Non-EU citizens have options for living in Croatia. By Croatian law, this group is referred to as “third-country nationals”, which means people from non-EU/EEA Member States including the Principality of Liechtenstein, Kingdom of Norway, Republic of Iceland, and Swiss Confederation. It also includes people without a nationality.
This residence guide is specifically for non-EU/EEA nationals who wish to live in Croatia. If you are an EU/EEA national and you want to apply for a temporary residence, this residence guide was created especially for you.
In this post, we cover:
- Types of stays in Croatia for third-country nationals
- How third-country nationals can stay in Croatia short-term (as a tourist)
- How third-country nationals can stay in Croatia long-term (temporary stay)
- How third-country nationals can apply for a temporary residence in Croatia
- Termination of temporary residence of third-country nationals
- How to get help with obtaining residence in Croatia
The facts are these…
Third-country nationals have two options for staying in Croatia:
- Kratkotrajni boravak (short-term stay) – for visits for up to 90 days
- Privremeni boravak (temporary stay) – for visits longer than 90 days
Temporary stay of third-country nationals in Croatia is defined by Zakon o strancima (Foreigners Act). It is available here.
Third-county nationals can visit Croatia for a short period of up to 90 days in any period of 180 days. They can use the 90-day period all at once or several times. This is called “kratkotrajni boravak” (short-term stay).
Some nationalities can enter visa-free for 90 days and others require an entry visa. Some nationalities that require an entry visa are only granted entry for a period of 30 days. To find out the rules for your nationality, visit this government page.
How to calculate the time of short-term stay
The time of a short-term stay can be calculated using a Schengen calculator which is available here. This calculator is only a guide, so don’t take it as official information.
The time is calculated according to the dates of your entries to Croatia and exits from Croatia recorded with stamps in your passport in the last 180 days. The time you spend in other EU/EEA Member States does not count.
Registering your stay
During a short-term stay, your stay must be registered at the Croatian police. This should be done by your accommodation within 24 hours after your arrival. They can report your stay online via e-Visitor or at the MUP administration office according to the place of your residence.
If they are unable to report your stay or you’re staying with a friend, you must register yourself at MUP within 2 days from your arrival or changing the address of your stay.
If you want to stay in Croatia for more than 3 months, then you must apply for a temporary stay called “privremeni boravak”. You may apply for a temporary stay (e.g. residence) for a period of up to one or two years, depending on your case.
Temporary residence can be granted based on different purposes. Remember that each case is different which means that the required documentation and processing time may vary.
Third-country nationals can apply for temporary residence on the basis of:
- Family reunification as the spouse of a Croatian (spajanje obitelji) – Guide available here
- Family reunification as the family member of a Croatian or EU citizen – Guide available here
- Digital nomads (boravak digitalnih nomada) – Guide available here
- Ownership of real estate – Guide available here
- Prepayment of rent – Guide available here
- Secondary school education (srednjoškolsko obrazovanje)
- University studies (studiranje) – Guide available here
- Scientific research (istraživanje)
- Humanitarian grounds (humanitarni razlog)
- Life partnership (životno partnerstvo) – Guide available here
- Work (rad) – Guide available here
- Work of posted workers (rad upućenog radnika) – Guide available here
- Volunteering (volontiranje) – Guide available here
- Opening a Croatian company – Guide available here
- Stay of a person with long-term residence in another EU/EEA Member State (boravak osobe s dugotrajnim boravištem u drugoj državi članici EU/EEA) – Guide available here
- Autonomous stay (autonomni boravak) – Guide available here
- Other purposes (druge svrhe) – Prepayment of rent, ownership of property, and language study all fall under “other purposes”. There can also be other individual cases depending on someone’s personal situation.
We have prepared detailed guides on how to get a temporary residence in Croatia for most of these purposes. To view the desired guide, click on the links in the above list.
Below are instructions on how third-country nationals can apply for a temporary residence in Croatia.
#1 Choose your basis
First, you need to know on which basis you are going to apply for a temporary residence in Croatia. Depending on your basis, the documentation that you must enclose when applying may vary as well as other important rules and regulations.
All possible purposes of applying for temporary residence are mentioned in the previous section. Define what is your purpose and specify this purpose later in your application.
#2 Prepare the application
The documentation that you must enclose within your application for a temporary stay may vary depending on the purpose of your stay.
Everyone must enclose:
- Application form Obrazac 1a – Available at MUP/diplomatic mission/consular office (view it here)
- Passport photo 30×35 mm
- Proof of purpose of your temporary stay – See optional documentation below
- Valid travel document/passport – Validity period must be 3 months longer than the validity period of the temporary stay. If the passport is not in English, you must enclose a copy notarized and translated into Croatian.
- Criminal background check from the country where you have lived the previous 12 months if you are applying for the first time OR if there was a break after your previous residence, with a certificate from the competent authority of that state on the length of stay
- It is not required if you are applying for the purpose of work of posted workers or as a student, researcher, a person transferred within a company that uses mobility from another EU/EEA Member State, or if you have permanent residence in another EU/EEA country.
- Proof of enough means of subsistence – It is not required only for close family members and life partners of Croatian nationals, close family members and life partners of third-country nationals with granted asylum or subsidiary protection, or when applying for the purpose of humanitarian reasons.
- Proof of health insurance – It is not required if you are applying for the purpose of work, an Erasmus + program for education, training, youth, and sports, humanitarian reasons, or research, or if you are a close family member of a third-country national with granted asylum or subsidiary protection. For seasonal workers, a work contract serves as proof of health insurance.
Depending on the purpose of your application, you may also need to enclose:
- Written consent of the other parent – Only for minors.
- Consent of the Ministry – When applying for the purpose of secondary school education.
- Guest contract – When applying for the purpose of scientific research.
- Residence card that proves a long-term stay in another EU/EEA Member State – When applying as a person with long-term residence in another EU/EEA Member State.
- Certificate of the Office for Croats abroad for members of Croatian people with foreign nationality or without nationality – When applying for the purpose of humanitarian reasons.
- Proof of refugee status – When applying for the purpose of humanitarian reasons.
- Work contract – When applying for a work and stay permit based on working for a Croatian company
- Proof of employing 3 Croatian nationals and investing 200.000 kuna – When applying for work and stay permit based on owning a Croatian company
- Proof of acquired educational qualification – When applying for work and stay permit.
- Certificate on the recognition of a foreign professional qualification – When applying for work and stay permit for a regulated profession.
- Certificate of transfer within a company
- Volunteer contract
- Proof that you perform work through communication technology – When applying as a digital nomad.
- Proof of enrollment in a Croatian institution
- Proof of prepayment of rent
The documentation needed can vary depending on the case. The police may change the requirements on an individual basis.
#3 Submit the application
If you have collected all the documentation that you must enclose with your application, it is time to visit the competent institution and apply for a temporary residence.
It would be clever to contact the institution before going there in person. They will provide you with the latest information on their working hours. You may need to set up an appointment for your visit. Some of them may allow submitting the application by email.
Some third-country nationals are required to possess a visa to enter Croatia. This depends on your nationality. Where you have to go may vary depending on your scenario.
You can check whether or not you need a visa to enter Croatia here.
Where to apply if you need a visa to enter Croatia
In this case, you can submit your application at a Croatian diplomatic mission or consular office abroad. A list of Croatian diplomatic missions and consular offices outside of Croatia is available here.
However, there are some exceptions when you can apply at the police administration office (MUP) in Croatia according to your future Croatian address.
You can apply at MUP if you are:
- Close family member of a Croatian citizen
- Life partner or informal life partner of a Croatian citizen
- Applying to study at a university, undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate level
- Researcher who comes under a guest contract
- Close family member of a researcher or third-country national who comes to study
- Applying based on humanitarian reasons
- Member of the family of holders of the “EU Blue Card”
Where to apply if you don’t need a visa to enter Croatia
In this case, you can submit your application at:
- Police administration office according to your future Croatian address, headquarters of your employer, or your work place – List available here
- Croatian diplomatic mission or consular office abroad – List available here
#4 Request a residence permit
After you are granted temporary residence, you have to submit the request for a residence card called “boravišna iskaznica”.
If you applied abroad, you must visit MUP according to the address of your stay after you enter Croatia. You are also obliged to register your temporary Croatian address at MUP within 3 days of entering Croatia.
If you applied from within Croatia, you will visit the same station where you applied for residence.
The validity period of your residence card may vary depending on the purpose of your stay.
For example, if you are granted a temporary stay based on family reunification or a life partnership with a Croatian national, the validity period is 2 years. If you applied for the purpose of study, a validity period is one year.
To get a residence card, you need to bring:
- 30×35 mm passport photo
- Valid foreign travel document/passport
- Proof of payment of the fees
The administrative fees that you must pay are the following:
- Administrative fee for issuing a temporary residence permit – 350 kuna
- Preparation of the biometric residence permit – 240 kuna
- Preparation of the biometric residence permit accelerated procedure – 450 kuna
- Administrative fee for issuing a biometric residence permit – 70 kuna
Temporary residence of a third-country national will be terminated if:
- Conditions for granting temporary residence cease to exist
- You have a ban to enter and stay in Croatia or SIS has issued a special warning
- You don’t register your Croatian address within 30 days after you are granted a temporary residence
- You request cancellation of a temporary residence
- You stay outside of Croatia longer than 90 days in total or longer than 30 days at once from the day of granting temporary residence for a one-year period
- You stay outside of Croatia for several times longer than 180 days in total or longer than 60 days at once from the day of granting temporary residence for a two-year period
- You reside in Croatia contrary to the purpose of the temporary residence permit
- Temporary stay is granted on a basis of family reunification with your partner, but you no longer live with them
However, there are cases when the above-mentioned reasons for termination don’t apply. The exceptions are valid for:
- Researchers and students who reside in another EU/EEA Member State on the basis of a short-term or long-term mobility
- Third-country nationals who are granted work and stay permits who are sent to work to another EU/EEA Member State
- Justified reasons that imply a one-time absence from Croatia with prior notification to MUP. If justified reasons arise after leaving Croatia, a third-country national must notify the Croatian diplomatic mission or a consular office within 30 days.
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.
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View other temporary residence articles
- How EEA permanent residents can get temporary residence in Croatia
- How EU citizens can get temporary residence 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 to apply for a work permit
- How to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent
- How to apply for the digital nomad residence permit in Croatia
- How to get residency by opening a Croatian business
- How to get a residence permit based on property
- How to study & gain student residence in Croatia
- How to volunteer in Croatia and get residence
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.