How Brits can visit and live in Croatia: Guide for 2024 and post-Brexit

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UPDATED: 4.6.2024.

Croatia has become increasingly popular for Brits, especially in the wake of Brexit. With that in mind, we’ve created a guide specifically for UK citizens who want to move to Croatia long term. If you’re just passing through, we cover tourist visas too.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Tourist visas for UK citizens to visit Croatia

Brits enjoy visa-free travel to 127 countries around the world. Croatia is one of those countries.

Even though a visa is not needed, there are requirements for UK citizens to enter Croatia. You can find the latest rules here.

You can always see the latest tourist visa status here, but it’s unlikely to ever change even in these Brexit times.

How Brexit changed residence options for Brits in Croatia

As of January 1, 2021, UK citizens have limited privileges when it comes to work and travel within the EU. Brits can no longer just show up in Croatia and get residence as easily as before 2021.

Brits are now considered third-country citizens, which is how Croatia refers to anyone who does not hold EU/EEA nationality. Given this, it’s now harder to get long-term residence in Croatia. It’s not impossible, but there are limitations and challenges.

Those who moved to Croatia and applied for and/or already hold residence in Croatia will have their rights and privileges preserved according to the withdrawal agreement, even after January 1.

Every UK citizen should read this Brexit guide that the UK government created, which provides guidance on what you need to do in your specific situation going forward.

View Croatia’s guide on Brexit here.

View the UK’s guide on living in Croatia post-Brexit here.

Next, let’s dive into the highlights of getting a residency.

How British citizens can apply for temporary residence in Croatia

I’ll be upfront. It’s not going to be as easy as it used to be for Brits to live in Croatia, now that we are on the other side of Brexit. That being said, there are still many options for you to live in Croatia for a short or long-term stay. This comprehensive guide will cover all of your options for residence as well as what is required of you as a British citizen.

All residency applications must be submitted at the closest administrative police station to where you live in Croatia. The police are part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, called in Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova in Croatian. We all call it “MUP” for short, which is how we will refer to this institution for the rest of this post.

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

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started. We will go through each residency option, starting with the one that allows you the least amount of time in Croatia, moving up to the ones that allow you the most time in Croatia.

1. Digital Nomads

Starting in 2021, digital nomads can be granted temporary residence based on their remote work as long as they are not working for any Croatian companies. UK citizens can now apply for this permit.

Caveats:

  • This permit is only for up to 1 year and it is not renewable. Six months after the expiration of your permit, you can apply for a new permit.
  • At the end of the term, you must leave Croatia for 90 days.
  • Upon approval of residence, state health insurance is not mandatory. You can use your private health insurance or sign up for Croatian health insurance.
  • You are not allowed to do any work for a Croatian company.

Here is a post that explains the requirements and process for applying for a permit based on being a digital nomad.

[Read: Frequently asked questions about Croatia’s digital nomad permit]

2. Permanent residents of EU/EEA

Brits who hold long-term residence in another EU/EEA Member State may be granted temporary residence in Croatia.

Here are instructions on how to apply for a permit based on your permanent residence in another EU/EEA country.

3. Student Permit

Brits can live in Croatia to study at one of the many universities across Croatia. You can also study Croatian at certain language schools and qualify for a permit as well.

To get a student residence permit, you must include proof of acceptance into a qualified Croatian institution of education with your residence application. You’ll also need to show you have the financial means to support yourself.

[Read: How to show proof of financial means (as part of your application for residence)]

Caveats:

  • The term of the permit will be for a single school year, excluding summer months unless you can prove you need to be here in between semesters.
  • You can work up to 20 hours per week as a student without a work permit.
  • You cannot bring your spouse or children to live with you for the first two years.
  • Time spent on this permit only counts half towards qualifying for permanent residence.

Here are instructions on how to apply for a student residence permit.

4. Working for a Croatian company

Brits can get residence permits with the option to work in Croatia.

Caveats:

  • You must have a signed work contract or a valid offer of employment before the employer can apply for a work permit on your behalf.
  • Work and residence permits can only be issued for the term of your work contract, up to 1 year at maximum. If the company wants you to continue in your role after your contract is up, they will need to provide a new work contract. Once you have the new work contract, you can apply for a new work and residence permit. Work permits cannot be “renewed”.
  • If you get a residence permit with the option to work and decide to leave your job, your residence permit will be canceled. All work and residence permits are tied to work contracts. Without a contract, you cannot have a work permit.
  • For the first year, your spouse or children cannot come to live with you in Croatia.
  • Before a company can offer you a work contract, they must first confirm with the office of unemployment that a Croatian is not seeking that same role.

If you want to seek a work permit to live in Croatia, then start by looking for a job. Our guide on how to find a job in Croatia will prove useful.

5. EU Blue Card

If you have received higher education or qualifications such as ISCED 1997 levels 5a or higher, or an associate’s degree or higher, you may qualify for an EU Blue Card.

Once you have been hired or given a binding work offer for a highly qualified position within Croatia, the company that intends to hire you may apply for a temporary residence that will allow you to work based on a Blue Card.

Things to know:

  • You must be in a managerial position.
  • You must be paid an elevated salary.
  • The EU Blue Card will be issued for a term of 2 years.
  • Your family can join you immediately.
  • The hiring company does not have to perform a labor market test.

Our detailed guide on how to apply for a Blue Card in Croatia is available here.

[Read: How to apply for a work and stay permit in Croatia]

6. Starting your own Croatian company

If you’d rather start your own company, you can issue yourself a work contract as the company owner and therefore qualify for a work permit.

This option involves entangling yourself in an endless tax bureaucracy capable of strangling the life right out of you, so it is not recommended if you don’t intend to use the company for business. This option should only be used by those who really want to open and run a company in Croatia.

If you plan to go this route, make sure you educate yourself thoroughly, so you know what you are getting yourself into. We have written a heap of posts about opening and running businesses in Croatia, which you can view here.

Read more about the option of getting a work permit by opening your own company in this guide.

7. Prepayment of rent

If you only want to live in Croatia for one year, then this option could be the right fit. It’s a great option for retired people and frequent travelers who have the flexibility to move to a new country for a limited amount of time.

Another benefit is that it is not “merit” based or tied to work contracts. There are some financial hoops, yes, but they are reasonable hoops if you have cash on hand. Of course, there are catches…

Caveats:

  • It is only for 1 year and it is not renewable. You can only apply again after 6 months have passed since the expiration of your last permit.
  • At the end of the term, you must leave Croatia for 90 days.
  • You must prove that you’ve paid for rent 1 year in advance.
  • You must sign up for state health insurance upon approval of residence, then pay for 1 year of premiums for the previous year plus the monthly premiums going forward. You can read more about health insurance here.
  • You are not allowed to work for a Croatian company.
  • Your spouse cannot apply for residence based on you. Your spouse must apply separately.

You can read more about how to apply for this permit here.

8. Learning the Croatian language

A residence permit can also be granted if you study the Croatian language at certain language schools. To get this permit, you must enroll in a Croatian language study program (like Croaticum).

[Read: Biggest Croatian language schools in Croatia]

This permit falls under “other purposes” under the law.

Caveats:

  • You can get a residence permit for up to one year.
  • You cannot work for a Croatian company.
  • 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.

Our detailed guide on how to apply for temporary residence based on language study is available here.

9. Scientific research

If you have a scientific research project that you wish to work on in Croatia, you can apply for a residence permit. You’ll definitely need to provide proof of the research, which will likely involve a detailed plan of what you hope to accomplish, why you need to be in Croatia, and the time frame in which you plan to accomplish it. Expect it to be scrutinized.

Caveats:

  • You cannot work for a Croatian company

10. Volunteering

It is possible to gain residency on the grounds of humanitarian or volunteer work. To apply on this basis, you’ll need to provide a contract with a non-profit organization that shows the terms of work and that you are not being paid for this work among other requirements.

In Croatia, a non-profit organization is called an “udruga”.

[Read: How to open and close a non-profit udruga in Croatia]

Caveats:

  • The term is limited to a maximum of 1 year.
  • There is no path to permanent residency or Croatian citizenship.
  • Your spouse cannot apply for residence based on you. Your spouse must apply separately on a volunteer or some other basis.
  • You cannot work in exchange for money.
  • You can only work for the non-profit with whom you have your contract used as the basis for your permit.

You can read more about this permit here.

We have posts on non-profit organizations that consider offering long-term contracts to non-EU/EEA volunteers here:

11. Marrying a Croatian or EU national

This program is called “family reunification”, which essentially means that spouses and children of Croatians and EU citizens can come to live in Croatia with their spouse or parent (if they are minors).

If you are married to a Croatian or EU/EEA national, you are entitled to residency in Croatia as long as both you and your spouse live in Croatia together at the same address. This is by far the easiest and fastest permit to get since there is an automatic trust that is inherent when a Croatian or EU citizen is involved.

You will need to provide an original copy of your marriage certificate that is apostilled/legalized then officially translated(if married abroad). You’ll also need to show that you as a couple have the financial means to support yourself in certain cases. This will be explained in more detail below in the “Requirements” section.

If you are the spouse of a Croatian, you’ll be granted up to a 2-year long permit. If you are the spouse of an EU/EEA national, you’ll receive a 10-year permit.

After 4 years of temporary residency, spouses of Croatian citizens qualify for permanent residency. Once you receive permanent residency, you can apply for citizenship.

Spouses of EU/EEA citizens can apply for permanent residence after 5 years of continuous temporary residence.

Learn how to apply for a temporary residence permit based on marriage here.

12. Citizenship by Croatian descent

If you’ve got Croatian heritage, you’ve got the golden ticket. Seems like every day, the Croatian government is making it easier for the diaspora to gain citizenship in an effort to get them to come to live here.

To qualify for citizenship, you must have a parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, etc. who is Croatian. Lineage must be in a straight line and you must be able to prove lineage, which is usually done with birth certificates.

[Read: How to get a copy of a birth certificate]

Caveats:

  • As of January 1, 2020, you can only apply from an embassy or consulate abroad if you are a non-resident.
  • If your ancestor left Croatia at any point and moved to an ex-Yugoslavia country, then your right to citizenship is negated.
  • If your ancestor left Croatia after 1991, then your right to citizenship is negated (unless you’re the child of a Croatian who qualifies to register).
  • Applications for citizenship take time, months to years, so be patient.

You can see if you qualify for Croatian citizenship in 60 seconds here.

You can see how to apply for citizenship here.

Learn how to apply for citizenship specifically based on descent here.

You can read the most important things you need to know before applying for Croatian citizenship here.

Check out all of our citizenship resources here.


There you go, all of your options for applying for residence in Croatia. Next, we will go over all of the requirements for residency.

Requirements for British residents

There are common requirements that apply to all third-country citizens. Below is a list of the most common requirements. However, keep in mind that MUP may request additional items just to mix things up.

Every UK national must provide:

  • A completed application form Obrazac 1a
    • The police will provide you with the application. You can view it here.
  • A valid passport
    • Validity period must be 3 months longer than the validity period of the intended stay.
  • Criminal background check + certificate on the length of stay
    • People applying for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must now provide a criminal background check and certificate on the length of stay from their country of nationality. This requirement went into effect January 1, 2021. In the UK, it is called a “police certificate”. You can request it here. A certificate of the length of stay is required for people who lived the last 12 months in a country other than the country of their nationality.
  • Health insurance
    • This is usually private health insurance unless you have state health insurance from another EU/EEA state.
  • Registered address in Croatia
    • Proof of accommodation is sufficient for the purposes of applying for residence. After approval, you’ll need a notarized rental contract.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself
    • There are several ways to show this, depending on your purpose for applying. The financial minimums you’ll need as well as how you can show the funds are available here. However, MUP will tell you exactly what they need.
    • Those applying for family reunification with a Croatian spouse are exempt from this.
  • (1) passport photo 30×35 mm
    • Usually, there is a photo studio right by MUP where you can get these in the right size.
  • Application fee
    • This is due upon approval of your application. All possible administrative costs for this procedure are available here. In some cases, you must pay an administrative fee earlier in the process using tax stamps.

Health insurance for Brits living in Croatia

You are required to have a valid health care policy through HZZO (Croatia’s state fund) during your residence in Croatia. If you are employed by a Croatian employer, then they will pay for your healthcare. If you are financially independent, or your income comes from abroad, then you will need to have your own insurance policy.

When applying for temporary residence in Croatia as a UK citizen, you are required to have proof of health insurance as part of your application. It will need to be some kind of private health insurance policy (or a state health insurance policy if coming from another country within the EU).

NHS health insurance no longer counts for the purpose of applying for residence nor can it be used for urgent care in Croatia. There are exceptions to this, which you can read about in detail here.

Once you are approved for residence, then you must sign up for “obvezno” state health insurance with HZZO (unless you’re a digital nomad). Obvezno is the basic state health insurance mandatory for all residents. Dopunsko is an optional supplemental health insurance that you can get from HZZO or a private insurer. You can read the specifics about what is included as well as the costs for obvezno here and dopunsko here.

Upon enrollment in HZZO, all third-country citizens are required to pay 12 months of health insurance premiums for the previous year plus the monthly premium going forward. This is for everybody, children and adults alike. Meaning that if you are a family of 4 with 2 children, you’ll need to pay these fees for all 4 members of your family.

The monthly premium changes from year to year. The current amount is always updated in this post.

Exchanging your UK driver’s licenses

UK driver’s licenses were valid for use within Croatia through the end of 2021. To ensure you continue to have a valid driver’s license in Croatia, you will need to exchange your UK driver’s license for a Croatian one if you plan to live in Croatia beyond December 31, 2021.

The British government is recommending that you exchange your license as soon as possible. If you wait too long to exchange your license, you may be required to take driving school in Croatia. Here are instructions on how to exchange your driver’s license in Croatia.

You can read about the process to get a Croatian driver’s license from scratch here.

[Read: How to take driving school (autoškola) in Croatia]

Buying property

British citizens are allowed to buy any property zoned as “residential” in Croatia, depending on the state they are from. You can see the latest list of reciprocity agreements that Croatia holds, including the United Kingdom, here.

If you’re interested in purchasing a house or apartment in Croatia, we’ve got a step-by-step guide that explains the process. Check it out here.

We can also connect you to vetted real estate agents and solicitors to help you through the process. If you’d like an introduction, please complete this form and we’ll contact you.

Taxes

UK citizens living more than 183 days in Croatia each year must report their worldwide income and pay taxes in Croatia.

Currently, the United Kingdom does have a double-taxation treaty in place with Croatia. As of now, it appears that this treaty will stay in place after Brexit. Due to the double taxation treaty, those in this situation will not have to pay taxes in the UK.

Taxes are complicated. This is a 50.000-foot view of the tax situation. If you ever want a detailed review of your tax liability when living in Croatia, contact us and we’ll connect you with a tax expert.

Where to find the UK embassy and consulate in Croatia

Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Zagreb

Contact: Andrew Stuart Dalgleish
Phone: +385 (0)1 60 09 100
Email: british.embassyzagreb@fco.gov.uk; zagreb.consular@fco.gov.uk
Address: Ivana Lučića 4, 10 000 Zagreb – view map

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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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