How to get something notarized in Croatia

Javni bilježnik in Croatia
Javni bilježnik (notary) in Croatia

If you live in Croatia, you’ve probably already visited a notary public at least once, likely to have your rental contract notarized. But do you wonder what else these experts do?

The notary public is a person who compiles and verifies private and public documents, attends management board meetings, and composes contracts. Their job is to authenticate and legalize documents in Croatia.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

Who is a notary public in Croatia?

A javni bilježnik (notary public) is an expert who:

  • Officially compiles and issues public documents on legal affairs, statements, and facts on which rights are based
  • Officially certifies private documents
  • Receives and safe-keeps documents, money, and valuables for their delivery to other people or competent authorities
  • Performs procedures prescribed by law, court orders, or other public bodies

To perform their job, a notary public must:

  • Complete pravni fakultet (Faculty of Law)
  • Pass the pravosudni ispit (bar exam)
  • Pass the javnobilježnički ispit (notary exam)
  • Have the necessary experience
  • Be a person of public trust
  • Be an independent and autonomous public service provider
  • Be an impartial trustee of the parties

A notary public is not a lawyer and does not represent clients or parties. They are expert commissioners of all parties whose job is to arrange their relationship to avoid long and costly disputes and guarantee legal certainty.

Notaries must inform their parties of the facts and rights. They must not refuse to take official action without a valid reason. The information they heard during the performance of their service must remain a secret.

The structure, operation, and mode of operation of a notary public in Croatia are defined by the Zakon o javnom bilježništvu (Notary Public Act ), which is available here. A notary public must be a Croatian citizen or a citizen of another EU Member State.

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

Notaries work in notary public services/administration offices. In addition to a notary public, there are other roles within their office:

  • Javnobilježnički prisjednik (notary assessor)
  • Javnobilježnički savjetnik (notary advisor)
  • Javnobilježnički vježbenik (notary trainee)

Notary assessor

Notary assessors are law graduates who passed the bar and notary exams capable of performing all tasks for which a notary public is legally authorized.

Notary advisor

Notary advisors are law graduates who passed the bar exam and continue to work in a notary public administration office after notary training. They can perform certain tasks instead of the notary public, including:

  • Preparation of draft documents
  • Compiling inventory
  • Voluntary auctions of movable property with the effect of a court auction
  • Communication of statements
  • Delivery and certification of documents entered in the register of certifications

Notary trainee

Notary trainees are law graduates who can perform all tasks of notary public advisors, excluding certification of documents entered in the register of certifications.

Types of notarial documents in Croatia

There are 3 main types of notarial documents that can be issued by a notary public service in Croatia.

Notarial documents are:

  • Javnobilježnički akt (notarial deed) – documents on legal affairs and statements drawn up by notaries
  • Javnobilježnički zapisnik (notarial minute) – minutes of legal actions performed or attended by notaries
  • Javnobilježnička potvrda (notarial certificate) – certificates of facts witnessed by notaries

Notarial documents are called dokumenti sa snagom (documents with force). This means that they have a force equal to the force of the state or some of the state’s bodies. Information written down in these documents is legally considered true.

[Read: Branches of Croatian government]

Why you may need a notary public in Croatia

There are numerous situations that will require visiting a notary public in Croatia. Here are some cases that require a notary public:

  • Legal verification of signatures by a notary public, such as on a rental or property purchase contract
  • Verification of an identification document, such as a driver’s license, passport, or national ID card
  • Solemnization of mortgage contracts, last wills, and testament or lifelong support contracts
  • Compiling a notarial deed of legal affairs and statements in which you participate
  • Compiling minutes for legal action that must be attended by a notary public
  • Compiling a certificate of facts that must be certified by a notary public
  • Making a contract on the disposal of the property of minors
  • Making a contract on the disposal of the property of people deprived of legal capacity
  • Making a gift contract without handing over the gifts in the immediate possession of the donor
  • Legal affairs undertaken personally by those who cannot read, write, or hear
  • Conducting probate proceedings
  • Making an enforcement decision based on authentic documents

When visiting a notary public in Croatia, bring an ID card or passport with you. They will use them to confirm your identity when performing official actions.

Verification of signatures

Legal verification of signatures on private documents is an often requested service by a notary public. By verification of a signature, a notary public confirms that a party personally signed or put handwriting on a document in their presence. They may also confirm that a party acknowledged a signature or handwriting on a document as their own.

With this service, a notary public does not examine the document’s substantive validity or whether the participants are authorized to perform the legal transaction. For example, if you are signing a contract for the sale of real estate, they won’t check whether it includes all the required elements for registration to the land register. They will only confirm that you signed a contract in their presence.

[Read: How to buy residential real estate in Croatia]

Solemnization of documents

Solemnization, called solemnizacija in Croatian, is a procedure of certifying private documents or contracts by a notary public. It is used in legal transactions that don’t require a form of a notarial deed.

Participants in these transactions can ask for certification of documents by a notary public. A notary public checks whether the document or a contract fits the prescribed form. They also explain the meaning, consequences, and legal effects of the transaction to its participants.

If a notary public legally verifies the signature on a contract, they only confirm that participants have personally signed the document or a contract. They don’t explain the content of the contract to participants. In solemnization, they must check and explain the document’s content or contract to all participants.

Within solemnization, a notary public must also examine whether parties are capable and authorized to conclude the contract and whether they have a true and serious will. A notary public will make written statements of parties, read them to all parties, and ask them questions to ensure that the written content corresponds to the parties’ will.

Once documents are certified, they have the force of a notarial deed, and they become enforceable documents.

Solemnization is used for housing loans and lifelong support contracts. For almost all other types of loans, verification of the contract signatures will be sufficient.

[Read: How to get a mortgage loan in Croatia]

How to become a notary public in Croatia

The process of becoming a notary public in Croatia is not easy. You have to climb many stairs before you can work legally. This position brings a lot of responsibility, so you have to be an expert.

The steps are:

  • Finish the integrated undergraduate and graduate study of law
  • Pass the bar and notary exam
  • Gain 5 years of work experience
  • Work as a notary public

A notary public is employed within the service called javnobilježnička služba (notary public service). They work in an office according to the predetermined working hours or an agreement with a party.

Notaries are named by a Minister according to the decision of the judiciary based on the competition. If more than one candidate competes for a position, results of the bar and notary exam, their previous experience in legal work, and results they already achieved in their work are considered.

[Read: All the Croatian government ministries and what they do]

When do you need a court interpreter in Croatia?

Sudski tumač (court interpreter) is a certified translator who provides internationally valid translation services and sometimes works with notaries public. By signing and stamping translated documents, they confirm that the translation is correct and accept legal responsibility for possible errors.

You need a court interpreter to translate your apostilled/legalized documents into Croatian. You can learn about the difference between apostille and legalization here.

For example, when applying for Croatian citizenship abroad at the Croatian embassy or consulate, you must provide a notarized copy of your passport, which confirms it is yours and validates your signature. After the translation, your passport will be notarized as well. If applying for citizenship or residence for the first time, you must provide a legalized background check, which also must have an official translation.

[Read: Available visas and residence permits for Croatia]

Some documents you might need to translate for use in Croatia are:

  • Diploma
  • Criminal record certificates
  • Certificate of residence
  • Employment certificate
  • Other certificates
  • Driver’s license
  • Medical documentation
  • Medical history
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof of citizenship

[Read: How to prepare your foreign documents for use in Croatia]

There is an additional reason you may need a court interpreter. For specific types of services, all non-Croatian citizens are required to have a court interpreter at a notary public with them who can translate the documents in real time.

This is required for all solemnization procedures and also when dealing with company incorporation. This ensures that you understand everything in the contracts and formation documents. It is important to remember this, as it is an additional cost on top of the notary fees.

Court interpreters can act independently in their own companies or work in translation or other related fields. To become a court interpreter in Croatia, you must:

  • Have Croatian citizenship – view a citizenship guide here
  • Complete university graduate studies
  • Have knowledge of Croatian and a foreign language (an internationally recognized language proficiency certificate at the C2 level as per the European Reference Framework or a university degree in philology)
  • Complete professional training at the Strukovna udruga stalnih sudskih tumača (Association of Permanent Court Interpreters)
  • Pass exam on knowledge of the structure of judicial authority, state administration, and legal terminology

[Read: How the Croatian legislation system and courts work]

Court interpreters are named by the courts of the Republic of Croatia. People also call them:

  • Licencirani prevoditelji (licensed translators)
  • Ovlašteni prevoditelji (certified translators)
  • Sudski prevoditelji (court translators)

Croatia has the most court interpreters for the English language, but you can also find ones working with other languages, such as German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Serbian, and many more. A list of all court interpreters in Croatia is available here.

Rules on becoming a court interpreter in Croatia are defined by the Pravilnik o stalnim sudskim tumačima (Rulebook on permanent court interpreters), which is available here.

How to find a notary public in Croatia

A list of all notary public administration offices in Croatia can be found here.

You can search them by:

  • Notary public’s name and surname
  • City
  • Working hours
  • Day of the week

You can also do a web search for “javni bilježnik” to find the closest one to you. There are many of them everywhere. For some services, you may need to schedule an appointment in advance.

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Sources:
hjk.hr
Javni bilježnik – koje poslove obavlja? by Odvjetnik Strniščak
Javni bilježnik/Javna bilježnica by e-usmjeravanje.hzz.hr
Ovjereni prijevodi sudskog tumača by Global Link d.o.o.
Solemnizacija ugovora by Odvjetnik Strniščak

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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