Whether you are a tourist traveling in Croatia temporarily, or you are a foreigner who has moved to Croatia, it is vital to know how you can get access to the money in your foreign bank account. Luckily, it is a lot easier to transfer or withdraw money from abroad in Croatia than you might think.
When traveling from abroad, you can bring up to 10.000€ to the EU/EEA Member States including Croatia. If you are entering or leaving the EU/EEA/Croatia with 10.000€ or more, you must submit a declaration to the customs office at the border customs office.
Let’s go over all of your options including currency exchange.
In this post, we cover:
- Withdrawing money from an ATM
- Withdrawing money at the post office
- Charging directly to your card
- Transfer funds using Transferwise
- Transfer funds using Xoom
- Exchanging foreign cash into kuna
- Moving a large amount of money
Show me the money…
Withdrawing money from your bank account in your home country using an ATM or cash machine is the easiest method, assuming that you’ve notified your foreign bank of your trip/move to Croatia. ATMs (called bankomat in Croatian) and banks are prevalent and accept most major cards including Visa and Mastercard with PINs. American Express is even common here.
The limit for most ATMs is 6.000 kuna per day (about 800 EUR). Note that your foreign bank sets its own limit for how much you can withdraw in a day, so keep that in mind.
To get the best exchange rate, do not accept the ATMs’ conversion rate. Instead, decline their conversion and let your bank do it. You will always get the best rate if you let your bank do the conversion.
Sometimes, I’ve experienced cash machines that don’t recognize my foreign bank card. If this happens, do not fret. Just walk about 20 meters and you are sure to run into another bank’s ATM. You can also check out our post on Croatia’s biggest banks which includes lists of their ATMs all across Croatia. It is available here.
In 2019, Croatian banks started charging withdrawal fees on cards not associated with their bank. This fee is usually between 12 and 26 kuna per transaction. You will be prompted to accept this fee before proceeding with the withdrawal.
Hrvatska Pošta, the Croatian post office, will allow you to withdraw up to 6.000 kuna per day per card at their ATMs. For example, if you and your spouse each have a debit card for the same account, you could each withdraw 6.000 kuna totaling 12.000 kuna for one day (if your daily limit is not exceeded with your bank).
If you want to withdraw money in a post office in person, all you need is your debit card and your passport. There is no limit on the amount of money you can withdraw per day. However, in some small post offices, they may not have enough money in reserve. If seeking a large amount, contact the post office a day earlier, so that they can order the money from a bank if needed.
You can find the closest post office to you using this interactive map.
Cash is definitely king in Croatia. Locals predominantly use cash for all of their purchases. Caffe bars (almost all of them), farmer’s markets, and informal shops such as the ones that surround the markets only take cash. However, department stores, supermarkets, some food suppliers with delivery, (most) restaurants, tourist agencies, and tourist shops all take credit cards.
As already noted, you will get the best exchange rate from your own bank. This makes using your debit or credit card from your home country an easy and affordable option, eliminating the need to carry tons of cash around. If you plan to use your foreign bank card to make a purchase in Croatia, it is best if you use a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
Being charged for every foreign transaction can end up making this option more expensive than any of the other ones. There are a plethora of credit cards without foreign transaction fees.
There is one more important tip to know about charging to a foreign card in Croatia. Some credit card terminals will ask in which currency you want to be charged. Just like with the ATMs, you want to charge in the local currency (Croatian kuna – HRK). If you choose your home currency, the company that manages the terminal will decide your exchange rate, not your own bank. Make sure you always let the purchase be charged in Croatian kuna.
If you’re making big purchases at department stores or tourist shops and you are not a resident of Croatia, you can get the PDV (value-added tax) included in your purchase refunded upon departure as long as you follow the rules. This tax is currently as high as 25%, so it is quite a big chunk. You can read about how to get a value-added tax refund here.
If you have a Croatian bank account and you want to transfer money from your foreign bank account to your account in Croatia, your best and cheapest option is Transferwise. Their rates are usually 6x cheaper than standard wire transfer services plus you can send money between 30+ countries. You can read their reviews on Trustpilot here.
Keep in mind that they have a daily limit, as all transfer companies like this. Daily doesn’t necessarily mean that you can transfer the limit every day, as there is usually a delay of 5 to 10 days for the payment to clear during which you cannot initiate another transfer.
It is important to note that any deposits into Croatian bank accounts above 1.000 EUR not tied to a salary trip a wire with the tax authority. It doesn’t mean you’ll hear from the tax authority, but it’s important to understand that this limit exists.
Another cheap way to transfer money from your foreign bank account to your Croatian account is by using Xoom. It is a PayPal service that enables you to send money to more than 150 countries. A list of countries is available here. They offer cheaper exchange rates than banks.
This is the least desirable option of all, which is why it is at the bottom of this post. The Croatian word for currency exchange is mjenjačnica. You can use mjenjačnica or exchange when searching for the closest currency exchange office.
Mjenjačnica that are outside of the city center/tourist hubs will usually give you the best rates. There are stand-alone exchange offices, as well as bank and government institutions that offer currency exchange services.
When evaluating an exchange rate, make sure you compare it to the latest exchange rates published by the Hrvatska narodna banka – HNB (Croatian National Bank). You can view those rates here.
The primary downside to exchanging physical cash is that you have to carry around a lot of physical cash, which can be easily stolen or lost. You are better off withdrawing money from an ATM rather than bringing cash to exchange locally.
The above suggestions are great if you are moving smaller amounts of money, around 10.000 euros or less. If you need to move a large amount, like for a property purchase, then these methods aren’t going to do it.
In cases such as this, we recommend going the old-fashioned wire transfer route. Yes, the cost is higher, but you can make a transfer of a large amount in one go – usually arriving within 3 business days. The additional cost stings, but it does save you lots of headache in breaking up the amount into smaller pieces through Transferwise or a similar service.
View our other financial posts
- 11 things to know about getting a home loan in Croatia
- Croatia’s banks that offer mortgages and who they will consider for a loan
- Croatia’s biggest banks: fees and services
- Do I need to open a bank account in Croatia?
- Government grants and loans for entrepreneurs in Croatia
- How credit works in Croatia
- How to get a mortgage loan in Croatia
- How to show proof of financial means
- How to pay bills in Croatia
- What is fiscalization and why does it matter to business owners
- What to know about cryptocurrency in Croatia including trends, access, and taxes
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.