How non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia: Guide for 2024

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This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry handling immigration.
City of Zabok, Croatia

UPDATED: 18.1.2023.

Non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals can apply for residence in Croatia based on spajanje obitelji (family reunification). According to European Union treaties, once granted residence, family members have the same rights as Croatians regardless of whether they are EU/EEA or third-country (non-EU/EEA) nationals.

If you are a non-EU/EEA family member of EU/EEA national, you can apply for permanent residence if you have temporary residence in Croatia for a continuous five years. Permanent residents in Croatia have more privileges than temporary residents.

To better understand the rights of a permanent resident, read this post.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How family members of EU/EEA citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia

Who is considered a family member of EU/EEA citizens

Family members of EU/EEA citizens include:

  • Spouses
  • Common-law partners if the union lasts for three years
  • Common-law partners with a union of less than three years, if their permanent relationship can be determined from other circumstances – Learn about ways to prove a relationship in this post
  • Descendant by blood in a straight line down to the age of 21, as well as the descendant of a spouse, common-law partner, life partner, or informal life partner
  • Adopted child up to the age of 21, as well as the descendant of a spouse, common-law partner, life partner, or informal life partner
  • Descendant or adopted child who an EU/EEA national or their spouse, common-law partner, life partner, or informal life partner is obliged to support
  • Blood relative in a straight line east who an EU/EEA national or their spouse, common-law partner, life partner, or informal life partner is obliged to support
  • Another person who is considered to be a family member of EU/EEA national or their spouse, common-law partner, life partner, or informal life partner, and who is a dependent member, a household member, or dependent on their personal care due to serious health reasons

Who qualifies to apply for permanent residence in Croatia

Non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA citizens who qualify to apply

Non-EU/EEA family members (also known as third-country nationals) of EU/EEA citizens have the right to apply for permanent residence after five years of continuous legal temporary residence in Croatia. During the five years, they must reside with their EU/EEA family member at the same address.

[Read: How non-EU family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia]

Continuous residence means that you have back-to-back residence permits with no break in between AND that you have not been gone too long from the country according to the rules.

The following cases don’t count as an absence during a temporary stay:

  • Up to six months of absence a year
  • Up to six months of continuous absence due to justified reasons such as
    • Pregnancy
    • Childbirth
    • Serious illness
    • Study
    • Vocational training
    • Referral to work in another country
  • Absence due to military service

[Read: Restrictions on travel while you have legal residence in Croatia]

Exceptions when applying as a family member

There are some exceptions when non-EU/EEA family members can apply for permanent residence if they temporarily resided in Croatia for less than five years.

This is possible in the following cases:

  • A person is the spouse of a Croatian, in which case they can apply after 4 years
  • A person is the family member of a worker or self-employed person who has died during a temporary stay for the purpose of work that lasted continuously for two years before death or the death occurred as a result of an injury at work or an occupational disease
  • A spouse has lost Croatian citizenship by marrying a worker or a self-employed person who is a citizen of an EU/EEA Member State

How non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals can apply for permanent residence in Croatia

Below are all the steps you must go through to apply for permanent residence in Croatia.

Step #1 Contact MUP

You can submit the application for permanent residence to the MUP administration office according to the address of your Croatian residence.

[Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

It is wise to call them before the visit, since MUP’s offices may have different rules and working hours. Ask for a service desk for foreigners called šalter za strance who will provide the latest information on the process. Depending on the office, you may have to set an appointment before the visit.

Step #2 Collect the documents

When preparing your application for permanent residence, be sure you meet all the requirements.

You must enclose:

  • Filled in application form Obrazac 3b – Available here
  • Copy of an ID card or passport

Contact us if you need professional help with the application process. We can connect you with a vetted immigration lawyer.

Step #3 Apply at MUP

After you prepare the application, go to MUP administrative office according to the address of your Croatian residence. You may need to request an appointment in advance. You can make an appointment at certain MUP stations online here.

[Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

Find the šalter za strance and submit your application to the police worker. If something is missing and you have to enclose additional documentation, they will inform you.

Step #4 Get the residence card

After you are granted Croatian permanent residence, you will need a residence card. It is called boravišna iskaznica in Croatian. Go to the same MUP administrative office and submit the request for the residence card.

Provide the following:

  • Filled in application form Obrazac 2b – Available here
  • 30×35 mm color photography

Show your ID card or passport to the MUP administrative worker, so that they can confirm your identity.

All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here. MUP will provide you with a payment slip (called “uplatnica“).

This payment slip can be paid via:

[Read: How to pay bills in Croatia]

MUP will give you a confirmation after you apply for permanent residence. They will issue a residence card within 6 months from the date of application. When your card is ready, pick it up in person at MUP. The validity period of the residence card is 10 years.

Step #5 Enjoy your stay

Congrats! You can finally enjoy your permanent stay in Croatia, so you can now travel outside of Croatia for more extended periods.

[Read: Rights of a permanent residence]

Termination of the permanent residence

Your granted permanent residence will be terminated if:

  • You are forbidden to enter and stay in Croatia
  • You reside outside of Croatia for more than 2 years continuously
  • You cancel your permanent stay in Croatia

The Ministry issues the decision to terminate permanent residence through the competent police administration/MUP station.

[Read: Restrictions on travel while you have legal residence in Croatia]

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View our other non-EU/EEA residency articles

Boravak i rad državljana država članica EGP-a i članova njihovih obitelji
Zakon o državljanima država članica Europskog gospodarskog prostora i članovima njihovih obitelji
Pravilnik o ulasku i boravku u Republici Hrvatskoj državljana država članica EGP i članova njihovih obitelji
Boravišna iskaznica

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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