How to apply for temporary residence based on language study

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Studying Croatian language in Croatia
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PUBLISHED: 19/11/2021

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 is different than residence based on being a student. If you’re interested in traditional student residence, hop over here.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Things to know before applying

If you are considering applying, you should know the following:

  • 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 period
  • You can apply again 6 months and 1 day from the expiry date of your previous permit

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 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 47, Paragraph 4 of the Law says:

Iznimno od stavka 1. ovoga članka, državljaninu treće zemlje se može odobriti privremeni boravak i u druge svrhe do godine dana. Zahtjev za reguliranje boravka u druge svrhe državljanin treće zemlje može podnijeti nakon isteka roka od šest mjeseci od isteka važenja privremenog boravka koji je bio odobren u druge svrhe.

Which translates to…

By way of derogation from paragraph 1 of this Article, a third-country national may be granted temporary residence for other purposes for up to one year. An application for the regulation of residence for other purposes may be submitted by a third-country national after the expiry of a period of six months from the expiry of the temporary residence permit granted for other purposes.

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.

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 due to pandemic measures. 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. 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 – provided by MUP or available here
  • Valid passport
  • Criminal background check
  • Valid private/travel health insurance policy
  • Proof you are enrolled in a language study program in Croatia
  • Proof of financial means
  • 2 passport photos
  • 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

As of 2021, if you apply for a 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.

Article 59 of the law says:

uz zahtjev za odobrenje prvog privremenog boravka priloži dokaz da nije pravomoćno osuđen za kaznena djela iz matične države ili države u kojoj je boravio duže od godine dana neposredno prije dolaska u Republiku Hrvatsku, osim ako je upućeni radnik odnosno student, istraživač ili osoba premještena unutar društva koja se koristi mobilnošću iz druge države članice EGP-a

Which translates to…

enclose with the request for approval of the first temporary residence proof that he/she has not been convicted of criminal offenses from his / her home country or the country in which he/she resided for more than one year immediately before arriving in the Republic of Croatia unless the posted worker within a company benefiting from mobility from another EEA Member State

It is easier to obtain your background check while you are still in your home country before you move to Croatia.

[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.

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

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: Croatia’s state health care obvezno insurance, what it costs and what is included]

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: Do I need to open a bank account 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 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, or FINA. You will have to bring proof of payment to MUP. [Read: How to pay bills in Croatia]

The administrative fees are the following:

  • Administrative fee for issuing a temporary residence permit – 350 kuna
  • Preparation of the biometric residence permit – 240 kuna
  • Administrative fee for issuing a biometric residence permit – 70 kuna

It is also possible to pay the fees online. Instructions 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 if you didn’t download it before. 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 weight 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 residence

  • Always be nice to the police. If you get 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?

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’ve 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 50 Euros per half hour, 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 100 Euros. Additional time may be charged for intensive research.

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Browse our other temporary residence articles


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.

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