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How Ukrainian citizens can come and live in Croatia: Guide for 2023

This post has been verified by the ministry that handles residence as well as immigration lawyers.
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UPDATED: 22/09/2022

Croatia has officially adopted the activation of the EU Directive on the Temporary Protection of Ukrainian refugees. The directive allows refugees from Ukraine to enter Croatia and gain certain benefits WITHOUT having to apply for asylum.

More specifically, the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) is responsible for:

  • Organizing the reception and care of persons who meet the conditions for granting temporary protection and receiving and deciding on the request for temporary protection
  • Exercising other rights of foreigners under temporary protection, including basic means of living and accommodation, health protection, primary and secondary education, and work without the need to obtain a residence and work permit or a certificate of registration of work

Temporary protection in Croatia is granted until March 4, 2023. If the reasons last, the temporary protection will automatically be extended twice by 6 months or until March 4, 2024. The Commission may propose to the EU Council to extend the temporary protection for another year (until March 4, 2025).

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

How Ukrainian citizens can come and live in Croatia

To whom the EU Directive on the temporary direction applies

The EU Directive applies to:

  • All citizens of Ukraine and their families residing in Ukraine on February 24, 2022
  • Stateless persons and third-country nationals who have enjoyed international or equivalent national protection in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and members of their families who held valid residence in Ukraine on February 24, 2022
  • Third nationals who held valid permanent residence in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, in accordance with Ukrainian regulations and who cannot return to their country or region of origin in safe and permanent conditions
  • Displaced Ukrainian nationals and members of their families who fled Ukraine just before February 24, 2022, due to the security situation and cannot return to Ukraine due to the armed conflict

Life partners and informal life partners of Ukrainian nationals or people who have enjoyed international or equivalent national protection in Ukraine have the right to temporary protection. It is also allowed to bring pets and personal belongings which are exempt from paying import duties.

Those who are legally residing in Ukraine who CAN return to their countries will not be able to obtain protection in the EU under this directive.

If you are granted temporary protection, you can apply for international protection – asylum or subsidiary protection. However, this is a complex procedure that takes much longer and there is no guarantee that you will be granted. The procedure and result depend on the personal situation of each individual person.

[Read: How to get asylum and state protection in Croatia]

View the announcement on the implementation of temporary protection from the Croatian government here.

What if you don’t have the right to temporary protection

All displaced persons from Ukraine are allowed to enter Croatia. Even if they don’t have the right to temporary protection, they are able to enter Croatia and return safely to their country of origin.

However, if you don’t have a protected status, you can’t get any social benefits and rights that this status provides. Alternatively, you can apply for international protection in Croatia.

What if you want to get residence based on other bases

If you are Ukrainian, but do not qualify for the temporary protection or simply do not wish to use it, there are many other options for residence. The full list is here.

What to do after arriving at the Croatian border

Ukrainians who arrive at the Croatian border must declare themselves as displaced persons in need of temporary protection. They must show their passport or an ID card to enter Croatia. If they are accompanied by a minor, the police will ask to clarify the kinship or other relationship with the minor, so bring the necessary documents that prove your relationship.

The Directorate of Civil Protection has published two useful leaflets for Ukrainian refugees in Croatian and Ukrainian that will be distributed to refugees at border crossings when entering Croatia:

  • Useful information for displaced people – Download in Ukrainian here and Croatian here
  • Important phone numbers and safety tips – Download in Ukrainian here and Croatian here

The border police will give you instructions on what to do next depending on the below-mentioned scenarios.

Note: More official information on the procedure at the Croatian border and first acceptance is available in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

#1 You don’t have organized accommodation in Croatia

If you don’t have organized accommodation, you will be referred to accommodation in one of the 3 reception centers/shelters in Varaždin, Osijek, or Gospić.

The ones who stay in a shelter can stay there temporarily for up to 48 hours. At the reception center, you will be welcomed by employees of the Civil Protection, the police, and the Croatian Red Cross. During your stay there, the shelter will find and offer you organized permanent accommodation.

The Croatian Red Cross called Hrvatski crveni križ will register you in their records. This will give you the right to psychosocial support, humanitarian aid, and temporary protection as a form of emergency humanitarian aid.

If you qualify under this directive and are already in Croatia, you must register with the Croatian Red Cross. You can find their locations organized by Croatian counties here.

#2 You already have pre-organized accommodation in Croatia

If you already have pre-secured accommodation in Croatia given by your family, friends, relatives, or anyone else, you must mention this to the border police once you get to the Croatian border. They will enable you to continue traveling to the location of your secured accommodation.

How to register a temporary residence in Croatia

If you don’t want to apply for temporary protection, you must report your temporary stay.

#1 Temporary stay at registered accommodation host

If you accept permanent accommodation from the shelter or you are staying at the host who provides accommodation services, you must be registered in e-Visitor. This registration must be done by the owner of the property or accommodation. The owner should already be familiar with the process, but if they are not, here is a guide just in case.

#2 Temporary stay in private accommodation

The owner of the apartment must visit the closest MUP administration office and register your temporary stay. You do not have to accompany the owner to the police, but the owner must bring:

  • Application form – Download it here
  • Copy of your identity document
  • Lease agreement, a title deed, or statement of the property owner on the consent of registering your stay to the address and a copy of the document of the property owner

Each time you change the location of your stay, you must report your new address to MUP within 2 days.

How to register a pet in Croatia

Non-commercial relocation of pets accompanied by their owners to Croatia is allowed for Ukrainian displaced persons.

If you have a dog, you have to fill in this application form and send it to veterinarstvo@mps.hr. The veterinary inspector will provide you with information on further steps related to free microchipping, rabies vaccination, and registering your pet. Until they visit you, you must limit the contact between your pets and other animals or people.

How to apply for temporary protection in Croatia

#1 If you are staying in a collective accommodation facility

If you are hosted in a collective accommodation facility, you don’t have to visit MUP administrative office to apply for temporary protection. In this case, you must submit the request for temporary protection to the MUP/police staff who is in charge of those facilities.

Note: The registration to the Croatian Red Cross is not equal to applying for temporary protection. Temporary protection is the responsibility of MUP. Applications also cannot be submitted at the reception centers.

#2 If you are staying at your privately organized accommodation

If you already have organized accommodation in Croatia, provided by your family, relatives, or friends, you can apply for temporary protection in 2 ways:

  • By visiting the MUP station closest to your temporary address – You must enclose an application form in Ukrainian/Croatian or English/Croatian
  • Via online service Croatia4Ukraine – It is available in Ukrainian, English, and Croatian here

After your application is approved by MUP, they will issue you an identity card of an alien under temporary protection called Iskaznica stranca pod privremenom zaštitom.

You can find more official information on temporary protection in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

Identity Card of an Alien under Temporary Protection

The identity card of an alien under temporary protection is considered a residence permit and confirms the status and rights of an alien under temporary protection in Croatia. It is issued in English and Croatian. You must always bring this card with you.

If the card is lost or stolen, you have to report this to MUP.

Rights of Ukrainians under temporary protection in Croatia

Once you are granted temporary protection in Croatia, you have the right to:

  • Stay for a period of temporary protection
  • Work without a residence and work permit or a certificate of registration of work
  • Mandatory health insurance
  • Fixed assets for living and accommodation
  • Primary and secondary education
  • Family reunification
  • Information on rights and obligations.

You can find more information on rights and obligations in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

Note: Ukrainian citizens with temporary protection do not need to register their vehicles in Croatia as long as their Ukrainian registration is valid. However, once it expires, they must register their vehicle in Croatia if they want to drive.

[Read: How to register a car or motor vehicle and get an annual inspection in Croatia]

Social rights and help

Social rights include the right to:

  • First social service
  • Consultation
  • Psychosocial counseling
  • Accommodation if you meet the requirements in accordance with the Social Welfare Act (unaccompanied children, children with disabilities, the elderly, people with disabilities, etc.)
  • One-time fee for a single person of up to 2.500 kuna or a family of up to 3.500.

To get the one-time fee, you have to submit a request to the on-duty social worker in the Reception center or Collective Accommodation. If you reside in private individual accommodation, you can submit a request at the Centar za socijalnu skrb (Center for Social Welfare) and their branches in Croatia. A list of Centers and their branches is available here.

More information on social rights and help is available in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

Health care

Ukrainian with temporary protection in Croatia has the right to free mandatory health insurance. They don’t have to pay one year of payback to HZZO.

[Read: Guide on healthcare and health insurance in Croatia]

More information on the right to health care is available in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

Employment and work

Ukrainians under temporary protection in Croatia can work in Croatia without applying for a residence and work permit or a certificate of registration. They have the right to register with the HZZ – Croatian employment service. After registration, they will get an adviser who will help them to create a CV and find a job.

If you are looking for a job in Croatia, view our guide on how to find a job in Croatia here.

More information on the right to employment and work in Croatia including the process of registration to the HZZ is available in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

Education

Ukrainian children under temporary protection in Croatia can enroll or continue primary and secondary education in Croatia under the same conditions as Croatian citizens.

More information on the right to education including how to enroll children in kindergarten, elementary school, or high school, Croatian language courses, and study is available in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

How to get a subsidy for hosting Ukrainians in private properties

Owners of properties that host displaced people from Ukraine have the right to get a monthly subsidy from the state for covering the costs of renting and utilities. It is possible to get up to 3.600 kuna per month.

For hosting singles, property owners can get 50 kuna per day. For hosting more than one person, owners can get the following amounts:

  • One person – 40 kuna per day
  • Second person – 30 kuna per day
  • Third person – 20 kuna per day
  • Fourth and every next person – 10 kuna per day

To get the subsidy, you have to sign a contract with MUP. Information on how to deliver your housing offer including information on the contract and the steps of the process is available here.

Where to find news on Ukrainian refugees in Croatia

The Croatian government has launched an official page called Hrvatska za Ukrajinu (Croatia for Ukraine). This page provides relevant information and news for Ukrainian refugees and people who offer help, important phone numbers, regulations and decisions, leaflets, and statistics on entry and accommodation.

If you want to keep up to date with the latest happenings, follow this page. It is available in Ukrainian here and Croatian here.

View our other resources for Ukrainians

Get free help from Expat in Croatia and our partners

Expat in Croatia will do all we can to help those who qualify to use the above protection at no cost. If you are coming to Croatia and plan to apply for residence based on another program like a digital nomad for example, please check out these resources and contact us using the form on those other pages, for which there may be a cost.

To get assistance, complete the form below and we’ll contact you as soon as possible.


Sources:
“Croatia has received over 850 refugees from Ukraine so far” by the Government
Ukrainian refugees get the right to stay and work in the EU for up to three years by Index
Publishing of an information leaflet for displaced persons from Ukraine by Večernji
Government accepted the Decision on the introduction of temporary protection for displaced persons from Ukraine by Ministry Of Internal Affairs
Croatia for Ukraine

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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