Announcement Women's Month 2023 - Nominate your extraordinary woman here until December 31

How to volunteer in Croatia and get residence: Guide for 2023

This post has been verified with an immigration lawyer and the ministry that handles immigration.
Volunteers in Croatia
Image by Reader’s Digest

LAST UPDATED: 30/09/2022

Volunteering is a great way to contribute to your community. Volunteering abroad in countries where you do not live is also a wonderful way to travel and get to know other cultures.

If you decide to volunteer in Croatia, you can apply for a residence permit based on your volunteering. However, there are some hoops you’ll need to jump through to qualify.

Keep in mind that the non-profit organization called udruga is obliged to report you as a volunteer.

There are 3 categories under which foreigners legally qualify to volunteer in Croatia:

  • Foreigners who come to work in working camps and other working-educational programs or diplomatic missions and consular offices in Croatia
  • Volunteers who volunteer for NGOs and similar institutions within an international volunteer exchange program
  • Foreigners who come to do professional practice or volunteer within international volunteer programs and initiatives carried out by the competent authority for education and science such as Program Zajednice, Program za cjeloživotno učenje, and Erasmus+

We explained how to apply for both short-term and long-term volunteering as well as what should be included in a standard volunteer contract with an udruga.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to volunteer in Croatia and get residence

Types of volunteering

In Croatia, there are 2 types of volunteering:

  • Short-term volunteering – up to 90 days
  • Long-term volunteering – from 90 days and up to one year

#1 Short-term volunteering

Short-term volunteering can last up to 90 days within one calendar year. This period can be divided into several shorter periods.

Most foreigners who come to Croatia for the purpose of short-term volunteering must get potvrda o prijavi rada (work registration certificate) from the police according to the Zakon o strancima (Law on foreigners).

A work registration certificate is required for all foreign citizens (with some exceptions) and citizens of Slovenia, Austria, Malta, Netherlands, Great Britain, and North Ireland. Citizens of the remaining EU/EEA members and the Swiss confederation are exempt and therefore do not need a work registration certificate.

To get a work registration certificate, you must go to the police administration office nearest to the headquarters of the volunteer organizer or to the place where the volunteering will be done. [Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

A work registration certificate can be picked up at the police station by the volunteer or a representative of the volunteer program or udruga. This depends on the deal agreed upon between the volunteer and the organizer.

To get a work registration certificate, provide the following to the police:

  • Zahtjev za izdavanje potvrde o prijavi rada (police will provide it)
    • It includes the volunteer’s name and surname, date, place, and country of birth, citizenship, a period for which the certification is required, number of volunteering days, and the type of volunteer work
  • Copy of a valid identification document (ID card, passport – If the passport is not in English, a copy must be officially translated into Croatian)
  • Tourist visa, if required for your nationality
  • Proof of volunteering arrangement written in Croatian such as
    • Ugovor o volontiranju (Volunteering contract)
    • Ugovor o partnerstvu (Partnership agreement) between the organizations involved along with the volunteer applications for the volunteering program
  • Tax stamps in the amount of 20 kuna

Once the work registration certificate has been approved, you’ll need to return to the administrative police station where you submitted the application. You must pay for upravna pristojba (administrative fee) in the amount of 150 kuna. The police will give you uplatnica (payment slip). Here are instructions on how to pay this bill.

Based on the issued certificate, a volunteer can work for the same volunteer organizer all over Croatia. For every new contract term, a new work registration certificate is needed.

#2 Long-term volunteering

Long-term volunteering can last from 90 days and up to 1 year.

Long-term volunteers must report and register their temporary stay in Croatia. This registration process involves applying for dozvola za boravak i rad (residence and work permit). [Read: How to apply for a work permit]

A residence and work permit enables a temporary stay on the basis of volunteer work. It does not allow you to work for payment for any company in Croatia. Foreign volunteers between 18 and 65 years old who have an unpaid volunteering agreement for a term of longer than 90 days can apply for this permit.

Volunteers can volunteer in Croatia on the basis of the program of international exchange and cooperation of volunteers. In this case, a work permit can be approved for a period of up to 1 year. It can be extended for another 12 months if this is approved by EU work and volunteering programs.

To apply for a residence and work permit for volunteers, you must provide:

  • Agreement with the volunteering host which must include:
    • Description of the volunteer program
    • Duration of volunteering
    • Conditions of volunteering
    • Number of hours of volunteering
    • Resources available to cover the costs of stay and accommodation
    • Minimum amount of pocket money during stay
    • Training program for working with children and vulnerable groups according to the regulation governing volunteering
  • Proof that the host entity is in possession of a third-party liability insurance policy unless it comes from the European Voluntary Service (EVS)

There is an exception when work permits for volunteers can be issued to third-country nationals who don’t participate in the program of international exchange and cooperation of volunteers. This can be done if they meet the following:

  • All requirements for a temporary stay are met
  • They have a volunteering agreement in accordance with the regulation that defines volunteering
  • The body responsible for implementing the volunteering program agrees

In this case, a work permit can be approved for a period of up to 1 year. It can be extended for another 6 months if this is required by a volunteer program.

A residence permit is required for all foreign citizens, and citizens of Slovenia, Austria, Malta, Netherlands, Great Britain, and North Ireland.

However, citizens who come from EU/EEA Member States and the Swiss confederation are entitled to residence permits automatically regardless of their purpose for coming to Croatia. If this is your situation, then hop over to this post to learn how you can apply for a residence permit in Croatia as an EU/EEA national.

How to apply for temporary residence as a volunteer

You can submit your application on the basis of volunteering at the nearest administrative police station to where you will live and volunteer. [Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]

To apply for temporary residence based on volunteering, you must provide:

  • Completed form Zahtjev za prijavu privremenog boravka (Request for temporary residence) provided by the police
    • For non-EU/EEA nationals, an example of Obrazac 1a is available here
    • For EU/EEA, Ireland, Lichtenstein, Norway, and Swiss Confederation nationals, an example of Obrazac 1b is available here
  • Copy of a valid identification document (an ID card or passport)
  • 30×35 mm passport photo
  • Registration of your address in Croatia
  • Criminal background check + certificate on the length of stay from a foreign country
  • Proof of valid health insurance
  • Proof of sufficient financial sources
    • Proof of all costs that the organizer will cover, which may include the cost of accommodation, food, health insurance, or travel.
    • If the organizer isn’t able to cover all the costs, a volunteer must provide a confirmation from a Croatian bank showing that they have sufficient funds to support themselves during the term of volunteering. For every month of volunteering, a volunteer must have 1.000 kuna in their bank account.
  • Volunteering agreement and proof that the host entity is in possession of a third party liability insurance policy (for volunteers outside the program of international exchange and cooperation of volunteers)
  • Agreement with the host entity registered in Croatia and proof that the host entity is in possession of a third party liability insurance policy unless it is part of the European Solidarity Force (for volunteering based on international exchange and cooperation of volunteers)

After the application is processed, the volunteer or organizer will be informed about the status of the application by phone. If the application is approved, a volunteer must come to the police station to pay the following fees:

  • Work and stay permit – 800 kuna
  • Boravišna iskaznica (identification card)
    • Regular procedure – 240 kuna
    • Accelerated procedure – 450 kuna
  • Administrative cost – 70 kuna

It takes 3 weeks for the card to be printed.

Based on the issued residence permit, a volunteer can work for the same volunteer organizer all over Croatia. For every new contract term, a new residence permit is needed.

What does a volunteering contract need to include

Not all contracts are created equal. When you submit a volunteering contract to the police as part of your application for residence, it must include specific items for it to be accepted.

A volunteering contract must include:

  • Volunteer’s name, OIB or relevant ID number, and address
  • Udruga’s name, OIB, and address
  • Place and period of volunteering
  • Description of the volunteering activities (what the volunteer will be doing)
  • Rights and obligations/responsibilities of the volunteer and the udruga
  • Safety of volunteer while volunteering
  • Ways of ensuring the volunteer’s rights
  • Statement that the volunteer will not be paid
  • Allowances and reimbursements that will be covered, if any
  • All the clauses from the Law on volunteering
  • General clauses from the Law on civil obligations
  • Procedure for termination of the contract
  • Volunteer’s and udruga’s signatures

An example of a volunteering contract is available here.

Volunteering and permanent residence

According to the Law on foreigners, residence based on volunteering doesn’t count towards permanent residence.

Article 151 of the law says:

(1) U vrijeme potrebno za odobrenje dugotrajnog boravišta iz članka 150. stavka 1. ovoga Zakona ne uračunava se:
4. boravak na temelju izdane dozvole za boravak i rad volonterima

Which translates as:

(1) The time required for the approval of a long-term residence referred to in Article 150, paragraph 1 of this Act shall not include:
4. residence on the basis of a residence and work permit issued to volunteers

Where you can volunteer in Croatia

You can volunteer for any udruga (non-profit organization) in Croatia. Here are some great organizations where you may volunteer either short or long-term:

We would like to call out the fantastic organization udruga Domine in Split as a great place to volunteer. Read our profile about them here.

Volonterski centar Zagreb

Volonterski centar Zagreb (Volunteers’ Center Zagreb) is an NGO that promotes volunteering and serves as a relevant source of information about local and international volunteering. They mediate, educate, and counsel volunteers and volunteering organizations all across Croatia.

VCZ provides:

  • Latest news regarding volunteering
  • Education and counseling
  • Engaging citizens in volunteering actions
  • Connecting different organizations and associations
  • Organizing different volunteer activities with an emphasis on organizations within the EU/EEA
  • Volunteering research
  • Promotion of the values of volunteering

If you have any questions regarding volunteering or wish to be connected to an udruga in Croatia, contact VCZ.

Address: Ilica 29, 10 000 Zagreb
Email: vcz@vcz.hr
Phone: +385 (0)1 3013 058

Website | Facebook | Instagram

View our other volunteer posts


Sources:
Državljani trećih zemalja
Zakon o strancima

Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. It is important to understand that Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change and each personal case is individual and different rules may apply. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.

Sharing is Caring:
Subscribe to the Expat in Croatia Newsletter and get our FREE Croatia Starter Kit.
I'm already subscribed.