How New Zealand citizens can visit and live in Croatia: Guide for 2024

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This post has been verified by the ministry that handles residence as well as immigration lawyers.
widow losinj
Statue “Addio” on island Lošinj, which pays tribute to the wives of the local seafarers

UPDATED: 4.9.2023.

There are a number of ways New Zealanders can settle in Croatia. There are definitely challenges, and it’s not smooth sailing, but options do exist.

We’ve created a guide specifically for citizens of New Zealand that includes every option available for Kiwis to move to Croatia long-term. If you’re just passing through, we cover tourist visas too.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How New Zealand citizens can visit and live in Croatia

Tourist visas for New Zealand citizens to visit Croatia

New Zealanders have visa-free or a visa on arrival access to 174 countries around the world. Croatia is one of the countries where Kiwis can travel without a visa.

Even though a visa is not needed, there are requirements for New Zealand citizens to enter Croatia. You can find the latest advice here.

You can always see the latest tourist visa status for here, but it’s unlikely to ever change.

How to move to Croatia as a New Zealand citizen

New Zealand citizens with Croatian heritage or the ones that are married to Croatian citizens can easily come to live in Croatia. Everyone else can also come, but their process will be more challenging. In this guide, we cover all possible options and requirements for New Zealanders to stay in Croatia long-term.

Before we start, let’s cover some vocabulary.

Croatia divvies up citizens into 3 groups: Croatian citizens, EU/EEA citizens, and everybody else (third-country or non-EU/EEA citizens). New Zealanders belong to the third-country citizen group. So, the residence permit scenarios we cover below apply to all third-country citizens, not just New Zealanders.

The limited options for residency are consistent with other EU/EEA countries. In some ways, Croatia even gives more leeway than France or Netherlands.

Now, let’s go through all options for temporary residency.

Digital nomad permit

If you work remotely for a company not registered in Croatia, you can be granted temporary residence in Croatia based on that work.

All the requirements and processes for applying for a digital nomad permit are explained in this post.

View frequently asked questions about Croatia’s digital nomad permit here.

Permanent residents of EU/EEA/Switzerland

Kiwis with long-term or permanent residence in another EU/EEA member state can apply for temporary residence in Croatia.

A guide on how to apply for a permit based on your permanent residence in another EU/EEA country is available here.

Student permit

New Zealand citizens have the possibility to study at one of Croatia’s many universities and get residence.

As part of your residence application, you must enclose proof of acceptance into a qualified Croatian institution of education.

View our guide on how to study and gain student residence in Croatia here.

Work permit

New Zealand citizens can find a job in Croatia and qualify for a work and stay permit.

If you want to find a job in Croatia, our detailed guide available here will help point you in the right direction. After you find a job, your employer can apply for a work and stay permit for you.

[Read: How to apply for a work permit]

Seasonal work permit

There is another type of Croatian work permit that allows you to get a seasonal job. It is most popular during the summer season when Croatia has a lack of workers in tourism, catering, and building industry.

[Read: How to get a seasonal work permit in Croatia]

EU Blue card

If you have received higher education or qualifications such as ISCED 1997 levels 5a or higher, or an associate’s degree or higher, you may qualify for an EU Blue Card.

Once you have been hired or given a binding work offer for a highly qualified position within Croatia, the company that intends to hire you may apply for a temporary residence that will allow you to work based on a Blue Card.

Our detailed guide on how to apply for an EU Blue Card in Croatia is available here.

Work permit by starting your own company

If you’d rather start your own company, you can issue yourself a work contract as the company owner and therefore qualify for a work permit.

This option involves entangling yourself in an endless tax bureaucracy capable of strangling the life right out of you, so it is not recommended if you don’t intend to use the company for business. This option should only be used by those who really want to open and run a company in Croatia.

If you plan to go this route, make sure you educate yourself thoroughly, so you know what you are getting yourself into. We have written a heap of posts about opening and running businesses in Croatia, which you can view here.

Read more about the option of getting a work permit by opening your own company in this guide.

Prepayment of rent

It is possible to get a one-year residence permit based on prepaying rent. This option is good for retired people and frequent travelers who want to move to Croatia for a limited amount of time.

Learn how to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent here.

Learning the Croatian language

A residence permit can also be granted if you study the Croatian language at certain language schools. To get this permit, you must enroll in a Croatian language study program (like Croaticum).

[Read: Biggest Croatian language schools in Croatia]

Our detailed guide on how to apply for temporary residence based on language study is available here.

Scientific research

If you need to stay in Croatia due to a work on a scientific research project, you can apply for temporary residence. You need to provide proof of the research and how long it will take. Expect it to be scrutinized. In addition, you cannot work for a Croatian company with this permit.

Members of the Croatian people

Croatian descendants can apply for Croatian residence based on humanitarian reasons as being a member of the Croatian people.

Once granted temporary residence, they have the right to work in Croatia without a work permit. They can attend courses or vocational training, educate, and study.

View our guide on how Croatian diaspora and descendants without Croatian citizenship can apply for temporary residence in Croatia here.

Volunteering

It is possible to apply for temporary residence in Croatia on the basis of volunteer work. In this case, you must provide a contract with a non-profit organization (called “udruga”). Among other requirements, it must show the term of work and specify that the role is unpaid.

View our articles on Croatian non-profits that may offer long-term contracts to volunteers:

Learn how to volunteer in Croatia and get residence here.

Marriage or partnership with a Croatian or EU/EEA citizen

Spouses and minor children of Croatians and EU/EEA citizens can come to live in Croatia with their spouses or parents. Of course, we do not encourage anyone to marry someone just to live in Croatia, since that is fraud and you would be lying to the government, which is a risk.

If you are married to a Croatian or EU/EEA citizen, you may get temporary residency in Croatia. Both you and your spouse must be registered at the same Croatian address. Croatians and EU/EEA citizens have certain rights and entitlements that third-country citizens do not have, so this is the easiest and fastest permit to get.

[Read: How to get married in Croatia (if at least one spouse is a foreigner)]

[Read: How to obtain a life partnership for same-sex couples in Croatia]

Learn more about how to apply for a permit based on marriage here:

Croatian citizenship by descent

Croatian diaspora can get Croatian citizenship without the language and culture test. So, if you’ve got Croatian blood, you can ignore everything you’ve read up to this point.

If you have a Croatian parent, grandparent, great grandparent, etc., then you qualify to apply for Croatian citizenship based on descent. Ancestry must be in a straight line. You must be able to prove ancestry and it can be done in a variety of ways, usually through birth certificates.

Find out if you qualify for Croatian citizenship here.

Learn how to apply for Croatian citizenship (hrvatsko državljanstvo) here and specifically for citizenship based on descent here.

Read about the things you need to know before applying for Croatian citizenship here.

Check out all of our citizenship resources here.

Requirements for all scenarios

No matter which of the scenarios from above applies to you, you have to meet certain requirements.

A list of the most common requirements across all temporary residence permit applications is available in this citizenship post. However, Croatian police (MUP) may request additional items depending on your scenario.

Health insurance for New Zealand citizens living in Croatia

As part of your application for residence as a New Zealander, you must show proof of your private health insurance. Once you are approved for residence, then you must sign up for obvezno state health insurance with HZZO, unless you’re a digital nomad.

View our guides on Croatian health insurance:

HZZO is the state health insurance fund. View a list of HZZO offices in Croatia here.

Upon enrollment in HZZO, all non-EU citizens are required to pay 12 months of health insurance premiums for the previous year plus the monthly premium going forward. This is for all citizens, children and adults alike. Meaning that if you are a family of 4 with 2 children, you’ll need to pay these fees for all 4 members of your family. The monthly premium changes year to year. The current amount is always updated in this post.

Exchanging New Zealand driver’s license

You can exchange your New Zealand driver’s license for a Croatian license during your first year of residence. If you wait for longer, you may be fined and/or required to start from scratch with the driving school.

[Read: How to take driving school (Autoškola)]

Learn how to exchange a foreign driver’s license for a Croatian one here.

Learn how to get a driver’s license from scratch in Croatia here.

Buying Croatian property

New Zealand citizens can buy properties zoned as “residential” in Croatia only if the property is not valued more than 10 million New Zealand dollars and is no larger than 5 hectares.

View our step-by-step guide on purchasing a house or apartment in Croatia here.

If you need professional help, we can connect you with expat-vetted real estate agents and lawyers. They will lead you through the process to ensure everything goes smoothly. If you’d like an introduction, please complete this form and we’ll contact you.

Taxes

New Zealanders living more than 183 days in Croatia each year must report their worldwide income and pay taxes in Croatia.

Currently, New Zealand does not have a double-taxation treaty in place with Croatia. Due to a lack of a double taxation treaty, you may also need to report your income to New Zealand. Whether you need to pay tax to New Zealand depends on a variety of factors.

Inland Revenue has a guide for those living overseas here.

Taxes are complicated. This is a very high-level view of the tax situation. If you ever want a detailed review of your tax liability while living in Croatia, contact us and we’ll connect you with an expat-vetted tax expert.

How to find the New Zealand consulate in Croatia

New Zealand Honorary Consulate, Zagreb
Contact: Nikola Jelinčić
Phone: +385 (0)1 4612 060
Email: nzealandconsulate@email.t-com.hr
Address: Vlaška ulica 50A, 10 000 Zagreb – view map

Conclusion

While it may not be straightforward to live in Croatia legally long-term as a Kiwi, there are several options that will allow you to live here for at least 1 year. It all depends on how badly you want to live here and how much patience you have.

Skip the research! Save time and talk to EIC.

We crafted this post to be as detailed as possible, but sometimes questions still arise because everyone’s situation is different. If you’d like personalized guidance on your situation, we can help.

Save yourself the time and uncertainty of trying to navigate the ever-changing rules for living in Croatia by scheduling a private chat with us over video chat.

How does it work?

All first-time clients get 30 minutes with an Expat in Croatia coach PLUS 30 minutes with a vetted English-speaking lawyer from our network that you can use at any time.

Your session will be completely tailored to you and your needs whether it’s bureaucracy, culture, or daily life. All legal advice will be handled by our vetted lawyer network. We can help you with everything else.

In addition, you’ll receive a follow up with additional resources based on your situation, our Croatia Restaurant Guide as well as introductions to vetted professionals like insurance, law, real estate, translation and tax.

We have an extensive FAQ about this service here.

Ready to get started? Click here to jump to the form.

Who will I speak with?

Carol Anne Škorvaga, known to us as “CAM”, is a first-generation Croatian-Canadian living in Jastrebarsko with her family. She grew up entrenched in the Croatian community surrounded by culture and folklore, attended Croatian school in Canada and then returned to Zagreb to attend Filozofski Fakultet. CAM is fluent in Croatian and has firsthand knowledge of being both a Canadian expat and a Croatian returnee, building a home in Croatia and being a parent with children in local schools.

Meet CAM in this quick 2-minute video here.

What is the cost?

The below costs are per 30 minutes and include VAT (25% tax mandated by the Croatian government).

  • First-time clients  |  150 euros (includes 30-min session with lawyer)
  • Repeat clients  |  75 euros

If additional time is requested, it is billed in ¼ hour increments.

We offer a 100% money back guarantee. If your session was not helpful, then you will be refunded – no questions asked.

We vet our information through hands-on, human work. This process includes extensive web research, phone calls to the government, collaboration with licensed Croatian professionals, and visits to government.

Reviews from our clients

“My husband and I are looking to obtain our Croatian citizenship through heritage. CAM was exceptional and was extremely informative about the process required, timelines, contact people, both in Croatia and at home, lawyers and services offered by Expat in Croatia. She was able to easy our anxiety and we felt that we will have solid support and direction going forward. She was professional and friendly. Thank you CAM for your support.” ~ Carol W., Canada, February 5, 2024

“After months of Dr Googling we were left with some ideas but had no confidence in which process to citizenship to follow and if any of it was right. Actually at the time of our consultation the laws had changed and CAM was already on top of them. We left the consultation with a clear path to citizenship and in-depth explanation of everything we needed to do in SA before leaving. On top of this when moving to a new country you don’t know how people may react or approach you. I was apprehensive about this and CAM melted all of that away. On the facts she was professional and serious but when welcoming us, making jokes and telling us about Croatia she was so warm, kind and lifted all my fears of moving. My heart now completely lies in Croatia and we have within 2 weeks a complete plan and working on all the documents we need to gather. Every country needs an expat Croatia with such high integrity.”~ MaryAnn V., South Africa, January 17, 2024

You can view our latest reviews here or all of our reviews here.

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Ready to get started? Get help with your transition to Croatia here.


View our other residency by citizenship guides

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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