EU nationals are entitled to live and work in Croatia, since Croatia is an EU member nation. When an EU national moves to Croatia and registers as a resident, they are allowed to bring their family even if they are not EU citizens.
When we say “EU Nationals”, we are referring to nationals of the Europski gospodarski prostor – EGP (European Economic Area – EEA) and nationals of the Swiss Confederation. The EEA includes nationals of the European Union and of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein. Third-country or non-EU nationals refers to anyone with nationality outside of the EU/EEA area.
In this post, we will outline how the non-EU family members of EU nationals can apply for temporary residence in Croatia so that they can stay beyond the standard 90-day free travel period.
If you are an EU national and your family members are also EU nationals, then they are entitled to residency on their own in which case this post is a better fit for you and your family.
This post is only for family members of EU nationals who themselves are not from the EU, but are third-country nationals.
In this post, we will cover:
- Who is considered a family member of EU nationals
- Types of residence for non-EU family members of EU nationals
- How to apply for temporary residence in Croatia as a non-EU family member of an EU national
- How to get help with your residence application
Let’s get started…
There are strict definitions of who qualifies as a family member for the purposes of family reunification residence in Croatia.
Family members of EU nationals are:
- Extramarital partners
- If the community lasts 3 years
- If the community lasts shorter and it is possible to prove the stability of permanent relationship
- Descendants by blood in descending vertical line up to 21 years of age
- Descendants by blood in descending vertical line up to 21 years of age of spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU nationals
- Adopted children up to 21 years of age
- Adopted children up to 21 years of age of spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU nationals
- Descendants by blood in vertical line older than 21 years of age who are dependent on EU nationals
- Descendants by blood in vertical line older than 21 years of age who are dependent on spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU nationals
- Blood relatives in the ascending vertical line who are dependent on EU nationals
- Blood relatives in the ascending vertical line who are dependent on spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU nationals
There are some exceptions when other people can be considered a part of the family of EU nationals or their spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU nationals.
This is possible if other people are:
- Dependent members of the family
- Household members
- Dependent on family due to serious health condition
Non-EU family members of EU nationals can get two types of residence:
- Kratkotrajni boravak (Short-term residence) – up to 90 days
- Privremeni boravak (Temporary residence) – longer than 90 days
Short-term residence (tourist stay)
Non-EU family members of EU nationals can stay in Croatia for up to 90 days from the day they enter Croatia if they are not a burden to the welfare system. They can be an escort to EU nationals or join them in their stay in Croatia.
For short-term stay, non-EU family members must have a valid travel document. If requested by a police officer, they must show their travel document or they may be fined.
If they are not traveling with their EU national family member and do not hold legal residence in Croatia, they can only enter Croatia based on the rules defined for their nationality.
Everyone with a short-term stay in Croatia must register their accommodation. More information on how to register a tourist stay in Croatia is available here.
Non-EU family members of EU nationals who plan to stay in Croatia for more than 90 days must apply for residence to stay in Croatia. It must be done at least 8 days before their short-term residence expires.
This must be done at the nearest police station according to the address of their temporary stay.
Non-EU family members are obliged to submit the request for “boravišna iskaznica za člana obitelji državljanina Unije” (residence card for a family member of EU national). Residence card is valid for 5 years. If you plan to stay in Croatia shorter than 5 years, the residence card is valid until the end of your requested stay.
Before you can start your application for temporary residence as a family member of an EU national, your EU national family member must first apply and be approved for temporary residency in Croatia (if they are not a Croatian citizen).
Once their residence permit is approved, then you can begin your application.
A parent can submit an application for their minor children with the approval of the other parent. The other parent must sign the application or give a written statement verified by the notary public. If the child has only one guardian parent, the approval of the other parent isn’t required.
Below are instructions on how a non-EU family member of an EU national can apply for temporary residence in Croatia.
To apply for the temporary residence, you must provide required documents and meet some basic requirements.
Here are the requirements:
- A completed application form called “Zahtjev za izdavanje boravišne iskaznice za člana obitelji državljana države članice EGP-a koji nije državljanin države članice EGP-a” (Obrazac 2b) provided by the police – Download it here
- A copy of a valid passport (If passport is not in English language, then you must have a copy notarized and translated into Croatian)
- 30×35 mm photo
- Registered address where you will reside with your family member
- Proof that you are a family member of EU citizen
- For spouses – marriage certificate not older than 6 months, which must be apostilled/legalized, notarized and translated
- For extramarital partners – birth certificate not older than 6 months, certificate of free marital status, excerpt from the register of extramarital unions, birth certificate for child if they have one
- To prove child-parent relationship – a birth certificate, a decision on the adoption
- For dependent members, household members, and serious health conditions – birth certificate, decision on the adoption, medical documentation, proof of custody or alimony
- Criminal background check + certificate on the length of stay
- Third-country citizens applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must now provide a criminal background check and certificate on the length of stay from their country of nationality. This requirement went into effect January 1, 2021.
- Proof of financial means (more details on this below)
- Valid healthcare (more details on this below)
- Required fees
Note: Everyone in Croatia must have an address that is registered with the police. You can register the address in several ways:
- Notarized rental contract
- Notarized landlord statement that states you are allowed to live on the premises
- Landlord statement submitted through e-Građani
If your landlord statement is not notarized, then the owner will need to provide you with a confirmation from the tax office that the contract has been registered with them.
All documents that you enclose must be original documents or verified copies. Foreign government-issued documents must be apostilled/legalized, then notarized and translated by a Croatian notary.
To live in Croatia, you must prove you can financially support yourself and your dependents e.g. spouse and children, if applicable. There are two options for how to cover this requirement:
- Show (3) payment stubs from your employer in Croatia (if applicable)
- Show that you have enough money in a bank account (Croatian or foreign) to support you and whomever is with you for (1) year
Here are the current minimums for what you need to show you have to support yourself depending on your situation.
If you’re reading this, then the primary EU national has already gone through this so this requirement would have already been covered with their initial application.
Starting from 2021, non-EU family members of Croatian nationals don’t have to show a proof of financial means.
All residents in Croatia are required to have a valid state health care policy to gain residence. If you or your spouse are employed by a Croatian employer, then they will cover the cost of healthcare as part of the salary. If your family is financially independent, or your income comes from abroad, then you will need to have an insurance policy.
There are two situations that Croatia will accept for your health care requirement IF neither you nor your spouse are employed by a Croatian company.
- You have state health insurance in another EEA country
- You have state health insurance in Croatia through HZZO
1. You have health insurance in your home country
If you have state health insurance from the EEA nation that you are coming from, you are entitled to keep this policy. You will need to show proof of your valid health care from this country when applying for temporary residence. You don’t have to exchange your health care for Croatian health care, although you can if you want to. Usually an EHIC is sufficient.
If you decide to change your healthcare, you will need to first discontinue your health care in your home country. Get proof from your home country that you no longer have state health care and then go to HZZO within Croatia to sign up for a state policy.
2. You don’t have health insurance in your home country
If you don’t have health insurance in your previous EU home country, you must apply for Croatian health insurance within 8 days of obtaining a temporary residence although it is not unusual that the police will require you to sign up for a policy BEFORE approving your residency application.
The cost of state health insurance changes from year to year based on average salaries. You can see the latest amounts here. It is also recommended that you sign up for dopunsko supplement, which eliminates any out of pocket costs and is especially recommended if you have kids.
Go to the HZZO administration office nearest to your address in Croatia. You’ll need the following documents to apply for state health insurance:
- HZZO’s application form for family members, as presumably your EU spouse has already signed up for a policy (HZZO will provide you with this form)
- National ID or passport
- A certificate which states that you don’t have health insurance in your EU/EEA home country
When signing up for insurance for the first time, you will be required to show that you have been insured for the previous 12 months. If not, then you will need to pay premiums for any of the previous 12 months you were not insured.
Step #2 File your application
You can apply for residence at the closest administrative police station to your registered address. The list of all administrative police stations in Croatia can be found here.
Check with your local police station first to see if you need to set an appointment or if you can just walk in. Every police station is different. Ask them for the latest information regarding the requirements for temporary residence.
Once you get there, ask for the desk called “šalter za strance” (desk for foreigners). They are in charge of residence permits. Some police stations may allow you to submit the request via email.
Step #3 Wait
When you submit the request to the police, you must wait for their response. This can take a few weeks to a few months.
Once your temporary residence is approved, the police will notify you by phone so make you provide a phone number. They usually ask for one, but not always.
Once approved, you’ll need to return to the police station. The police will have you sign some documents, take your fingerprints, and ask that you pay a fee for your boravišna iskaznica (residence card), which costs 79,50 kn. This fee cannot be paid at the police station. For children up to age of 12, fingerprints and signatures are not taken.
You’ll be provided a payment slip, which you’ll need to pay at a bank or post office. Once paid, bring proof of payment back to the police station. Here is detailed info on how to pay invoices, such as this.
After you submit proof of payment, they will give you a white card that serves as proof of your residency until your residence card is ready. DO NOT LOSE THIS WHITE CARD. You will need it to pick up your official ID. It takes 3 weeks for them to make your card, usually to the day.
After 3 weeks, bring the white card back to pick up your brand new residence card. Once your residence card is issued, it will contain the mark “Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen”.
The temporary residence card will be valid for 5 years. After 5 years, you will qualify to apply for permanent residence.
However, keep in mind that a temporary residence will terminate if you stay outside of Croatia for more than 6 months a year during your temporary stay.
We crafted this post to be as detailed as possible, but sometimes questions still arise because everyone’s situation is different. If you’d like personalized guidance based on your situation, we can help.
Save yourself the time and uncertainty of trying to navigate the ever-changing rules for living in Croatia by scheduling a private chat with me, Sara Dyson, the creator of Expat in Croatia.
I am an American that has lived in Croatia since 2012 (before the country entered the EU), opened and operated 2 companies, applied for 5 residence permits as a non-EU citizen and written about Croatia and its bureaucracy extensively since 2013. I am well-versed in what it takes to make Croatia your home, which obstacles to look out for and how to make as seamless a transition as possible.
During our chat, I will answer all of your questions about Croatia. You can tap into my expertise on anything you want; whether it be residency, citizenship, healthcare, buying property, letting accommodation, operating a business, what it’s like to live here, personal experiences with bureaucracy or cultural nuance. It’s all tailored to you.
To complete the package, I follow up after your session with additional information, links to relevant resources and contact information for local experts personally vetted by me like lawyers, real estate agents, tax advisors, accountants and translators. All recommendations and resources will be specifically curated based on your individual needs discussed in the session.
You can read reviews from people I’ve helped here.
Consulting sessions cost 60 Euros per half hour (including PDV), prepaid in advance. This cost includes:
- Preparation time before our session
- Duration of our session
- Preparation of follow up email after our session with resources and contacts
Meetings can be arranged over video chat, or in person. I’m always happy to meet people in person in Split, but please note the minimum commitment for an in-person session is 1-hour or 120 Euros. Additional time may be charged for intensive research.
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can always introduce you to expat-vetted lawyers, by request.
To schedule a 1-on-1 consulting session, complete the below form. Sessions are usually scheduled at least 1 to 2 weeks in advance due to the high volume of requests we receive.
Boravak i rad državljana država članica EGP-a i članova njihovih obitelji
Pravilnik o ulasku i boravku u Republici Hrvatskoj državljana država članica Europskog gospodarskog prostora i članova njihove obitelji
Zakon o državljanima država članica Europskog gospodarskog prostora i članovima njihovih obitelji
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.