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How to register a car or motor vehicle and get an annual inspection in Croatia

Croatian car in an olive orchard in Slano, Croatia
Car parked in an olive orchard in Slano, Croatia

UPDATED: 24/10/2022

Motor vehicles and trailers that operate in Croatia must be technically approved and registered.

A vehicle can only be registered to the owner of the vehicle and must have a valid traffic license called prometna dozvola.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

What is a traffic license in Croatia?

To drive a vehicle in Croatia, the first step is to possess a driver’s license. A driver’s license is official proof that you know how to drive a vehicle.

[Read: How to get a driver’s license in Croatia]

To get a driver’s license in Croatia, you can:

  • Go to a Croatian driving school – view a guide here
  • Exchange your foreign driver’s license for a Croatian driver’s license – view a guide here

However, every owner of a vehicle must also possess a traffic license. It is a public document called prometna dozvola in Croatian. You must always carry your traffic license with you while driving.

A traffic license is a proof of:

  • Ownership of the vehicle
  • Right to mark the vehicle with certain registration plates
  • Ownership of registration plates
  • Technical and other characteristics of the vehicle
  • Right to participate in traffic

A traffic license also includes a card of performed preventive inspections on the vehicle. This card covers information on the validity of the periodic inspection of the vehicle and the inspection of the brakes.

A traffic license is issued by the technical inspection station after the technical inspection of a vehicle. After they perform the first technical inspection on your vehicle and conclude that the vehicle is correct for driving, you will receive a traffic license. If your vehicle has passed an annual technical inspection, your traffic license will be prolonged.

If you no longer want to drive your vehicle after the validity period of a traffic license expires, you must check out your vehicle at the technical inspection station within a period of 15 days from the expiration date.

Technical inspection of a vehicle in Croatia

Every vehicle that is used for driving in Croatia must be technically correct. A vehicle must pass a technical inspection on an annual basis. It is performed in a technical inspection station annually, before the annual registration of the vehicle.

Technical inspection is usually performed on the same day as the registration of the vehicle. Since both technical inspection and registration are performed at the technical station, it is convenient to do them at the same time.

The purpose of a technical inspection is to confirm the safety of the vehicle for the driver and others participating in traffic.

If testers determine that something is wrong with the vehicle, your vehicle will be declared incorrect. In this case, you must fix the failures and repeat the technical inspection. If you repeat the technical inspection within 15 days, you won’t have to pay a fee. You cannot register your vehicle without the green light from a technical inspection.

If everything went fine during the technical inspection and the vehicle is declared correct for driving, the traffic license will be prolonged for an additional year. In this case, you can register your vehicle for an additional year (or to the end of your residence permit, whichever comes first).

It is important to note that your car registration cannot extend past the expiration of your residence permit if you are a non-Croatian citizen.

Where to register a vehicle in Croatia?

Tehnički pregled in Split, Croatia (technical inspection)
Tehnički pregled (technical inspection) in Split, Croatia

To register a vehicle in Croatia, you must visit a technical inspection station according to your residence (prebivalište). Locals call these stations stanica za tehnički pregled.

[Read: Prebivalište and boravište: two addresses that must be registered with the police]

Another option is to register a vehicle in any other technical inspection station outside of your residence. However, this option is a bit slower. You have to send a written request to the desired station 30 days before you plan to register a vehicle. Then they need to order the registration plates with the mark of the proper registration area. After they approve your request, you can register the vehicle.

A map of all technical inspection stations in Croatia is available here. You can view all stations on the map or find a specific station according to your county.

Note: Foreign nationals and non-residents can buy a car in Croatia regardless if they have residency in Croatia or not (both third-country and EU/EEA nationals).

How to register a vehicle in Croatia?

Registration of vehicles in Croatia is defined by:

  • Zakon o sigurnosti prometa na cestama (Road traffic safety act) – Available here
  • Pravilnik o registraciji i označavanju vozila (Rulebook on vehicle registration and marking) – Available here

Below are the steps for registering a vehicle in Croatia according to the different scenarios.

#1 Collect the documentation

The first step is to collect all the required documentation that you must provide to register your vehicle. Being unprepared will only cause delays.

Documents vary by situation.

First registration of a new vehicle

You’ll need:

  • ID card or a passport
  • Residence permit (if not a citizen)
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
    • Invoice that proves that you bought the vehicle
    • Sales contract
    • Gift contract
    • Decision on inheritance
  • Proof of paid prescribed obligations
    • PPMV (Acquisition tax) stated on the invoice
    • VAT stated on the invoice
  • Declaration of compliance or certificate of compliance
  • Compulsory car insurance policy

First registration of a used vehicle

You’ll need:

  • ID card or a passport
  • Residence permit (if not a citizen)
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
    • Invoice that proves that you bought the vehicle
    • Sales contract
    • Customs declaration
  • Proof of paid prescribed obligations
    • PPMV (Acquisition tax) stated on the invoice
    • VAT stated on the invoice
  • Foreign traffic license
  • Proof of technical correctness of the vehicle
    • Record of the performed technical inspection
  • Compulsory car insurance policy

First registration of an imported vehicle 

You’ll need:

  • ID card or a passport
  • Residence permit (if not a citizen)
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
    • Invoice that proves that you bought a vehicle
    • Sales contract
  • Proof of paid prescribed obligations
    • PPMV (Acquisition tax) paid in customs office according to your residence
    • Acquisition tax on motor vehicles if the vehicle was purchased from a natural person
  • Foreign traffic license that shows the previous owner
  • Certificate of compliance of the individually inspected vehicle after the homologation procedure
  • Compulsory car insurance policy

If you are a third-country national or national of the EU/EEA Member State with a temporary or permanent stay in Croatia and you are temporarily importing a vehicle, you’ll also need to provide a Decision on approval of temporary import.

It is possible to temporarily register a vehicle in Croatia for a period of at least 60 days, but no longer than 12 months. Vehicles with foreign license plates whose markings and numbers are not in accordance with the provisions of international agreements concluded by the Republic of Croatia MUST be temporarily registered. They can be registered for less than 60 days.

[Read: How to import your car and belongings to Croatia]

Registration with a change of ownership

You’ll need:

  • ID card or a passport
  • Residence permit (if not a citizen)
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
    • Invoice that proves that you bought the vehicle
    • Sales contract
    • Gift contract
    • Decision on inheritance
  • Traffic license from the previous owner OR proof of technical correctness of the vehicle if a traffic license has expired
  • Compulsory car insurance policy

If someone else registers your car instead of you

If you don’t have time for registration, someone else can register your vehicle on your behalf.

They’ll need:

  • Their ID card or a passport
  • Your ID card or a passport OR power of attorney of the vehicle’s owner which must include
    • Name and surname of the vehicle owner
    • Date of birth of the vehicle owner
    • Registration number
    • Mark and type of vehicle
    • Chassis number
    • Signature of the vehicle owner
  • Traffic license

Note: The power of attorney doesn’t have to be verified by the notary public.

[Read: How to get something notarized]

Annual registration of a vehicle

Technical inspection and registration are valid for one year and must be performed annually.

They must be done within a period of 30 days before the registration of a vehicle expires each year.

For annual registration of your vehicle, you’ll need:

#2 Visit a technical inspection station

After collecting the required documentation, you can register your vehicle.

You have two options:

  • Visit a technical inspection station according to your residence
  • Visit a technical inspection station outside of your residence

Keep in mind that it is easier and faster to go to the station near your residence because you can go without prior notice. To go somewhere else, you’ll have to notify them 30 days before your visit, as explained in the previous section.

It is also good to know that locals often prefer the nearest technical inspection station. This way, they feel safer if something goes wrong and usually know what to expect.

Annual technical inspection and registration of a vehicle must be performed within a period of 30 days before the registration expires.

If you move to Croatia with a plan to live here longer than 6 months, you must register your car in Croatia within 6 months of importing the vehicle. If you stay in Croatia for less than 6 months, you don’t have to register your vehicle here.

[Read: How to import your car and belongings to Croatia]

#3 Register a car

When you come to the technical inspection station, they will conduct the registration procedure.

The authorized employee will:

  • Enter your vehicle into the system
  • Charge you a fee
  • Issue a traffic license
  • Give you the registration plates

Registration fees

The fee will vary. The first registration is the most expensive, and annual registrations are a bit cheaper. You can request a registration offer at any technical inspection station to check the prices.

Fees depend on:

  • Technical inspection station
  • Registration type
  • Type of vehicle
  • Engine type
  • Engine power
  • Vehicle emission class
  • Fuel type
  • Year of manufacture

Below are all approximate costs for the registration of a vehicle:

  • Annual road toll – 180 kuna to 1.201 kuna
  • Special environmental charge – 26 kuna to 227 kuna
  • Tax according to engine power – 400 kuna to 600 kuna

If you’re registering a vehicle for the first time, you also have to pay:

  • Traffic license – 35 kuna
  • Registration plates
    • Standard plates – 65 kuna
    • Custom plate –  2000 kuna
  • Administration fee in tax stamps – 15 kuna

[Read: What is a tax stamp and why do you need them]

The method of payment for registration costs depends on the technical inspection station. However, it is possible to pay in cash or via a bank card.

You can find an informative calculator for the registration fees here.

What do Croatian registration plates look like?

After you register a vehicle, you will get your unique Croatian registration (license) plates. They are white with black characters. Non-EU/EEA citizens with granted temporary or permanent residence in Croatia and temporarily registered vehicles get white plates with green characters.

Every registration plate contains:

  • Registration area mark (which identifies the municipality where you are registered – like ST for Split or ZG for Zagreb)
  • Vehicle registration number
    • Three or four numbers AND
    • One or two letters
  • Distinctive mark of the Republic of Croatia
  • Coat of arms of the Republic of Croatia

The vehicle registration number is assigned randomly. However, you can pick your registration number if you want if the desired number is free. You’ll have to pay an additional cost for ordering a custom registration number.

View our other vehicle posts


Sources:
Centar za vozila Hrvatske
Registracija vozila
Croatia tehnički pregledi
Registracija vozila by Kompare.hr

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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