How non-EU/EEA family members of EU/EEA nationals can get temporary residence in Croatia: Guide for 2024

tick icon
This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration.
couple split
Couple on the beach in Split, Croatia

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. All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here.

The fee 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.

Skip the research! Save time and talk to EIC.

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 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 us over video chat.

How does it work?

All first-time clients get 30 minutes with an Expat in Croatia coach PLUS 30 minutes with a vetted English-speaking lawyer from our network that you can use at any time.

Your session will be completely tailored to you and your needs whether it’s bureaucracy, culture, or daily life. All legal advice will be handled by our vetted lawyer network. We can help you with everything else.

In addition, you’ll receive a follow up with additional resources based on your situation, our Croatia Restaurant Guide as well as introductions to vetted professionals like insurance, law, real estate, translation and tax.

We have an extensive FAQ about this service here.

Ready to get started? Click here to jump to the form.

Who will I speak with?

Carol Anne Škorvaga, known to us as “CAM”, is a first-generation Croatian-Canadian living in Jastrebarsko with her family. She grew up entrenched in the Croatian community surrounded by culture and folklore, attended Croatian school in Canada and then returned to Zagreb to attend Filozofski Fakultet. CAM is fluent in Croatian and has firsthand knowledge of being both a Canadian expat and a Croatian returnee, building a home in Croatia and being a parent with children in local schools.

Meet CAM in this quick 2-minute video here.

What is the cost?

The below costs are per 30 minutes and include VAT (25% tax mandated by the Croatian government).

  • First-time clients  |  150 euros (includes 30-min session with lawyer)
  • Repeat clients  |  75 euros

If additional time is requested, it is billed in ¼ hour increments.

We offer a 100% money back guarantee. If your session was not helpful, then you will be refunded – no questions asked.

We vet our information through hands-on, human work. This process includes extensive web research, phone calls to the government, collaboration with licensed Croatian professionals, and visits to government.

Reviews from our clients

“My husband and I are looking to obtain our Croatian citizenship through heritage. CAM was exceptional and was extremely informative about the process required, timelines, contact people, both in Croatia and at home, lawyers and services offered by Expat in Croatia. She was able to easy our anxiety and we felt that we will have solid support and direction going forward. She was professional and friendly. Thank you CAM for your support.” ~ Carol W., Canada, February 5, 2024

“After months of Dr Googling we were left with some ideas but had no confidence in which process to citizenship to follow and if any of it was right. Actually at the time of our consultation the laws had changed and CAM was already on top of them. We left the consultation with a clear path to citizenship and in-depth explanation of everything we needed to do in SA before leaving. On top of this when moving to a new country you don’t know how people may react or approach you. I was apprehensive about this and CAM melted all of that away. On the facts she was professional and serious but when welcoming us, making jokes and telling us about Croatia she was so warm, kind and lifted all my fears of moving. My heart now completely lies in Croatia and we have within 2 weeks a complete plan and working on all the documents we need to gather. Every country needs an expat Croatia with such high integrity.”~ MaryAnn V., South Africa, January 17, 2024

You can view our latest reviews here or all of our reviews here.

Ready to book?

To schedule your personal session, complete the below form.

  • Please tell us about yourself

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

  • 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.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Reviews from our happy clients

Ready to book? Request your session 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.

Sharing is Caring:

We only send one email a week on Tuesdays. And no spam, we don't like that either!

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