Restrictions on travel while you have legal residence in Croatia: Guide for 2024

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Croatia travel restrictions
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UPDATED: 16.02.2023.

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/EEA citizens
  • UK citizens (in post-Brexit Europe)
  • Third-country citizens (non-EU/EEA)

The third country means anyone who is not EU/EEA/EGP, so Americans, Brazilians, Canadians, Malaysians, South Africans, and Australians are all considered “third country citizens”. Brits post-Brexit are also considered third-country citizens, but those who already held residence at the end of 2020 will continue to enjoy certain EU privileges.

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The facts are these…

Restrictions on travel while you have legal residence in Croatia

Temporary residents in Croatia

#1 If you are a temporary resident and an EU/EEA citizen (or family member of an EU/EEA citizen)

If you have temporary residency and are an EU/EEA citizen, then you must be in Croatia at least 183 days 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 canceled.

The requirements for EU/EEA citizens also apply to their nuclear family members if they are EU/EEA nationals. If family members are third-country nationals with a residence based on family reunification, they can’t be gone longer than six months per year.

[Read: How EU citizens can get temporary residence in Croatia]

#2 If you are a UK citizen with post-Brexit protected status and temporary residence

UK citizens who are granted temporary residence before the end of 2020 will also have the above EU/EEA privileges throughout the duration of their permit.

[Read: How Brits can visit and live in Croatia]

#3 If you are a temporary resident and a third-country citizen

For non-EU/EEA citizens, the law is crystal clear on this. Let’s turn to our cherished Law on foreigners.

Ukidanje odobrenja privremenog boravka

Članak 87.

(1) Ministarstvo, putem policijske uprave odnosno policijske postaje, ukinut će privremeni boravak državljaninu treće zemlje ako:

5. od dana odobrenja privremenog boravka odobrenog na rok do godine dana boravi u inozemstvu višekratno duže od 90 dana ukupno ili duže od 30 dana jednokratno

6. od dana odobrenja privremenog boravka odobrenog na rok do dvije godine boravi u inozemstvu višekratno duže od 180 dana ukupno ili duže od 60 dana jednokratno

which translates to…

Cancellation of temporary residence permit

Article 87

(1) The Ministry, through the police administration or police station, will cancel the temporary stay of a citizen of a third country if:

5. from the date of approval of temporary residence approved for a period of up to one year, stays abroad for more than 90 days in total or more than 30 days once

6. from the date of approval of temporary residence approved for a period of up to two years, stays abroad for more than 180 days in total or more than 60 days once

Point 6 applies to family members of Croatian nationals and EU Blue Card holders who both can get a residence permit for up to 2 years at once.

[Read: How third-country (non-EU/EEA) citizens can apply for temporary residence in Croatia]

There are exceptions to this that are called “justified reasons”. If you need to be gone for up to 90 days at once, go speak to MUP about it before you leave Croatia. Usually, if you explain your situation to them, you can get an exception. If justified reasons arise after leaving Croatia, you must notify the Croatian diplomatic mission or a consular office within 30 days.

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 for more than allowed, 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. [Read: How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency]

Permanent residents in Croatia

#1 If you are a permanent resident and an EU/EEA citizen

In this case, your permanent residency will be canceled 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.

[Read: How EU/EEA citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia]

#2 If you are a permanent resident and a UK citizen with post-Brexit protected status

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.

#3 If you are a permanent resident and a third-country citizen

Your long-term residency will be canceled if:

  • You have resided outside the EU/EEA territory for a continuous period of 12 months
  • You have resided outside of Croatia for more than 6 years

[Read: How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia]

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 upfront with MUP about your extended travel plans. [Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

View other residency posts

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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