Increase in Croatia’s foreigner work permit quota for 2019

If you follow Croatian media, you may have noticed articles with titles like “348,000 Croatians of working age moved abroad to other EU countries” or “Twice as many people have left Croatia than the statistics are claiming”.

Let’s be straight. Between people having less or no babies and young people fleeing to other parts of the EU, Croatia’s population is in decline. These trends are draining the work force in a country that is already burdened with an underdeveloped economy, high taxes and strong social benefits. You need an active work force to pay for all of it and to perpetuate economic growth. You know, in the name of stability.

Briefly and naively, public opinion thought people leaving Croatia in such high numbers could be positive, resulting in increased employment opportunities, salary rises, decreased unemployment rates and decreased long-term unemployment.

SPOILER ALERT. That is not what happened. Croatia is facing chronic shortages of skilled workers; especially in hospitality, construction, retail and health care.

To help with these shortages, Croatia offers work permits to foreign nationals to fill these gaps.

Image by
Andreas Lehner

Allowed Work Permits & Quotas

Croatia offers work permits to foreigners (non-EU aka third-country nationals) in a variety of industries. The number of work permits offered is limited by a quota annually.

In 2018, the quota for foreign work permits was limited to 38.769 permits.

For 2019, this quota has nearly doubled to 65.100 permits in attempt to make up for the disappearing local workforce.

The annual allowance quota for new employment of foreigners in 2019 amounts to 41.810 permits, and broken down by industries as follows:

1. Construction 17.800 permits
2. Shipbuilding 1.410 permits
3. Tourism and hospitality 10.611 permits
4. Culture 25 permits
5. Transportation 2.314 permits
6. Health care 120 permits
7. Social services 460 permits
8. Food industry 120 permits
9. Manufacturing 700 permits
10. Agriculture and forestry 1.990 permits
11. Metal industry 2.200 permits
12. IT sector 180 permits
13. Retail 2.200 permits
14. Postal services 600 permits


In addition to the above industries, the total number of allowed work permits include an annual quota for seasonal work permits. The current quota for these is 6.540 permits. Included in this quota, 5.000 permits are for seasonal workers in tourism/catering and 1.540 permits are for the agriculture and forestry sector.

The remaining 1.750 work permits are reserved for workers relocated within the same company, but across state borders (250 permits) and for workers needed for implementation of strategic investment projects (1.500 permits).

Extensions of existing work permits for foreigners is limited to 15.000 permits annually.

These quotas are only for third-country nationals (non-EU), meaning the number of permits for EU nationals is not limited by these specific quotas.

Image by Ronnie Macdonald

How to apply for a work permit

To apply for a work permit under the above quota program, you first must:

  • Be a third-country national
  • Have an employment contract or proof that you have been hired by a Croatian company in one of the above industries.

If you meet these requirements, pop over to this post to learn how to apply for your work permit.

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Expat in Croatia

Sara is an American expat based in Split. After globetrotting between New York, Amsterdam and California, she moved to Croatia in 2012. Sara's blog Expat in Croatia is a guide for foreigners living and traveling in Croatia.