Which documents you should bring with you to Croatia (if you plan to live here): Guide for 2024

Sunny day on the island of Brač, Croatia
Sunny day on the island of Brač, Croatia

UPDATED: 17.2.2023.

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, the 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:

The facts are these…

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:

  • Foreign passport (or national ID if from EU/EEA)
  • Proof of health insurance
  • Criminal background check + certificate on the length of stay
  • 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 the 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 officially translated into Croatian. We can introduce you to a translator that can help. Just contact us.

If you apply at the Croatian consulate, a copy of a passport may need to be notarized.

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

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. In addition to the background check, it is mandatory to provide a certificate of the length of stay from the same country. 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.

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 for 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 they are issued and not legalized/apostilled.

[Read: Apostille versus full legalization of government documents]

If you are here with your spouse but neither of you is 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 to 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 of your residence.

This proof can be shown in many different ways depending on your scenario. 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 a 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 an 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 qualifications. This is issued by the Croatian Ministry of Science and Education.

Learn how to get a 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 for the purpose of secondary education and are under 18 years of age require the consent of a parent. This consent is 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 and some need to be officially translated. You have to prepare your documents properly, otherwise, they will be rejected by the Croatian government.

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Beware of delays

When obtaining foreign documents outside of Croatia, keep in mind that the processing time may be delayed in some countries. 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 officially translated into Croatian 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.

Državljani trećih zemalja

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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