How to import your car and belongings to Croatia

This post has been verified with the customs office and HAK.

Importing a car to Croatia

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:

The facts are these…

What is considered to be personal belongings

Osobna imovina (personal property/belongings) is every property that people use for personal needs.

Items that are considered personal belongings include:

  • Furniture
  • 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
  • Machines
  • Tools and instruments used in professional activities

How to request exemption from paying import customs fees

Persons who move to Croatia from non-EU/EEA 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

People who want to be exempt from paying import duties on their personal belongings after moving to Croatia must send a request to the customs office nearest to their new Croatian home address. [Read: How to register or change your address with the Croatian police]

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 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 you are bringing over from your country of origin are for personal use and that they were used for a period of at least 6 months before the move.

Once you receive an approved exemption from paying customs, 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, natural and other disasters, etc. This 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.

Where to find carina (customs) offices

In Croatia, customs is called “carina”. There are 4 regional carina offices which include local customs offices.

  1. Regional office Zagreb
  2. Regional office Rijeka
  3. Regional office Split
  4. Regional office Osijek

An address book with all carina offices is available here.

How to import your car to Croatia

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.

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 must pay when importing a car to Croatia

There are 3 possible taxes you may have to pay when importing a car to Croatia:

Now, we’ll go through each type of tax to explain who must pay which tax.

#1 Carina (customs tax)

You are exempt from paying carina tax in the following situations:

  • When you move a car from an EU/EEA country
  • When Croatian citizens return to Croatia from either EU/EEA or non-EU/EEA countries
  • If a car is in your ownership for at least 6 months and you lived outside of the EU/EEA for a year or more. In this case, you will only have to pay PDV costs. Car registration documents need to be provided as proof of using your car in a non-EU/EEA country.

In any other case when you move a car from a non-EU/EEA country, you will have to pay carina. Carina is calculated according to the emission of gases and purchase value of the vehicle.

#2 PDV (value-added tax)

PDV is the value-added tax in Croatia, which is charged on most purchases. PDV is also charged on imported cars in certain scenarios.

You are exempt from paying PDV in the following situations:

  • When you move a car from an EU/EEA country
  • When Croatian citizens return to Croatia from either an EU/EEA or a non-EU/EEA country.

When you move a car from a non-EU/EEA country and are not a Croatian citizen, regardless of how long you have owned it, you will have to pay PDV.

PDV is calculated on the total price of the car (purchase value). In Croatia, the PDV rate is 25%.

If you import your car via another country within the EU/EEA, you will pay the VAT in that country. You don’t have to pay it in Croatia AND the country of EU/EEA entry.

For example, if your car arrives by boat in Germany, you will pay their PDV (which is 19%) and you don’t have to pay Croatian PDV.

[Read: PDV (Value Added Tax) in Croatia]

#3 Trošarina, known as posebni porez na stjecanje motornih vozila (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 called “trošarina” must be paid within 15 days of importing a car. The request for paying this tax is submitted to the customs office according to your address.

Calculation of the acquisition tax 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.)

You can download the form here.

You can estimate the acquisition tax 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 homologacija, then it can be driven in Croatia. There are no limitations in terms of age.

If the vehicle has been in your ownership for at least 6 months, it is possible to request alternative requirements for homologacija. You will need to ask for this option at the time of the homologation procedure.

As part of the alternative homologation procedure, owners must still pay for the full homologation procedure. However, they won’t be required to pay the additional 400 kuna for a specific document needed to pass the procedure. This document is called “COC dokument” or “Potvrda proizvođača” (A confirmation from the supplier). It can be obtained from authorized suppliers. View a list of authorized suppliers in Croatia here.

Alternative homologation procedures can also be conducted for vehicles that are older than approximately 20 years. It means that owners can import them no matter if they pass the homologation procedure or not. If they don’t pass it, owners can import them but they can’t drive them.

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 homologation procedure is performed by Centar za vozila Hrvatske and Hrvatski autoklub (HAK) at their testing stations. The cost of the procedure is 625 kuna.

A list of all testing stations in Croatia and their contact information is available here.

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. In this case, you must register your car at the closest administrative police station to your address within 6 months of importing the car. [Read: How to register a car or motor vehicle and get an annual inspection in Croatia]

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 register your car in Croatia with a 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, they must exchange their foreign driver’s license for a Croatian driver’s license. Otherwise, they will pay a penalty of 500 kuna and may be required to take a driving course and test. [Read: How to exchange a foreign driver’s license for a Croatian one]

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).

What else should I consider before moving to Croatia

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:

View our other moving posts

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.

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