In Croatia, third-country nationals can apply for and gain long-term stay (dugotrajno boravište) or permanent residence (stalni boravak) after a certain period of time.
Third-country nationals qualify to apply for a long-term stay or permanent residence if they have temporary residence, asylum, or subsidiary protection for a continuous period of 5 years (or 4 years if married to a Croatian national). EU/EEA nationals also qualify to apply for a permanent stay in Croatia after 5 years of continuous stay in Croatia.
Permanent residents have additional rights and privileges that temporary residents do not have.
In this post, we cover:
- Peace of mind
- Rights of third-country nationals with long-term stay and permanent residence
- Rights of EU/EEA nationals and their family members
- Rights when buying real estate property in Croatia
- Pre-condition to applying for Croatian citizenship
- Validity of residence permit
- Temporary and permanent address
- Family reunification
The facts are these…
Once you are granted permanent residence, you never have to apply for residence ever again. You will need to renew your permit every 5 or 10 years, depending on your nationality, but you will never again have to submit to the application process.
This comes with tremendous peace of mind that is just not possible when you have temporary residence, especially as a non-EU national. You are essentially secure to live in Croatia as long as you’d like.
Third-country nationals with granted long-term stay (dugotrajno boravište) or permanent residence (stalni boravak) in Croatia have certain fundamental rights in Croatia.
According to Article 159 of Law on Foreigners, they have the right to:
- Work (rad)
- Self-employment (samozapošljavanje)
- Professional development (stručno usavršavanje)
- Education (obrazovanje)
- Student scholarship but not state scholarships (studentske stipendije)
- Social welfare (socijalna skrb)
- Child allowance (doplatak za djecu)
- Tax relief (porezne olakšice)
- Access to the market of goods and services (pristup tržištu roba i usluga)
- Freedom of association and membership, and membership in organizations that represent workers or employers, or organizations whose members perform special occupations, including fees provided by these organizations
These rights are realized according to the regulations of the Republic of Croatia that regulate certain areas.
When talking about rights and obligations defined by the law that regulates mandatory health insurance and the law that regulates maternity and parental benefits, third-country nationals with granted long-term stay and permanent residence have the same rights. [Read: How to sign up for state health insurance in Croatia]
Now we will explain all the above-mentioned rights in more detail…
#1 Right to work
According to the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia, everyone has the right to work and freedom to work. Everyone is free to choose a vocation and employment, and everyone has access to every job and duty under equal conditions.
The Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (Ustav Republike Hrvatske) is a general legal act with the highest legal force in Croatia. It is available here.
Foreigners with permanent residence in Croatia can work under an author’s or service contract as freelancers, which is typically a privilege only afforded to Croatian and EU/EEA citizens. [Read: How to hire or work as a freelancer in Croatia]
Work in Croatia without a work permit
To work in Croatia, third-country nationals without a long-term stay or permanent residence must get a Croatian work and stay permit. [Read: How to apply for a work permit in Croatia]
However, third-country nationals with granted long-term stay or permanent residence have the right to work in Croatia WITHOUT a work and stay permit or work registration certificate. If they get a job in Croatia, their employer must employ them under the same rights as any Croatian or EU/EEA citizen. [Read: How to find a job in Croatia]
#2 Right to self-employment
Third-country nationals with permanent residence have the right to employ themself in Croatia by opening a business. This is possible if they meet general requirements for opening a certain type of business. [Read: Types of business in Croatia]
There are 5 types of business in Croatia:
- d.o.o. (limited liability company)
- j.d.o.o. (simple limited liability company)
- obrt (trade business)
- OPG (family farm)
- udruga (non-profit organization)
When opening your own business, it is also possible to get a subsidy from a private company or government institution. [Read: Government grants and loans for entrepreneurs in Croatia]
#3 Right to professional development
Professional development (vocational training and education) is any post-formal education and training aimed at performing a particular regulated profession. It can include one or more programs that can be supplemented by appropriate vocational training, traineeships, or professional practices.
#4 Right to education
According to the Constitution, education is available to everyone under equal conditions, in accordance with their abilities. Compulsory education is free of charge for children between 6 and 15 years of age with residency (prebivalište or boravište) in Croatia regardless of their nationality. This is also valid for students with disabilities up to the age of 21.
If their children attend a public kindergarten, EU nationals and third-country nationals who are permanent residents of Croatia only have to pay part of the costs, and the rest is paid by the city or the municipality. EU nationals and third-country nationals without a permanent residence in Croatia must pay the full price charged by the kindergarten.
High-school education and higher (college) education are not mandatory.
[Read: Education in Croatia]
#5 Right to student scholarship
Student scholarships in Croatia are awarded by institutions and organizations from the governmental, non-governmental, and private sectors including:
- Higher education institutions
- State and local government bodies
- International organizations
- Non-governmental organizations
- Private companies
Third-country nationals with permanent residency in Croatia have the right to student scholarships but not the ones that are awarded by the state. Certain state student scholarships are available only to Croatian nationals and EU nationals with permanent residence in Croatia.
A database of scholarship applications available in Croatia is available here.
#6 Right to social welfare
According to the Social Welfare Act, everyone is obliged to take care of their life needs and the needs of the persons whom they are obliged to support by law or another legal basis. This applies to Croatian nationals with residency (prebivalište) in Croatia and foreign nationals with a permanent stay in Croatia.
However, people who cannot be sustained through their work, rights arising from work or insurance, receipt of property, other sources, by people obliged to support them on the basis of regulations governing family relations or in any other way, have the right to social welfare under the conditions prescribed by this act.
The social welfare act (Zakon o socijalnoj skrbi) is available here.
#7 Right to child allowance
Child allowance is a subsidy that the Croatian state gives to parents or other persons authorized by law to support the maintenance and upbringing of their children.
Third-country nationals with granted permanent residence in Croatia have the right to receive a child allowance if they hold permanent residence in Croatia for at least 3 years. [Read: Family services and child benefits in Croatia]
#8 Right to tax relief
In Croatia, third-country nationals with granted permanent residence have the right to receive tax relief for their dependent family members including:
- Life partners
- Common-law partners
- Informal life partners
- Stepmothers and stepfathers supported by their adult stepchildren
- Biological children until their first employment
- Adopted children until their first employment
- Foster children until their first employment
- Adults for whom you’re a guardian
If the above-mentioned family member has a residence outside of Croatia, they must prove that they have the right to tax relief by presenting documents issued by competent foreign authorities not older than 6 months.
EU/EEA nationals and their family members who have been granted residence in Croatia have the same rights as Croatian nationals. This is applicable regardless of whether their family member is a national of an EU/EEA Member state or a third-country national.
EU/EEA nationals and their family members are not required to apply for a Croatian work permit. If they want to work in Croatia, they have the right to work without a work permit. After they find a job, they can be employed under the same rights as Croatian nationals. [Read: How to find a job in Croatia]
After the permanent stay in Croatia is granted, EU/EEA nationals and their family members are obliged to apply for Croatian health insurance, if they have not already done so. [Read: How to sign up for state health insurance in Croatia]
Your Croatian residency status is important if you want to get a mortgage in Croatia. Banks will rarely consider a mortgage to a foreigner with temporary residence. They want to be sure that you will be able to pay them back. [Read: Croatia’s biggest banks: Comparison of fees and services]
However, if you have permanent residence in Croatia, the story is completely different. In this case, you qualify to get a mortgage from some Croatian banks. [Read: How to get a mortgage loan in Croatia]
Before purchasing a real estate property, third-country nationals must receive permission to buy the property from the Croatian Ministry of Justice. The Ministry will check whether your country has a reciprocity agreement with Croatia or not. [Read: How to buy residential real estate in Croatia]
Reciprocity agreements define under what terms third-country nationals can buy a property in Croatia. For some third-country nationals, the agreement demands granted permanent residence in Croatia.
This applies to citizens of:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – Brčko district
- Saudi Arabia
- United States of America, residents of the following states:
- New Hampshire
Granted permanent residency in Croatia is a pre-condition to applying for Croatian citizenship in certain scenarios.
Permanent residency is a mandatory requirement for Croatian citizenship if:
- You have resided in Croatia continuously for 8 years (citizenship based on naturalization)
- A child has permanent residence in Croatia and their parent is being granted Croatian citizenship based on naturalization (citizenship based on naturalization)
- You are a spouse of a Croatian citizen with permanent residence in Croatia (citizenship based on a marriage to a Croatian national)
In addition to the above/mentioned scenarios, it is also required to meet other mandatory requirements for applying for Croatian citizenship. [Read: How to apply for Croatian citizenship]
Third-country nationals with granted long-term stay or permanent residence can get a residence permit for up to 5 years. The residence permit is called “dozvola boravka” in Croatian.
EU/EEA nationals with a granted permanent stay in Croatia can get a residence permit for up to 10 years.
In Croatia, people with granted long-term stay or permanent residence have a right to register two types of addresses:
- Temporary address called “boravište”
- Permanent address called “prebivalište”
Boravište is an address where people temporarily reside in Croatia. It is an address where they often stay, but without any intention to live there permanently. Boravište can be registered for up to a year. After this period expires, it is possible to prolong it for another year.
Prebivalište is an address where people live full-time or most of the time while residing in Croatia.
People with granted long-term stay or permanent residence must register boravište, prebivalište (if they have one), or their changes within 15 days after the day of the change.
Close family members of third-country nationals with granted long-term stay or permanent residence can join them in Croatia based on “family reunification”. In Croatia, this scenario is called “privremeni boravak u svrhu spajanja obitelji”. Family members can use this as a basis to apply for temporary residence.
Close family members of third-country nationals are:
- Common-law spouses
- Minor children and adopted children of spouses and common-law spouses, life partners, or informal life partners
- Parents or adoptors of minor children of a Croatian citizen, a third-country national who has been granted a long-term stay or permanent residence, asylum, or subsidiary protection. [Read: How to adopt a child and adoption by foreigners]
Note: If you are in a polygamous marriage, temporary residence based on family reunification in Croatia can be granted to only one spouse. However, according to the Criminal act which is available here, polygamous marriages are not allowed in Croatia. If you or your chosen one are already married to someone, you can not get married again. Otherwise, you may be sentenced to up to one year in prison.
View our other residency posts
- Available visas and residence permits for Croatia
- Difference between getting a visa and a residence permit in Croatia
- How American citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How Australian citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How Brits can visit and live in Croatia
- How Canadian citizens can visit and live 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 South African citizens can visit and live in Croatia
- How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia
- How to apply for a work permit
- How to apply for the digital nomad residence permit in Croatia
- How to apply for residence based on prepayment of rent
- How to get a residence permit based on property
- How to get residency by opening a Croatian business
- How to study & gain student residence in Croatia
- How to transition from temporary to permanent residence
- 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.