If you’d like to live in Croatia for up to 9 months per year and are able to buy a property, then this type of residence permit may be the right choice for you. For those of us who are not European, the options to live in Croatia long-term are limited. Here are all of the options.
Getting residence based on property is a great option if you’re comfortable only living in Croatia for up to 9 months per year. This permit works especially well for retired people who wish to have a home base in Europe.
In this post, we cover:
- What the law says
- What do you need to know
- Requirements for applying
- How to apply for residence
- Additional advice
The facts are these…
How to get a temporary residence permit in Croatia based on property
Under Article 57 of the Foreigner’s Act, there is a list of conditions under which a non-EU/EEA (third-country) citizen can get temporary residence in Croatia. The law states:
(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 citizen of a third country who intends to reside or resides in the Republic of Croatia for the purpose of:
10. for other purposes
(4) A citizen of a third country may submit a request to regulate temporary residence for other purposes or the purpose of digital nomads’ residence after the expiration of a period of six months from the expiration of the validity of the temporary residence that was approved for other purposes or the purpose of digital nomads’ residence.
“Other purposes” is a catch-all for a variety of residence programs offered at the discretion of the police, who handle immigration. Getting residence based on ownership of property is one of those programs.
This is what you need to know about getting a residence permit based on real estate:
- You can only get temporary residence for 6 months per year (plus up to 90 days as a tourist, which comes to 9 months)
- You cannot work in Croatia
- It is not renewable (meaning you can do it back-to-back), but you can apply every year
- The property must be zoned residential and you must live in it
- There is no minimum purchase price to qualify
- If you’re married, you both need to be listed as owners
How to get a residence permit in Croatia based on property
The requirements for this type of temporary stay in Croatia are similar to other permits, with one notable difference. First, we’ll list the requirements, then we’ll go over each one in detail.
These requirements include:
- Completed application form Obrazac 1a, which the police will provide – view it here
- Valid passport
- Criminal background check + certificate of length of stay
- Valid private/travel health insurance policy (called putno)
- Certificate of ownership/title deed for real estate in Croatia
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
- Passport photo 30×35 mm
- Application fee
Let’s go through each requirement, one by one.
Your passport needs to be valid, which means its validity period must be 3 months longer than the validity period of the intended stay. The staff will make a copy of this for your application. Take your passport with you every time you visit them.
If your passport is in a language that is not English, then you need to get a copy of it notarized and translated into Croatian.
An OIB is a human identification number, similar to a social security number in the US. OIBs are required for all financial transactions in Croatia. Here are details on applying for one.
If you own a property, then you already have an OIB.
People applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the first time must now provide a criminal background check as part of their application. This requirement went into effect on January 1, 2021.
Article 59 of the law 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 they have not been convicted of criminal offenses from their home country or the country in which they 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
However, every application for a temporary residence based on property is considered to be a brand new application, especially if you have left for a certain period of time. For this type of residence, there are no renewals. You have to enclose a background check each time you apply for residence based on property.
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. 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.
In addition to the background check, it is mandatory to provide a certificate of the length of stay from the same country.
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.
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. This 1-year of back payment is required for anyone who has not had state health insurance in another EU member state for the previous 12 months.
You must provide an ownership certificate from the land registry. The property must be zoned residential and you must live there.
If you are married, make sure that both of you are listed as owners with the land registry. Family reunification for spouses cannot be used for this type of permit, which is why it is important that you both are listed as owners. If you have children, both of you must have valid residence permits before your children can be allowed to also get residence permits.
In addition to fulfilling the requirement for residence, it will also be used to register your address. This address will be on your national identification card. Learn how to register or change your address with the Croatian police in this post.
If you have not yet purchased a property, you can learn about how to buy a residential property in Croatia here.
The application form for the temporary stay will be provided by MUP or a consulate abroad. You can view it 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.
You can find the current minimums together with a list of documents you may provide as proof of sufficient funds in this post as well as how to show the funds.
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.
The cost of preparation of the biometric residence permit is 240 kuna and for the accelerated procedure it is 450 kuna. You won’t pay this at the police station/embassy. They 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.
[Read: How to pay bills in Croatia]
Once you own a residential property in Croatia and are listed with the land registry as the owner, you can start your application for residence. Where to apply for this residence permit depends on whether you do need or don’t need a visa to enter Croatia. You can find out if you need to apply for a visa before traveling to Croatia here.
Step #1 Visit MUP or the embassy
If you need a visa to enter Croatia, you must apply at the closest Croatian embassy or consulate outside of Croatia.
If you don’t need a visa to enter Croatia, you can apply at the administrative police station closest to your future Croatian residence. Here is a full list. Find the Stranci (Foreigners) desk and let them know you wish to apply for residence based on other purposes.
Step #2 Submit your application
At this time, you must provide:
- Copy of your passport
- Completed application form (which they will give you)
- Your OIB
- Land registry certificate showing you as the owner
- Proof of travel health insurance
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
Step #3 Wait patiently
Once your application is accepted for processing, then it’s time to wait.
If the police/embassy decide they need more from you to complete the application or if you have been approved, they will either call you, call your lawyer (if you’ve got one), or send you a summons to your address. This summons is usually in a blue envelope and you must sign for it at delivery.
It can take several weeks to months to get approved.
Step #4 Approved!
Hooray! You’ve been approved. Now what?
Within 8 days from the approval, you must apply for a residence card called biometrijska dozvola boravka. Go to the police station according to your future Croatian address with your passport.
At this time, may need to do several things:
- Give your fingerprints
- Give your signature
- Give your passport photos
- Pay the fees to MUP
If you applied at MUP, you have to pay the fees. You’ll be given uplatnica (payment slip) or maybe even several of them. Take these to a post office or bank to pay. Keep the receipts and bring them back to the police to show proof of payment. You are expected to do this immediately and return within a few minutes to complete the process.
Here are instructions on how to pay the fees.
After you show proof of payment, you’ll be given a white card that is proof of your approved stay. DO NOT LOSE IT! You will need to turn this card in to get your official residence ID card. The ID card takes 3 weeks (usually on the dot) to be printed.
Step #5 Pick up your residence card
After 3 weeks, return to the police station with the white card that you did not lose. Hand it over with your passport. In return, you’ll be given your shiny new residence permit card.
You will need to go through this same application process every year.
- It is imperative that you have a local Croatian contact number. This is how the police will communicate with you about your application. Learn how to get a Croatian SIM card in our guide on Croatia’s mobile phone providers which is available here.
- Do not leave Croatia while your permit is in process. Even better, don’t leave the jurisdiction.
- If you are denied residence, you only have to pay a small administrative fee instead of the full fee.
- 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 vetted expert when purchasing a property or applying for residency in Croatia, whether that be an immigration lawyer or real estate agent. It is rare that the police (who handle immigration), property sellers, and government agencies will speak English to you.
It’s just too easy to be taken advantage of as a foreigner in Croatia, especially when a property is involved. Our vetted local experts have connections, are able to skip common roadblocks, can protect your interests, and can identify any risks.
We have expat-vetted immigration lawyers and real estate agents across Croatia that can:
- Answer all of your property and immigration questions
- Find property records
- Clean property titles
- Help you find the right property
- Help you purchase a property and represent you during the process
- Ensure you are not taken advantage of by property sellers
- Prepare and review contracts
- Handle your application for residency and represent you during the process
- Selling a property
- Engage local contractors and interior designers
To be connected to a vetted immigration lawyer or real estate agent, complete the below form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
View our other temporary residence articles
- How Croatian diaspora and descendants can apply for temporary residence in Croatia
- 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 third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens can apply for temporary residency in Croatia
- How to apply for a work permit
- How to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent
- How to apply for temporary residence based on language study
- 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 an EU Blue Card in Croatia (EU plava karta)
- How to get residency by opening a Croatian business
- 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.