Looking to get a work and residence permit, or open a Croatian company? A journey through the bureaucratic minefield with a foreigner who managed to do it.

Before we start, welcome to Croatian bureaucracy

Whatever you learned in your home country, leave it behind. Croatian bureaucracy is like no other I have some across in my 50 years on this planet. I have lived in Rwanda, Georgia, Somaliland and Russia. Paperwork there was often complicated, but there was usually at least an element of sense.

Not so in Croatia.

I think my favourite requirement from Croatian bureacracy over the years is the requirement to produce an original birth certificate not more than 6 months old. Every year.

The expense of getting my one-year temporary residency renewal always included 500 kuna to the online agency which would send me my fresh birth certificate. I was born in 1969. The fact that I had an original birth certificate dated 2012 in 2014 mattered little. For it was not 6 months old.

Dealing with Croatian bureaucracy is all about holding your nerve and being patient. After 15 years, I have learned that the only way to embrace it is with humour and sarcasm. It helps to pass the time and numb the pain. Good luck!

Before we continue, no two experiences are the same

The next thing to take on board is that no two experiences are the same.

What worked in 2012 for an expat in Croatia will not necessarily work for another in 2018. A Canadian may get a permit for something that an American won’t. Permanent residency may be granted before lunch but not after. Exactly the same application in Split will have a different outcome in Zagreb.

Some expats will tell you how everything is simple and this is how to do it. It worked for them. Others will tell you the situation is impossible, and you will never work. It did not work for them.

Perhaps you will be lucky, perhaps not. Welcome to the show! Your best chances are to follow the advice and application processes. But be prepared for some little complications along the way.

How to get a residence permit in Croatia

Residence permits cause the most discussion in Croatia, particularly among non-EU wannabe residents.

For some reasons, Americans seem to have the most problems of all. Perhaps it is because they are more vocal at complaining, but there is more to it than that. TCN did a recent feature on resident permit problems. This is what it is like trying to retire in Croatia as an American.

TCN recently did an exhaustive overview of the residence permit requirements and procedures for EEA and non-EEA citizens in October 2018. It is a resource we will update as best we can. Ready to enter the minefield?

Work permits in Croatia

Getting a work permit in Croatia depends very much on which country you are from. EU entry opened up the rest of Europe to Croats, and Croatia to the rest of Europe in return.

Some countries, such as the UK initially, had restrictions on Croatian workers coming to the UK, and UK citizens enjoyed reciprocal treatment. Those restrictions are no longer in force in the UK, although it remains to be seen how Brexit will affect things. The only EU country with current restrictions is Austria.

Croatia is undergoing a demographic crisis, and mass emigration of its youth is a sad reality. The reality is that more foreign workers will come to Croatia. There is an employment crisis in many sectors, but it is particularly acute in the crucial tourism sector.

For an overview of how to get a work permit in Croatia, check out the TCN guide.

Opening a Croatian company: a look at the options

Opening a Croatian company is not a consideration one should take lightly. It exposes you to Croatian bureaucracy on a whole new level.

Many foreigners formed a Croatian company in order to buy property. This strategy is still the only was non-Croatians can buy agricultural land in the country.

Having a Croatian company comes with a number of requirements, but it you plan to go ahead, here is what you need to do:

  1. Reserve Company’s Name
  2. The notary prepares the memorandum of association
  3. Register the company with the Commercial Court
  4. Order official seal
  5. Apply for statistical registration number
  6. Open a bank account
  7. Register for VAT and employee income tax withdrawals
  8. Register with the Croatian Institute for Pension Insurance and the Croatian Institute for Health Insurance

Sounds simple, right? Good luck…

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Here is an awesome blog on the joys of opening a Croatian company.