How to get residency by opening a Croatian business: Guide for 2024

tick icon
This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration.
Pet store in Zagreb, Croatia
Pet store in Zagreb, Croatia

UPDATED: 3.2.2023.

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…

How to get residency by opening a Croatian business

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 EUR 26.544,56 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 2a
  • Passport photo 30×35 mm
  • Copy of valid passport
  • Copy of work contract (not required for obrt)
  • Government-issued background check and a certificate of the length of stay – Certificate of length of stay is required for people who lived the last 12 months in a country other than the country of their nationality.
  • Proof of financial means
  • Proof of health insurance
  • 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 (with applications for pension and compulsory health insurance)
    • List of members of the company certified or notary certificate on members of the company, certified by the Commercial Court
    • Accounts and other evidence from which the investment through tangible and intangible assets in the minimum amount of EUR 26.544,56 is visible
    • 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 qualifications 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 officially translated by a Croatian translator.

In addition to the background check, it is mandatory to provide a certificate of the length of stay from the same country.

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.

All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here.

Administrative costs can be paid via payment slips (uplatnica) or internet banking. 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.

View more information on payment here.

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.

Državljani trećih zemalja
Zakon o strancima

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:

We only send one email a week on Tuesdays. And no spam, we don't like that either!

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