Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Croatian Bureaucracy for Non-EU Nationals: 5 Things I Wish I’d Known

February 8, 2022 - So, how does Croatian bureaucracy for non-EU nationals look? Lyn Church shares her first-hand experience. 

Croatian bureaucracy is notorious for being a frustrating, anxiety-riddled process, where your confidence from reading countless “how-to” guides evaporates the moment you come face-to-face with any government official.

I'm sharing 5 pieces of advice that I wish someone had shared with me when we embarked on this journey.

Rather than a definitive “guide-to-something”, I hope it helps you better understand what you can come to expect as a 3rd country national when you undertake a bureaucratic process in Croatia.

1. Bureaucracy everywhere is tedious

If you think paperwork in Croatia is the absolute worst, the broader reality is that this pain point is not specific to Croatia. Bureaucracy, in general, is challenging, more so if you’re going through the process outside your home country, or in an unfamiliar language.

For instance, the time when I had to resubmit my Permanent Residency application to Immigration and Citizenship Canada. After months of collecting the voluminous documents needed for the application, they rolled out an entirely new system with new forms and requirements.

Or, when Parisian officials misplaced all my documents for l'Assurance Maladie after waiting 6 months, having to resend the entire dossier, before waiting another year to receive the equivalent of an HZZO card.

Even Sweden, so bureaucratically efficient you can file taxes via SMS, was prone to the occasional hiccup. Opening a bank account without a personal number (‘Personnummer’) was impossible, but at the same time, needing a bank account for a personal number was a wild game of chicken and egg.


Image: Pexels

2. Official information is often interpreted and executed independently from what’s written

Long story short, you can read, analyze, cite these regulations all you want down to the very letter, and still have things not go as planned.

Here’s one example from when we moved. According to MUP, I may be granted Temporary Residence under family reunification, “only if (my spouse) has had a continuous temporary residence permit for at least one year”.

Essentially, we had to live apart until his 1-year work anniversary in order to meet this requirement. Fast forward 11 months, we made the application and were subsequently told by officials that my spouse, as the main applicant, had to have been working for not one, but two years.

Fortunately, this was eventually resolved with some elbow grease, lots of patience, and a dear friend who doubled as a translator, but that’s a story for another day.

3. Seek anecdotal advice

Building from the previous point, I believe it’s best to seek advice from those who have successfully (or unsuccessfully) navigated the complex landscape.

Depending on which the most appropriate for your situation, reach out to expats, digital nomads, or retirees via social media groups, blogs, or websites. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

This way, you get a first-hand account regarding the matter on hand and gain additional insights on living in Croatia in general. The one you’ll hear a lot around here is how Croatia, and Split specifically, is a different world during the Summer and Winter months.

As an added bonus, the services they may recommend (e.g. attorney, accountant, translator) are also more likely to be familiar with your specific situation and requirements involved.

A heads-up though that going the professional services route will not guarantee a positive outcome, nor will it hasten processing times.


Image: Pexels.

4. Be prepared to wait

Processing times will likely vary depending on what visa you’ve applied for but typically, from submission of documents to obtaining your Temporary Residence Card can be around 3-4 months. I’ve even heard of 6–8-month processing times.

Adding to this extended waiting period is that there is no way to track your application progress. A couple of days after submitting all your documents, you may receive an email confirming the application has been received.

Thereafter, it may be a month or more before you hear back from an official.

You can reach out directly to your MUP via phone or email, or through your attorney (who will likely also email or call them on your behalf) but getting a firm response on the progress of your application is unlikely.

The good news is that you’re allowed to stay and travel within Croatia while your Visa application is in process, so take this time to savor and explore.

5. Change happens quickly

Finally, the bureaucratic landscape in Croatia has undergone quite a few changes in the last few years. A process that worked for someone before, may no longer work today and vice versa.

For example, the fact that Croatia introduced a Digital Nomad Visa is a significant way forward for 3rd country nationals to stay for a longer term in Croatia which was not a viable option when we moved in 2018.

On the flip side, even with the first applicant approved in January 2021, there were still numerous uncertainties over what kind of health coverage was needed for applicants, the threshold for proof of income, or whether they would have to pay local taxes.

The requirements for healthcare (i.e. HZZO) were only finalized mid-February 2021, while proof of sufficient income significantly increased between the beginning of February 2021 and the end of February 2021.

That being said, we will always try our best to give you the most accurate, updated information when we can.


Harbour in Croatia. Image: Pexels

It seems difficult, why should we go through with this?

Well, it’s like asking someone, why does (something) make you happy?

It’s such a highly subjective feeling that is an amalgamation of situations, contexts, and interactions that makes life here really gratifying, in spite of the bureaucratic uncertainties.

All I can say is keep an open mind, come, see and experience living here for yourselves.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Croatian Notary Public Services to be Streamlined Through Digitisation

ZAGREB, 23 Jan 2022 - In 2022, notaries are expected to ease the workload of land registries through the further digitization of some services such as the registration into land registries and online issuance of documents, the head of the Croatian Chamber of Notaries, Zvijezdana Rauš-Klier said in an interview.

The continuation of the digitization of notarization services will not be conducted on commercial platforms but in a sort of "a safe virtual room", that is a separate IT system, Rauš-Klier said in the interview published on Sunday.

Starting a company online to be possible as of this summer

As of this summer, the notarization system ought to offer full online service for the digital registration of the newly-founded companies.

Upgrading digitization of notary public services will make it possible for clients not to go to notaries' offices but to be provided with digital services necessary to start a company or to register changes in the existing ones, Rauš-Klier explains.

Croatia to apply German model of digitization of services

Local notaries, supported by the Croatian Ministry of justice and public administration, are due to implement the German model of digital notarisation services. An agreement signed by the Croatian chamber and the German Federal Chamber of Notaries in 2019 will facilitate these efforts, she told Hina.

She said that this model of digitization will enable notaries to establish the identity of clients, that is parties, and their serious intention, as well as to provide them with advice for the best ways to implement their plans. 

The model includes the combination of video conferences, electronic identification, and remote identity proofing.

Rauš-Klier underscored the importance of electronic power of attorney for the business sector. and cross-border interoperability.

For more, check out our dedicated politics section.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Opening a Croatian Obrt: A Foreigner's 3-Month Battle with Bureaucracy

We recently wrote a guide on 'How to Open an Obrt', after going through the process myself which turned into a bureaucratical nightmare fraught with uhljebs at every turn, I thought it only right to pen the follow-up article from a foreigner’s perspective.