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IMMIGRATION TO CROATIA

Croatia is positioned centrally in Europe, which means that the majority of Central European countries can be easily reached by car from northwestern Croatia. For example, from Rijeka you can reach by car in 6-8 hours Milan in Italy, Lugano in Switzerland, Munich, Germany, Vienna in Austria, Bratislava in Slovakia, Budapest in Hungary. Also has a very mild climate suitable for life, and a very low rate of street crime. Considering the above mentioned, Croatia has very good preconditions for immigration, especially business people outside the EU who want to create a new business and the vital center of the EU, in Croatia.

Visas and visa regime

General Immigration European Union rules apply in most countries, in 25 of them, because Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom retained the option of not participating in the negotiations in some of the issues of migration and asylum.

Visas are issued for:

  • passing through the territory of the Republic of Croatia
  • a stay up to three months in any six-month period from the date of first entry into the country, and
  • transit through the international transit area of ​​the airport,

but on the basis of visa, the foreigner may not work in Croatia. List of foreigners from so-called third-country nationals who need a visa is composed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in the Regulation on the visa regime are listed third countries whose nationals must have a visa to cross the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement.

Visas are classified into categories, and in the first category are air-transit visas valid for a  maximum duration of 15 days, with the exception of multiple airport-transit visa whose duration is up to six months. Second category is a short-term visa for the purpose of travel or stay in Croatia, valid for between six months and five years but under special conditions – the foreigner must prove the need or legitimate intention to travel frequently or regularly in Croatia (especially for business or family reasons), as well as his integrity and reliability, in particular the lawful use of previously issued visas, his financial situation in the country of origin and the real intention to leave the area of Croatia before the expiry of the requested visa.

Foreigners who come to Croatia on visa regime must have adequate health insurance to cover possible costs of a medical emergency or urgent hospital treatment, return to the country of permanent residence due to the health problems or transportation in the case of death. From such conditions are exempt foreigners with diplomatic passports and seafarers and other professional groups who already have insurance related to their activities. Entering the visa regime for the first time foreigners have to go through taking the so-called biometric data, ie photos and fingerprinting, and paying the prescribed administrative fee.

A request for visa shall be submitted on the prescribed form not over than 3 months before the intended trip, and on request is decided within 15 days from the date of application (the deadline may be extended for justified reasons). Visas are usually issued before the entry into Croatia in the diplomatic missions, and at the border it may be issued for up to 15 days for the purpose of transit or to seafarers as well for the purpose of traveling. But for a visa at the border the foreigner must, in addition to a valid travel document, justify the purpose of his stay in Croatia and prove he has sufficient funds to support himself during his stay in Croatia and to return to the country from which he came, why is advised if possible to obtain a visa prior to travel. The visa can be extended at competent police station, with the obligatory opinion of the competent ministry and Security and Intelligence Agency, only in cases of force majeure or humanitarian reasons preventing the abandonment of the Republic of Croatia, as well as serious personal reasons.

Schengen area

The Schengen area includes the territory of 26 European countries, which have adopted the Schengen Agreement signed in 1985 in Schengen, Luxembourg. Schengen area in many ways functions as the territory of one state, with traditional controls for those entering and leaving the area, but with no internal border controls. Schengen member states are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The Republic of Croatia has applied for access to the “Schengen” area on 1st of July 2015.

Foreigners who are holders of valid Schengen documents, as well as those who are holders of permanent visas or visas for multiple entry and residence permit in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, do not need visas to transit, or for an intended stay in Croatia which does not exceed 90 days in any period of 180 days. The period of validity of those documents to be recognized as equivalent to the Croatian visa must cover the duration of transit or stay on the Croatian territory, although their stay in Croatia isn’t counted as a stay at the Schengen area, and it does not reduce the duration of issued Schengen visa.

Facilitated entry of foreigners is in force until the date of full implementation of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in Croatia, considering that Croatia is not yet in the Schengen area, although it’s a members of the European Union. In relation to this situation, the general rule applies to foreigners who have a visa or temporary residence permit in the Republic of Croatia, who must apply for a separate Schengen visa to move freely in the countries of the Schengen area.

Regulating stay of foreigners in Croatia

Conditions for a residence permit in the Republic of Croatia differ with respect to the category of a foreigner who applies for a stay. Foreigners are divided into following categories: 1. Citizens of the Member States of the European Economic Area (hereinafter: EPG) and the Swiss Confederation and their family members; 2. The citizens of third countries who have been granted permanent residence in the territory of another Member State of the EEA and members of their families; 3. Highly educated nationals; and 4. Nationals of other (third) countries. This paper work is oriented to the fourth category of foreigners – nationals of third countries.

The stay of foreigners is divided into categories of short-term, temporary stay and permanent residence. Short-term stay is considered to be up to three months, and temporary stay longer than three months, which may be granted for the purpose of family reunification, education, scientific research, labor and so on. A special paragraph of the law says that to a citizen of another country in the EEA, as the owner of real estate in Croatia can be granted temporary stay for up to a year for purposes other than those specifically listed in the law, and which is generally used by the owners of real estate on the coast for seasonal stay in Croatia.

Request for a temporary stay  may be submitted in the consular office, or for foreigners who do not need visas in a police station in the intended place of stay or work. The conditions for granting temporary stay are that the foreigner proves the purpose of temporary stay, has a valid travel document, means of subsistence, health insurance and similar. An application for a foreigner may file also the employer. The temporary stay may be extended to the local police station.

Third-country nationals may be granted temporary stay to reunite families, if their close relative (usually a spouse or parent) already has granted a temporary stay or permanent residence in Croatia. If the temporary stay in the territory of the Croatia is  requested due to a family reunion with nationals of the Member State of the EEA, Swiss or Croatian citizens, this process is further simplified. A person who has a temporary stay permit granted for family reunion with nationals of the listed countries, or a third countries nationals with permanent residence in Croatia, can work in Croatia without stay and work permit.

After continuous temporary stay of at least four years for the purpose of family reunification, the foreigner may request permission for the so-called autonomous stay. Specifically are regulated the conditions for temporary stay for secondary education, for example in the exchange of students, study, professional practice, scientific research and similar.

Working in Croatia

Temporary residence for the purpose of work is granted as a stay and work permit which is issued in accordance with the annual quota, or in special cases, outside of the quota, and also as a confirmation of the registration work.

Stay and work permit

Temporary stay shall be granted to a foreigner if:

  1. he justifies the purpose of temporary stay
  2. he has a valid travel document
  3. he has the means of subsistence – the lowest monthly amount is 2.000,00 Kuna, for a two-member family 2.750,00 Kuna, and for every additional member 500,00 Kuna higher per person.
  4. he has a proof of allocated health insurance in RC- citizens of countries that haven’t entered into social insurance contract with Croatia are obligated to submit travel insurance, and after they enter into RC and are granted temporary residence, they are obligated to contact the competent Croatian department for health insurance in order to acquire the health insurance rights
  5. he is not banned from entering or staying in RC
  6. he doesn’t represent a danger for public order, national security or public health.

With the request for first temporary stay, a foreigner must submit the impunity certificate of the state whose citizen is the foreigner or in which he has permanent residence not older than 6 months.
Without a work permit can work foreigner who has been granted permanent residence, asylum or temporary protection and members of their families to whom have been granted temporary stay for the purpose of family reunification, as well as foreigners who have an autonomous stay. Scholars and students can also work, through student or scholar services and related authorized agents, without employment as well as foreigners who stay in Croatia for the purpose of scientific research.

The annual quotas are determined by the decision of the Croatian Government for certain activities, but the most common are the tourism and hospitality industry. Permits are issued until the quota set for each calendar year is exhausted.

Concidering that the annual quota of permits for foreigners is relatively quickly exhausted, foreigners often ask for stay and work permit beyond the annual quota. Beyond annual quota stay and work permit can be issued to:

  1. Foreigners who are performing key duties in companies and branches, but only if:

– the amount of the legal capital of the company, or the assets of the limited or the unlimited partnership go beyond 100.000,00 kn (cca 13.000,00 EUR),

– there are at least 3 Croatian citizens employed in the company or branch office of a foreign company on workplaces that are not ones of a procures, member of the management nor or supervisory board,

– his gross salary is at least the same as the average gross salary paid in Croatia in the past year according to the officially published data from the competent statistics body.

If there are more foreigners performing key duties for the same employer, the stay and work permit shall be issued if:

-there are at least 5 Croatian citizens employed per every employed foreigner on workplaces that are not ones of a procures, member of the management or supervisory board,

– the amount of the legal capital of the company, or the assets of the limited or the unlimited partnership go beyond 100.000,00 kn (cca 13.000,00 EUR),

– their gross salary is at least the same as the average gross salary paid in Croatia in the past year according to the officially published data from the competent statistics body

  1. Foreigner who is self-employed in his own company or has more than 51% of owners share in the company or his own craft, if

– he had invested at least 200.000,00 kn in the founding of a company or a craft (approx 26.000,00 EUR),

– he employs at least 3 Croatian citizens,

– his gross salary is at least the same as the average gross salary paid in Croatia in the past year,

– the company or the craft doesn’t have losses,

– he submits the proof on the paid taxes and contributions in Croatia.       .

It should be noted that the monthly average net income per employee in legal entities in the Republic of Croatia is approximately 5.500,00 kuna (cca 720,00 EUR). When on the above amount is added contributions, tax and surtax, You gen an amount of HRK 8.915,00 (approx 1.170,00 EUR) which represents the total cost of wages.

  1. Foreigners transferred with an intern staff transfer within the companies; and other necessary persons,
  2. An employee who provides services for a foreign employer who doesn’t have the right of establishment in the EEA Member State, under the contract with the company or craft in Croatia in the area of high technology,
  3. Teachers who teach language and letter of national minorities,professional sportsmen or sports workers, artist employed in culture institutions in Croatia and other.

For each of these cases, foreigners must submit a number of documents such as evidence of acquired educational qualification, justification for hiring, evidence that he’s the key person in a company, proof of establishing a company or business in which he’s self-employed and other.

Stay and work permits shall be issued till the end of the work duration, for a maximum of one year, but exceptionally extended for two years. Seasonal workers can work and stay in Croatia no longer than six months, and after that at least the same period has to stay outside the Croatia before getting new “seasonal” permits.

Certificate on the work application

Foreigners who wish to work up to 30, 60 or 90 days in a year in Croatia are obligated, before they start to work, to acquire from the competent police authority or police station the certificate on the work application. On grounds of the issued certificate on the work application, a foreigner can work for one employer in any part of Croatia.

Certificate on the work application is required as a rule for procurators, key personnel or members of the supervisory board of a company which up to 90 days a year work for a company in the Republic of Croatia, and are not employed.

Establishment of a Limited Liability Company

The establishment and registration of limited liability companies is performed in the competent commercial court. The minimum share capital is 20.000,00 kunas (approx 2.500,00 euros). All the legal documents necessary for registration at the commercial court must be verified by a notary public. Costs of a notary public amount to approximately 3.000,00 kn (approx 400,00 EUR).

When a limited liability company is established by just one person, the foundation is performed on the basis of the declaration of the establishment, and in the case when a limited liability company is established by more than one person, the foundation is performed on the basis of the social contract. Both types of the founding documents are made by a notary public, and they define the name and headquarters, activities, rights and obligations of the founders and the company bodies (management and supervisory board, etc.) and other elements important for the functioning of a company. The company name should be different from the existing company name, so you should first check and book the name at commercial court.

After creating the founding document, following step is registration at the commercial court. When registering the state fees and other administrative expenses should be paid, which varies depending on how many founders, board members, and activities a company has – but generally it’s approximately 1.000,00 – 1.500,00 kunas.

The company must register also at the Croatian Bureau of Statistics to determine the identification number according to the National Classification of Economic Activities within 15 days of receiving the certificate of court registration. To the request for the identification number should be attached the copy of the certificate of court registration, blank form RPS-1 (available in bookstores). In addition, there should be attached a proof of payment of fees in the amount of 55,00 kunas (cca 7,50 EUR). The document issued from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics is called the Notification of business entity classification.

Registration to the Tax Administration is performed in the competent local tax office concerning the company’s headquarters. Documents needed for registration are copy of commercial court registration and notification of business entity classification from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics.

It is also necessary to carry out the pension insurance; health insurance; and obtain a custom number (applies only to companies that wish to engage in foreign trade).

To perform the activities it’s required to have a company seal which can be made after receiving the decision on registration in the commercial register. In addition, for business it’s also required to have a bank account which can be opened in any of the banks.

In conclusion, the whole procedure of company establishment lasts for 7-10 days, and the client should only once come to the Republic of Croatia, and the rest (obtaining personal identification numbers for the founders of the company, the composition of the social contract or articles of incorporation, the court registration, obtaining NKD statistical number, open a bank account in the Bank, obtaining a company seal and other) resolves mandatory lawyer. Notary costs amount approximately 3.000,00 kunas, court costs 1.500,00 kunas, while expenses of a lawyer are usually 12.500,00 kunas.

Legal entities listed in the court register pay:

  • a monthly membership fee to the Croatian Chamber of Economy in the minimal amount of 42,00 kunas (app 5,50 EUR), according to the decision of the local authorities,
  • the minimal monthly cost accounting which includes the cost of payroll and the preparation of the annual final reports in the amount of 1.250,00 kunas (approx 160,00 EUR),
  • the company tax in the amount of 500,00 to 2.000,00 kunas per year (approx 65,00 – 260,00 EUR),
  • profit tax at a rate of 20%, the tax on dividends of 12%, wherein should be noted that in the case of investments in Croatia tax may be significantly reduced or entirely avoided for the period of 10 years.
Art of investment condition duration (years) reduction of profit tax rate
Investement up to

1 mil EUR

min. 5 new working places up to 10 g. 50%

Profit tax rate: 10%

Investment 1 to 3 mil EUR min. 10 new working places up to 10 g. 75%

Profit tax rate: 5%

Investment over 3 mil EUR min. 15 new working places up to 15 g. 100%

Profit tax rate: 0%


Strategic investment projects of the Republic of Croatia

The law on strategic investment projects was adopted in 2013 and contains a number of privilege to investors so-called strategic projects the Croatian.

Strategic projects can be private investment projects, public investment projects and public-private investment projects in the field of economy, energy, tourism, transport, infrastructure, electronic communications, postal services, environmental protection, utilities, agriculture, forestry, water management, fisheries, health, culture, science, defense, justice, technology and education, which include construction of buildings. Certain project gets the status of a strategic project if it’s proclaimed by the Croatian Government.

Strategic Projects must satisfy the following conditions prescribed by law: the project must be harmonized with the document of physical planning, and total capital investment costs must be equal to or greater than 150 million kunas (approximately 20 million euros); or project has the ability to be co-financed from EU funds and programs, and total capital costs of the project are equal to or greater than 75 million kunas (approx 10 million EUR); or the project is realized in assisted areas, ie. in the areas of the local government units in accordance with the specific regulations governing the regional development of the Republic of Croatia and the total capital investment costs are equal to or greater than 20 million kunas (approx 2.7 million euros); or the project is realized on the islands, ie. a total capital investment cost in the islands is equal to or greater than 20 million kunas (approx 2.7 million euros); or project falls within the area of ​​agriculture and fisheries, and the total capital investment costs are equal to or greater than 20 million kunas (approximately 2.7 million euros).

A particular project shall be declared strategic if interested investors apply for EU economy ministry. However, in order to attract investment, the Croatian Government, through the Ministry of Economy, may make a public call for investors to invest in certain strategic project.

In its application, the interested investor should include a detailed description and explanation of the project and submit documents on the basis of which can be demonstrated that the project complies with the legal requirements, as well as other documents required by law.

Assessment and strategic project proposals  performs Commission founded by the Croatian Government. At the proposal of the Commission, the Government decide to proclaim a strategic project and the decision is published in the “Official Journal”. Within 30 days of announcement of the decision to proclaim a strategic project, the Minister of Economy conclude with a private investor an agreement on the preparation and implementation of the project. The agreement regulates issues of technical project preparation, execution dynamics of certain obligations, guarantees investors and other issues relevant to the project. All procedures related to the preparation and implementation of strategic projects, including the processing of applications properly submitted by investors, are considered urgent. The law provides short deadlines in which the competent authorities should make certain decisions, opinions or administrative acts that are required for implementing the project.

The law provides special incentives for strategic projects in disposing of real estate owned by the Croatia. These incentives, inter alia, include the sale of such property without public bidding, at market value assessed by a certified appraiser as well as the separation of forests from the forest fund and the sale of the forests or the establishment of the right to build on them.

Since the development of strategic projects is of interest to Croatia, there is a possibility that investors who invest a minimum of 2.7 million euros on the islands, or about 20 million euros on the land, obtain citizenship due to their development projects in Croatia.

Permanent residence for foreigners

Permanent residence of foreigners in Croatia shall be granted if they have five consecutive years’ legal residence, as granted temporary asylum or subsidiary protection. In this five years of residence it’s allow to be absent from Croatia repeatedly up to ten months or once up to six. At the time of deciding on permanent residence, the foreigner must have granted temporary stay, and in the five year period it’s not counted seasonal work, stay on the basis of a work permit, while, for example, to students it’s counted only half of the time spent on studying in Croatia.

In exceptional cases, a permanent resident is granted to refugees who spend at least three years in Croatia, customers of return and reconstruction programs, a child whose parents are permanent residents. For permanent residence foreigner must fulfill other conditions, have the means of subsistence, health insurance and be fluent in Croatian language, Latin script, and Croatian culture and social organization.

Examinations of the language, script and culture can be performed at colleges, secondary schools and adult education institutions with special approval of the relevant ministry. The exam does not have to be taken from the side of pre-school children, foreigners who have finished primary, secondary or higher education in Croatia, and people older than 65 years, if they are not employed. The exam also does not have to be taken if a foreigner independently fulfill a questionnaire in the process of permanent residence, but which also shows the necessary knowledge.

Foreigners with permanent residence have almost the same rights as Croatian citizens, including the right to work and being self-employment, vocational training, education and student scholarships, social and health care and pension rights, maternity benefits, child allowances, tax benefits, freedom of association and similar. However, foreigners with permanent residence must be careful, because this status can be taken away in the case when getting an entry ban, moving out or residing outside the Croatia for more than a year and so on.

Croatian citizenship

People who do not have Croatian citizenship (foreigners) can apply for Croatian citizenship by naturalization to become Croatian citizens if they meet the requirements prescribed by the Law on Croatian citizenship.

Croatian citizenship can be acquired by the following legal bases:

  • on the basis of residence in Croatia,
  • on the basis of birth in Croatia,
  • on the basis of marriage to a Croatian citizen,
  • based on the eviction of Croatia, of foreigner or his ancestor,
  • based on the existence of interest to the Republic of Croatia (a foreigner whose admission to Croatian citizenship would be of interest to the Republic of Croatia submitts to the relevant Ministry an opinion of the existence of interest for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship; eg. investor in the project of strategic importance for Croatia),
  • on the basis of belonging to the Croatian people,
  • based on re-admission to Croatian citizenship.

The request for Croatian citizenship by naturalization shall be submitted in person at the police department or station, or diplomatic mission / consular office of the Croatia abroad (if asylum is represented by lawyeer it’s necessary to obtain special power of attorney which authorizes a lawyer for representation in the acquisition of Croatian citizenship). Exceptionally, in the event when a person with a disability submit a request, it can be filed by her legal representative or authorized representative.

To the prescribed request form for Croatian citizenship should be attached: CV, certificate of birth, certificate of citizenship, certificate of good conduct of competent foreign authorities of the country of which the applicants are nationals or of the country of their permanent residence in the original or a duly certified copy with translation into Croatian not older than six months, a valid identity document, a certified copy of an administrative fee of 20 kuna, and if the application is submitted by the minor children, there shall be attached an extract from the birth certificate, citizenship certificate and consent of a child older than 14 years. For different bases to acquire Croatian citizenship should be attached other appropriate documents.

Restrictions in Croatia for citizens of some EU states

National of a Member State of the EEA and the Swiss Confederation, and members of his family may work in the Republic of Croatia and provide services without stay and work permit, and without work registration certificate.

However, it should be noted that some EU countries still impose restrictions on the work of Croatian citizens in the transitional period. Therefore, in accordance with the principle of reciprocity in Croatia still can not work without a work permit the citizens of Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This does not apply to citizens of mentioned countries who are self-employed in their own company or craft, and what means that they can work in the Republic of Croatia without stay and work permits and or certificate of registration work. If they intend to work more than three months, they will report a temporary stay, and to them will be issued a certificate of registration of temporary stay for the purpose of work and residence card, on request.

Up to three months European citizens may stay in Croatia only with a personal document or passport, and longer than three months if they’re workers, or student in one of the Croatian educational institutions, a self-employed or have sufficient funds to support themself and their family. So, as long as nationals of EU member states and associated countries in the EEA have sufficient resources, and don’t fall at the expense of social welfare, they may stay in Croatia as much as they want. However, if they have an intention to stay in Croatia for more than three months, they’re obliged to report a temporary stay to a nearby police station, for which the police is obliged to issue a certificate without delay.