If you’re planning a big move to Croatia, you might be wondering if it is worth bringing your car and large personal belongings with you. When importing a car into Croatia, you’ll be faced with the process of legalizing the car before it can be driven on Croatian roads.
To prevent shock and awe, we’ve put together a detailed guide on what it takes to import your car and other personal belongings to Croatia including all the taxes and procedures you might encounter.
In this post, we cover:
- What is considered personal belongings
- How to request an exemption from customs fees
- Where to find carina – customs offices
- How to import a car to Croatia
- Other things to consider before moving
- How to get help importing your car
The facts are these…
Osobna imovina (personal property or belongings) is every property that people use for personal needs.
Items that are considered personal belongings include:
- Household appliances
- Electrical appliances
- Hobby tools
- Small agricultural tools and appliances – saws, cutters, lawnmowers
- Cars, trailers, caravans, and boats
- Pets and riding animals
- Reasonable quantities of household supplies (1-month food supplies)
Items that are not considered personal belongings include:
- Alcohol and alcoholic beverages
- Tobacco and tobacco products
- Commercial transport vehicles
- Tools and instruments used in professional activities
People who move to Croatia from non-EU/EEA (third) countries can transfer their personal belongings to the EU/EEA territory and Croatia without any import customs fees.
They must meet 2 requirements:
- They lived in a non-EU/EEA country for at least 12 months before moving to Croatia
- They used their personal belongings in their homes for at least 6 months before moving to Croatia
To be exempt from paying import duties on their personal belongings, third-country nationals must send a request to the customs office nearest to their new Croatian home address. This request is called Zahtjev za oslobođenje od plaćanja carine (Request for exemption from customs).
The request must include:
- Proof of living in a non-EU/EEA country for at least the previous 12 months
- Confirmation from Croatian diplomatic or consular mission
- Confirmation from foreign or Croatian employer
- Confirmation from the employment office
- Other similar confirmation
- Residence permit in Croatia (prebivalište or boravište, which must be valid for at least a year)
- Written statement stating the day you relocated (or will relocate) to Croatia
- List of personal belongings (2 copies)
- Signed declaration stating that the goods are for personal use and used for at least 6 months before the move.
Once your request is approved, you can import your belongings within 12 months from the date of your move to Croatia. You can transfer your things to Croatia all at once or in several chunks.
The 12-month period can be extended for justified reasons. For example, due to the political situation in your country of origin or natural and other disasters. The exemption can be used more than once if you decide to return to your home country for some reason.
It is also possible to import your personal belongings before you move to Croatia. In this case, you must move to Croatia within 6 months from the day of import. Also, you do not need to enclose a written statement about the day of moving to Croatia. Instead, you must enclose a written statement that you intend to move in 6 months.
Once you import your belongings, you are not allowed to sell them, give them to someone else for use, pledge, or rent within a period of 12 months without contacting a competent customs office and paying customs and PDV costs.
In Croatia, customs is called carina. There are 4 regional carina offices which include local customs offices:
- Regional office Zagreb
- Regional office Rijeka
- Regional office Split
- Regional office Osijek
An address book with all carina offices is available here.
When moving to Croatia, there are a variety of factors that are considered by the government when evaluating the car you are trying to import.
The ownership of the vehicle is always calculated according to the date of the first registration, not the purchase date. It is also important to distinguish whether your car is new or old.
In Croatia, a new motor vehicle is considered to be one that was not yet registered in the motor vehicle records at the time of entry, import, or sale, i.e. a vehicle for which the registration document and number plates were not issued before. Marking a vehicle with trial, export, or transferable plates is not considered vehicle registration.
When importing a car to Croatia, you must report the car to carina (customs office) within a period of 15 days. Depending on where the car comes from and your nationality, you are subject to several different taxes and procedures to make the car legal to drive.
Taxes you may pay when importing a car to Croatia
There are 3 possible taxes you may pay when importing a car to Croatia:
- Carina (customs tax)
- PDV (VAT – value-added tax)
- Trošarina (acquisition tax)
Now, we’ll go through each type of tax to explain who must pay which tax.
#1 Carina (customs tax)
Carina is calculated according to the emission of gases and purchase value of the vehicle.
You are exempt from paying carina tax if:
- You move a car from an EU/EEA country
- You are a Croatian citizen returning to Croatia from either EU/EEA or non-EU/EEA country
- Car is in your ownership for at least 6 months and you lived outside of the EU/EEA for at least a year – In this case, you only have to pay PDV costs. As proof of using your car in a non-EU/EEA country, you must provide the car’s registration documents.
In any other case of moving a car from a non-EU/EEA country, you have to pay carina.
#2 PDV (value-added tax)
PDV is the value-added tax in Croatia, which is charged on most purchases. It is also charged on imported cars in certain scenarios.
PDV is calculated on the total price of the car (purchase value). In Croatia, the PDV rate is 25%.
You are exempt from paying PDV if:
- You move a registered car from an EU/EEA country and you want to get Croatian registration plates
- You are a Croatian citizen returning to Croatia from either an EU/EEA or a non-EU/EEA country
If you move a car from a non-EU/EEA country and you are not a Croatian citizen, you have to pay PDV regardless of how long you have owned it.
In case you move a new car that is not yet registered from an EU/EEA country, you must pay PDV on the acquisition of a new means of transport. It is called PDV na stjecanje novih prijevoznih sredstava.
If you import your car through another EU/EEA country, you will pay the VAT in that country. In this case, you do not have to pay it both in Croatia AND the country of EU/EEA entry.
For example, if your car arrives in Germany from the third country by boat, you will pay a PDV (19%) to Germany. You will not be double-taxed which means that don’t have to pay a PDV to Croatia.
[Read: PDV (Value Added Tax) in Croatia]
#3 Posebni porez na stjecanje motornih vozila – trošarina (acquisition tax)
All imported personal cars are subject to a special tax defined by the Zakon o posebnom porezu na motorna vozila (Law on special tax on motor vehicles). This special tax is called trošarina or posebni porez na stjecanje motornih vozila (acquisition tax).
Trošarina must be paid within 15 days of importing a car.
Calculation of trošarina depends on many factors including:
- Age of the vehicle (new or old)
- Type of the vehicle (a car, a motorcycle, etc.)
- Purchase value
- Emission of gases (CO2)
- Type of fuel (gas, diesel, etc.)
For this calculation, you must have the information on the date of the car’s first registration ever, even if you were not its first owner.
The request for paying trošarina must be submitted to the customs office according to your Croatian address. You can download the application form here.
You can estimate trošarina on your vehicle using carina’s calculator.
Homologacija (homologation process)
In addition to paying the appropriate taxes, all imported cars must pass through the process called homologacija or homologation.
What is homologacija?
Homologacija (called "homologation" in English) is a process of determining if the car aligns with local Croatian regulations, according to the vehicle category.
There are no restrictions on the type of vehicle that you can import to Croatia. There is only one restriction related to driving the vehicle in Croatia – a vehicle must pass the homologation procedure. If the car passes, it can be driven in Croatia. There are no limitations in terms of age.
Homologation is regulated by the Državni zavod za mjeriteljstvo (State Bureau of Metrology). They coordinate and supervise the work of legal entities authorized for the procedure. The procedure is performed by Centar za vozila Hrvatske and Hrvatski autoklub (HAK) at their testing stations.
A list of all testing stations in Croatia and their contact information is available here.
All homologation procedure prices are available here.
If the vehicle has been in your ownership for at least 6 months, it is possible to request alternative requirements for homologacija. Ask for this option at the time of the homologation procedure.
Within the alternative procedure, you must pay for the full homologation procedure. However, you are exempt from paying the COC dokument or Potvrda proizvođača (A confirmation from the supplier). This document is obtained from authorized suppliers within the homologation procedure.
A list of authorized suppliers in Croatia is available here.
An alternative homologation procedure can also be performed on vehicles older than approximately 20 years. This means that owners can import these vehicles no matter whether they pass the homologation procedure or not. If they don’t pass it, owners can import them but they cannot drive them.
If you are coming from a third country and the car you want to import was initially bought in another third country, you must go through the homologation two times. The first process is for the purposes of the custom and the second one is for the technical check-up.
Registering the car after import
If you moved to Croatia with the intention of staying longer than 6 months, you must register your car in Croatia. You have to do it at the closest administrative police station to your Croatian address within 6 months of the import.
If you stay in Croatia for less than 6 months, you don’t have to register your car in Croatia. You can use your foreign registration labels during this period.
You can drive your car in Croatia using your foreign driver’s license. However, third-country citizens with a permanent or temporary stay in Croatia can only use their foreign driver’s licenses for up to 1 year from the day of entering Croatia (if their license was issued in a non-EU/EEA country).
You can see the excerpt from the law below:
(1) Stranac kojem je odobren privremeni ili stalni boravak u Republici Hrvatskoj i hrvatski državljanin koji se iz inozemstva vrati u Republiku Hrvatsku, a i osoblje diplomatskih i konzularnih predstavništava i misija stranih država i predstavništava međunarodnih organizacija u Republici Hrvatskoj, stranih trgovinskih, prometnih, kulturnih i drugih predstavništava te stranih dopisništava, mogu upravljati motornim vozilima na osnovi važeće inozemne vozačke dozvole za vrijeme do godinu dana od dana ulaska u Republiku Hrvatsku.
This translates to…
A foreigner granted temporary or permanent residence in the Republic of Croatia and a Croatian citizen returning to the Republic of Croatia from abroad, as well as staff of diplomatic and consular missions and missions of foreign countries and missions of international organizations in the Republic of Croatia, foreign trade, transport, cultural and other missions and foreign bureaus, may operate motor vehicles on the basis of a valid foreign driver’s license for up to one year from the date of entry into the Republic of Croatia.
After this period expires, a foreign driver’s license must be replaced by a Croatian driver’s license. Otherwise, you may pay a penalty of 500 kuna and may be required to take a driving course and test.
You can see the excerpt from the law below:
(4) Novčanom kaznom u iznosu od 500,00 kuna kaznit će se za prekršaj osoba koja ne zamjeni inozemnu vozačku dozvolu u roku iz stavka 1. ovoga članka.
This translates to…
(4) A fine in the amount of HRK 500.00 shall be imposed on a person who fails to replace a foreign driver’s license within the period referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article.
Note: Foreign nationals and non-residents can buy a car in Croatia regardless of whether they have residency in Croatia or not (both third-country and EU/EEA nationals).
When planning an international move to Croatia, there are several things that must be considered first in addition to what it takes to import a car. Learn about 14 critical tips for moving to Croatia that you should do before you leave home here.
Check out our additional resources on moving to Croatia:
- What is the cost of living?
- Do you need a visa?
- Will you be able to get a residence permit?
- How will you make friends?
- What taxes will you have to pay?
- Do you need health insurance?
If you’re moving to Croatia and wish to bring your car, we highly suggest getting help with the process. It is a complex procedure, a lot of documentation is required and you’ll need to coordinate both with a logistics company as well as Croatian customs – with no guarantee anyone will speak English to you. Aside from that, you may find that the costs are not even worth it.
We can help you through the entire process – but first and foremost, we will help you determine if it is financially worth bringing your car to Croatia to save you time, money, and headache. If the costs are not prohibitive, then we will help you gather the necessary documents, coordinate with customs and the logistics company on your behalf and keep you updated throughout the procedure.
To get started, we will start with a free 15-minute call so you can meet our in-house customs expert Lucija Perić. She’ll ask questions to better understand your situation so she can put together a recommendation for your situation.
Request your free session by filling out the form below.
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View our other moving posts
- 14 critical tips for moving to Croatia
- How to bring your pet to Croatia (and care for them once you arrive)
- How to exchange a foreign driver’s license for a Croatian one
- How to find an apartment to rent in Croatia
- How to register a car or motor vehicle and get an annual inspection in Croatia
- Prebivalište and boravište: two addresses that must be registered with the police
- What expats wish they knew about Croatia before arriving
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.