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How to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent: Guide for 2023

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Houses in Omis, Croatia

UPDATED: 18.1.2023.

Croatia offers a variety of options for non-EU citizens to live in Croatia for at least one year. No matter your situation or income, there will most likely be a good match among the options. One of those options is based on prepayment of rent. This Croatian residence permit is exactly how it sounds – you prepay rent and in exchange, can get a residence permit to live in Croatia.

In this post, we will cover:

The facts are these…

How to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent

What do I need to know about this kind of temporary residence?

There are catches. Well, there are several:

  • It is only for 1 year
  • You cannot work for a Croatian company
  • You must prepay rent for the period you wish to be here, 1 year maximum
  • You must leave for 90 days at the end of the permit period
  • You cannot apply for this permit again until 6 months and 1 day have passed from the time your previous permit expired
  • Family reunification does not apply. This means that each spouse must have their own application.
  • It does not lead to permanent residence or citizenship

What does the law say about this type of permit?

In the Law on foreigners, this permit is considered temporary residence based on “other purposes”. It is listed under Article 57. We’ve pulled out the appropriate text from the law below.

(1) Privremeni boravak odobrava se državljaninu treće zemlje koji namjerava boraviti ili boravi u Republici Hrvatskoj u svrhu:

10. u druge svrhe

(4) Zahtjev za reguliranje privremenog boravka u druge svrhe ili svrhu boravka digitalnih nomada državljanin treće zemlje može podnijeti nakon isteka roka od šest mjeseci od isteka važenja privremenog boravka koji je bio odobren u druge svrhe ili svrhu boravka digitalnih nomada.

Which translates to…

(1) Temporary residence is granted to a third-country national who intends to reside or resides in the Republic of Croatia for the purpose of:

10. for other purposes

(4) An application for regulation of temporary residence for other purposes or purposes of residence of digital nomads may be submitted by a third-country national after the expiry of six months from the expiration of temporary residence granted for other purposes or purposes of residence of digital nomads.

You might notice that it doesn’t reference prepayment of rent as a requirement and that overall, this part of the law is a bit vague. That is because there are several valid reasons why someone could get residence based on these “druge svrhe” (other purposes).

Those “other purposes” are only defined in practice, not in the law. Prepayment is one of those purposes that is defined in practice.

How to apply for temporary residency, step by step

Step #1 Visit the police station

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.

Once you make first contact with the police, tell them that you want to apply for temporary residence based on “other purposes” – specifically prepayment of rent. They will provide you with the latest list of requirements.

Step #2 Prepare your application

Once you have confirmed the latest requirements, you can start putting together your application. The rule of thumb in Croatia is to never provide anything that is not asked of you. That is why it is important to get the latest list from the police station where you plan to apply.

We’ve provided a list of the requirements below, but as noted above, police stations in Croatia love to exercise their right to discretion.

The standard requirements for this type of temporary stay in Croatia for non-Europeans includes:

  • A completed application form Obrazac 1a, which the police will provide (view it here)
  • A valid passport
  • Criminal background check (+ certificate on the length of stay in some cases)
    • People who lived outside Croatia prior to their application must provide a background check from the country where they spent the last 12 months or their country of nationality. If using the country you lived for the last 12 months, you must provide proof of your length of stay. This requirement went into effect January 1, 2021.
  • A valid private/travel health insurance policy (called “putno”)** See description below
  • Proof you have prepaid rent
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
  • Passport photo 30×35 mm
  • Application Fee

If you are married, you’ll need to provide a marriage certificate that is legalised/apostilled and officially translated. If you have a minor child, you’ll need a birth certificate that is legalised/apostilled and officially translated.

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

Valid Passport

Your passport needs to be valid, which means its validity period must be 3 months longer than the validity period of intended stay. The police will make a copy of this for your application. Take your passport with you EVERY time you go to the police.

If your passport is in a language that is not English, then you need a copy that is notarized and translated into Croatian.

Background checks 

People applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must now provide a criminal background check as part of their application. This requirement went into effect January 1, 2021. In Article 59 of the law, it states:

5. uz zahtjev za odobrenje prvog privremenog boravka priloži dokaz da nije pravomoćno osuđen za kaznena djela iz matične države ili države u kojoj je boravio duže od godine dana neposredno prije dolaska u Republiku Hrvatsku, osim ako je upućeni radnik odnosno student, istraživač ili osoba premještena unutar društva koja se koristi mobilnošću iz druge države članice EGP-a

which translates to…

5. enclose with the request for approval of the first temporary residence proof that he / she has not been convicted of criminal offenses from his / her home country or the country in which he / she resided for more than one year immediately before arriving in the Republic of Croatia, unless the posted worker within a company benefiting from mobility from another EEA Member State

Depending on your native country, this is likely easier to obtain while you’re still in your home country rather than once you get to Croatia. We have a separate guide on getting your background check here.

If you’re American, they want a federal background check, NOT one from your state. This is done through the FBI and it involves having your fingerprints taken. I just did mine recently.

In addition to the background check, it is mandatory to provide a certificate of the length of stay from the same country. A certificate of the length of stay is required for people who lived the last 12 months in a country other than the country of their nationality.

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”, which will also meet this requirement. That being said, your private health insurance does not need to be with a Croatian health insurance company.

Once your permit is approved, you will have 8 days to sign up for health insurance with HZZO. You will be required to pay a monthly health insurance premium AND a one-time payment of premiums for the previous year. You read more more about this here.

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 they don’t want to pay the taxes.

The lease contract must be in Croatian and notarized by a javni bilježnik (notary). If you cannot get your landlord to have it notarized, you will need to provide proof from the tax office that the contract has been registered with them in combination with providing a non-notarized lease contract – so it’s much easier just to get the contract notarized.

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.

You can prepay your rent through mobile banking, or at a post office. The police will want to see the proof of payment slip and possibly a bank statement from the landlord showing the funds were received. Here is a guide on how to pay bills.

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. 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 and instructions on how to show the funds.

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. You don’t need to provide these until your permit has been approved.

Application Fee

The cost of preparation of the biometric residence permit is 31,85 euro and for the accelerated procedure it is 59,73 euro. 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.

Here are instructions on how to pay bills in Croatia and how to procure tax stamps, if they are required.

Step #3 Submit your application

Visit the same police station you visited earlier to get the requirements and go to the same Stranci desk. They will give you the application to complete there. Fill it out and hand it over with all of your requirements.

The attendant/rep/worker/officer (who knows what to call them) will review all of your documents to confirm you’ve met the requirements. If you have, they will accept your application. If not, they will ask you for something else. Be prepared to be asked for something else, especially if it’s seemingly meaningless or redundant.

If your application was accepted, make sure you provide a Croatian phone number. This is how the police will communicate with you about your application.

And now you wait…

The time to process your application varies on too many factors to list. Expect it to take at least two months, during which you should not leave Croatia. Be patient. You are legal to be in Croatia during this time.

Step #4 Pay the fees and deliver your photos

Once approved, you’ll be notified either by a blue envelope to your address, a phone call to you or a phone call to your lawyer (if you’re using one).

You’ll return to the police station with your passport photos. At this time, they will take your fingerprints and signature. You’ll also have to pay the administrative fees mentioned earlier, which cannot be paid at the police station. You must go off site to a bank or post office, then return with proof of payment.

In exchange for you giving them all these things, they will give you a white card. This is temporary proof of your residence. DO NOT LOSE IT.

Step #5 Pick up your residence card

Three weeks from the day you got your little white card, you’ll be able to pick up your brand new residence permit. You will need to hand over that card, which is why I said in all caps DO NOT LOSE IT.

Step #6 Celebrate!

Hooray! You’re legal!

Additional tips about applying for a Croatian Residence Permit

  • 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!

Need personal assistance with your transition to Croatia?

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.

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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 140 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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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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