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Tips and tricks to help you with Croatia’s digital nomad residence permit

Nikolina Kukoč

Nikolina Kukoč

30.09.2021.

Because Croatia’s digital nomad residence permit – better known as digital nomad visa – has been in use for less than a year, it is no wonder that there are still some questions about it that need to be answered. As was the case with our guide through life in Split, when we first published our digital nomad visa overview and the interview about one nomad’s application process experience, our only goal was to help out digital nomads in any way we could.

As Croatians, we cannot apply for this permit and then offer answers and tips about it to foreigners. What we can do is ask digital nomads and those who come in close contact with them every day to shed some light on the often-asked questions or some tips they think might be useful.

In our quest to help you out, we did just that!

We sat down over the inevitable cup of coffee with Tamara from The Works coworking and brainstormed about the questions we got asked most often since Croatia’s digital nomad residence permit has been in use. We also added some helpful tips that were proven to work for digital nomads with successfully approved applications and hope that this information will help make the application process clearer and easier.

The easiest way to do it

While it is possible to apply for this type of residence permit from your home country, the experiences so far have shown that the best practice is to come to Croatia on a tourist visa and then start your digital nomad residence permit application from Croatia.

Of course, this requires you to be well-prepared in advance.

Therefore, while still in your home country, do all the research on this topic you could possibly do, gather all the documents you will need, translate them to English with the official translator if you are from a non-English speaking country, and come to Croatia as a well-prepared tourist ready to tackle the digital nomad residence permit application.

The online application form, while operational, is unreliable according to some digital nomads who had experience with it not working properly. So, since you will already be in Croatia, do yourself a favor – skip the online form and go directly to the police station to submit your application.

Document preparation

Having all the documents you need and having them prepared for the application process will save you from any added stress and can even speed up this quite slow process a bit.

The first step for any document you might need is to obtain an original. A copy of a document will not be accepted anywhere. Even if you already have an original on file at home, it is best to get a recently issued version.

Once you own a recently issued original document, it must be apostilled because the original document cannot be submitted to the Croatian government. It must be verified by the issuing government authority through apostille.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, an apostille is a form of document authentication.

This is the reason why it is best to have a recently issued original document, as the issuing authority will not apostille or legalize an old document. To get an apostille of any document, you must go to the issuing authority in your country, state, or province.

However, if your country did not sign the Apostille Convention (for example Canada), then any document you need to use for your residence permit application must be fully legalized for use in Croatia. Document legalization is a much longer and complicated process than having documents apostilled.

After your document has been apostilled or legalized, it can finally be translated into Croatian. The translation must be an official translation performed by an officially registered Croatian translator. This translation procedure includes document notarization, as well. Do not be surprised by the fact that the translator will translate the original document as well as the apostille or legalization papers.

This is one of the main reasons why applying once you’re already in Croatia is easier.

Just make sure you arrive in Croatia with apostilled or legalized documents and then translate them here. Another important thing to keep in mind is the fact that all foreign documents and their attached apostille or legalization must be in the Croatian language.

Therefore, if you are a citizen of a non-English speaking country who cannot find an official translator to translate the document from your language directly into Croatian, you need to first have it officially translated to English, then use another translator from English to Croatian.

Where are you supposed to apply

The application process should be initiated at the MUP station corresponding to your address. This means that if you have an address in Split, you cannot submit your application in Zadar or Zagreb. Your regional MUP station is the one you should go to.

Furthermore, if you have an address in a smaller town or village, then you need to submit your application to MUP in the nearest city. For example: if you wish to live in Supetar on the island of Brač, your application must be submitted at MUP offices in Split.

The address issue

Many are worried about the address requirement during their application process. To start with, any type of tourist accommodation – hotel, hostel, room, studio, etc. – is completely fine. The police need a way to contact you during this application process, so they need an address.

Whether that is a hotel address or a long-term rental address it is all the same to them.

However, having a signed contract for a long-term rental is another requirement for the permit application, so make sure to have this sorted out at some point. Ideally, you can do this while you do the research in your home country. Find long-term rentals that suit you, contact the landlords in advance, and have viewings arranged once you arrive. That way you increase your chances of arranging your long-term address sooner rather than later.

Bring a Croatian friend

While at some point the government officials might push an official translator on you, it is neither necessary nor required by any law.

However, bringing a Croatian with you to help translate things whenever you have to go to the MUP station will ease the whole process tremendously!

Even if the government officials speak English, seeing that you went an extra mile by bringing a Croatian along to make it easier for them (and you, but we are observing this situation from their point of view) is likely to make them more friendly and might even speed things up for you.

If you have the means to do it, hiring a Croatian attorney to handle everything for you is also an option. Again, it is neither required, nor strictly necessary, and will be costly, but if you wish to be as free as possible from any bureaucratic entanglements, then this is a possibility you might want to consider.

Interview at the police station

There is no need to be worried about the interview at the police station that is set to happen at the end of your application process.

The interview is not scary, it is basic protocol with a few basic questions.

Be that as it may, this is government and bureaucracy, so there are some tips to make it easier on yourself.

  • Get there at least 15 minutes early – It is a police station, so you will have to sign in and show ID before being allowed to proceed to where your interview is and this might take some time.
  • Bring your passport and any documents you might need – It seems obvious and logical, but it never hurts to have another reminder. While anything beyond the passport probably will not be necessary, it is always best to have any documents you might need with you. Of course, the police have all your application documents on file, so bring any additional ones with you in case you end up needing them.
  • Speak when spoken to – It can be uncomfortable to sit in silence and you may wonder if you should fill that silence up with chatter. It is best not to. Just answer all the questions you are asked clearly and concisely and keep quiet and calm in the meantime. Also, always err on the side of less is more. Make it easier on yourself and provide only the information you are asked to provide.
Family matters – who can join you

Family reunification applies to anyone who is a holder of Croatia’s digital nomad residence permit. You will need to provide a marriage certificate (apostilled or legalized and officially translated) or prove that you are in a common-law marriage as part of the application for spouses. Birth certificates (apostilled or legalized and officially translated) must be provided for children.

Therefore, your family can join you in Croatia.

However, keep in mind this will increase the minimum requirement for the sufficient funds you will need to submit with your application. The Croatian government wants to make sure you can financially support all your family members, so the required amount of sufficient funds goes up in case of family reunification.

Traveling matters – can you travel

If you have temporary residency in Croatia, the law on foreigners states that third-country nationals cannot leave Croatia for more than 30 continuous days each year. However, in practice the police who manage immigration matters (MUP) state that you cannot be gone for more than 30 days in a year, continuous or not.

Exceptions to this rule can be made, but you need to discuss them directly with MUP.

Keep in mind that “do and ask for forgiveness later” will absolutely not work in this case. You must let MUP know if you will be gone longer than the legally defined limit or you can be fined and/or your permit could be revoked. If you are gone more than 30 days, then MUP can cancel your temporary residence permit.

When it comes to any type of dealing with MUP, honesty and transparency are always the best policies. Simply, be upfront with them about everything to make sure you do not get into any trouble.

Difference from the tourist visa

Many countries require a visa for entry as well as to stay for an extended period. Croatia is different – the names and meanings of visas and permits are a bit different. A visa is something you need to get into Croatia, but a residence permit is what you need to stay in Croatia for any period longer than the one covered by a visa.

In Croatia, a visa permits you to enter Croatia as a tourist only.

Depending on your nationality, the method for obtaining it, its costs, and its duration will vary. A visa is not a residence permit. A residence permit is what allows you to stay in Croatia long-term, past 30 to 90 days allowed by your entry visa.

You can see if a visa is required and how long you can stay in Croatia on the ministry’s website. If you want to stay in Croatia beyond your tourist visa term, then you must apply for and obtain a residence permit. A residence permit allows you to live in Croatia long-term and may have a duration of 1 year or 5 years, depending on what your residency application was based upon.

Patience, patience, and more patience

We will be honest with you. This process lasts long. Constant emailing and phone calls are not likely to speed things up, either. You will need patience – and lots of it. However, as we have seen from some previous tips, some things might speed up the process: having all documents ready, having them already translated, bringing a Croatian with you, etc. Each of these things speeds up the process slightly, but they do add up.

Another thing that is probably able to speed it up is your attitude.

Be courteous, polite, calm, and even cheerful. Do not show any type of irritation. Your calm and relaxed demeanor might even cheer up the person on the other end of that counter at the police station and that can only be a plus for you.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, due to the pandemic, apostille processing times have been delayed in some countries. In any case – do not wait until the last minute! It will only be stressful for you.

Some general tips & tricks for the end

From the experience of USA digital nomads who went through the application process in Croatia, it seems like the fingerprinting process at the US Embassy in Zagreb works just fine and that there is no need to worry about it or think it will not be as good as the one done in the USA. Tamara noticed some questions about it, so we decided to mention it here to put all your minds to rest.

Another thing to mention is the bank account. Even though you live in Croatia, it does not mean you absolutely need to open a Croatian bank account.

The police now accept foreign bank statements as proof of sufficient funds.

To apply for Croatia’s digital nomad residence permit you cannot work for a Croatian company and must be financially independent. Because you are financially independent and employed outside of Croatia, a Croatian bank account is completely unnecessary.

Help fellow digital nomads!

We hope these digital nomad residence permit tips & tricks will be helpful to you. They certainly do not encompass all the possible questions and/or advice about this topic, so to gather more practical information we will need your help.

Therefore, if you have something to share that you think might be useful for other digital nomads, please fill out our questionnaire. Once there are enough new tips & tricks and/or questions that need answering, we will gather them all up in another article.

Let’s help each other out!

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About author:

Nikolina Kukoč

Researching is woven into my DNA, but I'm 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'm not writing about Split's tech community, you will find me somewhere in nature, in the theatre, 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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