Which documents you should bring with you to Croatia (if you plan to live here)

Image by Barry McGee

UPDATED: 17/5/2021

You’ve decided to move to Croatia. That’s awesome.

First, you’ve got some work to do to ensure there will be no problems gaining residency. There are a number of items you should prepare before leaving your home country as being without them will only delay and complicate your residence application.

Some documents you can easily print after you arrive, but some require additional preparation before you leave your home country. Trying to sort them out from abroad after the move will be challenging and headache-inducing. Depending on your nationality, purpose of stay as well as who you talk to and when, the requirements for your residence permit application may vary.

To get a more customized list of what you might need for your specific application, check out our detailed residence guide.

In this post, we cover:

Let’s get started…

Standard documentation for a residence permit

Certain documents are mandatory for everyone who applies for a residence in Croatia. This means that they MUST be enclosed as a part of your residence application, no matter what.

To apply for residence, you must have:

  • A foreign passport (or national ID if from EU/EEA)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Criminal background check *NEW FOR 2021*
  • Marriage certificate

Now, we’ll go through each requirement, one by one.

Foreign passport

You must provide a foreign passport (or national ID if EU/EEA) that has an expiration date that is at least 3 months longer than the validity period of intended stay.

If your passport is in the English language, a copy of your passport/ID is enough to submit with your application. Sometimes the ministry will make a copy at the police station, but it is best to come prepared with your own copy.

If your passport is in a language that is not English, then you need a copy that is notarized and translated into Croatian. We can introduce you to a translator that can help. Just contact us.

Proof of health insurance

Everyone who applies for residence must show proof of health insurance that covers them for the term of the permit for which they are applying. You can use health insurance from your home country, you can obtain international insurance or you can sign up for private health insurance with a Croatian insurer.

Depending on your basis for residence, you may be required to sign up for state health insurance (HZZO) within 8 days after approval of your residence regardless of whether you are covered privately.

Some groups are exempt from showing proof of health insurance as part of their residence applications. These groups include:

  • Working on the basis of a work contract with a Croatian employer
  • Erasmus+ education, training, or youth and sports program
  • Humanitarian reasons
  • Research purposes

Criminal background check

From January 1, 2021, third-country nationals who apply for temporary residence in Croatia for the very first time must provide a criminal background check from their country of nationality. This document is not required if you previously were approved for residence.

This check must be issued by your country’s national government, not your city, state or province. Learn more about background checks for third-country nationals here.

Marriage certificate

A marriage certificate is necessary if you are applying for residence based on family reunification and are married. If you’ve been married more than a year, you may need to obtain a new copy of a marriage certificate. Typically, the ministry will only accept documents up until 6 months after it is legalized/apostilled – and governments will typically only apostille or legalize a document less than 6 months to 1 year old.

If you are here with your spouse but neither of you are applying for family reunification, you’ll likely need to provide proof of your marriage as well.

Optional documentation for a residence permit

Depending on your case and purpose of stay, you may need to enclose other required documentation including:

  • Children’s birth certificate
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Proof you are a digital nomad
  • Permanent residence card
  • Proof of acquired educational qualification
  • Proof of living in a joint household
  • Consent of a parent

Children’s birth certificates

If you are bringing any children with you, then you’ll need to provide an apostilled/legalized copy of their birth certificates. If you legally adopted any of these children, then you should also bring a copy of those papers as well. If the adoption papers are requested, you may need them officially translated into Croatian. However, hold on the translation unless it is requested.

Proof of sufficient funds

When applying for residency in Croatia, in most cases you must prove to the government that you have enough money to support yourself. This is not related to nationality, but instead is dependent on the basis for your residence.

This proof is usually shown with a bank statement. Learn more about the thresholds and how to show financial means here.

Proof you are a digital nomad

Digital nomads must enclose proof of purpose, which confirms their status of a digital nomad. This can be a work contract or some other document that shows they perform work through “communication technology” for a foreign employer or their own company registered outside of Croatia.

Learn more about applying for residence as a digital nomad here.

Permanent residence card

If you already have long-term residence in another EU/EEA Member State, you may need to enclose a residence card called “boravišna iskaznica” from that country.

Learn how to apply for residence in Croatia if you are a EU/EEA permanent resident here.

Proof of acquired educational qualification

If you are seeking a work and residence permit to work for a Croatian employer or you want to open your own business in Croatia as a basis for residence, proof of your educational qualification is mandatory.

If you will perform a job that is defined as a regulated profession in Croatia, you also need a decision on the recognition of foreign professional qualification. This is issued by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education.

Learn how to get residence by opening your own business in Croatia here.

Proof of living in a joint household

This document is required if you are a family member of a third-country national and you want to apply for temporary residence based on that family connection in Croatia. This proof needs to show that you lived in a joint household in another EU/EEA member state together with your third-country national family member.

This is most commonly used when an elderly parent will join their child’s family in Croatia.

Learn how family members of third-country nationals can apply for a temporary stay in Croatia here.

Consent of a parent

People who apply for a temporary residence on the purpose of secondary education and are under 18 years of age require the consent of a parent. This consent is a proof that a parent or guardian agrees with a planned stay of their children due to secondary education in Croatia.

Other documents you may want to bring from home

Driver’s license

If you wish to drive in Croatia, bring a current driver’s license that is at least 1 year out from its expiration. You may exchange your driver’s license for a Croatian one without taking driving school if done within the first year (for third-country nationals). EU/EEA citizens can exchange their driver’s license at any time as long as it is still valid.

Learn more about how to exchange your driver’s license here.

Vaccination records

If you plan to enroll your children in school, be sure to bring their vaccination records. There are certain vaccinations that are mandatory in Croatia. You can see a full list here.

How to prepare foreign documents for use in Croatia

Some of the above documents require additional preparation before they can be submitted to the Croatian government. Much of this preparation is best done in your home country before you leave for Croatia.

Some documents must be apostilled or legalized, some need to be notarized, some need to be notarized and translated. You have to prepare your documents properly, otherwise they will be rejected by the Croatian government.

Beware of delays

When obtaining foreign documents outside of Croatia, keep in mind that the processing time may be delayed in some countries due to the pandemic. So, if you need your foreign document for use in Croatia, plan ahead.

Anything issued by a foreign government must be apostilled or legalized by the foreign government that issued it. Then it must be notarized and translated in Croatian (done at the same time by an official translator in Croatia). This refers to background checks and marriage certificates, for example.

For everything else that is not government-issued, it’s best to see whether or not the ministry will make you submit an official translation. An official translation can easily be obtained once in Croatia, so don’t waste the money on one until Croatia specifically asks for it.

Learn exactly how to prepare your documents step-by-step here.

Next Steps

Check out our other residency posts here.

Check out our posts on residency customized by nationality here.




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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12 thoughts on “Which documents you should bring with you to Croatia (if you plan to live here)

  1. Jo Dukaric
    July 26, 2016 @ 4:35 pm

    My husband is Croatian, resides in Zagreb. I am Australian. Yesterday we went to sort out the health insurance stuff (went to policija last week to register and enquire about visa process. I have all documents apostilled, they just need to be translated to Croatian). At the policija the administrator said that I must have travel insurance before I hand in my forms, and to go to HZZO to organise. HZZO don't do travel insurance and told me to go to insurance company here in Zagreb to get it. In this case, I went to Croatia Osiguranje, which is almost 1,000kn for 3 months coverage. First tremor of Croatian bureaucracy! 


  2. travis
    July 16, 2018 @ 4:58 pm

    i from africa(cameroon) precisely, how do i get an employment visa in any company in croatia dealing with agriculture and farming/


    • Expat in Croatia
      August 24, 2018 @ 12:04 pm

      Hi Travis,

      It is extremely hard (nearly impossible) to get an employment offer within Croatia for non-EU nationals as unemployment is high here. Your best bet is to travel to Croatia as a tourist and physically go to companies with a CV to apply.




  3. Bob
    September 23, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

    I’m Moroccan. spouse of eu national.my wife live and work in France I’m living and working in Morocco we plan to visit that beautiful country of caroatia.
    We need some advice for visa document ?
    We have marrocan mariage certificate.


    • Expat in Croatia
      September 24, 2018 @ 7:10 am

      Hi Bob,

      Are you planning to visit Croatia as a tourist or do you want to live here long term?




  4. Tati
    October 29, 2018 @ 3:16 pm

    Dear Sara,

    I’ve been reading your web sites for days now and all the experiences from different people wanting to move Croatia.

    I was hoping you could enlighten me a little as I want to do the same , my life partner is Croatian.

    Our situation is a little particular so I will give you all the details so you can give me your honest opinion on how to proceed. I am from Ecuador and as I said he is Croatian. We are both seamen, we work on cruise ships so we are not in the country all the time, but I want to get the residency so I can stay in Croatia and leave ships. Currently, I have to go home every time to get the schengen visa up to 3 months, it is a real pain… and of course it costs money, needless to say the flight tickets.

    From what I’ve been reading, I do fall under the category of family reunification it seems, my concern is, we are not married, what do we need to present as valid document for the informal union, is that something they would accept ?

    for the health insurance – in my case, do I need to get health insurance in Ecuador for the whole year I intend to stay – is this something that can be done in Croatia ?

    I read something about living arrangements – do we need to present proof of owning some real state ?

    If I enter with the regular schengen visa can I then apply for the temporary permit directly from Croatia ?

    Sara, any information you can help me with , will be deeply appreciated, we have only a couples of months to get it sorted out as I am planning on doing this in January.

    Thank you in advance for your help.


  5. Bob
    October 6, 2019 @ 2:21 am

    Hi sara
    My EU wife and I we are in Croatia now. And we want to apply for residenc permit for me as spouse of eu citizen.but we don’t know if we can do it.becaus I’m visa required. And I entered illegally to Croatia.and I can’t go back to Morocco to apply for Visa.
    Can you advise us please.what to do next .


    • Expat in Croatia
      October 9, 2019 @ 2:43 pm

      Hi Bob,

      My recommendation would be to leave Croatia and re-enter with the proper visa. If you can’t go back to Morocco then find an embassy or consulate outside Croatia where you can get a visa. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of jeopardizing your ability to get a residence permit. I’ve spoken to people who also require a visa and are married to a Croatian. The government is strict about this. You must enter on a valid visa and you must start your residency permit immediately so that your visa period doesn’t run out.




  6. Bob
    October 9, 2019 @ 4:15 pm

    Hi sara
    Thank very much. For your advice.


    • Expat in Croatia
      October 14, 2019 @ 10:38 am

      Thanks so much for following Bob!


  7. mirza
    October 26, 2019 @ 11:52 am

    Hi I am from India and looks ok. educated , skilled. I’m looking for a beautiful wife from your country.


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