How to import your car and belongings to Croatia

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This post has been verified with the customs office and HAK.
Importing a car to Croatia

UPDATED: 05.08.2023.

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…

How to import your car and belongings to Croatia

What is considered to be personal belongings in Croatia

Osobna imovina (personal property or belongings) is every property 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 an exemption from paying import customs fees at Croatian carina

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 citizens 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).

[Read: How to register or change your address with the Croatian police]

The request must include:

  • Proof of living in a non-EU/EEA country for at least the previous 12 months, such as:
    • Confirmation from the 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 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.

Where to find Croatian carina (customs) offices

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

An address book with all carina offices is available here.

How to import your car to Croatia from abroad

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.

[Read: How to register a car or motor vehicle and get an annual inspection in Croatia]

When importing a car to Croatia, you must report it to a customs office within 15 days. Depending on where the car comes from and your citizenship, 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 the 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 has been in your ownership for at least 6 months, and you have lived outside of the EU/EEA for at least a year – in this case, you only have to pay PDV costs (provide the car’s registration documents as proof of using your car in a non-EU/EEA country)

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 non-registered car 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 a third country by boat, you will pay a PDV (19%) to Germany. You will not be double-taxed, which means that you 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.

Calculating 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 this carina calculator.

Homologacija (homologation process)

In addition to paying the appropriate taxes, all imported cars must pass through the process called homologacija or homologation.

highlight Logo

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.

[Read: Vehicle and driver’s license categories in Croatia]

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 the 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 within 6 months of the import.

[Read: How to register a car or motor vehicle and get an annual inspection in Croatia]

In addition, learn everything you need to know about car insurance in Croatia in this guide.

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 plates 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).

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 60 euros 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 60 eura 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 60 euros 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 citizens 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 citizens).

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:

How to get help importing your car to Croatia

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.

We can walk you through the entire process – whether it’s guiding you on necessary documents, connecting you with our vetted mobility specialist to coordinating with customs and on your behalf, we will be by your side throughout the entire procedure.

What is the cost?

The cost for this consultation is 150 euro VAT included (25% tax mandated by the Croatian government).

What is included?

A 30-minute consulting call with our bureaucracy expert, who will provide advice based on your specific situation and importing needs.

After your consulting session you will also receive:

  • an additional 30 minutes of personal research service to provide further information based on your specific import needs.
  • a follow up email with additional resources based on our conversation.
  • a personal introduction to our vetted mobility specialist at no additional cost.

Ready to book?

To schedule your personalized session, complete the form below.

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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.

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