How to Croatia

Obtaining the All Important OIB

A story of an unusually pleasant experience at the tax office. How does one go about obtaining an OIB? Find out here in Croatian, English and German.

Anyone who has any financial dealings in Croatia, whether they be Croatian or any other nationality, must have a personal identification number, known as an OIB (osobni identifikacijski broj), which is used in a similar way to an NI (National Insurance) number used in the UK. So, if you are, working in Croatia (and are therefore paying taxes), buying property here, planning on living here for more than 90 days, opening a bank account, paying utility bills (including a mobile phone), registering a vehicle, or if you have any other financial dealings (including a business or a ‘legal entity’), you will need an OIB.

An OIB consists of eleven random numbers, and doesn’t contain any private data (such as a date of birth). You can obtain an OIB from any Ministry of Finance (Ministarstvo Financija) tax office (porezna uprava), which in Dubrovnik is located at Vukovarska ul. 6, and it is free of charge. The application form to obtain an OIB is available in Croatian, English and German, and can be downloaded. It is self-explanatory, and easy to complete, as it consists of only one page. If you are completing the form as an individual, you need to complete Parts 1 and 3. If you are completing it for a company, you will need to complete Part 2. The OIB certificate itself is a one page document divided into 2 parts. The top section consists of explanatory notes, and the bottom section, which can be detached, shows the number itself, your full name, the year you were born, and the date it was issued.

As I’m buying property in Dubrovnik I needed to obtain an OIB, and the estate agent gave me the English version of the application form. I’ve heard many stories about Croatian bureaucracy, none of which are complimentary. I asked the estate agent if it was likely that the staff at the tax office spoke English. I was told they probably do, but there’s a good chance that they wouldn’t want to. Not a good start! So, I asked a Croatian-speaking German friend if she could come with me in case I needed any help.

When we arrived at the tax office we stopped at the reception desk to ask where we needed to go. The man behind the glass was deep in conversation on the phone, staring intently at it, and didn’t acknowledge our presence. One of the many stories I had heard was about the attitude of some members of staff towards visitors to government offices, so I wasn’t surprised. He eventually got off the phone and pointed us in the direction of where we needed to go. We queued for about 5 minutes before it was our turn to be seen. I handed over the application form and my passport. I’d heard stories of the slightest error, a piece of information missing, anything slightly wrong, would be an excuse to reject the paperwork. I had completed the form in my neatest writing, thinking I’d done rather a good job. The lady behind the desk scrutinised the form for some time, and questioned some of my (very neatly written!) letter formation. Oh no, she’s going to reject it! But she didn’t. She asked if I had a photocopy of my passport. No I didn’t! Oh no, she’s going to reject it! But she didn’t. Instead she gave me a lovely friendly smile and said not to worry she would copy it for me, and promptly disappeared to copy my passport. When she returned she told us to go back to the office the next day between 8 and 3 and my OIB would be ready. My friend and I were stunned. We had been expecting to be there for ages, but it had all been remarkably quick and easy. But, I still had to return to collect my OIB.

My friend wasn’t able to come with me the next day, but as the experience the day before hadn’t been too bad I was feeling fairly comfortable about returning on my own. I just hoped it was the same lady behind the desk. Luckily it was. Again, I only had to wait a short time before it was my turn. I told her I’d been in the day before and had come to collect my OIB. She asked my name but seemed to remember me (I never know if that’s a good sign or not!). I had to sign the bottom of the application form that I had handed in the day before and then she handed me my OIB. It all seemed far too simple and straightforward, so I said ‘'Is that all I need to do?'’. She gave another friendly smile and said ‘'Yes, that’s it.'’. The whole of our conversation was in English, which she seemed more than happy about.

Having heard all sorts of stories about Croatian bureaucracy I wasn’t looking forward to my first encounter. However, this lovely, friendly lady made my first experience with the tax office bearable. In fact, I’d go as far as to say pleasant! I don’t know if I was just fortunate to be served by one of the few friendly members of staff employed by the Croatian government, or if this lady was new to the job and hadn’t been on the training course that tells them how they should treat members of the public! Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but, perhaps, this is the new face of government officials – being friendly and helpful. I know that most of my future visits will not be as good as this one, but this lady has proved that there are some good people in government agencies who are prepared to help.

 

If you'd like to find out more or print a copy of the document needed to obtain an OIB in Croatian, please click here. For English language, click here, and for German, click here.

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