Up until Croatia entered the European Union, it was near impossible to get a residence permit in Croatia as a non-EU national. Even after accession, it is still very challenging to live here long term as a non-European citizen. However, Croatia now offers a temporary 1-year residence permit for non-EU nationals.
What is the catch? Well, there are several:
- It is only for one year
- You cannot work
- You must prepay rent for one year
- There is no path to permanent residency or citizenship
While this permit is only for 1 year, some police stations are allowing people to apply for a second year on this type of permit. However, after the second year, you must leave for a period of 18 months before returning.
If you contact an embassy or consulate, they will likely tell you this residence permit does not exist likely because you couldn’t apply for this permit abroad even if they did know about it. It is common for police stations in smaller cities to not know about it as well.
To apply for this residence permit, you must visit the police (Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova aka “MUP”) in the jurisdiction where you plan to live within Croatia. At this station, there will be a service desk specifically for foreigners (“stranci”). Here is a full list of the administrative police stations that handle immigration.
How non-EU nationals can live in Croatia for 1 year
The requirements for this temporary stay in Croatia for non-Europeans include:
- A completed application, which the police will provide
- A valid passport
- OIB identification number
- A valid private/travel health insurance policy (called “putno”)
- A valid rental contract, prepaid for 1 year
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
- (2) Passport photos
- Application Fee
Let’s go through each requirement, one by one.
Your passport need to be valid, which means it has an expiration more than 6 months out. The police will make a copy of this for your application. Take your passport with you EVERY time you go to the police.
Before you do anything else, you need to get an OIB. Here are details on applying for one. This is your identification number and is necessary for all financial transactions and for your visa application.
Valid Health Insurance
To live in Croatia on this permit, you must have state-sponsored national health insurance from HZZO. However, Croatia will not allow you to sign up for a policy with HZZO until AFTER you’ve been approved for a residence permit. To be approved for the permit, you must first show that you have some other kind of private health insurance. In Croatia, travel insurance is called “putno zdravstveno osiguranje”.
Valid Rental Contract
You have found a place to live. Superb. Before signing a contract, make it clear to your landlord that you are required to register with the police. Some landlords do not want to rent to foreigners for this reason because it increases their taxes. If you run into this problem, offer to pay the taxes yourself. Taxes are 12% on the cost of rent.
Once you are in agreement with the landlord, have them prepare a lease contract for one year with it clearly noted that you have prepaid rent for the entire term. The lease contract must be in Croatian and notarized by a javni bilježnik (notary). If you cannot get your landlord to have it notarized, they can also accompany you to the police to prove they own the property and confirm they are renting to you.
In addition to this fulfilling the requirement for prepaid rent, it will also be used to register your address. This address will be on your national identification card.
Application for Temporary Stay
This application will be provided by the MUP. However, you can preview a copy here.
Proof of sufficient funds
Since you won’t legally be able to work on this permit, you need to prove you can financially support yourself during the permit term. The MUP will tell you how much you must have to qualify. The amount can vary as it is based on average salaries for the previous year. Here are the current minimums.
A bank statement from a foreign country will usually not work. There have been some cases where MUP officers will accept a foreign bank statement, but many more cases where they will only accept a statement from a Croatian bank. Be prepared for either situation.
If they require that you show a Croatian bank statement, then you must deposit this amount in one lump sum into a Croatian bank account. Once the lump sum is deposited, request a statement from the bank showing the funds then take this to the police for your application.
Here is more info on opening a bank account in Croatia.
Every country requires a different size photo, so best to get them in Croatia. Usually there is at least one shop that does passport photos right next to the police station. It can cost around 100 kn to get a package of photos.
It seems that the application fee can change daily, but assume you’ll pay at least 450 kn per application. You won’t pay this at the police station. The police will give you a bill that you take to a nearby bank (normally one they specify) to pay. Then you bring the proof of payment back to the police.
More notes about applying for a Croatian Residence Permit
- It is imperative that you have a local Croatian contact number. This is how the police will communicate with you about your application.
- You will not need to provide the passport photos and application fee until your permit is approved.
- Be patient. It can take several weeks to months to get approved.
- Be nice. If you get an attitude with the police, they have the discretion to make it as difficult for you as possible.
- Do not go to the police between the hours of 11:00 and 13:00. Chances of you coming when they are at lunch or on a smoke break or grumpy because they’ve yet to have a smoke break or lunch are high. For the best results, go in the morning around 8:00 or 9:00.
We recommend that everyone use a lawyer when applying for residency in Croatia. Lawyers have connections within immigration, are able to skip common roadblocks and can identify any risks with your application. In addition, it is rare that the police (who handle immigration) will speak English to applicants.
Our Expat in Croatia lawyer network can review your situation and quickly determine if you qualify for residency, all in English. If you do qualify, they can also handle your residency application from beginning to end. This service includes:
- Personalized consulting on your specific situation
- Confirming latest immigration requirements for your nationality and basis
- Assistance with putting together necessary documents
- All communication with the police on your behalf
- Assembly, submission and monitoring of your application
- Answering questions and assisting you throughout the process
To consult with an immigration lawyer to find out if you qualify to live in Croatia long term, please complete the form below and we’ll contact you as soon as possible.