How non-EU nationals can live in Croatia for 1 year

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 accesion, it is still very challenging to live here long term as a non-European citizen. However, Croatia now offers a temporary one-year residence permit for non-EU nationals.

What is the catch? Well, there are several:

  • It is only for one year, you cannot work and it is not renewable.
  • You must prepay health insurance for one year
  • You must prepay rent for one year

If you contact the police (Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova aka “MUP”) or an embassy/consulate, they will tell you this residence permit does not exist. Either because they don’t want to increase their work load, don’t want more foreigners or the person you are speaking to truly doesn’t know about it. It is common for police stations in smaller cities to not know about it.

To apply for this residence permit, you must visit the main MUP station in your jurisdiction where you plan to live. At this station, there will be a service desk specifically for foreigners (“stranci”).

The requirements for this temporary stay in Croatia for non Europeans include:

  • A valid passport
  • OIB identification number
  • A valid HZZO health insurance policy, prepaid for 1 year
  • A valid rental contract, prepaid for 1 year
  • A completed Temporary Stay application (police will provide this)
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
  • (2) Passport photos
  • Application Fee

Let’s go through each requirement, one by one.

Valid Passport

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.

OIB Identification

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 HZZO Policy

HZZO is the state-sponsored national health insurance for Croatia. Travel or private insurance will not suffice for this requirement. Once you start your application, the police will give you a document that you can take your local HZZO office to open an account. Here are a lot more details on getting health insurance. To qualify for this residence permit, you must prepare the health insurance policy for one year, which includes in the initial application fee of 6356,16. The call this back pay for the previous year, but that doesn’t make sense so let’s just call it an application fee.

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. The amount varies, but it is usually not more than 200 kn per person per month.

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 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. Currently, it is 2000 kn per month (24000 kn for one year) for one person, or 2750 kn per month (33000 kn for one year) for a married couple.

A bank statement from a foreign country will not work. 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.

Passport photos

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.

Application Fee

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.

Good luck!

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Expat in Croatia

Sara is an American expat based in Split. After globetrotting between New York, Amsterdam and California, she moved to Croatia in 2012. Sara's blog Expat in Croatia is a guide for foreigners living and traveling in Croatia.