How to get residency by opening a Croatian business: Guide for 2021

This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration.
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As stated in several other posts like this one and this one and this one, I have recommended that you do not open a business in Croatia for the sole purpose of getting a residence permit. It’s a bureaucracy-rampant money pit nightmare and, frankly, is not really worth it.

If you’re reading this post, you don’t qualify for any of these permit schemes or you’re looking for a way to stay in Croatia long term and eventually qualify for permanent residence. Or, perhaps you truly do want to open a legit business in Croatia.

How to get residency in Croatia by opening a company

To get temporary residency in Croatia through your business, you first need to open the company. Here are resources on how to open each type of company:

Please note that you can’t get a residence permit by opening an udruga.

Once you open the company, you can begin the application for a residence permit. There are two situations under which you may apply for residence through a business:

  • You are the owner of the business and need a residence permit as a non-EU national
  • You are the owner of the business and you want to bring in a non-EU foreigner to work for you who needs a work and residence permit – If you wish to hire a foreigner, then hop over to this post

In this post, we explain how the owner of a company can apply for a work and residence permit based on the company.

Let’s get started…

You are a business owner and need a residence permit

If you are a self-employed business owner and require a residence permit in Croatia because you are a non-EU national without the right to work, there are a handful of requirements you must meet to get a permit for yourself.

For the owner of an obrt, d.o.o. or j.d.o.o., to gain residence, you must:

  • Have an ownership share in d.o.o., j.d.o.o. or obrt of at least 51% OR be a founder of the d.o.o. or j.d.o.o.
  • Invest at least 200.000 kn in a j.d.o.o./d.o.o./obrt (treated as “start-up capital”, which can be used for business expenses)
  • Hire at least 3 Croatian nationals under permanent/indefinite period (“na neodređeno”) and full time contract whose “bruto” salary is equal to at least the average “bruto” paid salary in Croatia in the previous year according to the latest official data published by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics
  • If you are an owner of d.o.o. and j.d.o.o., your monthly “bruto” salary must be equal to at least 1,5 of the average monthly “bruto” paid salary in Croatia according to the latest official data published by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics

If you are an owner of obrt, you must prove that the amount earned by income from self-employment is equal to at least 1,5 of the average monthly “neto” paid salary in Croatia according to the latest official data published by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics

If you meet all these requirements, you can apply for a work and residence permit.

How to apply for a work and residence permit as a business owner

STEP #1 Prepare your application

To get a work and residence permit as a self-employed business owner, first you must collect mandatory documentation.

The mandatory documents are:

  • Form “Obrazac 9a” – Download the form here
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of your work contract (not required for obrt)
  • Government-issued background check from your home country *NEW FOR 2021*
  • Proof that you meet company requirements including:
    • Proof of ownership share or proof of registration of the business
    • Proof that you hired at least 3 Croatian nationals with at least the minimum salaries
    • Proof of your income
      • Proof of your “bruto” salary as an owner of d.o.o and j.d.o.o.
      • Proof of income earned from self-employment through obrt
  • Proof of acquired educational qualification
  • Decision on the recognition of foreign educational qualification for third-country nationals who will perform a regulated profession according to the list of regulated professions in Croatia – You must apply for this document at the Ministry of Science and Education

Application form

After you print the application form for requesting a work and residence permit, fill it out, and sign it. Keep in mind that all other documentation must be in accordance with the information in the form. After you fill out the form, scan it.

Background check

From January 2021, all first-time residence applicants must include a government-issued background check with their applications. This document must be issued by your country of nationality or the country where you resided for more than 1 year before coming to Croatia.

This background check must be legalized or apostilled by your home country that issued it. Then it needs to be notarized and translated by a Croatian translator.

More information about background checks for third-country citizens is available here.

STEP #2 Submitting the request

After you collect all mandatory documents, you can submit the request for a work and residence permit. This is done by sending an email to the closest administrative police station to your residence. The police is referred to as MUP.  All MUP email addresses for the purposes of this work permit application can be found here.

It is recommended that you use a business email for this submission. All documents must be saved in PDF format. Documentation cannot be larger than 20 Mb (megabytes).

After you send the request via email, you will receive an automatic confirmation from MUP that your application has been received.

STEP #3 MUP checks your application

Once they receive your request, MUP will check your application. First, they will check if the request is correctly filled out. They will also check if all necessary documentation was provided.

If MUP sees that something is missing, they will contact you within 5 days. They will ask you to deliver the missing document or correct the information on the application as needed.

STEP #4 MUP processes your application

Once MUP processes your application, they will inform you on their decision. They will contact you via email or phone call. If the result is positive, they will tell you the next steps for ordering your work and residence permit card.

STEP #5 Requesting your permit card

Once your permit is approved, you’ll need to visit the police station to order your residence card. This involves providing a passport photo, signature, fingerprints and payment of the administrative fees.

You’ll need to pay the following fees:

  • Cost of issue – 560 kuna
  • Cost of making the permit – 240 kuna
  • Administrative fee – 70 kuna

Administrative costs can be paid via:

  1. Payment slips (uplatnica)

You can get free payment slips at MUP. There are two separate slips: one is for the cost of issuing the card and the other is for the cost of producing the permit. The administration fee can be paid via payment slip or tax stamps.

  1. Internet banking

Here are instructions for paying costs via internet banking:

  • Cost of issue – 560 kuna

Državni proračun RH
IBAN HR1210010051863000160
model HR64
poziv na broj: 5002-713-your OIB or the number of passport/ID card if you don’t have OIB
Note: insert up to 10 numbers, if the number starts with zeros, don’t insert them. Exclude all letter marks, slashes, periods, and commas.

  • Cost of making the permit – 240 kuna

Državni proračun RH
IBAN HR1210010051863000160
model HR65
poziv na broj: 7005-485-your OIB or RKP number of subject if you don’t have OIB

  • Administrative fee – 70 kuna

Državni proračun RH
IBAN HR1210010051863000160
model HR64
poziv na broj: 5002-713-your OIB or the number of passport/ID card if you don’t have OIB
Note: insert up to 10 numbers, if the number starts with zeros, don’t insert them. Exclude all letter marks, slashes, periods, and commas.

Step #6 Pick up your card

After 3 weeks, you can pick up your new residence card at the same police station.

Other Important Considerations

  • If applying for a permit as the owner of a company, you cannot get approved for residency until all of the above criterion are met and proven to the MUP (Policija).
  • To fill the requirement of hiring 3 Croatian nationals full time, you may also hire part time nationals as long as they add up to 3 full time employees.
  • Make sure you visit the police station 2 months before the expiration of your residence permit to start the application for your next permit.

Sources:
https://mup.gov.hr/gradjani-281562/moji-dokumenti-281563/stranci-333/drzavljani-trecih-zemalja/281820
https://www.zakon.hr/z/142/Zakon-o-strancima

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.

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42 thoughts on “How to get residency by opening a Croatian business: Guide for 2021

  1. Hamid Pishkar
    July 1, 2018 @ 11:57 am

    Hi Sara,

    Thanks for this informativ article.

    What would the minimu salary be for the 3 fulltime employees in order to get aproved for this program?

    Br,

    Hamid

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      July 7, 2018 @ 11:29 am

      Hi Hamid,

      Thank you for the question!

      It would likely be a minimum of 2000 kuna net per month, but the final amount would need to be confirmed by the police. Usually the lowest salary is changed year to year based on cost of living changes. Also note that this amount is net. With gross, it will be near double with taxes, pension and health insurance contributions.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • himanshu
        June 10, 2019 @ 7:29 am

        hi sara himanshu here
        i want to know how much investment i need for PR and can I open supermarket or any store there as per rules ?
        i want to open store pls suggest me how to I ? I am ready to invest pls guide me

        {reply}

        • Expat in Croatia
          June 13, 2019 @ 8:44 am

          Hi Himanshu,

          I’m not familiar with the costs to open a supermarket. I do know that there are permits needed for everything, so I can only assume that there will be special rules for opening a supermarket.

          There is information regarding opening and operating a business here.

          Regards,

          Sara

          {reply}

  2. Lithuanian
    July 30, 2018 @ 2:20 am

    Dear, Sara,

    can you help me, please, to understand, if the rules for opening a company and for getting the residence for EU members and for non EU members are the same, or not?

    I am from EU and info in this article bit shocked me (that I need to “invest at least 200,000 kn in the business”). Hope it is just for non EU citizens…

    Thank you for your will to help people! You are doing great work! 🙂

    L.P.,
    Lithuanian 🙂

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      August 4, 2018 @ 11:54 am

      Hi Lithuanian,

      Thanks for following!

      Those costs for for third-party non-EU nationals. It is less expensive for EU member.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  3. HARIHARAN
    August 18, 2018 @ 8:32 am

    Hi,

    I am from India and would like to know about starting business in Croatia. And also advice in choosing business line. I think about export business from India.

    {reply}

  4. anura dissanayake
    August 29, 2018 @ 2:54 pm

    dear sir iam ragitnig from srilanka i laike to open new busness croatiya can mi send all ditail pls

    {reply}

  5. E. B. Kilincaslan
    October 29, 2018 @ 2:38 pm

    Hi Sara,

    Thank you for your kind time and answering all the questions.
    I am an Architect who lives outside of EU and planing on opening a branch office in Croatia.

    I have an Architecture and Construction company outside of EU and would like to open a branch office at the min cost as possible. I was wondering if the requirements are the same for a branch office circumstances. From their website I recently saw it costs 20,000 K to start the office and the details are depends on the company action. I am little confused now about the difference between opening a branch office or settle in a new company.

    Could you possible help me to understand the differences ?

    Best Regards,

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      October 30, 2018 @ 2:53 pm

      Hi EB,

      I do not know the differences between opening a regular company and a branch office. I recommend consulting a lawyer. If you email me, I can recommend one.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  6. Danielle
    November 29, 2018 @ 5:02 am

    Hi Sara,

    I’m a Canadian that is looking to move to Croatia within the next two years. My father is Croatian and I’m going to get my Croatian citizenship. With getting my citizenship would that change the rules in regards to opening a business? I think I’ve read that the initial investment would be lower, but would I still have to hire 3 Croatians full time or does that rule change because I’m a Croatian? Thanks so much. Hvala

    Also, since you’ve been there since 2012, can you tell me if you spoke ANY Croatian before living there or if you slowly learnt while there and integrating? Are you fluent now or how long has it taken you to get fluent?

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      December 11, 2018 @ 12:38 pm

      Hi Danielle,

      Once you are a citizen, you will no longer be required to hire 3 Croatians. Your initial start up capital will also be substantially less (only 10 kn if setting up a j.d.o.o.).

      I did not speak any Croatia prior to coming to Croatia, and even then did not speak much the first year at all. I slowly learned on my own for the first 4 years. For the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve been seeing a tutor every week, which has exponentially increased my fluency level. I’m not at all fluent, but I am conversational. This is a challenging language and from my perspective, it takes practicing every day to improve.

      Good luck!

      Cheers,

      Sara

      {reply}

  7. Catherine Islankina
    September 14, 2019 @ 10:17 pm

    Dear Sara,
    Thank you for the informative messages.
    Is there any chance to get a residency permit in Croatia for a freelancer? I am a teacher, work via Skype, would not like to establish a compnany (too much expenses), nor get hired. Besides, I can prove regular income from my homecountry (work part-time as a teacher).

    Thank you in advance!
    Regards,
    Catherine

    {reply}

  8. Harshil Parvadia
    December 6, 2019 @ 9:53 am

    Hi I’m from India. Planning to start up a business in Croatia in tourism sector or any other opportunity. Thinking to invest in Croatia. So need some guidelines. Thanks in advance.

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      December 10, 2019 @ 3:24 pm

      Hi Harshil,

      Can you be more specific with what you are looking for?

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  9. Jack
    January 17, 2020 @ 5:45 pm

    Hi Sara,

    My wife and I with 2 our school children planing to move from USA to Croatia. Can you provide us some contact details to get info on school requirements for no citizens, health insurance, and how to obtain permanent stay visa…?

    Thanks,

    Jack

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      January 20, 2020 @ 1:42 pm

      Hi Jack,

      We are working on a post right now about how to enroll foreign children in school. If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll be updated once we publish that post. Regarding how to stay here legally, I recommend reading this post.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  10. Dax Nayyar
    February 7, 2020 @ 9:07 am

    Hi, Thanks for sharing nice information!!

    I am from India, I have a Sole Proprietor Travel Company here and currently planning to open a business in the EU area and with some research, I have empathized my efforts to Croatia as it seems to be the main industry in the country. Now being non-EU person is it easy to get residency to operate a business or its bit tricky? Thanks

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      February 7, 2020 @ 2:04 pm

      Hi Dax,

      This post answers your question.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Kerin Duaran
        July 21, 2020 @ 7:41 am

        Hi I want to open a flight ticket and reservations company how do I link to a lawyer

        {reply}

  11. Dominic
    July 27, 2020 @ 11:08 am

    Hello,

    Just a quick question:

    Can immigration deem legal more than one purpose of stay. For example, running a small company with mandatory employees and corporate structure alongside getting hired by another company yourself under an highly skilled migrant scheme ? Just curious.

    Thank you for your hard work.

    Dominic

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      July 27, 2020 @ 11:16 am

      Hi Dominic,

      You can only have one purpose of stay in terms of residency. You are allowed to own your own company and work for another company, but there are some complexities to that situation in terms of salary, etc.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Dominic
        July 29, 2020 @ 4:57 pm

        Thank you Sara – What about not needing residency ?

        Can I operate a business in Croatia while living in another EU country ? Do I get more flexibility when visiting to oversee operations (i.e. not needing to wait 3 months to re-enter).

        {reply}

        • Expat in Croatia
          July 31, 2020 @ 12:15 pm

          Hi Dominic,

          This can be a bit complicated. If you are an EU citizen, then yes you could do that. However, you would still be required to pay yourself a salary with healthcare, pension and tax contributions. The only way to avoid this is to prove that you have a salary and are paying contributions in the EU country where you reside.

          If you’re not an EU citizen (regardless of whether you live in the EU or not), you would be required to pay a higher salary than the usual minimum wage for directors.

          The only way to be here more than 90 days in a 6-month period is to apply and get temporary residence. Owning a company is irrelevant to that requirement. If you get temporary residence, you cannot be gone from Croatia for more than 6-months per year (as an EU citizen) without having your residency cancelled.

          Regards,

          Sara

          {reply}

  12. Guy
    August 15, 2020 @ 7:56 pm

    Does part ownership of a Croatian company facilitate Croatian residency of a U.S citizen?

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      August 17, 2020 @ 3:50 pm

      Hi Guy,

      Only if 200.000kuna has been invested and the company employs 3 full-time Croatians. If you are employed and don’t own the business, then these requirements are not needed. In the latter case, the company would need to get approval from HZZ that another person isn’t looking for this job.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  13. Danka
    September 15, 2020 @ 2:04 am

    Sara,
    Can you recommend lawyer/office/attorney that can help with Croatian citizenship? I have US passport and like to retire in Croatia. My mother was Croatian.
    Thank you!

    {reply}

  14. Sally
    March 3, 2021 @ 12:04 am

    Hi Sara,

    My husband and I (UK nationals) are both directors of our Croatian d.o.o. Unfortunately our permanent residency has lapsed so we are back to the beginning.

    If we were both employed by our company (either as 2 directors or director and employee) how many Croatians would we need to employ – 3 or 6?!

    We are planning to run a business, it wouldn’t be financially viable with 6 employees though.

    Thanks,
    Sally

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      March 11, 2021 @ 1:46 pm

      Hi Sally,

      If you both need work permits through the company, then it is 3 Croatians each and 200.000 kuna investment for each of you. However, one of you should be able to be the director and then the other can get residence based on family reunification.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  15. Erion
    March 11, 2021 @ 4:03 pm

    can you please clarify me something? If a friend of mine would deposit 200.000 kn for establishing a D.o.o. company, how long should he keep them into bank account. Because notary is saying he can withdraw after the Court Decision. Can you please give me your opinion on this issue?

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      March 14, 2021 @ 3:43 pm

      Hi Erion,

      The 200.000 kuna is start up capital. It can only be used for business expenses. It cannot be withdrawn and paid back to the owner.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  16. Karam singh
    August 17, 2021 @ 10:55 pm

    Hey,
    I’m from India now am in Croatia on tourist visa with my wife and 11 years old. Can you halo me to change my visa status

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      September 1, 2021 @ 9:14 am

      Hi Karam,

      We cannot assist with this. You must contact MVEP or the embassy in India.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  17. kunal walia
    August 20, 2021 @ 9:33 pm

    Hi Sara,
    Very informative blog. Great effort and Thanks a lot to inform people around the world. I have a query for you.
    I am a Non EU resident. If i open a DOO and a bank account in croatia and invest 200.000 kuna and just keep it in the bank account till i find a suitable opportunity to invest after staying there for sometime would that be fine.
    If the answer of first question is no i cannot and it has to be invested in some business . Can i invest in any financial instruments of croatia for example government bonds,equities something that’s in my control to withdraw and give up my TR just in case i change my mind about doing business.
    One of my friend is in croatia and owns farming land for walnuts and he’s been asking me to invest but i have a feeling it is not lucrative business investment and looks more like a bargain just to get residency.

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      September 1, 2021 @ 9:10 am

      Hi Kunal,

      You need to deposit the funds into the business bank account. When and how you use them is your own decision. Please note, you would also have to hire 3 full time Croatians per the above post.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  18. Mithat Alacahanlı
    September 13, 2021 @ 11:11 pm

    As a third country national business owner, I will apply for my 4th extension soon. I have 3 Croatian citizens working with minimum salaries as mentioned in their permanent contracts. I heard this year the law changed and 3 Croatians must have the average salary, not minimum salary. Is this true? And does it also cover renewals of work permits which was granted based on the previous law (with 3 minimum salaries) or is it just for new applicants?

    Thank you.

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      September 17, 2021 @ 11:32 am

      Hi Mithat,

      It is true, you must hire at least 3 Croatian nationals under a permanent/indefinite period and full-time and their “bruto” salary must be equal to at least the average “bruto” paid salary in Croatia.

      For the second question, my advice is to contact the HZZ and they will provide you with the latest answer. You can find more about the work permit process in our article: https://www.expatincroatia.com/how-apply-work-permit/

      Warm regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

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