Croatia is currently in need of a lot of workers. There are lots of industries, like construction and tourism, that simply do not have enough people to fill all the open positions. As a result, Croatian companies are looking abroad to fill these roles. The company hires a foreigner and the government grants a work permit.
This shortage of labor is partly because young Croatians are moving abroad to other EU countries and partly because Croatians don’t want to do these kinds of jobs. If you are a citizen of a non-EU country, you may apply for a work permit in Croatia if you meet the right conditions.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Who qualifies for a work permit in Croatia
- How to get a job in Croatia
- How to apply for a work permit in Croatia
- Work permit quotas and the labor market test
- Work placement
Let’s get started…
A residence permit based on employment is a unique permit, which provides temporary residence and allows one to work for a specific Croatian company in Croatia.
To qualify for a work permit, you must meet these two criteria:
- Are a third-country national (non-EU)
- Have been offered work contract with a Croatian company
Why do you have to be a non-EU national? Because EU nationals are allowed to work automatically as part of their basis for temporary residence. If you are an EU national, check out this post.
There is a common misunderstanding about work permits in Croatia. That misunderstanding is that you can just apply for a work permit and then go get a job. In reality, it is the opposite. You must have a job before you can apply for a work permit.
A work permit is tied to a specific work contract. Because of this, the term of your residence permit will match the term of your work contract, up to 1 year maximum. If your work contract is terminated (either by you or the employer), your work and residence permit will be terminated within 15 days.
So, if you want to be granted a work and residence permit in Croatia, the first thing you need to do is get a job.
Your very first step, BEFORE you can apply for a work permit, is to get a job in Croatia. You cannot apply for a work permit before you have a job.
We have a detailed guide on how to find a job in Croatia. Check it out here.
Once you find a job, you can start your work permit application. The employer must provide you with one of the following as proof you were hired:
- An offer of employment with a Croatian company
- A valid employment contract or other proof of employment
After you have one of the above, then you can move on to your work permit application.
The steps to apply for a work permit are straightforward, but vary a little depending on from where you will apply.
Step #1 Determine where you can apply
If you are already in Croatia, you can apply for a work and residence permit at the closest administrative police station to where you are living.
If you are abroad, then you can apply at the closest Croatian embassy or consulate in your home country.
Step #2 Prepare your application
Prepare your application according to the following requirements. It is best that you have everything ready when you go to apply for a work and residence permit.
You will need to provide one of the following:
- Employment contract, or a written confirmation that you signed such contract or some other appropriate proof of employment
- Proof of registration of a company, or a branch office, representative office, crafts trade, association or a institution in Croatia.
In addition, you’ll also need to provide:
- An application form (provided at the police station or consular office)
- A copy of your passport (If passport is not in English language, then you must have a copy notarized and translated into Croatian)
- Criminal background check
- People applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must now provide a criminal background check from their country of nationality. This is a brand new requirement that goes into effect January 1, 2021.
- OIB identification number (if already in Croatia)
- Proof of educational background and qualifications (except for non-EU nationals referred to in Article 76, paragraph 1, items 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 15 of the Law on Foreigners)
- Proof of the registration of a company, branch office, representative office, sole trade, association or institution in the Republic of Croatia (extracts from the relevant registers should not be dated more than six months) – This applies to people who have opened their own company
- Explanation that justifies employing a non-EU national such as the foreigner’s professional knowledge, qualifications and work experience, as well as the reasons why this position cannot be filled by a Croatian national (except in cases referred to in Article 76, paragraph 1, items 2, 4, 5, 6 and 13 of the Law on Foreigners)
- Registered address (if already in Croatia)
- Passport photo (35mm x 45mm)
- Required fees
Typically, a person applying for temporary residence in Croatia must provide proof of health insurance and proof of how they will support themselves as part of their application. In Croatia, employers are required by law to provide health insurance for their employees. Since this type of temporary residence is based on work, that means that the employer will provide health insurance instead of the worker. In addition, the means to support oneself will be proven by the salary noted in the work contract.
Step #3 Wait
The amount of time for a work and residence permit to be processed can vary depending on a lot of factors. It can range from 3 weeks to several months. If applying abroad, it will take longer since your application has to be sent to Zagreb for approval.
Once approved, MUP (the ministry handling immigration) will issue a decision and notify you accordingly.
Step #4 Get your permit
After the police notify you of your approval, you’ll need to return to the police station or the consular office to pay the fees.
If applying within Croatia
The following fees will be due:
560 kuna for issuing
240 kuna for a biometric residence permit
70 kuna for an administration cost
You’ll also need to provide fingerprints and your signature. You’ll be given a white card that serves as your temporary “temporary” residence permit. In 3 weeks, you can exchange this white card for your real biometric residence permit.
If applying from abroad
If you applied at a consular office, then you’ll only pay 560 kuna. You’ll receive the official decision on your work permit that you can then use to enter Croatia. Within 3 days of arriving in Croatia, you must take this decision to a police station closest to where you will be living to request your physical residence permit.
When requesting your residence permit, you’ll need to pay 240 kuna + 70 kuna for the permit, provide fingerprints and your signature. You’ll be given a white card that serves as your temporary “temporary” residence permit. In 3 weeks, you can exchange this white card for your real biometric residence permit.
If your work and residence permit is nearing expiration, make sure that you return to the police station at least 60 days before expiration to apply for a new work and residence permit. For every new permit, you’ll need a new work contract to match.
Starting January 1, 2021, work quotas are abolished. This means that there is no limit to the number of foreign workers that can be hired within Croatia. This is definitely progress, but there is still one hoop that a company must jump through before they can hire a foreigner. This hoop is called the “labor market test”.
If a Croatian employer wishes to hire a non-EU national, then they must request permission from the unemployment agency called HZZ. HZZ will check their database to see if there is a Croatian currently looking for this particular job. If there isn’t then HZZ will grant the company permission to hire the foreigner.
An employee on a work placement can work in Croatia based on following conditions:
- There is a valid contract between the end user of the service and the worker’s employer
- The employer is a temporary employment agency that can assign the worker to the end user in Croatia
- The foreign company sends their worker to work in an office or a branch set up in Croatia
A third-country national or EEA citizen can be sent by their native (foreign) company to work in Croatia for a temporary or periodic duration.
If the worker holds an A1 certificate (issued by the parent country of the worker), he or she can work in Croatia for up to 90 days without a certificate of employment or a residence and work permit.
If the placement of the worker needs to be extended beyond the 90 days, the administrative police station may:
- Grant temporary residence and issue a residence permit to the third-country national
- Grant a citizen of the EEA a certificate of temporary admission for work