch-all category for a variety of miscellaneous purposes for obtaining residence.

One of those “other purposes” is the purchase of a residential property. There is no minimum or maximum investment (unless defined in the reciprocity agreement). You don’t have to buy in a specific area. The only rules are that it must be zoned as residential, and you must live in it.

Once you make the purchase and have been added to the land registry as the owner, then you can apply for temporary residence based on owning this property.

It’s important to note that it can take 6 months or longer from the first step of identifying a property to the last step of being added to the land registry.

Aside from proving you are the owner, you must also provide a criminal background back, health insurance, and proof you have the funds to support yourself.

You can view the latest requirements and process to apply for this permit here.

Learn how to buy a property in Croatia here.

Are there catches? Of course.

  • You are not legally allowed to work
  • If you wish to apply for this permit again, you must wait 6 months in between applications, during which you must leave Croatia for at least 90 days
  • The time on this permit does not count towards permanent residence
  • Your permit may be granted for either 6 months or 1 year (the government is inconsistent on this)
  • Family reunification does not apply

In our experience, this permit is best for people who split their time between Croatia and another country.

Residence based on opening a business in Croatia

Croatia is an incredible place to open a business. I have traveled all over Croatia and beyond, talking about why people should do business in Croatia.

Check out those speeches:

  • 3 reasons you should open a company in Croatia – Watch here
  • 4 ways Croatia made me better at my job – Watch here
  • 4 types of entrepreneurs in Croatia – Watch here

There is a tremendous amount of opportunity for anyone willing to be serious and fill a gap in the market.

Croatia does offer residence to people who wish to come to Croatia and open a business. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Let’s start at the beginning.

When a company is opened, a director must be employed. The director must reside in Croatia, and they must be legally allowed to work.

If you are a third-country national (e.g., not from the EU/EEA) and are not a family member of a Croatian/EU/EEA national, then you most likely do not have the right to work.

[Read: Who has the right to work in Croatia]

You can open and own a company without the right to work. However, you cannot be employed by that company (like, as a director) without the right to work.

To be employed by a company you own, you must obtain the right to work for that company. To obtain the right to work, you (and your company) must meet certain requirements – and those requirements are steep.

You must:

  • Own at least 51% of the shares in a d.o.o., j.d.o.o. or obrt OR be the founder of a d.o.o. or j.d.o.o. – Learn about these types of business structures here
  • Invest at least 26.544,56 euros in that business as startup capital
  • Hire at least 3 Croatian citizens on indefinite, full-time contracts who are paid at least the average bruto salary for the previous year – Learn what is “bruto” here
  • Pay yourself 1,5 times the average bruto salary for the previous year if owning a j.d.o.o or d.o.o. – Learn about minimum wages here
  • Prove you are earning an income of at least 1,5 times the average bruto salary for the previous year if owning an obrt

I do not recommend anyone go this route purely to obtain residence. It is extremely costly and obligates you to quite a bit of bureaucracy.

If you truly want to open and operate a business, then this is the path you would have to take if you don’t inherently have the right to work.

For most business models, these requirements are not realistic unless you have a restaurant or some other structure that requires at least 4 people from the moment you open.

If you submit to all of these requirements, you can get a work and residence permit with a legal right to work for your business for one year. Then you must get a new permit year after year, during which you must continue to meet the above requirements.

The time you spend on this permit does count towards permanent residence, and your family can join you through family reunification.

What is family reunification?

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. Learn more about applying for residence on this basis here.

Learn more about the exact requirements and process for obtaining residence by opening a business here.

Is Croatia planning to offer a “golden visa”?

Nothing is ever certain in Croatia, but I feel pretty confident in saying that Croatia will never offer a golden visa or residence-by-investment scheme in the future.

I know you should never say never, but I’m saying never.

My confidence stems from their existing immigration policies. A great example of this is the above-mentioned work and residence permit through a company you own. The requirement of employing three full-time Croatians is intentionally meant to discourage you from taking this path. The government does not want people opening a business specifically to get residence.

Another example is the digital nomad residence permit – colloquially and incorrectly referred to as the “digital nomad visa”. If you wish to apply for this permit a second time, you must wait 6 months in between applications – just like the other purposes permit I mentioned above.

If a non-EU/EEA citizen wants to live in Croatia, they can do that easily for a year, maybe two. After that, there are mechanisms in place to make it as difficult as possible for you to sustain a long-term presence in this country.

[Read: All the residence permits available in Croatia]

Reaching permanent residence without being a family member of a Croatian or EU/EEA citizen is quite difficult.

There are ways to “hack” the system, which we can guide you on.

If you’re considering Croatia for any long-term stay, it’s vital to know that everyone’s situation is different, as are their resources and tolerance for pain. My recommendation is to look at all the options and find the one that best suits your situation so you can try Croatia out.

Who knows? You might not like it. If you do, then it’s much easier to find more creative ways to stay, and we would be over-the-moon to help you figure out how to do that.

How to get help with living in Croatia

If you’re not sure which residence permit option is best for you or you want some hand-holding through your transition, we’re here to help.

Save yourself the time and uncertainty of trying to navigate the ever-changing rules of living in Croatia by scheduling a private chat with me, Sara Dyson, the creator of Expat in Croatia and writer of this particular post.

I’ve lived in Croatia since 2012 (before the country entered the EU/EEA), opened and operated 2 companies, obtained 5 temporary residence permits as a non-EU/EEA citizen, currently hold permanent residence, have applied for Croatian citizenship, bought a property and written about Croatia and its bureaucracy extensively since 2013.

I am well-versed in what it takes to make Croatia your home, which obstacles to look out for, and how to make it as seamless a transition as possible.

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

To complete the package, I follow up after your session with additional information, links to relevant resources, and contact information for local experts personally vetted by me, like our expat-vetted lawyers, real estate agents, tax advisors, accountants, and translators. All recommendations and resources will be specifically curated based on your individual needs discussed in the session.

You can read all reviews from people I’ve helped here or jump to this section to read just the last 20 reviews. Read about our expat-vetted lawyer network in Croatia here.

Consulting sessions cost 70 euros per half hour (including VAT), prepaid in advance. This cost includes:

  • Preparation time before our session
  • Duration of our session
  • Follow-up email after our session with relevant resources and contacts

Meetings can be arranged over video chat or in person. I’m always happy to meet people in person in Split, but please note the minimum commitment for an in-person session is 1-hour or 140 euros. Additional time may be charged for intensive research.

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or tax advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For tax advice, you must consult with a licensed tax advisor or accountant. We can always introduce you to expat-vetted lawyers and accountants by request.

To schedule a 1-on-1 consulting session, complete the below form. Sessions are usually scheduled at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance due to the high volume of requests we receive.

  • I ask this as rules and requirements differ depending on nationality.
  • When would you like to chat?

    The cost is 70euros per 30 minutes.
  • If you're unsure of the time difference, please check the current time in Croatia here.
  • Newsletter and Consent

    We will only email you once per week. The newsletter includes a wrap up of our latest posts, a Croatian word and phrase of the week, curated actionable Croatian news plus freebies just for our subscribers.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

My happy clients

View our other visa posts

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.

Sharing is Caring:
Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.