Rights of permanent and long-term residents in Croatia
In Croatia, third-country citizens can apply for and gain a long-term stay called dugotrajno boravište or permanent residence called stalni boravak after a certain time.
Third-country citizens 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 citizen.
EU/EEA citizens 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 citizens
- Rights of EU/EEA citizens and family
- Rights when buying property
- Requirement to applying for citizenship
- Validity of residence permit
- Temporary and permanent addresses
- Family reunification
The facts are these…
Rights of permanent and long-term residents in Croatia
Once you are granted permanent residence, you never have to apply for residence again. You will need to renew your permit every 5 or 10 years, depending on your citizenship, but you will never again have to submit to the application process.
This comes with tremendous peace of mind that is impossible when you have temporary residence, especially as a non-EU/EEA citizen. You are essentially secure to live in Croatia as long as you’d like.
Third-country citizens with a granted long-term stay in Croatia called dugotrajno boravište or permanent residence called stalni boravak have certain fundamental rights in Croatia.
Article 159 of Zakon o strancima (Law on foreigners) says 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 discussing rights and obligations defined by the laws regulating mandatory health insurance and maternity and parental benefits, third-country citizens with long-term stay and permanent residence have the same rights.
Now we will explain all the above-mentioned rights in more detail…
#1 Right to work
According to the Ustav Republike Hrvatske (Constitution of the Republic of Croatia), everyone has the right and freedom to work. Everyone can choose a vocation and employment and access every job and duty under equal conditions.
Ustav 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. View all types of Croatian employment contracts here.
Work in Croatia without a work permit
To work in Croatia, third-country citizens without a long-term or permanent residence must get a Croatian work permit.
Learn more about work permits:
However, they can work in Croatia WITHOUT a work permit or work registration certificate. Once 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 citizens with permanent residence can employ themself in Croatia by opening their businesses. This is possible if they meet the requirements for opening a specific type of business.
[Read: Types of business in Croatia]
There are 5 types of businesses in Croatia:
- D.o.o. (limited liability company) – view a guide here
- J.d.o.o. (simple limited liability company) – view a guide here
- Obrt (trade business) – view a guide here
- OPG (family farm) – view a guide here
- Udruga (non-profit organization) – view a guide here
When opening a business, you can apply for a subsidy from a private company or government institution.
#3 Right to professional development
Professional development (vocational training and education) is any post-formal education and training to perform a regulated profession. It can include one or more programs supplemented by appropriate vocational training, traineeships, or professional practices.
#4 Right to education
Education is available to everyone under equal conditions, following 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 citizenship. This also applies to students with disabilities up to the age of 21.
EU/EEA and third-country citizens who are permanent Croatian residents whose children go to a public kindergarten, only have to pay part of the costs, and the city or the municipality pays the rest. If they don’t have permanent residence, they must pay the total price the kindergarten charges.
High school education and higher (college) education are not mandatory.
Learn more about the education in Croatia here.
#5 Right to student scholarship
Student scholarships in Croatia are awarded by institutions 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 citizens with permanent residency have the right to student scholarships (but not those awarded by the state). Specific scholarships are available only to Croatian and EU/EEA citizens with permanent residence in Croatia.
A database of scholarship applications available in Croatia is available here.
#6 Right to social welfare
According to the Zakon o socijalnoj skrbi (Social Welfare Act), everyone is obliged to take care of their life needs and those of the people they are obliged to support by law or another legal basis. This applies to Croatian citizens with residency (prebivalište) and foreign citizens with a permanent stay in Croatia.
Those who cannot be sustained through their work, rights arising from work or insurance, receipt of property, other sources, by people obliged to support them based on 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 is available here.
#7 Right to child allowance
Child allowance is a subsidy the Croatian state gives to parents or people authorized by law to support the maintenance and upbringing of their children.
Third-country citizens with permanent residence in Croatia have the right to receive a child allowance if they hold permanent residence in Croatia for at least 3 years.
#8 Right to tax relief
In Croatia, third-country citizens with granted permanent residence can receive tax relief for their dependent family members, including:
- Spouses – view a guide here
- Life partners – view a guide here
- 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 – view a guide here
- Foster children until their first employment
- Adults for whom you’re a guardian
If the above-mentioned family member resides outside of Croatia, they must prove they have the right to tax relief by presenting documents issued by competent foreign authorities not older than 6 months.
EU/EEA citizens and their family members who have been granted permanent residence in Croatia have the same rights as Croatian citizens. This is applicable regardless of whether their family member is a citizen of an EU/EEA member state or a third-country.
EU/EEA citizens and their family members are not required to apply for a Croatian work permit. If they want to work here, they can work without it. After they find a job, they can be employed under the same rights as Croatian citizens.
[Read: How to find a job in Croatia]
After the permanent stay in Croatia is granted, EU/EEA citizens and their families are obliged to apply for Croatian health insurance if they have not already done so.
Your Croatian residency status is important if you want to get a mortgage in Croatia. Croatian banks will rarely consider a mortgage to a foreigner with temporary residence. They want to be sure that you can pay them back.
However, the story is entirely different if you have permanent residence in Croatia. In this case, you qualify for a mortgage from some Croatian banks.
View our guide on Croatia’s biggest banks and a comparison of fees and services here.
Before purchasing a real estate property, third-country citizens 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.
Reciprocity agreements define under which terms third-country citizens can buy a property in Croatia. For some of them, 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 some scenarios, including:
- You have resided in Croatia continuously for 8 years (citizenship based on naturalization)
- 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 citizen)
In addition to the mentioned scenarios, you must meet other mandatory requirements for applying for Croatian citizenship.
Third-country citizens with 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 citizens with a granted permanent stay in Croatia can get a residence permit for up to 10 years.
People granted a long-term or permanent stay in Croatia have a right to:
- Temporary address called boravište
- Permanent address called prebivalište
Boravište is an address where people temporarily reside in Croatia. It is a place 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, prolonging it for another year is possible.
Prebivalište is an address where people live full-time or most of the time while residing in Croatia.
People with long-term or permanent residence must register boravište, prebivalište (if they have one), or their changes within 15.
Close family members of third-country citizens with granted long-term or permanent residence can join them in Croatia based on family reunification. This scenario is called privremeni boravak u svrhu spajanja obitelji in Croatian. Family members can use this as a basis to apply for temporary residence.
Close family members of third-country citizens are:
- Common-law spouses
- Minor children and adopted children of spouses and common-law spouses, life partners, or informal life partners
- Parents or adopters of minor children of a Croatian citizen, a third-country citizen who has been granted a long-term stay or permanent residence, asylum, or subsidiary protection
If you are in a polygamous marriage, temporary residence based on family reunification in Croatia can be granted to only one spouse. According to the Kazneni zakon (Criminal act), polygamous marriages are prohibited 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 citizens 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
Law on Foreigners
Law on citizens of member states of the European Economic Area and their family members
Permanent residence for citizens of a member state by Your Europe
Approval of Residence in Croatia
Third Country Citizens
Registration of residence – citizens of third countries by e-Građani
Constitution of the Republic of Croatia
Conditions for acquiring the right to child allowance by Mirovinsko
Part of the personal deduction for the maintenance of immediate family members and children by Porezna Uprava
Employment of foreigners from third countries according to the new Law on Foreigners by Informator
Payments to foreigners – non-residents through work contracts and royalties by Brojevi
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.