One of the most common (and most ironic) questions I am asked about living in Croatia is “how long can I be gone from Croatia?”.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge into the bureaucratic abyss that is Croatian immigration, then you’re probably a traveler at heart. We all need and want to travel outside Croatia from time to time. It is inevitable and sometimes, required to keep our sanity.
However, there are restrictions on how long you can be gone from Croatia when you hold a residence permit. If you surpass these restrictions, then your legal residency can be jeopardized. It is vital that you know and understand the limits before taking an extended leave from the country.
Understandably, Croatia does not want people gaining legal residency and then spending most of their time elsewhere. In this post, we’ll cover the limits for both temporary residency and permanent residency depending on your nationality.
In the eyes of the Croatian government, there are three types of “nationality” that determine your particular travel restrictions:
- EU/EGP citizens
- UK citizens (in post-Brexit Europe)
- Third-country citizens
Third country means anyone who is not EU/EEA/EGP, so Americans, Brazilians, Canadians, Malaysians, South Africans and Australians are all considered “third country”. Brits post-Brexit are also considered third-country, but those who already held residence at the end of 2020 will continue to enjoy certain privileges.
Jump to sections that include:
- Temporary residents in Croatia
- Permanent residents in Croatia
If you have temporary residency and are EU/EGP citizen, then you can be gone up to 6 months per year. If you need to be gone longer (up to a year) you can do so for childbirth, illness, study or vocational training as long as you notify MUP (the police) first.
If you are gone longer than 6 months, or gone longer than 1 year without permission, your residence permit and the permits of those tied to you can be cancelled.
The requirements for EU/EEA citizens also apply to their nuclear family members, even if they are third-country nationals if they have residence based on family reunification. To be more clear, if you are married to a Croatian citizen, then you can be gone up to 6 months per year.
UK citizens who are granted temporary residence before the end of 2020, will also have the above privileges throughout the duration of their permit.
If you have temporary residency in Croatia, the law on foreigners states that third-country nationals cannot leave Croatia for more than 30 continuous days each year. However, in practice MUP (the police who manage immigration) say that you cannot be gone for more than 30 days in a year, continuous or not.
There are exceptions to this. If you need to be gone for more than 30 days, go speak to MUP about it. Usually if you explain your situation to them, you can get an exception.
This is not a situation where you can do it and ask for forgiveness later. You MUST let them know if you will be gone longer than the defined limit. Otherwise, you can be fined and/or your permit will be jeopardized. If you are gone more than 30 continuous days, then MUP can cancel your temporary residence permit.
The other thing to consider is permanent residency. After 5 years of continuous temporary residency, you will qualify to apply for permanent residency. During the permanent residency process, your travel records will be reviewed. If you are gone more than 10 months or once for more than 6 months over the course of 5 years, you may be denied permanent residency.
Your permanent residency will be cancelled if you are gone for more than two years without a relevant excuse and proper advance notification given to MUP. This also applies to your immediate family members who are third-country nationals with residence based on family reunification.
Per the UK’s agreement for withdrawal from the EU, UK citizens with permanent residence in Croatia can only lose their permanent residence if they leave Croatia for more than 5 years. The EU giving the UK and its nationals preferential treatment over EU citizens from countries who aren’t leaving the EU may sound odd, but that’s the agreement.
Your long-term residency will be canceled if:
- Your have resided outside the EEA territory for a continuous period of 12 months
- Your have resided outside of Croatia for more than 6 years
Other things to consider
If you need to be gone beyond the limit, it is important to know that family is the most accepted and valued excuse for extended travel.
If your permit will expire while you are traveling, make sure you start the application for your new permit BEFORE leaving. You are required to visit MUP two months prior to the expiration of your permit to start your next application. You must have a valid permit at all times.
If your permit lapses, you will be forced to leave Croatia for at least 90 days. Depending on your situation, you may need to re-apply for a permit from abroad before you can re-enter the country.
When it comes to preserving your legal residency in Croatia, honesty and transparency are always the best policies. Be up front with MUP about your extended travel plans. Here is a list of all of the MUP offices by city.