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Croatia’s digital nomad residence permit: Application process from the USA

Nikolina Kukoč

Nikolina Kukoč


USA passport on a world map
Enter the (bureaucratic) labyrinth

We’ve already gone through every detail of Croatia’s temporary digital nomad residence permit in our article about it. However, that was theory. What we’re bringing you now is an overview of the practical application.

So, if you’re interested in knowing how it looks like when a real-life person navigates the labyrinth of the bureaucracy that is this residence permit, sit back and relax. There’s no monstrous Minotaur at the end of this journey, only a very beautiful country that is Croatia.

Because we’re Croatian, we will never truly know how the application process for Croatia’s temporary residence permit looks like in practice as there is no need for us to go through the process in question to be able to live here. So, how then are we going to lead you through this labyrinth?

With the help of a guide, of course!

Meet our guide

The name of our guide through the process of this residence permit application is Mary Ann Grisham. She is a US Citizen currently living in Texas. During her successful career in software sales for US travel tech giant, Sabre Travel Network, she formed her boutique tour and travel consulting company and has been operating it as a side-gig/passion project ever since 2008.

Enchanted Traveler - Paris opera tour

When global travel came to a screeching halt last March, all sectors of the travel industries had to find a way to get through the accompanying issues that followed. Sabre was no different, and in the summer of 2020 they offered employees the chance to voluntarily separate from the company. After much soul-searching, Mary Ann decided to turn this into an opportunity to make something positive out of a not-so-ideal situation. Proving once more that when there’s a will, there’s a way.

Fortunately, her business, Enchanted Traveler – a US-based tour company and travel consultancy, already had a platform and social media presence, along with many happy clients, so she was able to quickly pivot to focus on creating tour products for her North American clients. Enchanted Traveler focuses on delighting their clients with custom, luxury escorted tours. They also create detailed, personalized itineraries for their clients who are traveling independently to France and Italy.

Enchanted Traveler - Nice carnival tour

All the consultations, sales, and marketing are conducted online, so Mary Ann is free to do her work from any place in the world. Enchanted Traveler is currently looking to expand its destinations to include the Eastern Mediterranean, as well. Their focus on small group tours that include unique venues, local festivals, private guides, and behind-the-scenes experiences not included on other tours is what makes traveling with them a wonderful experience.

This level of exclusivity requires years of relationship-building and research, therefore, for Mary Ann being on the ground in the EU now will allow her to personally inspect properties, meet with suppliers, explore unique sightseeing opportunities and venues, etc., so the timing of Croatia’s digital nomad opportunity is perfect for her as an individual and for Enchanted Traveler as they look to expand to new markets.

They rightfully pride themselves in personally vetting all tour components, ensuring unique and quality tour experiences for their clients. Their motto is “Your Experience Begins with Ours!”, so it’s no wonder Mary Ann decided to be our tour guide through this residence permit application process.

Enchanted Traveler - Venice tour
The labyrinth: application process for Croatia’s digital nomad residence permit

Mary Ann submitted her online application on March 4, 2021. She received acknowledgment the following day, verifying the receipt and advising her the application would be forwarded to the local police authority in Zagreb for review and processing. This is the standard procedure for any municipality in Croatia where you might be submitting your application to.

At the time this was written it has been 14 days since submission, but Mary Ann has not received any response yet. This is also to be expected as the process takes at least three to four weeks.
The process to apply for the digital nomad residence permit is fairly straightforward, even if it does take some time.

We wrote a helpful article about it and the Croatian Ministry of the Interior has instructions on their website as well. And ever since submitting an application online was made possible, once you have gathered the required documents, you can submit it easily from anywhere in the world.

When it comes to this particular experience, we’re talking about a US citizen applying for Croatia’s temporary residence permit on US soil. Naturally, this process will be slightly different for people of other nationalities who apply in different places. So some things might vary, like the background check, for example.

Here is the quoted list of documents Mary Ann used in the process of applying for this residence permit and which she so helpfully shared with us all:

– Copy of the passport – photo page

– Proof of travel health insurance
(I used Safety Wing.)

– Proof of purpose
(work contract, articles of business incorporation, etc.)

– Proof of financial means

– Background check
– for US citizens, this means an FBI background check which requires submitting fingerprints.
You can get fingerprinted at several locations, including some post offices, and submit the prints digitally. Or you can find an FBI channeler to perform the same service. I initially went the post office route, but they were unable to clearly capture my fingerprints (Fingerprint clarity is impacted by dry skin caused by frequent hand-washing and use of sanitizing gel…sound familiar?)

So I ended up going to a local FBI channeler who was more experienced in capturing prints and they submitted online. I suggest you request to receive your response in both digital format to your email (took only 2 hours), and in paper hard copy, mailed to your home directly from the FBI (took 2 weeks).

– Apostille for the Background check – obtaining the apostille is going to be the most challenging part of the process for US residents.
FBI background checks can only be apostilled by the US Department of State Authentications Unit in Washington, DC. Due to the Covid-19 health crises, the office is closed for walk-in apostilles, and they are way behind in issuing apostilles for mail-in requests.
My apostille took 4 months to receive! So, start this process immediately!

Once the office reopens for walk-in service, you can hire an expeditor for around $200 to bring your DS-4194 form and background check in person, which will cut down the processing time to approximately 3-5 days. I called the Authentications Unit recently to learn if they have plans for reopening, but they do not at this time. They are currently quoting 10-12 weeks to receive the apostille, and there is a phone number on their website where you can check the status of your request.

– Proof of accommodation
– I attached hotel confirmation, 5 nights in Zagreb to start.

Important additional advice for submitting the application online

These super-helpful tips also come directly from Mary Ann herself:

 – Use Google Chrome as your browser. And if you have issues, switch to incognito mode. Firefox browser will not work!

 – It was not clear to me if the 1A form is only for in-person applicants, or should be included in online applications, too. So I simply combined the completed 1A form along with the copy of my passport into one PDF document and attached this combined document in the section for travel documents.

 – Once you have attached the required documents, the application changes the file path name to C:\fakepath\***.pdf. This originally threw me off, as I was surprised to see the application change the file destination to “fakepath”, but it’s fine, so don’t be alarmed.

The end of the labyrinth

We hope Mary Ann’s advice will make your application process easier and we at Split Tech City wish to thank her for the time she took to guide us through this process and offer such a detailed description of every step she took. Hopefully, we will get to meet her once her application is approved and she visits Split!

She has one more message for all digital nomads at the end: “This is quite a process and I wish you all good luck in your application!”

p.s. In the time since this article was originally published, we have received this update from Mary Ann: “My application has been approved!  It took two months exactly. I submitted my application on March 4th, and I received approval on May 4th.”

We were so happy to hear that back in May and even more excited in July when we got the chance to meet our “labyrinth guide” in person once she came to Split!


About author:

Nikolina Kukoč

Researching is woven into my DNA, but I am a musician at heart. Interested in too many things and always curious. Forever in love with Split and enchanted by people who teach me new things. When I am not creating content about Split's tech community, you will find me in singing rehearsals, somewhere in nature, in the theater, or with my head stuck in a book. I do my best to live by the verse from the opera "Fedora" by Umberto Giordano: "Love forbids you not to love."

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