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How to Become a Citizen in Croatia

Croatia, with its stunning coastline, historical landmarks, and high quality of life, has become an increasingly attractive destination for expatriates. Whether you're seeking a temporary residence, a long-term stay, or full citizenship, Croatia provides various pathways to relocate. This comprehensive guide will explore the visa and residency options, pathways to citizenship, and important considerations for moving to Croatia.


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Short-Term Stays and Visas

Non-EU nationals generally require a visa to enter Croatia. The type of visa needed depends on the purpose and length of the stay:

  • Tourist Visa: Allows visitors to stay in Croatia for up to 90 days within any 180-day period. Tourism, short-term business visits, and other non-permanent activities are covered.

  • Business Visa: Issued to individuals engaging in business meetings, training, or events in Croatia. The duration is similar to the tourist visa.

  • Study Visa: Required for international students enrolled in Croatian academic institutions or language courses.

For stays beyond 90 days, you'll need to apply for a residence permit.

Long-Term Residency Options

Long-term residency allows you to live in Croatia for more than 90 days. The type of residency permit you require depends on your circumstances:

  • Work Permit: Employers in Croatia can apply for a work permit for foreign nationals if no suitable Croatian candidates are available for the position. The work permit is typically issued for one year, with renewal options. Note that work permits are tied to a specific employer and position.

  • Family Reunification Permit: For spouses, children, and other family members of Croatian citizens or legal residents.

  • Student Permit: For students accepted to a Croatian university or academic program.

  • Digital Nomad Visa: A recent initiative, the Digital Nomad Visa allows remote workers to reside in Croatia for up to a year. It requires proof of self-employment or employment with a foreign company.

  • Investment or Business Permit: Entrepreneurs or investors looking to establish a business in Croatia may qualify for a residence permit by demonstrating significant investment or business growth potential.

  • Retirement Permit: Croatia doesn't have a specific visa for retirees, but the "Temporary Residence Permit" may be available for those who meet certain financial criteria.

Pathway to Permanent Residency

After five years of legal, continuous residence, individuals can apply for permanent residency. This status provides:

  • Indefinite stay rights

  • Ability to change employers without losing residency status

  • Access to social benefits and public healthcare

Applicants must demonstrate basic Croatian language proficiency and financial stability.

Obtaining Croatian Citizenship

There are different pathways to Croatian citizenship, depending on personal circumstances:

  • Citizenship by Descent: Individuals with Croatian ancestry (up to the second generation removed) may apply directly for citizenship by proving their heritage through documentation and demonstrating a basic knowledge of Croatian.

  • Citizenship by Marriage: Those married to Croatian citizens for at least three years can apply for citizenship after legally residing in Croatia for one year.

  • Citizenship by Naturalization: Non-EU nationals must reside continuously in Croatia for eight years to qualify for naturalization. Requirements include proficiency in the Croatian language, financial stability, and knowledge of Croatian culture and law.

  • Citizenship for Special Contributions: Croatia may grant citizenship to foreigners who have contributed significantly to Croatian society, culture, or economy.

Dual Citizenship

Croatia allows dual citizenship, enabling individuals to retain their original nationality while enjoying the privileges of Croatian citizenship. However, Croatia only permits dual citizenship under certain conditions:

  • If it is permitted by bilateral agreements with the individual's original country.

  • If the individual holds citizenship by descent or birthright.


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Special Considerations and Challenges of Moving to Croatia

Relocating to a new country is a significant decision that requires careful planning. Moving to Croatia offers a unique opportunity to explore the country's rich heritage and stunning landscapes, but also presents challenges in terms of legal, financial, and cultural adaptation. Here are some special considerations and challenges that potential expatriates should be aware of before moving to Croatia.

Taxation System in Croatia

Navigating a new tax system is crucial for any expatriate, especially those who have investments or income streams in other countries. In Croatia:

  • Worldwide Income: Croatia taxes residents on their global income. Understanding your tax liability in both Croatia and your home country is vital to avoid double taxation.

  • Double Taxation Treaties: Croatia has treaties with several countries to prevent double taxation. It's important to know the specifics of these treaties if you have multiple income sources.

  • Tax Compliance: Keeping up with local tax filing requirements is essential. Working with a local tax advisor can ensure compliance and minimize tax burdens.

Healthcare Access

Access to quality healthcare is a primary concern when moving abroad. Croatia offers a mix of public and private healthcare services.

  • Public Healthcare: The public healthcare system is affordable and available to residents. However, waiting times can be long for non-emergency treatments, and language barriers can complicate communication with healthcare professionals.

  • Private Healthcare: Private healthcare is also available, often offering shorter waiting times and higher-quality facilities. However, it requires additional insurance or out-of-pocket payments.

  • Health Insurance: All residents are required to have basic health insurance. Expatriates need to ensure they're registered for coverage and understand the costs involved.

Education System

Moving with children requires consideration of the educational system:

  • Public Schools: Public education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 14. The language of instruction is Croatian, which can be a challenge for expatriate children.

  • International Schools: International schools are available in major cities like Zagreb and Split, offering instruction in English and other languages. However, they are often costly and may have long waiting lists.

Bureaucratic Processes

Croatia's bureaucratic procedures can be daunting for expatriates:

  • Paperwork: The paperwork required for residency permits and visas can be extensive. Applications often require certified translations of documents, police clearance certificates, and proof of income or employment.

  • Processing Times: Processing times for permits and visas can be long. Plan ahead to avoid overstaying tourist visas or facing legal issues.

  • Local Registration: Expatriates must register with local authorities upon arrival. Failing to do so can result in fines or delays in obtaining residency status.

Language Barrier

While English is commonly spoken in tourist areas, learning Croatian is essential for integrating fully:

  • Daily Interactions: Simple activities like grocery shopping, ordering in restaurants, or accessing government services can be challenging without basic Croatian proficiency.

  • Professional Environments: In most workplaces, a working knowledge of Croatian is expected. Lack of language skills can limit job opportunities and professional networking.

Cultural Adaptation

Croatian culture is unique and may differ significantly from your home country. Understanding and adapting to local customs is important:

  • Social Norms: Croatians value direct communication and close-knit relationships. Making local friends may require building trust over time.

  • Time Management: While deadlines are important in the professional setting, casual social engagements are more relaxed in terms of punctuality.

  • Family-Oriented Society: Croatia is family-oriented, and traditions often revolve around family life and religious practices.

Housing and Living Costs

Finding suitable housing and understanding living costs are crucial considerations:

  • Housing Market: Housing availability can be competitive, particularly in popular areas like Zagreb and coastal cities. Short-term rentals can help expatriates understand the market before committing to long-term leases.

  • Cost of Living: While Croatia generally offers a lower cost of living compared to Western Europe, prices vary widely depending on the region.

Employment Challenges

Finding a job as an expatriate can be challenging, particularly if you lack specialized skills or Croatian language proficiency:

  • Work Permits: Croatia has quotas for non-EU work permits, and employers must prove the lack of suitable local candidates before hiring foreign nationals.

  • Job Market: Croatia's job market is competitive, and opportunities in some sectors may be limited. Remote work can be a viable option for those with portable skills.

 boats on port


Relocating to Croatia requires careful planning and understanding of the legal processes involved. Croatia provides diverse options for residence permits, allowing individuals to enjoy the country's rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and high quality of life. Whether you're moving for work, family, or personal enjoyment, Croatia has a pathway suited to your needs.

Make your move to Croatia a reality with the right support. Visit Citizen Remote to explore their immigration services tailored to your needs. Whether you're seeking a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship, their experts will help you navigate the legal complexities, ensuring a smooth transition to your new Croatian home.


Tim Marting is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Citizen Remote a site for remote workers and digital nomads. Although from the US, Tim currently lives in Spain, and has been a world citizen for the last 5 years, living in 3 different countries. He had other long-term stops in Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Thailand and the UK. His life goal is “to enable border-less travel and border-less relations for the rest of this beautiful world.