Saturday, 5 January 2019

State Bureaucracy Hiring More Civil Servants

ZAGREB, January 5, 2019 - The opposition MOST party called out Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuščević on Saturday, saying that by announcing the hiring of more civil servants, he is actually announcing a "new party-based personnel policy in public administration" at a time when 180 people are moving out of Croatia every day.

"At a time when 180 people are moving out of Croatia daily, when young and educated people are running away from a public administration system which doesn't encourage excellence but suitability, Minister Kuščević is increasing the number of civil servants and avoiding the implementation of essential reforms," MOST said in a press release.

The statement was prompted by an article in today's Jutarnji List daily which says that state services advertised 39 vacancies on the last day of 2018.

MOST said the European Commission adopted an action plan for the development of public administration in February 2017 and that since then only 0.45% of the 880 million kuna available had been absorbed.

"This government does not have a vision of public administration as a service for citizens," MOST MP Sonja Čikotić said in the press release, wondering how Kuščević can boast of time saving thanks to the digitisation of some services when the number of civil servants has not been cut down.

She said Kuščević did not have a solution for a better public administration, but was using every opportunity for new hiring instead of having immediately embarked on downsizing and computerisation.

"Now we are even more convinced that it is first necessary to cancel 10,000 employment contracts and then hire based on competencies necessary for a modern Croatia," said MOST MP Ante Pranić.

 More news on MOST can be found in our Politics section.

Monday, 26 November 2018

Survey Shows Croatians Satisfied with Public Administration System Quality?

ZAGREB, November 26, 2018 - Half of Croatians rated the public administration system quality with a grade of 2.8 on a scale from 1 to 5, according to an opinion poll conducted by phone among 1,000 adult respondents throughout Croatia. Services provided by private companies were rated 3.1 on average.

One in ten respondents gave the public administration a failing grade (1), every one in five respondents gave it the lowest passing grade (2), whereas 16% rated the performance of the public administration as very good (4) and excellent (5).

Broken down by the level of education, the most satisfied respondents were those with higher education.

Also, respondents from urban areas, such as Zagreb and its surroundings and from Istria, Primorje and Dalmatia gave higher grades, as opposed to those from Slavonia who gave the lowest grades.

Broken down by the type of public administration body, registries of births, marriages and deaths, hospitals, the Financial Agency (FINA), the Interior Ministry, the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (HZZO) and the Croatian Pension Insurance Fund (HZMO) were given the highest grades.

At the bottom of the ranking were the Regional Development Ministry, Social Welfare Ministry, the Public Administration Ministry, the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ) and the Paying Agency for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development.

The survey shows that 94% of those polled have never submitted a complaint, query or suggestion concerning the work of civil servants.

Three quarters of respondents (75%) heard of the possibility of receiving services in electronic form (the e-citizen service). Most of them were below the age of 60 and with a higher education background.

The e-citizen service was given an average rating of 3.8. A quarter of respondents gave it the highest grade of 5.

A majority of respondents said they preferred going directly to a public administration body or department for the information or service they needed rather than visiting their websites or phoning them, according to the survey's results published on the Public Administration Ministry's website.

For more on the bureaucracy in Croatia, click here.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

UNHCR on How Croatian Bureaucracy is Rendering Some People Stateless

November 14, 2018 - While some foreigners may be having issues with Croatian bureaucracy getting residence permits, UNHCR has highlighted two cases where it has made people stateless.

We have featured several frustrated stories in the unwinnable battle with Croatian bureaucracy in recent weeks, particularly with regard to foreigners who are having difficulty getting residence permits, but a recent UNHCR article focuses on two cases where the failings of Croatian bureaucracy actually rendered two men stateless, despite the fact they have lived and worked in Croatia for decades. 

Boro Topolic, 63, came to Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1975, has worked hard all his life and never been in trouble. After working much of his life as a welder in the shipyards of Split and Rijeka, he now drives a taxi. All was fine until he tried to buy the apartment he rented in a municipal block back in 2014. Already in possession of Croatian permanent residency and a BiH passport, he was informed that he had to be a Croatian citizen to be able to own the property. He was assured that this would be no problem, but he was required to renounce his BiH citizenship, which he did. 

And then yes - you guessed it - despite those assurances, having renounced his Bosnian citizenship, he then was refused citizenship by Croatia, leaving him stateless. Unable to reclaim his Bosnian citizenship, he now has a stateless person's Croatian passport, which allows him to travel, but he must apply for a visa for Serbia, for example. 

Bedri, 56, was born in Kosovo and came to Croatia to work at the age of 17, back in 1979. He was conscripted to help the Croatian Army as a skilled civilian repairing vehicles during the Homeland War and applied for Croatian citizenship at that time. He was refused on the grounds that he was Albanian, even though he has never been to Albania in his life. According to UNHCR, he has been unable to work or get benefits for 25 years and lives in room in an abandoned house in Novska, tapping into the neighbours' electricity, relying on them for food handouts and showers. 

To read the full story, visit the UNHCR website.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

American Residence Permit Issues in Croatia: Notes from the Field

November 11, 2018 - More and more foreigners are looking to move to Croatia for a lifestyle change. And while the way of life may be chilled, the bureaucracy and obtaining of residency permits can be anything but. 

Maybe I am spending an unhealthy amount of time hanging around Americans in Croatia these days, but more and more the conversations turn to issues with their residency status. As non-EU members, the paperwork is not as straightforward as for foreigners from other EU countries. But is it really a nightmare? Earlier today I published 'I Can Bring US$2 Billion to Croatia But Can't Even Get a Permit to Stay.'  The article has attracted plenty of comment online in various expat groups, and I invited others having issues to come forward with their stories if they were experiencing issues. 

From the TCN inbox an hour ago, the story of another American experiencing residence permit issues. No US$2 billion with this story, just one sick child who cannot be covered by the healthcare system and two young American parents just wanting to live in Croatia. 

Hello, I saw your Facebook post requesting stories about residency permits and I think I might have the sort of tale you're looking for.  So far, I haven't heard of anyone else experiencing delays as long as we have. My husband and I are both American.  I'm not sure if Americans actually get a harder deal typically or if it's just that all non-EU citizens have trouble and Americans (as you suggest) complain louder ?. 

We bought a farm in rural Croatia and moved here about 2 years ago. The first year, we were granted temporary residency relatively easily based on the fact that we'd bought a house and wanted to live in it. The following year was a lot more complicated.  By then, we'd had a baby which complicated things a bit.  We applied for residency for him as soon as we had all his documentation in order. This was in early December.  My husband and I applied to renew our residency at the same time, since our initial residency was set to expire in February. 

We immediately ran into issues. I was the CEO of a Croatian company by this point, managing a couple of vacation rentals.  I knew that in order to get residency through the company, I'd have to employ 3 Croatians full time, which I knew I couldn't afford to do. Initially, I thought our son and I might be able to get residency through my Husband, who had a job offer and was applying for a work permit.  However, it turns out you cannot live here based on family unification until you've held the work permit for 2 years.  I wasn't willing to live without my husband for 2 years, so my lawyer recommended that I transfer the CEO position over to my father, who was visiting from California.  That way, the company could employ me as a cleaning lady (which, to be fair, is one of the things I do) and I could apply for a work permit. I would have to pay additional taxes for the salary I'd supposedly be paying myself, and no one - including my lawyer - could actually tell me how much this tax would be, but I found a ballpark online and figured it beat having to move back to the US. I was concerned, because we still didn't have a clear path to residency for my son, but both the lawyer and the police told us that they'd figure out a way for him to stay if my husband and I were both approved. 

However, since we needed time for this to go through and things move so slowly here locally, the police and our lawyer said we should just apply to renew our residency based on owning the house, same as the first year, and expect to be denied.  However, we were assured that we could live here legally while the application was processing.  Even when we were eventually denied, we could stay while we appealed.  We could also submit a new application with the correct documentation while the first application was still pending.  So that's what we did.  In December.  

In late January, my son's initial residency was approved.  It was only valid for 2 weeks though, as it was based on my husband's and his expired in February. He was due for his vaccinations though, so we immediately moved to get him health insurance.  We went to the office, filled out all the paperwork, paid, everything seemed fine... until at the last second they noticed that his card was about to expire.  They told us they couldn't give us the insurance even though we'd already paid, until we got his new card.  At this point, we thought it would only be a couple months so we tried not to worry about it. 

We changed the basis for our application in April.  We were told it should take about 30 days to process. My husband's work permit was approved about 6 weeks later, and his 2nd application was approved in early June.  Mine... was another story.  Months passed with no word.  Eventually I was told that my residency was being held up until they worked out a way to allow my son to stay.  

During all of this, I've had to travel out of Croatia for business a few times.  I'm always afraid I won't be allowed back in, but my lawyer says the information should all be visible to officials when they scan my passport.  So far, I haven't had much trouble.  One person hassled me a bit when entering London, but she eventually begrudgingly let me through.  I wonder if this would have been different if I hadn't been a white, well dressed American. 

In mid-July, my son developed a suspicious lump growing out the bone in his leg.  They suspected it was cancer.  He needed immediate surgery.  We were in the hospital for 10 days.  Billing was a bit of a challenge, as the children's hospital doesn't usually deal with uninsured patients.  At this time, I was calling my lawyer every day trying to put pressure on her to move his residency through.  She said that she'd received permission for him to stay from the Foreign Ministry for humanitarian reasons, since both of his parents are working in Croatia, and he's too young to live elsewhere without his parents.  I was told that, since this was an unusual case, the local police needed to write to the Ministry to get the exact wording, and that was all we were waiting for.  It could be here any day. 

A month passed and my son's hospital bill was due.  We went to the police station and asked what the status was but they said they'd never received permission from the ministry. Our lawyer said there must have been a misunderstanding somewhere, because the ministry definitely had given it. We spent several thousand dollars out of pocket. However, by this point we'd been told that it definitively was not cancer, so it was hard to worry about residency when we were so relieved about the results.  It wasn't clear what the lump actually was, though, so we still have to go in for testing each month.  

I last spoke to my lawyer in September.  She was about to go on vacation for a month, so I requested an update.  She didn't have any news for us. 

Now it's November.  Nearly a year since our initial application.  Also, my son will be needing a very expensive MRI next month and I'm really hoping we don't have to pay out of pocket for this. I'm trying to figure out what if any private insurance the children's hospital takes, but no one seems to know, since everyone just has the national insurance. I'm going to call the lawyer tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure she'll just tell me "any day now." 

But while the bureaucratic process is maddening, everyone here has been so warm and welcoming to us - including individual bureaucrats. We love Croatia and feel at home here. We just want the right to stay.

Are you a foreigner struggling to obtain permits with a story to tell? Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Subject title 'Facepalm'

Thursday, 27 September 2018

“Uhljeb” Assessment Website Launched

A uniquely Croatian invention.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Starting a Business in Croatia to Be Easier from Next Year?

ZAGREB, September 12, 2018 - Starting a business in Croatia could be simpler, faster and easier as of 2019 because a digital platform will be introduced to combine the different processes and institutions that are currently involved in the process of starting a business, a closing conference on a project designed to improve the business climate, carried out by the World Bank, the European Commission and Croatian partners, heard in Zagreb on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Tax Administration: One Wrong Letter – 10,000 Kuna Fine

The war against entrepreneurs continues.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Captain's Blessing: How to Renew an ID in Croatia When You're Half a World Away

At this point, we’re more than used to the mind-boggling intricacies of Croatian bureaucracy… but it never fails to amaze.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Is Croatian Bureaucracy Preventing a Human Klepetan and Malena Love Story?

A plea for help for a smitten South African, trying to get back to Zagreb to be with his Croatian love on September 20, 2017. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

20 Million Kunas Spent on Unusable Border Crossing

While some border crossings are overwhelmed with passengers, others stand completely empty.

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