Hvar Info

Bills: The Price of Owning a Property on Hvar

By Vivian Grisogono 1 June 2013

Make sure you know about all the bills you have to pay to run your property. Cover them promptly to prevent mounting debts, aggravated - God forbid! - by interest charges.

When you buy a property in Croatia, the first challenge may be to make it habitable. Once you've done that, you acquire certain responsibilities, i.e. ongoing costs, as anywhere else in the world. You may receive the various bills automatically once you start using your house or flat, but if not, make sure you apply to be included on the appropriate registers for payment, either in person or through your lawyer, agent or a local friend. If you fail to pay the due taxes or charges at the right time, you will be liable for interest, which is usually calculated on a daily basis, so it mounts up quickly.

Always check locally: there are variations in how local Councils apply the charges, and some fees may not be applied to your property, depending on where you live. The general scope includes: Purchase tax, Second Homes Tax, General Rates, Water Rates, Television/radio Licence, electricity usage, water usage, rubbish collection.

You must have a Personal Identity Number (OIB) to have a bank account and pay taxes and bills. You are also obliged by law to register yourself and any visitors for the duration of your stay.

Make things easy for yourself and the administrators

Make sure your name and address are logged correctly on any official documents. If you notice mistakes, have them corrected immediately. If you live outside Croatia and change your home address, notify your local tax and council offices, so that your bills and any official communications are sent to the right place.

If your Land Registry entry needs to be changed, ask your lawyer to make the correction. For a name change you may need to show a passport entry, marriage certificate or deed poll. For a new address you will probably need to produce a document which shows your name and address correctly, such as a utilities bill or tax document. Non-Croatian documents may have to be translated by an official interpreter (sudski tumač).

If you have set up a company in Croatia, make sure that your annual accounts are presented correctly and on time, and that you pay the annual company tax. Repeated failure to do so will mean that your company will be struck off and its assets, including any real estate registered in the company name, will probably be lost.

OIB

 For all financial transactions in Croatia, including holding a Croatian bank account and paying household bills, you need a personal identity number (Osobni identifikacijski broj, OIB for short). This is obtained from the main tax office in your locality, which is in Hvar Town for most of Hvar Island. To find out more about the OIB and how to obtain one, click here.

Purchase tax

On purchasing your property, you are liable for purchase tax, currently 5% of the purchase price. For Croatian readers, The Finance Ministry website gives details of the tax from June 1997, with an update in December 2002.  If the tax office has reason to think that the price given on the sales contract is incorrect, an independent evaluation will be made and the tax calculated on that.

Your sales contract is automatically sent to the local tax office by the Notary Public, but your lawyer also has to present an application to pay the tax. The tax demand is then issued. You will probably receive it well in advance of being registered in the Land Registry, but you must pay it within the time frame stated on the bill, which is usually two weeks. From abroad, you have to pay through a bank, but if you are in Croatia you can use the payslip either at a bank or a post office.

When a property is bought jointly with one or more co-owners, each owner will receive a demand for the proportional amount of tax. Each bill carries an individual payment number identifying the payer: the name of the payer does not appear on the computer records when the bill is paid. Make sure your tax bill is paid using the correct ID number(s). Do not try to pay the separate parts of the bill under one number: one person would be credited with over-payment, while anyone else would remain as a debtor, with tax accruing by the day on the overdue amount. If this happens, you will not be notified, and the mistake is unlikely to be noticed unless you have some reason to contact the tax office about something else. When it is noticed, you have to put in an application to rectify the mistake by transferring the over-payment to the account of the debtor, which is relatively easy within one year of the tax falling due, but slightly more complicated after that. That leaves the matter of the interest which has accrued. Again, the tax office usually does not tell you that interest is due and how much, and until it is settled, it will go on accruing interest on top of interest every single day, bank holidays, holy days and all (yes, really!).

Some foreign buyers still have to obtain Permission from the Ministry of Justice to own a property in Croatia, for instance citizens from certain states in the USA. Purchase tax becomes due when the permission to own has been received. The Ministry sends a copy of the Permission document to the relevant tax office, but very often the tax demand is not raised until a further application has been made by yourself or your lawyer. Therefore when you receive the Ministry Permission (Suglasnost) you should make sure that the application to pay tax is lodged again (however unnecessary it might seem) as otherwise there is a risk that interest will accrue. (Yes, really.)

You can pay the property purchase tax bill from abroad using the IBAN number. In the section where you can enter information about the payment, you should enter your OIB number, and you also need to enter the following numbers as given on your tax demand ('Rješenje'): 'broj modela' and 'poziv na broj'. Without these two specific numbers, your payment will not reach the Tax Office account, but will stay stuck in the National Bank.

Second Homes Tax – Porez na kuću za odmor

Everyone owning a second or holiday home in Croatia is liable for the Second Homes Tax (Porez na kuće za odmor). The basic rules governing this tax are set out in Croatian within Article (Članak) 30 of the law on Local Government Finance

The tax is due on any habitable property not occupied permanently by the owner. You become liable for this tax as soon as you start using your property, even though you may not yet be the official owner of it on the Land Ragistry. In case of doubt about whether a property is occupied on a permanent basis or not, the owner is usually asked to prove continuous use through telephone or utility bills.

Previously, the second homes tax was usually waived for parts of a house which were legally rented out, on the basis that the owner had to pay tax on the income from the rental, and there was further taxation levied on each guest per night's stay (see below). However, a ruling last year decreed that owners had to pay the second homes tax on the whole of their property, regardless of how it was used. The reasoning was set out in an official document from the Ministry of Finance under the classification: MF K: 410-15/12-01/1, dated 31st July 2012 (8-2/4, M.M.K./D.Đ.,17.10.2012).

When you register for this tax, you receive a document entitled 'Podaci o Kući za Odmor, Prijava' ('Details of a Second Home, Registration'), giving your name, home address and OIB, and the details of your property including the measurements of the usable living space, excluding areas such as storage rooms or garage parking.

The second homes tax is waived in special circumstances, for instance if the property is occupied by refugees, or if it is uninhabitable due to dilapidation or because of flood, fire or earthquake damage. Local Councils have the right to create dispensations from the tax according to the age, state or conditions of the property in question.

The tax is calculated as a value per square metre: the current rate (as of August 2013) is between 5 and 15 kunas, set individually by local Councils.

As this tax is administered by the local authorities, it is administered by the Town Hall office in the island's four administrative centres in Hvar Town, Stari Grad, Jelsa and Sućuraj, depending on which Council covers your area.

Tax demands are sent out annually to the address you have supplied, whether in Croatia or abroad. The bill is posted with an orange return slip to the address at which the owner of the property is registered. The orange slip should be taken by the postman when you sign for the letter, so that it is returned to the tax office as proof of delivery. The demand consists of a ‘Resolution’ (Rješenje) identifying your property and showing the way the tax has been calculated, and a payment slip. Payments can be made from abroad, and the necessary bank details (IBAN, SWIFT) and instructions are usually included with the slip.

General Rates – Komunalna naknada

The General Rates are a local tax covering the cost of local services such as road maintenance, street lighting and the provision of public amenities. The bill is issued quarterly as a payslip from the Town Hall office (not the same office as issues the Second Homes Tax), but foreigners can settle it annually if that is more convenient. The easiest way to organize a single annual payment is to visit the office and ask for the payslip. The bill is paid through a bank or at the post office.

If you pay for a year, you may still receive the quarterly bills, but these can be ignored until the next year's payment becomes due.

Water Rates – Uređenje Vode

The Water Rates are another local tax levied by the Town Hall, to cover the costs of providing and maintaining the infrastructure for the piped water and sewage systems, if these apply to your area. The bills are issued quarterly like the General Rates, and can be paid in the same way.

Electricity usage bills

Electricity is supplied by the Croatian Electricity Board, Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP for short). HEP's main office on Hvar is in Stari Grad. If your property has electricity, it will also have a meter, which is read twice a year, in March and September. You are responsible for paying for the electricity you use, even if the bills are still in the previous owner's name. When you first start to use your property, you can pay for your electricity as you go along, by reading your meter yourself and asking the Electricity Board office to calculate what you owe. After that, your bills are issued twice a year, giving a figure to be paid in advance for each month. The amount is an estimate based on your average use from the same period in the previous year. The bills should be paid in a bank or post office. For a detailed explanation of your electricity bill, click here

Water usage bills

Water is supplied by the Water Board (Hvarski Vodovod), whose head office on Hvar is on the outskirts of Jelsa. If you have running water, your water meter is normally read once a month, and the bill issued accordingly. You can pay the bill in the Water Board office, a bank or post office. Usually people who are not full-time residents pay for several months at a time.

For the Hvar Water Board website, click here (in Croatian only).

Rubbish collection

In most areas, every householder is charged a monthly fee for rubbish collection, regardless of whether you are here all year or not. Local Councils are responsible for rubbish collection, usually employing an independent firm to do the work. For instance, Jelsa Council employs Jelkom d.o.o. Vrboska not only to collect and dispose of rubbish, but also to maintain the green spaces, graveyards and Council-owned holiday camps. The Jelkom office is not in the Town Hall, but on the opposite side of the harbour to the main square, towards Vitarnja and Vrboska. That is where bills for rubbish collection are issued, and they can also be paid there, which saves you the bank or post office charges.

Television / radio

If you have a television or radio, you have to pay a licence fee, which is currently 80 kunas a month for full-time residents. Householders who are not resident all year are charged for three months only. The payslip is normally sent or delivered to your Hvar address, and can be paid in a bank or post office, or by standing order if you have a Croatian bank account. Obviously the fee is not payable if you have neither a television nor a radio.

Register your stay

Even as a householder, you had to register your stay in the local tourist office whenever you visited Hvar. There was a nominal charge for home owners and their immediate family. Guests, whether or not they were paying to stay with you, had to be registered and pay a daily rate: this was done by taking their passports or identity documents to the local tourist office and filling in a form detailing when they arrived and how long they would be staying. A payslip was then issued which could be used in a bank or post office. Visitors renting private apartments or rooms, could be registered online, and this is still the case in 2017. The computerized 'eVisitor' system was introduced in 2016.

(These rules applied to Croatians visiting the island just as much as to foreigners.)

Since EU rules have been applied to visitors in Croatia, the system has altered. EU citizens do not have to be registered, although paying guests have to be entered according to the rental regulations. Non-EU citizens have tio be registered at the local police station. The non-EU visitor must be accompanioed by the householder for the registration. As these rules are subject to change, especially in the case of UK visitors once Brexit comes into force, it is wise to check with your local tourist office to be sure of current regulations.

© Vivian Grisogono 2013. Updated April 29th 2014. September 26th 2015, May 2017

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