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How to apply for Croatian temporary residence based on language study

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UPDATED: 18.4.2023.

Third-country nationals (non-EU/EEA citizens) can apply for temporary residence in Croatia if they enroll in a Croatian language study program, like Croaticum, for example. Temporary residence on the basis of language study falls under the “other purposes” under the law. Once your application is approved, you can stay in Croatia for up to a year.

Please note that this purpose of temporary residence is different than residence based on being a student. If you’re interested in a traditional student residence, hop over here.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to apply for Croatian temporary residence based on language study

Things to know before applying based on language study

  • This permit is valid for up to a year
  • You can’t work for a Croatian company during your stay
  • If you wish to apply again for this purpose, you must leave for 90 days at the end of the permit
  • You can apply again 6 months and 1 day from the expiry date of your previous permit

If you are considering applying for this type of residence, you should know the following:

The law on foreigners doesn’t mention how many times you can apply for this permit. Croatian police stations observe each application and person individually which means cases may differ.

What is stated in the Croatian Law on Foreigners?

According to the Zakon o strancima (Law on Foreigners), this permit is considered temporary residence based on “other purposes”. This law is available here.

Article 57, Paragraph 4 of the Law says:

Zahtjev za reguliranje privremenog boravka u druge svrhe ili svrhu boravka digitalnih nomada državljanin treće zemlje može podnijeti nakon isteka roka šest mjeseci od isteka važenja privremenog boravka koji je bio odobren u druge svrhe ili svrhu boravka digitalnih nomada.

Which translates to…

A citizen of a third country can submit a request to regulate temporary residence for other purposes or the purpose of digital nomads’ residence after the expiration of six months from the expiration of the validity of the temporary residence that was approved for other purposes or the purpose of digital nomads’ residence.

The law doesn’t mention language study or any other scenarios under the section druge svrhe (other purposes). What exactly belongs to other purposes is not defined by the law, but instead by the practice and discretion of the police. In practice, language study belongs to other purposes but could change at any time.

Time spent on temporary residence based on language study doesn’t count when applying for permanent residence in Croatia.

[Read: How to apply for temporary Croatian residence based on other purposes (druge svrhe)]

How to apply for residency in Croatia based on language study

If you’d like to apply for a temporary residency in Croatia based on studying the Croatian language, the following steps can serve as a guide through the process.

Step #1 Contact MUP

First, you have to visit the police administration office called MUP according to your future Croatian address. Ask for a service desk called šalter za strance which is specifically for foreigners.

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

Our advice is to call them before the visit. Some police stations require making an appointment in advance. Explain to them that you want to apply for a temporary residence based on the language study and ask them for the latest requirements.

Some third-country nationals are required to possess a visa to enter Croatia. This depends on your nationality. Check whether or not you need a visa to enter Croatia here. If you do require a visa to enter Croatia, you must apply abroad at an embassy or consulate.

Step #2 Identify a language study program

There are many Croatian language schools and programs in Croatia. Here is a list of the biggest programs. Be sure to pick the one that counts for this type of residence. Croaticum is a popular program for many.

Step #3 Prepare the application

After the police have confirmed the latest requirements, you can start putting together your application. Although we have provided the requirements below, keep in mind that requirements may vary by the police station and the individual caseworker with whom you speak.

The standard requirements are:

  • Completed application form Obrazac 1a provided by MUP – view it here
  • Valid passport
  • Criminal background check and eventually certificate of the length of stay in a foreign country – view a guide here
  • Valid private/travel health insurance policy
  • Proof you are enrolled in a language study program in Croatia
  • Proof of financial means – view a guide here
  • 30×35 mm passport photo
  • Application fee

Valid passport

The validity period of your foreign passport must be 3 months longer than the validity period of your intended stay. When you visit the police, they will make a copy of your passport. Bring the passport every time you go to MUP.

If your passport isn’t in the English language, you must provide an official translation to the Croatian language.

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

Background checks

If you apply for temporary residence in Croatia for the first time or you left Croatia after a previous residence permit, you must submit a criminal background check as part of your application.

It is easier to obtain your background check while you are still in your home country before you move to Croatia. In addition to the background check, you must also provide a certificate of the length of stay in a foreign country.

[Read: Background checks and fingerprints for third-country nationals (EU/EEA citizens)]

Valid health insurance

When applying for a temporary residence, you must provide proof of private health insurance. It is called putno zdravstveno osiguranje. This health insurance doesn’t need to be from a Croatian health insurance company.

Putno needs to be valid for at least one year and cover you while on the territory of Croatia.

[Read: How to get travel insurance in Croatia (putno), which you can use to apply for residence]

After your residence permit is approved, you must sign up for Croatian obvezno health insurance within 8 days. You will pay a monthly health insurance premium AND a one-time payment of premiums for the previous year if this is your first time registering for insurance.

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

Proof of financial means

When applying, you must prove that you can financially support yourself during your stay. The exact amount of money can vary depending on the average salaries for the previous year, the size of your family, and the discretion of the police. Here are the current minimums.

For this requirement, you can provide a foreign bank statement. However, Croatian police may require you to open a Croatian bank account. In this case, you must deposit the money in one lump sum into the account. The bank will give you a statement showing the funds which you have to provide to the police.

[Read: How to show proof of financial means when applying for residence in Croatia]

Passport photos

It is recommended that you get these in Croatia. This way, you will be sure they meet Croatia’s requirements. In Croatia, photo studios are often placed next to the police station. You will have to provide photos after you are granted a temporary residence, so there is no need to do it before receiving approval.

Application fee

MUP will give you a bill called uplatnica that you can pay at the bank, postal office, FINA, or online. You will have to bring proof of payment to MUP.

[Read: How to pay bills in Croatia]

Payment information and costs are available here.

Step #4 Submit the application

After you collect all documents, visit the same police administrative office as before. Go to šalter za strance and tell them that you wish to apply for a temporary residence. They will give you the application form. You can now hand over your application.

The officer will check out your application and accept it if you meet all the requirements. If something is missing, they will tell you what else you must provide. After submitting the application, give your phone number to the police.

Processing time varies depending on many factors. The average wait is about 2 months, but it can be longer, rarely will it be shorter.

You shouldn’t leave Croatia while your application is being processed in case the police need to contact you. You are legally allowed to stay in Croatia while your application is in process.

Step #5 Pay the fees

After your permit is approved, the police will call you or your lawyer (if using one) or send you a blue envelope in the mail to notify you that your application has been approved. At this step, you must bring passport photos for the residence card called boravišna iskaznica.

The police will also take your fingerprints and signature. Now you will pay the administrative fees and bring proof of payment. They will give you a white card that serves as temporary proof of your residence. DO NOT LOSE IT.

Step #6 Get the residence card

Three weeks later, your residence card will be ready. You can return to the police and pick it up. This time, you have to hand over the white card.

Step #7 Celebrate!

Congrats on your temporary residence! You’re now legal!

Additional tips about applying for Croatian residence

  • Always be nice to the police. If you have an attitude, they may make things more difficult.
  • Don’t go to the police administration office between 11:00 and 13:00. They are usually at lunch or on a smoke break. It is best to visit them in the morning around 8:00 or 9:00.

Need help getting residency in 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’ve lived in Croatia since 2012 (before the country entered the EU) and have:

  • Opened and operated 2 companies
  • Applied for 5 temporary residence permits
  • Obtained permanent residence
  • Applied for Croatian citizenship
  • Purchased a home
  • 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. 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 view 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.

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.

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Get help with your transition to Croatia here.

Browse our other temporary residence articles

Third-country nationals by MUP
Temporary stay of third-country nationals by MUP
Pravilnik o boravku državljana trećih zemalja u Republici Hrvatskoj

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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