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How non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia: Guide for 2023

This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration.
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UPDATED: 18.1.2023.

EU/EEA nationals are entitled to live and work in Croatia since Croatia is an EU/EEA member nation. When an EU/EEA national moves to Croatia and registers as a resident, they are allowed to bring their family even if they are not EU/EEA citizens.

When we say EU/EEA Nationals, we are referring to nationals of the Europski gospodarski prostor – EGP (European Economic Area – EEA) and nationals of the Swiss Confederation.

The EU/EEA includes nationals of the European Union and Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Third-country or non-EU/EEA nationals refers to anyone with nationality outside of the EU/EEA area.

In this post, we will outline how the non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA 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/EEA national and your family members are also EU/EEA nationals, then they are entitled to residency on their own. In this case, this post is a better fit for you and your family.

This post is only for family members of EU/EEA nationals who themselves are not from the EU/EEA but are third-country nationals.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How third-country family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia

Who is considered a family member of an EU/EEA national in Croatia?

There are strict definitions of who qualifies as a family member for the purposes of family reunification residence in Croatia.

Family members of EU/EEA nationals are:

  • Spouses
  • Extramarital partners
    • If the community lasts 3 years
    • If the community lasts shorter and it is possible to prove the stability of a 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/EEA 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/EEA nationals
  • Descendants by blood in vertical line older than 21 years of age who are dependent on EU/EEA 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/EEA nationals
  • Blood relatives in the ascending vertical line who are dependent on EU/EEA nationals
  • Blood relatives in the ascending vertical line who are dependent on spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU/EEA nationals

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

There are some exceptions when other people can be considered a part of the family of EU/EEA nationals or their spouses, extramarital partners, life partners, and informal partners of EU/EEA nationals.

This is possible if other people are:

  • Dependent members of the family
  • Household members
  • Dependent on the family due to serious health condition

Types of residence for non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals in Croatia

Non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA 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) in Croatia

Non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals who accompanies or joins their EU/EEA family member can stay in Croatia for up to 90 days from the day they enter Croatia. They must not be a burden to the Croatian welfare system.

In this case, non-EU/EEA 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. They do not need to report their short-term stay to the police.

If they are not traveling with their EU/EEA family member and do not hold legal residence in Croatia, they can only enter Croatia based on the rules defined for their nationality. In this case, they must report their short-term stay to the police.

However, everyone must be registered as a tourist. More information on registering for a tourist stay in Croatia is available here.

Temporary residence (long-term stay) in Croatia

Non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals who plan to stay in Croatia for more than 90 days must apply for residence to stay in Croatia. It must be done no later than 8 days from the expiry of their short-term residence.

This must be done at the nearest police station according to the address of their temporary stay.

[Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

Non-EU/EEA 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).

The residence card is valid for 5 years. If you plan to stay in Croatia for shorter than 5 years, the residence card is valid until the end of your requested stay.

Before starting your application for temporary residence as a family member of an EU/EEA national, your EU/EEA 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.

[Read: How to get something notarized in Croatia]

Below are instructions on how a non-EU/EEA family member of an EU/EEA national can apply for temporary residence in Croatia.

How to apply for temporary residence in Croatia as a non-EU/EEA family member of an EU/EEA citizen

Step #1 Prepare the application

To apply for temporary residence, you must provide the required documents and meet some basic requirements.

Here are the requirements:

  • Completed application form Obrazac 2b called Zahtjev za izdavanje boravišne iskaznice za člana obitelji državljana države članice EGP-a koji nije državljanin države članice EGP-a provided by the police – download it here
  • Copy of a valid passport – if a passport is not in English, you must have a copy notarized and translated into Croatian
  • Registered address where you will reside with your family member – view a guide here
  • Proof that you are a family member of EU/EEA citizen
    • For spouses – marriage certificate not older than 6 months, which must be apostilled/legalized and officially 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 a child if they have one
    • To prove child-parent relationship – 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 from your country of nationality when applying for the first time – Certificate of length of stay is required for people who lived the last 12 months in a country other than the country of their nationality. – View a guide here
  • Proof of financial means
  • Valid healthcare
  • 30×35 mm photo
  • 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

[Read: e-Građani (e-Citizens) – Online portal for Croatian government services]

If your rental contract 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 officially translated by a Croatian court interpreter called prevoditelj.

[Read: How to prepare your foreign documents for use in Croatia]

Proof of financial means

To live in Croatia, you must prove you can financially support yourself and your dependents, e.g., spouse and children, if applicable.

More details on documents that may be shown as proof of financial means and the current minimums are available in this guide.

If you’re reading this, then the primary EU/EEA national has already gone through this, so this requirement would have already been covered with their initial application.

From 2021, non-EU/EEU family members of Croatian nationals don’t have to show proof of financial means.

[Read: How to show proof of financial means (as part of your application for residence in Croatia)]

Proof of valid health care

All residents in Croatia must 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 EU/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 EU/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.

[Read: What is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)]

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.

[Read: How to sign up for state health insurance in Croatia]

#2 You don’t have health insurance in your home country

If you don’t have health insurance in your previous EU/EEA home country, you must apply for Croatian health insurance within 8 days of obtaining a temporary residence. 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.

[Read: What is dopunsko and why you should have this health insurance]

Go to the HZZO administration office nearest to your address in Croatia to apply for state health insurance. A list of local HZZO offices in Croatia is available here.

You’ll need the following documents:

  • HZZO’s application form for family members, as presumably, your EU/EEA spouse has already signed up for a policy – HZZO will provide it
  • National ID or passport
  • Certificate stating 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.

A detailed guide on how to sign up for state health insurance in Croatia is available here.

Step #2 File your application

You can apply for residence at the closest administrative police station to your registered Croatian address. A list of all administrative police stations in Croatia is available 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 for response

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 sure you provide a phone number. They usually ask for one, but not always.

[Read: Croatia’s mobile phone providers]

Step #4 Approval of residence

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). For children up to the age of 12, fingerprints and signatures are not taken.

The fee for boravišna iskaznica is 13,27 euro, and it cannot be paid at the police station.  You’ll be provided a payment slip, which you’ll need to pay at a Croatian bank or post office.

Here is detailed info on how to pay invoices such as this. Payment information is available here.

Once paid, bring proof of payment back to the police station.

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.

Step #5 Get residence permit

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 validity of temporary residence is 1 year. However, the temporary residence card will be valid for 5 years. After 5 years, you will qualify to apply for permanent residence.

[Read: How third-country citizens can apply for permanent residency in Croatia]

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.

Need guidance on your transition to Croatia?

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 of 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), who has:

  • opened and operated 2 companies
  • applied for 5 temporary residence permits
  • obtained permanent residence
  • purchased a home
  • applied for Croatian citizenship
  • 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 it 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 a residency, citizenship, healthcare, buying property, letting accommodations, 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.

You can view our expat-vetted lawyer network in Croatia here.

All recommendations and resources will be specifically curated based on your individual needs discussed in the session.

You can read all reviews from people I’ve helped here or jump to this section to read the last 20 reviews.

Consulting sessions cost 70 Euros per half hour (including VAT), 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 140 Euros. Additional time may be charged for intensive research.

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.

  • I ask this as rules and requirements differ depending on nationality.
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Get help with your residence here.


Sources:
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
Boravišna iskaznica

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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