How New Zealand citizens can visit and live in Croatia: Guide for 2022

This post has been verified by the ministry that handles residence as well as immigration lawyers.
Person waving New Zealand flag
Image by NY Times

PUBLISHED: 11/5/2022

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…

Tourist visas for New Zealand citizens to visit Croatia

New Zealanders have visa-free or a visa on arrival access to 155 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 rules 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 nationals or non-EU/EEA citizens). New Zealanders belong to the third-country national group. So, the residence permit scenarios we cover below apply to all third-country nationals, 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.

The facts are these…

Digital nomad permit

As of 2021, if you work remotely for a company not registered in Croatia, you can be granted temporary residence in Croatia based on that work.

Caveats

  • You can stay for up to 1 year and a permit is not renewable. Six months after the expiration of your permit, you can apply for a new permit.
  • At the end of the term, you must leave Croatia for 90 days.
  • You can’t work for a Croatian company.

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. Another requirement is proof of enough financial means to support yourself during your studies since foreign students are not allowed to work in Croatia. [Read: How to show proof of financial means (as part of your application for residence in Croatia)]

Caveats

  • You can get a residence permit for the period that you are enrolled, usually one school year. You can’t stay during summer unless you prove that you need to be in Croatia in between semesters.
  • As a student, you cannot work for a Croatian company.
  • For the first 2 years of your study, you cannot bring your spouse or children with you based on your permit.
  • Time spent on this permit only counts half towards qualifying for permanent residence.

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.

Caveats

  • First, you must get a job and have a signed work contract or a valid job offer. Then, your employer can request a work permit on your behalf.
  • The employer must first confirm with the unemployment office that a Croatian is not seeking the same role before your work permit can be processed.
  • Work permits are valid for up to 1 year or until your contract expires, whichever comes first. If your employer wants you to continue working, they must conclude a new work contract and ask for a new work permit.
  • If you decide to quit your job, your residence permit will be canceled. Permits are tied to work contracts.
  • For the first year, your spouse or children cannot come to live with you in Croatia.

If you want to find a job in Croatia, our detailed guide 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]

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.

Things to know:

  • You must be in a managerial position.
  • You must be paid an elevated salary.
  • The EU Blue Card will be issued for a term of 2 years.
  • Your family can join you immediately.
  • The hiring company does not have to perform a labor market test.

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

Work permit by starting your own company

If you are a director of a Croatian company, you can issue yourself a work contract and qualify for a residence and work permit. However, you will have to deal with a lot of bureaucracy, so this option is not good if you don’t intend to use the company for business. Use this option only if you really want to own a Croatian company.

Caveats

  • You must invest 200.000 kuna of start-up capital
  • You must hire 3 full-time Croatian nationals whose “bruto” salary must be equal to at least the average “bruto” paid salary in Croatia in the previous year
  • You are required to pay yourself at least 1,5 times the average bruto salary for the previous year – View minimum wages here
  • View other caveats on opening a business here and here and here

Before you open your own Croatian company, you have to be well-informed. Our posts about opening and running businesses in Croatia (which you can view here) will help you out.

Our detailed guide on how to get residency by opening a Croatian business is available here.

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. However, there are some financial hoops.

Caveats

  • Permit is valid for 1 year and it is not renewable. You can only apply again after 6 months have passed since the expiration of your last permit.
  • After the permit expires, you must leave Croatia for 90 days.
  • You must prove that you’ve paid for rent 1 year in advance.
  • After you get the permit, you must sign up for state health insurance. Learn more about health insurance here.
  • You cannot work.
  • Your spouse cannot apply for residence based on you. Your spouse must apply separately.

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

Learning 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]

This permit falls under “other purposes” under the law.

Caveats

  • Permit is valid for 1 year and it is not renewable. You can only apply again after 6 months have passed since the expiration of your last permit.
  • After the permit expires, you must leave Croatia for 90 days.
  • After you get the permit, you must sign up for state health insurance. Learn more about health insurance here.
  • You cannot work.
  • If you wish to apply again for this purpose, you must leave for 90 days at the end of the permit period.
  • Your spouse cannot apply for residence based on you. Your spouse must apply separately.

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.

Caveats

  • You cannot work for a Croatian company

Volunteer

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.

Caveats

  • Permit is valid for up to one year.
  • There is no path to permanent residency or Croatian citizenship.
  • Your spouse cannot apply for residence based on you. Your spouse must apply separately on a volunteer or some other basis.
  • You cannot work in exchange for money.
  • After you get the permit, you must sign up for state health insurance. Learn more about health insurance here.
  • You can only work for the non-profit with whom you have your contract used as the basis for your permit.

Learn how to volunteer in Croatia and get residence here.

Marry a Croatian or EU/EEA national

Spouses and minor children of Croatians and EU/EEA citizens can come to live in Croatia with their spouses or parents. This scenario is called “family reunification”.

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 national, 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 nationals do not have, so this is the easiest and fastest permit to get.

To apply, you must provide a copy of your marriage certificate that is apostilled/legalized then officially translated (if married abroad). You also must provide proof of financial means to prove you have enough money to support yourself in certain cases. For more details, read the “Requirements” section.

If you are the spouse of a Croatian, you’ll be granted a 2-year permit. If you are the spouse of an EU/EEA national, you’ll receive a 10-year permit.

After 4 years of temporary residency, spouses of Croatian citizens qualify to apply for permanent residence. Once you receive permanent residence, you can apply for Croatian citizenship.

Spouses of EU/EEA citizens can apply for permanent residence after 5 years of continuous temporary residence.

Learn how to apply for a temporary residence 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.

Caveats

  • From January 1, 2020, non-residents can only apply from an embassy or consulate abroad.
  • If your ancestor left Croatia at any point and moved to an ex-Yugoslavia country, then your right to citizenship is negated.
  • If your ancestor left Croatia after 1991, then your right to citizenship is negated (unless you’re the child of a Croatian that qualifies to register)
  • Be patient since applications for citizenship can take months to years.
  • Ancestry is on its own is not a valid basis for residency without citizenship.

Find out if you qualify for Croatian citizenship here.

Learn how to apply for Croatian citizenship (hrvatsko državljanstvo) here.

Learn how to apply for citizenship specifically 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. Below is a list of the most common requirements across all temporary residence permit applications. However, Croatian police (MUP) may request additional items depending on your scenario.

Everyone must provide:

  • Completed application form
    • MUP will provide you with Obrazac 1a – you can view it here.
  • Valid passport
    • Validity period must be 3 months longer than the validity period of the intended stay.
  • Criminal background check
    • People applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must provide a criminal background check from their country of nationality.
  • Health insurance
    • This is usually private health insurance unless you have state health insurance from another EU/EEA state.
  • Registered address in Croatia
    • Proof of accommodation is sufficient for the purposes of applying for residence. After approval, you’ll need a rental contract.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
    • There are several ways to show this, depending on your purpose for applying. The financial minimums you’ll need as well as how you can show the funds are available here. However, MUP will tell you exactly what they need. If you are applying for family reunification with a Croatian spouse, you are exempt from this.
  • 1 passport photo 30×35 mm
    • Photo studios where you can get pictures are usually right by MUP.
  • Application fee
    • This is due upon approval of your application. In some cases, you must pay an administrative fee earlier in the process using tax stamps.

Note: Everyone in Croatia must have an address that is registered with the police. You can register the address in several ways:

  • Notarized rental contract
  • Notarized landlord statement that states you are allowed to live on the premises
  • Landlord statement submitted through e-Građani

If your landlord statement is not notarized, then the owner will need to provide you with a confirmation from the tax office that the contract has been registered with them.

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.

After you are granted temporary residence, you are required to sign up for “obvezno” state health insurance with HZZO within 8 days (unless you’re a digital nomad). HZZO is the state health insurance fund. It offers both basic (obvezno) and supplemental (dopunsko) health insurance.

Obvezno is the standard state health insurance required for all Croatian residents. Learn about Croatia’s state health care obvezno insurance, what it costs, and what is included here.

Dopunsko is the optional supplement health insurance. Learn what is “dopunsko” and why you should have this health insurance here.

After signing up for HZZO, you must pay 12 months of health insurance premiums for the previous year plus the monthly premium going forward. This applies to all non-EU/EEA citizens, children, and adults alike. For example, if you are a family of 5 with 3 children, you must pay fees for all 5 family members. Fees change every year and you can find the latest amounts here.

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 500 kuna 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: [email protected]
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.

Need help figuring out your best option for residency?

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 based 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 me, Sara Dyson, the creator of Expat in Croatia.

I’ve lived in Croatia since 2012 (before the country entered the EU), opened and operated 2 companies, applied for 5 residence permits as a non-EU citizen, and written about Croatia and its bureaucracy extensively since 2013.  I am well-versed in what it takes to make Croatia your home, which obstacles to look out for, and how to make as seamless a transition as possible.

During our chat, I will answer all of your questions about Croatia. You can tap into my expertise on anything you want; whether it be residency, citizenship, healthcare, buying property, letting accommodation, operating a business, what it’s like to live here, personal experiences with bureaucracy, or cultural nuance. It’s all tailored to you.

To complete the package, I follow up after your session with additional information, links to relevant resources, and contact information for local experts personally vetted by me like lawyers, real estate agents, tax advisors, accountants, and translators. All recommendations and resources will be specifically curated based on your individual needs discussed in the session.

You can read reviews from people I’ve helped here.

Consulting sessions cost 60 Euros per half hour (including PDV), prepaid in advance. This cost includes:

  • Preparation time before our session
  • Duration of our session
  • Preparation of follow up email after our session with resources and contacts

Meetings can be arranged over video chat, or in person. I’m always happy to meet people in person in Split, but please note the minimum commitment for an in-person session is 1-hour or 120 Euros. Additional time may be charged for intensive research.

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can always introduce you to expat-vetted lawyers, by request.

To schedule a 1-on-1 consulting session, complete the below form. Sessions are usually scheduled at least 1 to 2 weeks in advance due to the high volume of requests we receive.

  • I ask this as rules and requirements differ depending on nationality.
  • When would you like to chat?

    The cost is 60euros per 30 minutes.
  • If you're unsure of the time difference, please check the current time in Croatia here.
  • Newsletter and Consent

    We will only email you once per week. The newsletter includes a wrap up of our latest posts, a Croatian word and phrase of the week, curated actionable Croatian news plus freebies just for our subscribers.


View our other residency by nationality guides

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.

Sharing is Caring:
Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.