Residence Process: Your Interview with the Policija

You’re in the system. You’ve run around town like mad to get all the necessary pieces together for your residence application. You’ve provided the Policija with all of your documents and forms. Now, you are waiting patiently for official approval to stay in Croatia beyond the obligatory 90 days.

There is still one more hurdle: the interview.

Once your application is submitted, it is passed on to officers that review your file and investigate all of your documentation for validity. After their review, one of two things will happen. You’ll either be notified that you need to provide more information, or you’ll be summoned for an interview.

The Policija will summon you by phone, by letter or may simply show up at your registered address unannounced. If you get a letter, it will come in a blue envelope and will include a set date and time for your interview appointment, typically 24-48 hours after your receipt. So don’t leave the blue envelopes on the mail pile for too long. Usually you have to sign for them anyways, so they will stand out.

Some times, depending on your situation and the city you are applying in, the police may just show up at your door or maybe they will call you instead. If you’re married to a Croatian, maybe they won’t even contact you at all. This post is to prepare you for all scenarios.

The interview is easy to get through if you know what to expect. Honestly, I wish I’d known before my first interview. It would have prevented a lot of panic sweating.

How to get through the residence permit interview

  • Get there 10 to 15 minutes early.

    Since it is a police station, you’ll have to sign in and show ID before being allowed to proceed to where your interview is.

  • Bring your passport, always.

    Seems like a given, but one cannot be reminded enough.

  • Speak when spoken to.

    For non-Croatian speakers, the interview can be very uncomfortable as most of your appointment is spent waiting. During this silence, you may wonder if you should be doing or saying something. It can be very nerve wracking, especially the first time. Just remember, it’s all in your head, so just wait until you’re called on.

  • Only give up what they want.

    When your chance at residency is on the line, always err on the side of less is more. Provide only the information they are asking for and nothing additional. You never know what kind of seemingly insignificant detail thrown out during small talk will conflict with some archaic policy, therefore derailing your residency.

What they’ll ask you in the residency interview

Now to the good stuff. Luckily, it’s a bunch of basics. During the interview, the interviewer will complete a form used for their recommendation for approval with standard information that they already have. They are just confirming.

They will ask you…

  • To confirm your address (where you live in Croatia)
  • To confirm your spouse’s name and when you got married (if applicable)
  • The name of your landlord (whomever you rent your home from)
  • To show your passport
  • If you are working, and for whom
    • If you are a spouse applying for a residence permit under the Family Reunification claim, you may not be allowed to work in Croatia. Make sure you know what the restrictions are before answering this. For example, if you are working for a company outside of Croatia even if you are physically in Croatia, you are technically not working in Croatia so your answer would be “No”.
    • If you own a business, you will be asked to confirm the type of business, its official name and possibly its registered address. You may even be asked to provide the articles of incorporation and your employment contract, so keep them on hand.

For temporary residency permits, do not be surprised if the interview does not last very long. The interview for my first residency renewal only lasted 4 minutes. At some point, they’ll say you’re done. It will be very anticlimactic.

This is your last speed bump. Then you just wait until you get another call from the Policija with your approval.

UPDATE 27/2/19: After being here for 7 years, I’ve found that the longer I’ve been in Croatia, the longer the interviews are. Each one rehashes every detail from every moment I’ve been here.

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Expat in Croatia

Sara is an American expat based in Split. After globetrotting between New York, Amsterdam and California, she moved to Croatia in 2012. Sara's blog Expat in Croatia is a guide for foreigners living and traveling in Croatia.