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Croatia: Entry Requirements and Permits

When moving to Croatia, you are going to settle in the newest member state of the European Union. This makes relocating easier for many expats. But more on entry requirements and permits for moving to Croatia later — first, we’ll introduce you to this beautiful country, its culture, and its people.
Welcome to the newest EU member state in Southeastern Europe!

Before you move to Croatia, you should familiarize yourself with the entry requirements and the procedures for obtaining a residence permit. Whether or not you need a visa to enter Croatia mainly depends on three different factors: the planned length of your stay, your nationality, and your reason for visiting or relocating.

Short-Term Visas

Short-term visitors, i.e. those planning on staying in the country for fewer than 90 days, need either a visa or no special entry document at all. For selected nationalities, a valid travel document, i.e. passport or national identity card, will be enough.

In July 2004, Croatia adopted the Schengen visa rules, as well as visa exemptions for citizens and residence permit holders (incl. limited territorial validity visas) from Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania. The country also joined the European Union in 2013. However, please note that Croatia itself is not yet a member of the Schengen Zone. It applied to join in the summer of 2015 and should receive a decision by mid-2016.

Thus, short-term visitors do not need a visa

  • if they are a national of another EU or EEA member state;
  • or if they already have a Schengen visa or a residence permit for a member state of the Schengen Agreement;
  • or if they have a national visa or residence permit for Bulgaria, Cyprus, or Romania;
  • or if they are a national of selected countries with visa exemptions for stays of up to 90 days.

Countries with visa exemptions for short-term stays in Croatia include Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, the USA, the United Arab Emirates, and more.

However, the list above is neither complete nor does it necessarily stay unchanged. Always check with the nearest Croatian mission or your own embassy in Zagreb whether you are exempt from the visa requirements for short-term visits and business travel.

Applying for a Short-Term Visa

If none of the exceptions listed above applies to you, you have to file a visa application with the responsible Croatian Embassy or Consulate. For stays of up to 90 days, you usually need to hand in the following documents:

  • a completed application form
  • proof that you have paid the visa fee (460 HRK)
  • a valid passport (original and copy)
  • a 35x45mm color photo
  • proof of financial means to cover your stay
  • proof of your intention to leave the country again, e.g. return plane ticket
  • proof of accommodation, e.g. hotel reservation
  • travel health insurance (with a minimum cover of at least  30,000 EUR)
  • proof of purpose for your stay
  • a Letter of Guarantee for private visits and business trips (though not for leisure tourism)

While you can apply for a visa by submitting the completed application form to the responsible Croatian Embassy or Consulate, applications can also be submitted at VFS Visa Application Centers in Egypt, India, Lebanon, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa Thailand, Ukraine and some other countries listed on the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs website.

Long-Term Visas and Residence/Work Permits

For stays of longer than 90 days, non-EU nationals usually need to apply for a visa plus a temporary residence permit (aka Temporary Stay Permit) via their closest Croatian Embassy or Consulate. So, if you are planning a stay of more than three months, please get in touch with the respective diplomatic mission to enquire about the application procedure. A temporary residence permit does not automatically grant you the right to work in Croatia, though.

If you have found a job with a Croatian company, you also need a work permit. Self-employed expats need, among other things, a business permit to carry out their profession and earn money. You can find more information on work and business permits in our Expat Guide to working in Croatia.

EU nationals should be aware that they now benefit from the free movement of persons, but not all EU nationalities benefit from the free movement of labor. Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom still have restrictions on the access of their labor markets by Croatian workers and may continue to until 1 July 2018. This means that Croatia also has reciprocal restrictions for nationals from these countries. Therefore people from EU states don’t need a visa, but some still have to get a work or business permit.

If they are staying for longer than three months, EU nationals also have to get a residence permit from the local police. Detailed information on long-term stays in Croatia can be found on the Ministry of the Interior’s Aliens webpage.

Applying for a Residence Permit

If you are allowed to enter Croatia without a visa, but want to stay longer than 90 days, you can apply for your residence and work/business permits from within the country. These applications are handled via the local police station. However, there is no guarantee that you will be successful, and you might have to leave the country again, depending on your personal situation.

But no matter where you apply for a temporary residence permit, outside of Croatia or within the country, you are generally asked to provide the following paperwork:

  • a valid passport / travel document (original and copy)
  • birth certificate (plus certified translation)
  • a color passport photo
  • proof of financial means to support yourself
  • proof of health insurance
  • proof of purpose for your stay (work, family, education, research, etc.)
  • criminal background check (plus certified translation)
  • proof of payment for visa fee (520 HRK) or a revenue stamp of 20 HRK if the application is submitted within Croatia
  • proof of consent from both parents if you are travelling with a minor child

However, please check with the Croatian Embassy or Consulate in question, or with the Ministry of Interior, if this list is up to date and whether you need to provide any other documentation. They can also tell you in detail whether a translation of a document counts as officially certified, what is considered proof of purpose, etc.

Residence Permit Renewals and Local Registration

A temporary residence permit is valid for up to one year, but you can extend it via the local police station. However, you must start the renewal process at least 90 days before your permit expires. Once you have held a temporary residence permit for five years in a row, you can apply for a permanent one.

When entering Croatia, regardless of the travel document, visa, or permit you have, you need to register with the local police. This regulation includes all foreign residents of every nationality, sooner or later. If you are staying at a hotel, B&B, or campsite the staff usually takes care of this for you.

Foreign visitors on short-term visas need to complete the registration process within 48 hours. Those who already have the right to live in Croatia, e.g. via a temporary residence permit acquired abroad, have up to 72 hours to register. However, EU/EEA nationals don’t have to register with the police unless they are planning to stay for longer than more than 90 days. As mentioned above, they should go to the local police station to apply for their temporary residence permit at least eight days before this initial period is over.

Once you register as a foreign resident, you also get an ID number. This is very important because you need this ID number for plenty of other tasks like opening a bank account or applying for a phone contract.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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"The InterNations network helped me transition from a study abroad student to a resident of Zagreb."

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