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:
- Who is considered a family member of EU/EEA citizens
- Who qualifies to apply for permanent residence
- How to apply for permanent residence in Croatia
- Termination of the permanent residence
- How to get help with your residence application
The facts are these…
How family members of EU/EEA citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia
Family members of EU/EEA citizens include:
- 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
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.
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
- Serious illness
- Vocational training
- Referral to work in another country
- Absence due to military service
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
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.
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.
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.
You have to pay an administrative fee in the amount of 100 kuna. 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]
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.
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:
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- Duration of our session
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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.
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View our other non-EU/EEA residency articles
- Available visas and residence permits for Croatia
- Difference between getting a visa and a residence permit in Croatia
- How American citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How Australian citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How Brits can visit and live in Croatia
- How Canadian citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How EEA permanent residents can get temporary residence in Croatia
- How New Zealand citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How non-EU family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia
- How non-EU spouses of Croatians can apply for residence
- How South African citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How third-country citizens can apply for temporary residency in Croatia
- How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia
- How to apply for temporary residence based on language study
- How to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent
- How to apply for temporary residence in Croatia based on family reunification
- How to apply for the digital nomad residence permit in Croatia
- How to get a residence permit based on property
- How to get an EU Blue Card in Croatia
- How to get residency by opening a Croatian business
- How to study & gain student residence in Croatia
- How to transition from temporary to permanent residence
- How to volunteer in Croatia and get residence
- How Ukrainian citizens can come and live in Croatia
- Restrictions on travel while you have legal residence in Croatia
- Rights of permanent residents in Croatia
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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.