How non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia: Guide for 2022

This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration.
Image by Sails of Croatia

UPDATED: 26/04/2021

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:

Let’s get started…

Who is considered a family member of an EU national?

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:

  • Spouses
  • 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

Types of residence for non-EU family members of EU nationals

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.

Temporary residence (long-term stay)

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.

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

Step #1 Prepare the application

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
    • Third-country citizens applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must now provide a criminal background check 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: 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.

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. 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.

Proof of valid health care

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.

Contact them before you get there because some police stations require you to make an appointment due to the pandemic measures. 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 due to the pandemic.

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. Every station is different and due to the pandemic, there are delays.

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.

Step #4 Approval

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.

Step #5 Get your 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 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.

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 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.

  • I ask this as rules and requirements differ depending on nationality.
  • When would you like to chat?

    The cost is 50euros per 30 minutes.
  • If you're unsure of the time difference, please check the current time in Croatia here.
  • Newsletter and Consent

    We will only email you once per week. The newsletter includes a wrap up of our latest posts, a Croatian word and phrase of the week, curated actionable Croatian news plus freebies just for our subscribers.

SOURCES:

https://mup.gov.hr/gradjani-281562/moji-dokumenti-281563/stranci-333/boravak-i-rad-drzavljana-drzava-clanica-egp-a-i-clanova-njihovih-obitelji/282191
https://narodne-novine.nn.hr/clanci/sluzbeni/2020_10_107_2009.html
https://www.zakon.hr/z/2109/Zakon-o-dr%C5%BEavljanima-dr%C5%BEava-%C4%8Dlanica-Europskog-gospodarskog-prostora-i-%C4%8Dlanovima-njihovih-obitelji
https://mup.gov.hr/gradjani-281562/moji-dokumenti-281563/stranci-333/boravisna-iskaznica/282192

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 recommend one if you contact us.

Sharing is Caring:

20 thoughts on “How non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia: Guide for 2022

  1. Adam
    July 2, 2020 @ 2:47 pm

    Thank you for very informative post. I was just wondering. Is being spouse a must? Can you also be girlfriend/boyfriend of EU citizen? I know that Netherlands allows you to stay if you are the boyfriend of girlfriend of Dutch citizen. Only thing you have to so is sign relationship documents. Thanks for you reply!

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      July 8, 2020 @ 11:20 am

      Hi Adam,

      To qualify as a common law marriage and therefore qualify for residency under this program, you must be able to prove that you’ve been living together for 3 or more years.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

      • Susan
        February 15, 2021 @ 11:55 pm

        Hi Sarah, what kind of proof?

        {reply}

        • Expat in Croatia
          February 16, 2021 @ 12:05 pm

          Hi Susan,

          You must provide a certificate of free marital status from your home countries. An excerpt from the register of extramarital unions will suffice. It is also important to show that you’ve been living on the same address.

          Regards,

          Sara

          {reply}

  2. Candice Rooney
    February 6, 2021 @ 8:37 am

    Hi Sara,

    Do you know if a Government-issued background check is required for this residence option? I see it is for the Digital Nomad Visa but not sure if it applies here.

    Thank you,

    Candice

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      February 10, 2021 @ 9:33 am

      Hi Candice,

      The background check is not required in the cases of family reunification with EU citizens. We confirmed this with MUP.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

    • Sohni
      March 20, 2021 @ 3:09 pm

      Hi Sara I am from india working in Croatia on work permit can I apply spouse visa

      {reply}

  3. Den
    July 21, 2021 @ 11:18 pm

    Hi! I applied for the temporary stay last July 6 thru email, and they let me submit the application form of 1A. May I know how long will it takes?

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      July 22, 2021 @ 3:29 pm

      Hi Den,

      It can take from several weeks to several months. There may also be some delays due to the pandemic.

      Warm regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

  4. Martin
    October 14, 2021 @ 9:46 am

    Hi, great article as always and really helpful. I am a UK citizen married to a Slovak person – we used to live in London. I’m trying to find out what qualifies as “A certificate which states that you don’t have health insurance in your EU/EEA home country”. The UK has a national health service which we contribute towards through taxes and national insurance contributions (taken from individuals through salary PAYE). Any thoughts welcome.

    I’m also having real problems here (I’m currently based in Dubrovnik) as whenever we try to register anything officially I always have to explain I am the spouse of an EU citizen and therefore third country processes don’t apply.

    There is of course directive 2004/38 but as I’m still learning Croatian I’m really struggling to find where this has been implemented into Croatian Law. Any guidance or advice anybody has on here would be greatly appreciated.

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      October 26, 2021 @ 11:05 am

      Hi Martin,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      UK isn’t EU/EEA anymore, so this shouldn’t apply to you. Also, saying that third-country processes doesn’t apply isn’t entirely accurate. The process is different, but there there are still some things you have to do as a third-country national like providing a background check.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  5. Pierre-Andre
    October 24, 2021 @ 8:53 am

    Hello,
    Thank in advance for you reply. I’m French and want to relocate in Croatia and open an “obrt”. My wife who is Taiwanese live in France with me for already 4 years and is the holder of a 10 years residence permit (as my spouse). I would like to know if she will need a criminal background check? I couldn’t find this information on the mup.gov.hr website. If yes, a criminal record from France would be ok?

    Kind regards,
    Pierre-Andre

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      October 26, 2021 @ 10:51 am

      Hi Pierre-Andre,

      Thank you for reaching out! If your wife has a permanent residence permit in France, then she does not need a background check. If she does not have permanent residence in France, then she will need a background check.

      Regards,

      Sara

      {reply}

  6. RUFUS
    November 30, 2021 @ 4:08 pm

    I am nigeria married to a croatian do I need a visa to go to croatia or I can travel with my wife without a visa?

    {reply}

  7. Anis
    January 9, 2022 @ 2:04 am

    Hello Sara,

    Thank you for your articles and all the relevant and ultra-precise information that you make available to us free of charge.

    My situation is quite special, not to say unprecedented. So, I am a citizen of two EU countries and I am planning to get married this summer to an Algerian woman and we are planning to come and settle in Split permanently.

    Suddenly, I have several questions concerning my future wife who is Algerian and who cannot enter Croatia without a tourist visa, the procedure of which is quite long and difficult to obtain for Algerians even more since the start of the pandemic.

    Here are my questions of the moment after having read your excellent article :

    1) Can my wife come with me to Croatia directly after our marriage (which will take place in Algeria) without needing a short stay visa or despite the fact that we are married, she will still need a tourist visa ?

    2) In the event that she cannot come with me before having obtained a short-stay visa or even better a temporary residence, can I obtain the temporary residence card for her without her being physically present in Croatia ?

    3) As she is Algerian, does she have to provide other documents for her application for residence apart from all those you have mentioned in this article ?

    4) She already has a health insurance contract in Algeria, will it be valid in Croatia or will she have to subscribe to the Croatian insurance contract ?

    Thanks a lot for your answers.

    {reply}

    • Marija Tkalec
      January 18, 2022 @ 5:29 pm

      Hi Anis,

      Thank you for contacting us and thanks for your nice comments. You asked a lot, so I recommend you to set up a consultation session with us and you will get professional help: https://www.expatincroatia.com/contact/

      Warm regards,
      Marija

      {reply}

Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.