The Central State Office for Croats Abroad (Središnji državni ured za Hrvate izvan Republike Hrvatske) is the state body that regulates the relationship between the Republic of Croatia and Croatian diaspora who live outside the country. It was established in 2012.
Office for Croats Abroad is focused on the protection of rights and interests of Croats outside of Croatia and strengthening Croatian communities. They give special attention to their peculiarities and unique needs.
In this post, we cover:
- Scope of work of Office for Croats Abroad
- Who are Croats outside of Croatia
- Benefits for Croats without Croatian nationality and status
- Who can get a status of Croat without Croatian nationality
- How to request a status of a Croat without Croatian nationality
- How to get certificate of belonging to Croatian people
- Scholarship for learning the Croatian language
The facts are these…
The Central State Office for Croats Abroad connects and cooperates with diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Croatia through The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. [Read: All the Croatian government ministries and what they do]
The scope of the Office for Croats Abroad is defined by the Zakon o odnosima Republike Hrvatske s Hrvatima izvan Republike Hrvatske (Law on relations of the Republic of Croatia and Croats outside the Republic of Croatia).
Their scope includes the following activities:
- Coordination and supervision of activities between competent Croatian ministries, other state administration bodies, and other holders of cooperation between Croatia and Croats outside of Croatia
- Care for protection of rights and interests of Croats outside of Croatia
- Care for preservation and strengthening the identity of Croats outside of Croatia
- Establishment, maintenance, and promotion of the relationship with Croats outside of Croatia
- Strengthening cooperation with Croats outside Croatia and development of the communication strategy for them
- Performance of the activities related to creating conditions for the return of emigrants/diaspora to Croatia and their inclusion in economic and social life, in cooperation with other competent ministries
- Proposing a policy to encourage and assist return and immigration processes
- Implementation of measures and programs for the integration of Croatian returnees and immigrants
- Providing assistance in entrepreneurial investments
- Economic support for the return and sustainable survival of Croats as a constituent nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatian minorities in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo
- Economic support to other Croatian communities as needed
- Implementation of the strategy and proposing projects and implementation plans, as well as monitoring their implementation
- Managing prescribed records on Croats outside of Croatia
- Planning and assuring financial resources for programs and projects for Croats outside of Croatia
- Other jobs prescribed by a special law
Essentially, this office is in charge of solving all questions that regard Croats living outside of Croatia.
Croatian version of this Act is available here.
English version of this Act is available here.
Spanish version of this Act is available here.
Croats outside the Republic of Croatia include:
- Croats with Croatian nationality
- Croats with the “Status Hrvata bez hrvatskog državljanstva” (Status of Croat without Croatian nationality)
- Croats without Croatian nationality and without the status of Croat without Croatian nationality, who are ethnically Croatian and/or have Croatian ancestry
The above-mentioned groups include:
- Members of the sovereign and constitutive Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina)
- Members of the Croatian minority in European countries (Croatian minority)
- Croatian emigrants in overseas and European countries and their descendants (Croatian emigrants/diaspora).
In accordance with the Croatian Citizenship Act, the acquisition of Croatian citizenship to Croats outside the Republic of Croatia will be accelerated. The Croatian Citizenship Act is available here.
Croatian diaspora and national minorities
The government publishes statistics about the Croatian diaspora abroad. You can find this information below.
Croatian diaspora by country:
- Belgium and Luxembourg
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Kingdom of Norway
- New Zealand
- South African Republic
- Swiss Confederation
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- United States of America
Croatian national minorities by country:
- 12 European countries
- Czech Republic
Croats without Croatian nationality and without the status of Croat without Croatian nationality have certain benefits in Croatia. In accordance with Zakon o strancima (Law on foreigners), the state enables them an accelerated procedure for obtaining:
The state also gives them additional benefits including:
- Easier enrollment in Croatian schools and faculties
- Support with the employment process
- Summer/winter Croatian language schools
- Cultural and educational programs
- Seasonal student work
- Student scholarships
- Right to purchase real estate
- Support for the return of retirees through international agreements on social and health insurance.
Status Hrvata bez hrvatskog državljanstva (Status of Croat without Croatian nationality) is a special designation that certain people who live outside Croatia can request.
The following people can request this status:
- Croats who live outside of Croatia
- Spouses of Croats who don’t have Croatian heritage
- Adopted and biological children of Croats outside of Croatia
- Foreigners who are friends of the Croatian nation and the Republic of Croatia who nurture the Croatian identity and promote the Croatian cultural community (based on recommendations of Croatian institutions and associations or membership in Croatian organizations)
People who belong to the above-mentioned groups can request the status of a Croat without Croatian nationality even if they don’t have Croatian citizenship. While having this status will not harm your ability to apply for citizenship later (given that you qualify), it certainly would be an asset in any citizenship application.
This status is especially beneficial for people whose home country doesn’t allow dual citizenship.
The status of a Croat without Croatian nationality ends if:
- You are granted Croatian citizenship
- You’ve renounced your Croatian citizenship
- You’ve damaged the reputation of the Republic of Croatia and Croatian communities by your behavior, so your status has been revoked
If you’re unsure if you qualify for Croatian citizenship, click here to find out now. You’ll have your answer in less than 60 seconds.
If you already know you qualify and want to begin the process, check out our complete guide on Croatian citizenship.
The request for getting this status must be delivered to the Central State Office for Croats Abroad at a Croatian embassy and consulate abroad. A list of Croatian embassies and consular offices outside of Croatia is available here.
When applying, members of the Croatian people and their spouses and children must enclose proof of belonging to the Croatian people. Jump to this section to learn how to get this certificate.
Foreign friends of the Croatian nation must enclose recommendations of Croatian institutions, associations, or organizations that prove their commitment to nurturing Croatian identity and promoting the Croatian cultural community. They don’t have to enclose proof of belonging to the Croatian people.
After they process the application, the office will deliver a Rješenje (Decision). If you don’t agree with the result, you have the right to appeal within 15 days from the day of delivery of the decision.
Rights of people with status
The status of a Croat without Croatian nationality comes with certain benefits. People with this status are not considered foreigners when considering:
In the above-mentioned situations, people are treated like Croatian citizens.
Members of the Croatian people with foreign nationality or without nationality who want to apply for privremeni boravak (short-term stay) or stalni (permanent) stay in Croatia, must get a certificate of belonging to Croatian people called “Potvrda o pripadnosti hrvatskom narodu”.
As of January 2021, the law on foreigners states that members of the Croatian people with foreign citizenship or without citizenship can get temporary residence for humanitarian reasons if they own a certificate of belonging to Croatian people. Owners of this certificate can also apply for permanent residence in Croatia if they have returned to Croatia to live there permanently and they have continuously lived in Croatia for 3 years until the day of applying.
In the above-mentioned cases, a certificate of belonging to Croatian people is only one of the requirements when applying for temporary or permanent residence. Before you submit the application at MUP, you must obtain this certificate at the Office for Croats Abroad. The process differs for each individual.
To get this certificate, first, contact the Office for Croats Abroad personally. They will set up an appointment to examine your case. After the interview, you must deliver them the required documentation that proves that you belong to the Croatian people. The documentation depends on your case, but it usually includes:
- Your personal data
- Documentation proving your family tree
- Personal data of your family members
After you submit the request for the issuance of the certificate, the office will examine your case and decide whether they will issue the certificate or not.
This office awards scholarships for online learning of the Croatian language, specifically “Croatian Internet Course HiT-1” offered by the University of Zagreb. The scholarship is approved for the initial level of the Croatian language.
The following people can apply for the scholarship:
- Members of the Croatian people or their descendants, spouses as well as friends of the Croatian people and the Republic of Croatia who nurture the Croatian identity and promote the Croatian cultural community.
- Those over the age of 18 who have at least acquired secondary education and residence outside the Republic of Croatia, or registered residence/stay in the Republic of Croatia, but not longer than three years as of the date of publication of the scholarship invitation
For the 2021/22 school year, a total of 10 scholarships for online learning of the Croatian language were awarded. The course is organized by the University of Zagreb as well as the Croatian Heritage Foundation and the University Computing Center SRCE.
The amount of the scholarship is not published. The cost of the online Croatian language course is paid directly to the course organizer.
View more information here.
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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.