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Rights of permanent residents in Croatia

This post has been verified with Croatian law and relevant ministries.
A street in Labin, Istria
A street in Labin, Istria

UPDATED: 20/12/2022

In Croatia, third-country nationals can apply for and gain a long-term stay called dugotrajno boravište or permanent residence called 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:

The facts are these…

Peace of mind on granting permanent residence in Croatia

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/EEA national. You are essentially secure to live in Croatia as long as you’d like.

Rights of third-country nationals with long-term stay or permanent residence in Croatia

Third-country nationals with a granted long-term stay in Croatia called dugotrajno boravište or permanent residence called stalni boravak have certain fundamental rights in Croatia.

[Read: How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency 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 Ustav Republike Hrvatske (Constitution of the Republic of Croatia), everyone has the right to work and the 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 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 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 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/EEA 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/EEA 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
  • Foundations
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Private companies

Third-country nationals with permanent residency in Croatia have the right to student scholarships but not those awarded by the state. Certain state student scholarships are available only to Croatian nationals and EU/EEA 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 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, or 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.

Zakon o socijalnoj skrbi (The social welfare act) is available here.

#7 Right to child allowance

Child allowance is a subsidy 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:

  • Spouses
  • Life partners
  • Common-law partners
  • Informal life partners
  • Parents
  • 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.

[Read: All types of marital unions and partnerships in Croatia (along with their rights and privileges)]

Rights of EU/EEA nationals and their family members with permanent residence in Croatia

EU/EEA nationals and their family members who have been granted permanent 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.

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

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 EU/EEA citizens and Croats can sign up for Croatian state health insurance]

Rights when buying real estate property in Croatia

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, if you have permanent residence in Croatia, the story is completely different. In this case, you qualify for a mortgage from some Croatian banks.

[Read: Croatia’s banks that offer mortgages and who they will consider for a loan]

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:

  • Australia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – Brčko district
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United States of America, residents of the following states:
    • Arkansas
    • Hawaii
    • Kentucky
    • Minnesota
    • Mississippi
    • New Hampshire
    • Oklahoma
    • Vermont

[Read: How to get a mortgage loan in Croatia]

Pre-condition to applying for Croatian citizenship

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)
  • 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]

[Read: How to apply for Croatian citizenship based on naturalization if you are an EU/EEA citizen]

Validity of Croatian long-term residence permit

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.

Temporary and permanent address in Croatia

In Croatia, people granted a long-term stay or permanent residence have a right to register:

  • 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.

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

Family reunification in Croatia

Close family members of third-country nationals with granted long-term stay 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 nationals are:

  • Spouses
  • 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]

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, 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


Sources:
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 Nationals
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.

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