Monday, 3 October 2022

Sabine Engelhardt Chooses Brac Agriculture over Architecture

October the 3rd, 2022 - Sabine Engelhardt is a German architect who came to live in Croatia thirteen years ago, choosing the Central Dalmatian island of Brac as her home on which she switched her life of architecture for a life of agriculture.

As Morski/Blanka Kufner writes, Sabine Engelhardt is the owner of the eco estate Gea Viva which has been entirely designed according to permaculture principles. Her goal in life is not to use more than the planet can handle and she imagines the future of the world we live in as a multitude of small but strong local communities where people live self-sustainably.

The German national who moved to Croatia thirteen years ago is an architect and carpenter by profession, and while she had some level of contact with agriculture in her childhood, she never went on to have any sort of employment in it as an adult. She considers it illogical that in Germany, for example, they save on food, which is essential for health, and spend an awful lot of money on cars. For years she worked as an architect in Great Britain, but at one point she felt a strong need for change and decided to create her new life near Milna on the island of Brac, Agroklub writes.

The permaculture way of life has been attractive to her for a long time because the planet we live on is important to her, and she was also involved in eco-architecture. Her main idea was to organise a meeting place for people who think in a similar way, and agriculture, she says, somehow developed along the way.

''Permaculture is very close to the traditional approach to agriculture because it encourages a variety of plants, working with your hands, and a circular economy. Some things are more modern, others are very close to the traditional way of life,'' Sabine Engelhardt explained, readily admitting that agriculture on Brac is a challenge.

Since there's no connection to the water supply, you can't really base much on the production of vegetables, but there are plenty of fig trees and other fruit trees that she planted, as well as 180 olive trees. She realised that it is more profitable for her to produce olive brine than olive oil, and she also creates massage oils, macerates, creams, salves and soaps. On her family farm (OPG), which spans a little more than one hectare, he has various medicinal plants from which she makes things.

''The immortelle one is excellent for injuries and burns, and the mint one it great for neck massages,'' she revealed. As an interesting product, she pointed out a mixture of dry herbs that are lit for a pleasant smell in the home. It is particularly important for her that consumers become aware of how much power they do actually have and that it is important what they choose to spend their cash on, and she strongly advocates for supporting local producers.

''It's important for me to be able to spend time out in nature, not in the office. It's a great asset to be able to organise your day as you wish, even though there is a lot of work to do,'' said Sabine, admitting that it isn't easy because she has to take care of several animals - a donkey, chickens, a dog and a cat, and all of the plants, so she can't "just go somewhere".

Regardless of the many obligations and the great effort invested, Sabine Engelhardt says that the satisfaction she gets from creating her own products is far more valuable than anything else. This year, she had a lot of figs and tomatoes, but the potatoes were a complete failure. She added that this year she grew lentils for the first time, struggled with peeling them, and in the end only got five tablespoons. However, with a smile, her quinces produce well almost every season. She doesn't earn much from farming, she gets a little more from the campsite she runs and the events it offers. She doesn't lead a luxurious life and constantly needs to invest more and more.

She likes life in Dalmatia, as well as the fact that people here know how to enjoy the little things. When she first arrived on the island, there were still plenty of people who could pass on knowledge about traditional agriculture to her and she regrets that young people mostly run away from agriculture because there are fewer and fewer old people with experience to gain wisdom from.

Sabine also resents how absolutely everything is aimed at tourism, and the construction of yet another new resort is also planned near her property.

''I feel that big changes are coming and that people will need to focus more on food production and self-sustainability,'' concluded Sabine Engelhardt.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Germans Purchasing Adriatic Property en Masse, Then Renting it Out

July the 1st, 2022 - Germans have been purchasing Adriatic property en masse, and then renting it out. While this trend is less than satisfying for many Croats living on the coast themselves, the Germans engaging in this are getting quick returns on their investments this way.

As Morski writes, more and more Germans are snapping up Adriatic property along the Croatian coastline and then renting it out. Two such Germans sat down to talk about their experiences with builders, taxes and processes.

Jens and his family from the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg have fulfilled their dream by purchasing Adriatic property. They now own a luxury villa with pool and gorgeous sea views. It all started with a joint holiday of his family and his sister's family in beautiful Istria. They really liked this region, but the rent for a large enough and well-equipped villa with a pool was quite high. When they started calculating the figures, they decided it would be more worthwhile for them to own their own house. They searched for a long time, but couldn't find something they loved, writes Deutsche Welle.

Eventually they discovered a beautiful construction site on the edge of a fishing village in the south of Istria with a magnificent view of the sea, and they decided to build their own house. "It was simpler than we thought it would be," said Jens, 53. He says the price of construction materials is about the same as it is over in Germany, but that labour is still significantly cheaper. As such, last year they finished building their villa with a pool, and this year they already have their first paying guests coming.

In order to facilitate it all, they took out a construction loan in Germany and they plan to repay it by renting the house out during periods when they aren't using it themselves.

An interesting tax model

Oliver, 55, from Bavaria, decided to "build, not rent" using the same model.

''It was actually somewhat accidental. From Italy we went further towards Istria and there we saw some truly beautiful cities, the crystal clear sea and stunning clean beaches. That immediately won me over,'' recalled this German. After that, he went on, they spent a couple of years in the south of Istria and decided to buy a house there. But they, like Jens' family, couldn't find anything suitable, so they decided that it was better for them to build their Adriatic property from scratch as well, and do it all according to their own personal wishes and needs.

A few years ago, they found a large construction site, and the original intention was to build their Adriatic property for their own needs. But on a plot with a fantastic sea view, the construction of a larger facility ended up being planned.

I asked the salesman, "What am I supposed to do with a family of three on 500 square feet?" and he said, "Well, build some apartments and rent them out!" And so a larger building was created in which his two-level private apartment with an imaginatively decorated pool and three other apartments for rent are all located.

''I founded a company in Croatia and thus got back 25 percent of the VAT when building the facility,'' he explained. He already has a company in Germany for the sale of machines for industrial plants, so he then started selling through his Croatian company.

''Everything we did through Croatia, all the way to the motor boat that belongs to the company, these are definitely some interesting tax models,'' said this German entrepreneur.

He admits that renting out purchased Adriatic property is worthwhile, but added: "In the meantime, it has become difficult to rent something out in Croatia if you don't have a swimming pool, because the offer is very large. And really, all over Istria, a bit like like mushrooms after the rain, it's mostly luxury villas with swimming pools that keep on popping up, despite the drastic increase in construction costs. A pool has become important if you want to make a good living," Oliver explained.

Most of the foreign buyers in Croatia are German nationals

Jens and Oliver are just two of thousands of Germans who own real estate across the Republic of Croatia, and there are more and more of them coming and doing the same every day. According to recently released data from the Tax Administration, foreigners bought 9,514 Croatian properties last year, up 50 percent from a year earlier, and this still isn't the complete data for that period. Germans, Austrians and the neighbouring Slovenes buy the most. Real estate sales to German citizens rose by as much as 70 percent last year.

Many foreigners buy for their own needs, but there are more and more of them who come and invest their money in this way. Renting out Adriatic property has obviously become a lucrative business in Croatia, and after the coronavirus crisis, tourism is finally booming again, rental costs for both apartments and houses are rising, and taxes are relatively favourable for foreigners as well.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 27 June 2022

MUP Bogged Down by Croatian Employers Requesting Work Permits for Foreigners

June the 27th, 2022 - Croatian employers are requesting work permits for would-be foreign employees left, right and centre. With demographic issues and difficulties finding qualified local staff continuing to bite, MUP is having trouble getting through the paperwork in time for the height of the summer season.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the ongoing problem of staff shortages escalated for Croatian employers last summer, and this year it has become even more pronounced because there are more guests, this tourist season could be better than that of 2019, and the desire to travel is great, leading some to describe it as being as if the dam has given way.

There is as much labour here on the domestic labour market as there is, and it isn't enough. As such, Croatian employers are continuing to turn to foreign workers from outside the EEA/EU who need work permits, Novi list reports.

Croatian employers say that even the pool often used in neighbouring non-EEA/EU countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia has been emptied, meaning that more and more workers are being brought in from distant countries like India, Nepal, the Philippines… To work in Croatia legally, non-EU foreigners, of course, need work permits. And there was a big problem with this at MUP last year as well.

People came from abroad and stayed in workers' accommodation units for weeks, until they got their work permits and began work. The tourism sector asked last year for MUP to speed up the process of issuing work permits, however, in principle the only thing that has changed is that applications can now be submitted online instead of being taken to administrative police stations in person. Despite very small changes, just like in previous years, overworked MUP employees continue to deal with all of these requests manually, one by one.

Robert Palic, an employer in tourism from Crikvenica, who has five catering and hospitality facilities in the very centre, explained what it looks like in practice. He applied for about fifty work permits back in early May and hasn't even received even half to date. However, he says, in the meantime, ten work permits have practically been made pointless because people gave up in the meantime and went and found another job elsewhere.

"There were seven Nepalese nationals among them. I paid the agency through which I can employ these people 10,500 kuna to bring those seven people to Croatia, and then another 4,000 kuna for their work permits. With the proviso that they had to come to New Delhi to the embassy with a work permit to get a visa. When I was told that work permits would be ready, those people headed to New Delhi which is, let's not forget, 550 kilometres away from their homes. They waited there for three days for their work permits to arrive to pick up their visas. However, as those work permits didn't arrive. So of course those people gave up on it,'' Palic explained.

He added that at the administrative police station in Crikvenica he asked if he could return those work permits or get the costs taken away for the paid for the work permits he'd paid for for other workers, because he obviously doesn't need these for Nepalese nationals anymore, but they said that no, he can't.

"I'm losing workers, I'm losing money, and on top of that I have to find a dozen new workers overnight. Until a few days ago, I had all my facilities closed because I can't complete my team, and it's already the middle of June,'' added Palic.

“I understand those two women who have to process all these requests and who are overwhelmed with work, but then things need to be arranged differently, more people need to be hired by MUP, as needed, or the whole story needs to be digitised. After all, the coronavirus pandemic taught us how to deal with everything online. Let them put themselves in my position, the tourist season is here, and there are no people, I can’t do all this and only have three workers. My employees who are already working, can’t do the whole season on their own, it’s unbearable, so I urgently need to find more workers. I need to find them tomorrow, not in a month's time,'' pointed out Palic.

The search for workers did indeed set off on time in Palic's case, but the paperwork issues and MUP's outdated way of handling administrative procedures clearly clouded the plans.

Quotas for foreign workers were abolished, but things are no easier...

When asked by the press about the situation with work permits this year, the Police Administration of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County told us that by Wednesday, June the 5th, the Crikvenica Police Station had received a total of 1,258 applications for residence and work permits for non-EU citizens.

"This number refers not only to seasonal work up to 90 days, but also to the extension of existing permits to one year and the request of the CES application, which includes seasonal work up to six months and so-called ''new employment'' for a period of one year. As for the number of requests received compared to the same period last year, it has more than doubled,'' they said from MUP.

"Every year, there's a growing problem when it comes to finding quality workers in Serbia, because instead of coming to Croatia, more and more of them are going off to work in Western European countries. So there's a shortage of people in this pool of ours as well. And that's why we will all have to look more and more for workers from more distant countries. As for the Nepalese, the idea was to have a dozen of them this year and then have them return home satisfied because then they'll say how much it pays to come here to work, so I'll be able to count on, let's say, 20 employees from this country. And that gives me some sense of security in a situation when this pool of ours is almost empty,'' said Palic, just one of many Croatian employers facing this huge problem which keeps on escalating each and every year.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated business section.

Friday, 3 June 2022

Czechs Purchasing Croatian Coastal Property en Masse, Here's Why

June the 3rd, 2022 - Czechs are purchasing Croatian coastal property en masse, preferring real estate on the Croatian Adriatic coast to property in their own country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to the Czech media publication iDnes, Czechs are currently preferring to buy Croatian coastal property than cottages in their own homeland. According to local Zadar portal Zadarski, the reason lies in the fact that here in Croatia, at least according to Czech real estate agents, it is still possible to find an apartment on the coast at a lower price than a holiday home on the Czech continent, and they claim that it is also easier to capitalise on this investment.

"It's true, they're looking for properties, preferably with a garden. The interest is fairly high,'' confirmed analyst Sarlota Smutna for the Czech media.

Namely, this interest from Czech nationals in Croatian coastal property increased especially during the global coronavirus pandemic, and property in Croatia, Portugal, Spain and Italy is very much in demand. According to iDnes, along the Adriatic, an apartment can be bought for as little as 63,000 kroner or 2,600 euros per square metre, while a square meter in the City of Prague now costs 4,900 euros.

According to Tomas Jelinek, the director of the 21 Century real estate agency network, the demand from Czech nationals for real estate abroad is due to the fact that property in the Czech Republic has reached extremely high prices, and Jelinek claims that it's now possible to find real estate at a better price than on the Czech continent further afield.

A similar claim is being made by the well known REMAX agency, which offers Croatian coastal property at prices lower than cottages in the Czech Republic cost, especially those in the vicinity of Prague, where prices are extremely high.

"The average prices of holiday homes are still higher in most countries than the average prices of houses in the Czech Republic, but they're still lower than real estate prices in Prague, where the offer consists mainly of large houses for families," Hana Kontris told iDnes.

Property prices in the Czech Republic have doubled over the last two years, and according to Eurostat, just last year alone, that growth stood at 25 percent, the highest of all EU member states.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Can Brits Purchase Croatian Property? Yes They Can, Here's How

May the 9th, 2022 - Brexit resulted in more questions than it did answers, and whatever side of the fence you happen to be on, be it Bremain or Brexit, we can all likely agree on that. British nationals living across the EU ended up in strange and often unclear positions overnight, with very real legal and financial worries on their plates. With that being said, can Brits purchase Croatian property now Brexit is done, dusted and in the past? Yes.

''Can Brits purchase Croatian property?'' is a question that I see often, and the answers provided are somewhat vague. Given that the United Kingdom is no longer an EU member state, British citizens are no longer EU citizens, meaning that certain rights which were once afforded to them merely by being the holders of British passports no longer apply. Brits can no longer take up residence in Croatia with a quite registration and the flash of a UK passport like they once could, and only those Brits who were here before Brexit and who have acquired rights are still treated like EU citizens.

Up until February the 1st, 2020, ironically just before the global coronavirus pandemic reached Europe and caused havoc like we've never seen before, Brits could purchase property in Croatia as they were EU citizens. The same continued to be true between that aforementioned date and the 31st of December, 2020, during a transition period when all EU law continued to apply to the UK as it slowly made its way out of the bloc of which it had been a leading, powerful and wealthy member for over 40 years. 

During the UK's transition period out of the EU, British (and as such EU) nationals were free to purchase Croatian property without having to get any particular permissions and without having to engage in anything out of the ordinary. This applied to all property with the exception of what was classed as ''property and real estate in protected areas'' and agricultural land. Then came January the 1st, 2021, and everything changed for Britain. That was the real D-Day, when the UK ceased to be a member of any kind of the EU, the transition period ended at midnight (Central European Time) on the 31st of December, 2020.

The answer to the question of: Can Brits purchase Croatian property? was expected to change, but it didn't alter all that much. In short, yes they can, but that desired property absolutely needs to be classed as a residential property, and for that it must be in a certain ''zone''. This is all based on reciprocity agreements held between the Republic of Croatia and various other countries, and this functions in the British sense much like it did before Croatia joined the EU back in July 2013.

A tip for looking this sort of agreement up in Croatian would be to Google: Uzajamnost za stjecanje prava vlasnistva na nekretninama u Republici Hrvatskoj.

It sounds a little bit complicated, but in reality it isn't. If a Croatian citizen can buy property in a certain country, then the citizens of whatever country that might be can typically do the same in Croatia, with certain conditions attached in each specific case. You also do not need to registered as a resident of Croatia in order to buy a property here.

So, what needs to be done?

Consent for the acquisition of ownership rights over Croatian property by foreign citizens who aren't nationals of the EU/EEA or an EFTA country requires what everyone in Croatia just adores - an administrative procedure. I can hear you jumping for joy just reading that. A Brit intending to buy a property here must first make a request to the Ministry of Justice.

In the case of a British citizen who isn't protected by the Withdrawal Agreement wanting to purchase a property here, this procedure is conducted at their request to purchase real estate. Again, that real estate needs to be ''zoned'' as residential, and Brits cannot purchase agricultural land, nor can they buy property situated in a so-called protected area. 

An updated list of countries (aside from the UK) which comply with the reciprocity principle is available under Information on reciprocity in the acquisition of ownership rights of real estate between the Republic of Croatia and countries other than EU Member States, the Republic of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, the Kingdom of Norway or the Swiss Confederation.

The procedure is laid down in the provisions of the Act on Ownership and Other Real Rights and the Act on General Administrative Procedure. A mouthful, I know. Any submitted application must be written and then be submitted to the Registry and Archives Department. This can be done by post to the following address:

Croatian: Ministarstvo pravosudja i uprave Republike Hrvatske, 

Uprava za gradjansko, trgovacko i upravno pravo

Ulica grada Vukovara 49, 10000, Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, Republika Hrvatska

English: The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration of the Republic of Croatia,

The Directorate for Civil, Commercial and Administrative Law

City of Vukovar Street 49, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia

The following documents must be enclosed along with your (written) application form:

- An acceptable legal basis for the acquisition of ownership (this can be a property purchase agreement, the deeds proving the property has been gifted to you, etc). These documents can be in their original form, or they can be certified copies.

- Proof of ownership from the seller of the property, such as a copy from the land register confirming their ownership.

- A certificate of the administrative body responsible for urban and physical planning, according to the location of the property, on the legal status of the property.

- Proof of the prospective owner's nationality (such as a certified copy of their passport showcasing their citizenship) or proof of legal entity status (evidence with a copy from the court register) if the prospective owner is a foreign legal entity.

- When the applicant is represented by an attorney-in-fact, the original power of attorney or a certified copy thereof must be submitted.

In certain cases, additional documentation will be sought from would-be buyers of Croatian property. It all depends on the individual request. 

So, in short, the answer to Can Brits purchase Croatian property? is a resounding YES, given that all of the requirements for reciprocity have long been met. This was of course helped not only by the UK's recent EU membership, but also by the fact that Croatia is the EU's youngest member state and that many bilateral agreements between the UK and Croatia before Croatian EU accession were long-standing and clear.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

The Two Types of Brit in Croatia: Pre and Post Brexit

May the 7th, 2022 - There are two types of Brit in Croatia. No, not ethnically, but politically. Back in 2016, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland very narrowly voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a non-binding referendum, the likes of which are not the norm at all in a democracy of the UK's type.

Split almost entirely down the middle, the vote to leave the EU came as an enormous European and global shock, sending pound sterling tumbling and causing turmoil following over 40 years of the UK being one of the first and indeed among the wealthiest and most powerful member states. I won't get into the multitude of issues surrounding the Brexit vote, as more than enough time has passed for certain aspects of it to become clear, we've all read about them, and that isn't the point of this article.

Article 50 was eventually triggered, an article which enables a country to leave the bloc and which, according to its creator, was never really designed to be used as such a move was deemed deeply unlikely to ever happen. The UK ended up having numerous extensions, or Brextensions if you will, prolonging the exit process and seeing the country remain a member state for significantly longer than was initially envisaged.

The end eventually came, and the country entered into a year long transition period during which all EU law continued to apply to the UK, which included freedom of movement, one of the fundamental pillars of the functioning of the European Union. The transition period, which was spent tying up loose ends and seeing additional agreements and arrangements dealt with, ended on December the 31st, 2020, with new rules coming into force on the 1st of January, 2021. That date automatically created two sets of British nationals; those who had exercised their right to freedom of movement when the UK was an EU member state, and those who hadn't.

What does that mean for a Brit in Croatia?

Put simply and shortly, there are now two types of Brit in Croatia - a pre-Brexit Brit and a post-Brexit Brit. These two sets of people are treated entirely differently in this country, should they live here or want to live here, despite having the exact same nationality.

New residence permits

As a pre-Brexit Brit, you're not a third country national, and you're not an EU citizen, you have a category all to yourself, but it is up to you to be able to demonstrate that.

First of all, you need to request a new residence permit which separates you as a a pre-Brexit Brit in Croatia from a post-Brexit Brit. This card will state that you are protected by the Withdrawal Ageeement and you can request it from MUP. This is not a new residence application, just a scheme of declaration. You were supposed to request this before the end of June 2021 but some still haven't. You can still request it, your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement will be unaffected, but you may face an administrative fine for not respecting the aforementioned date (around 200 kuna). You can read more here.

For those who had temporary residence before the 31st of December, you need to download and fill in this form.

For those who already had permanent residence before the same date, you need to download and fill in this form.

Those who are already permanent residents will be asked less questions than those who are temporary residents. This is because permanent residents, regardless of their nationality, no longer need to abide by any conditions in order to live in Croatia permanently. Temporary residence are still ''provisional'', so to speak.

The rules for pre-Brexit Brits in Croatia:

If you're a Brit in Croatia and you were granted legal residence here before Brexit occurred, you're covered by something called the Withdrawal Agreement. That agreement provides what are known as acquired rights for those British citizens who had exercised their right to free movement when their country was an EU member state and as such moved to Croatia before the clock timed out on the 31st of December, 2020.

It's important to note that the ''pre-Brexit'' type of Brit in Croatia's time period also includes the transition period during which all EU law continued to apply to the UK.

As a pre-Brexit Brit in Croatia, you're afforded a series of special rights which clearly distinguish you from post-Brexit Brits (which we'll get into later) and see you treated much more like an EU citizen than a third country national.

The ins and outs

As a pre-Brexit Brit in Croatia, you had temporary or permanent residence granted and a document/permit to prove that before Brexit was concluded, when you were an EU citizen. As such, you'll continue to be broadly treated as such. This means that:

You are free to continue living and working (if you worked) as you did before, under the same conditions as you did before,

You are free to be self-employed or take up another form of employment without the need for a work permit,

You can continue to receive healthcare from the state (through HZZO) on the same basis as you did before,

You will be exempt from needing to fill out and pay for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) when it comes into force,

You can enter and exit Croatia with your valid passport. You don't need any additional validity on the passport beyond the dates on which you're travelling,

Your entry into Croatia is always facilitated, but you must proactively show your residence permit demonstrating your rights along with your passport when entering. Your passport may be mistakenly stamped, but this is voided upon demonstration of your right to live in Croatia,

You can continue to drive in Croatia and will be issued with black printed license plates which separate you from post-Brexit Brits. You should bring your new residence permit proving your status when undertaking this procedure with MUP,

Your family members (such as current spouses and registered partners, parents, grandparents, children) will be able to join you and live in Croatia at any point the future,

Any children born after the end of the transition period will also be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement because you are, wherever they are born,

You can be gone from the country for five consecutive years without losing any of your rights or your permanent resident status,

All in all, your rights are largely unaffected by Brexit and you can continue living permanently in Croatia without the need to meet any conditions,

If you'd like to see more details about travel restrictions as a Brit in Croatia covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, click here.

Let's now move onto post-Brexit Brits, the British nationals who moved to Croatia, or who still plan to, now that Brexit and the transition period have come to an end. These British citizens are third country nationals, as despite being a European country, the UK is no longer an EU, EEA or EFTA member state.

The rules for post-Brexit Brits in Croatia:

As a Brit in Croatia who did not exercise their right to free movement when the UK was an EU member state, you are not afforded any special rights. You can no longer get residence easily as a British citizen like you could when the UK was part of the EU. Let's look at how you can gain residence as a Brit in Croatia now that EU membership is a thing of the past. You can apply for residence in Croatia if:

You're a British national but you already hold permanent residence in another EU/EEA/EFTA country

You're a digital nomad

You're a student in Croatia

You're coming here to start a company of your own

You're going to be working for a Croatian company

You're going to be undertaking scientific research

You're coming here to learn the Croatian language

You are already married or are going to be getting married to a Croatian citizen or an EU citizen living here

You're going to be volunteering here

You want to live here for one year only and you can prove the pre-payment of a year's worth of rent on a house, apartment, etc

All of the above grounds for application come with their own rules and requirements, and frankly, I'd be here for forever and a day if I went through each and every possible requirement and potential twist and turn. That said, these are concrete grounds for a residence application for a post-Brexit Brit in Croatia, and if you state one of them as your reason, MUP will be able to tell you what they require from you in your individual case. Here's what you will need in each and every case, however:

A completed application form for temporary residence which MUP will provide you with,

A valid identity document such as an ID card or British passport. Brits know that ID cards aren't really a thing in the UK, so the latter will most likely be the case. You must have three or more months longer on your passport than the period you intend to remain in Croatia for,

A criminal background check from the British police that is no older than 6 months, and if you hold permanent residence in another EU country, you need one from their authorities, too,

A health insurance policy. You can use a private health insurance police, a GHIC, or an EHIC if you live in another EU country and have health insurance there,

Proof of accommodation, and as such a registered address in Croatia. You'll then need to show your proof of ownership, a valid rental contract, or the accommodation provider/landlord can accompany you to MUP if you have a different situation,

Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself unless you're applying based on family reunification with a Croatian spouse,

A photograph (30x35 mm) which will either be taken at MUP upon approval of your application, or at a nearby photo studio which provides photos for identification documents. There are usually several such facilities within walking distance from an administrative police station,

An application fee to be paid into the Croatian state budget,

Your rights as a post-Brexit Brit in Croatia:

You will require a work permit in order to gain lawful employment in Croatia,

As a temporary resident, you will need to be in the country for a certain amount of time each year before being able to apply for permanent residence. Click here for travel restrictions for third country nationals, and for detailed information about time you must wait before you can apply for permanent residence, click here,

You may need to get your professional qualifications recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in Croatia,

If you plan to study in Croatia, you must meet all of the requirements before you travel here. It's wise to contact the relevant higher education provider in Croatia to check what fees you may have to pay during this process,

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Croatia so that you don't pay tax on the same income in both countries. This remains the case regardless of the EU or of Brexit,

You can't renew or replace your United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man licence if you live in Croatia, but here's what you can do,

Once you are able to apply for permanent residence, you will be afforded vastly different (and much more favourable rights) which are very similar to those enjoyed by nationals, here they are:

You are free to come and go from Croatia as often as you please, as long as you aren't outside of the country's borders for longer than two consecutive years,

You are free to access education,

You can undergo professional development of any kind,

You are free to take up employment without any need for permission or a work permit

Student (but not state) scholarships,

Child benefits (allowance),

Social/state benefits (welfare)

Various forms of applicable tax relief,

Free access to the goods and services market,

The freedom to become a member of an association or organisation which represents either employees or employers,

You can live in Croatian permanently and without any conditions,

 

SOURCES: MUPSredisnji drzavni portalEuropa.euGOV.UK

For everything else you need to know as a Brit in Croatia, keep up with our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Ridiculous Croatian Red Tape Still Obstacle to Employment of Foreigners

March the 26th, 2022 - Ridiculous Croatian red tape, for which this country has become infamous, is continuing to be a thorn in the side of would-be employers seeking to hire foreign workers to fill in the gaps in the labour market. With the situation in Ukraine causing many Ukrainians to flock to Croatia, the situation has become even more pressing.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Jadranka Dozan writes, out of about three and a half million Ukrainians who fled to the EU due to the war in their country, more than 8,600 have arrived in Croatia so far. That number will certainly increase. How long and for what period they'll choose to remain in Croatia is difficult to estimate. So far, about four hundred people have expressed a desire to get a job and settle in Croatia.

"About 40 percent of them have a college or university degree. We'll try to enable the recognition of their diplomas, as well as enable them to learn the Croatian language at the expense of the Croatian Employment Service,'' said Minister Josip Aladrovic after a recent meeting of the Economic and Social Council.

The issuance of temporary residence permits by the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) to Ukrainian citizens should be accelerated, and the CES has already formed mobile teams who, together with social welfare centres, are touring the places Ukrainians fleeing the war in their homeland are coming to.

Among other things, Minister Aladrovic said that about a hundred companies have already expressed their readiness to employ Ukrainian nationals. He doesn't expect disturbances and abuses in the labour market, and there is currently high demand, especially in regard to seasonal work as the summer tourist season approaches.

However, both the Minister and the unions expect greater involvement of the State Inspectorate in the control of possible abuses of labour relations in order to ensure equal rights and obligations as for all others in the labour market.

On behalf of HUP, Ivan Misetic emphasised that there are a significant number of medically educated women and that he hopes that there will not be too much bureaucratisation and Croatian red tape to trip them up on their roads to stable employment.

The issue of administrative procedures in this emergency situation is clearly being emphasised by employers based on their shared experiences, as Croatian red tape, long waits and rudeness from clerks are commonplace when hiring foreign labour from outside the EEA.

"Eight to ten weeks is too long to process applications for work permits, and it isn't uncommon for foreign workers to just go and find work elsewhere during that waiting time," explained Petar Lovric, the owner and director of the Kadus employment agency. When it comes to previous experiences with Ukrainian workers, they are recognised in Croatia as a desirable workforce, he added.

"However, after a solid 2019 in terms of that pool of labour and 2020, which was marked by the global coronavirus pandemic, last year we lost the game with the Poles in connection with the Ukrainian workers," claims Lovric.

Partner agencies from Ukraine cited complicated procedures as one of the main reasons for this “loss of competitiveness” (including, for example, obtaining so-called apostilles by which resident countries confirm the authenticity of the required documentation). In addition, Croatia (primarily the Adriatic) is perceived as expensive to live in given wage levels in some of the most sought-after occupations.

Since the beginning of last year, Croatia has been implementing a new legal framework for the employment of foreigners (non-EEA nationals and British nationals who aren't covered by the Withdrawal Agreement), which was introduced with the aim of facilitating it, as certain activities in recent years have had to rely more heavily on the import of workers from the likes of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, neither of which are EEA countries.

The former annual quota for the employment of foreigners in 2021 has been replaced by a system involving labour market tests, which are ''needs assessments'' with regard to deficit occupations, for which the CES is in charge. For some occupations, you don't need to take a test, but immediately go to the process of issuing a work permit, but for some you still need to.

The number of work permits issued to foreigners last year recorded a double-digit percentage increase (by the end of November, 75 thousand permits or 12 percent more than the year before had been issued) and for the state administration this is a confirmation of the improvement of the system in general. That being said, if you ask Croatian employers and employment agencies, there is still too much administration to deal with and it takes too long to finally get a valid work permit for a foreign employee.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that Croatian employers often don't systematically deal with the planning and projection of their needs for workers, including foreign ones. Recruitment and selection processes generally take time, but in recent times this lack of planning can be partly explained by the unpredictability and uncertainties of the business environment.

Lovric said that better managed companies in the tourism sector today are systematically engaged in recruiting and selecting labour, but that most employers in neighbouring Slovenia who are focused on looking for labour and imports still pay insufficient attention to global trends that include less "multifunctional" workers.

He also believes that in a few years, the north of Croatia could face a serious problem of industrial unskilled workers if they don't turn more strongly to attracting ideas such as the construction of workers' settlements. Because of all this, he added, Kadus also plans to offer cooperation to local communities in terms of workforce planning for, for example, the next five to ten years.

For more, check out our business section.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

Croatian Retirement Heaven: International Living Ranks Country Highly

February the 15th, 2022 - While retiring for Croats on a Croatian pension might not be a song and dance, Croatian retirement for foreign nationals with foreign pensions is quite the dream for many. The magazine International Living has ranked the country very highly indeed.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, faced with a sharp drop in living standards after retirement, many retirees spend time thinking of environments that offer a better life for the same amount of money. Croatia is one of the most desirable destinations for foreign retirees, and this year it was on the list of the best destinations for retirement.

Every year, the International Living magazine produces an international retirement index that promotes the best countries for living in retirement, and Croatian retirement for foreigners looks tempting. The survey involves a large number of correspondents and associates from around the world, and the calculation of the index looks not only at the cost of living, but also at many other factors that affect the quality of life.

The choice is intended primarily for Americans and other Westerners, who can often afford a better quality of life in the offered destinations than in their homeland.

In addition to the cost of living, climate, political stability, the level of healthcare offered and its cost, the development of infrastructure and the degree of environmental protection are the most important factors when it comes to scoring. Less tangible factors that have an important impact on the quality of life are also measured, such as the availability and quality of entertainment and cultural content, the attitude of local residents towards foreigners, as well as the level of general personal safety.

This year, Croatia and Croatian retirement for foreigners was included among the pensioners' paradises, and it ranked 23rd on the list of the 25 most attractive destinations. We received the most points for "ease of integration", which includes the general goodwill of the local population towards foreigners, the ability to adapt to local customs, the level of cultural content, the offer of outdoor activities and the adaptation of various content to foreign users.

Croatia is also attractive due to its low cost of living, and it also ranks well in terms of healthcare. The level of infrastructure is also highly valued, which means the availability of telecommunications services, a quality road network and efficient public transport. Croatia received the fewest points in the categories "possibility of obtaining citizenship" and "benefits for the elderly", and it is still relatively weak in terms of the quality of civil services.

Other countries with a high index also offer a combination of low costs, different benefits and nice weather. Along with Panama and Portugal, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, France, Malta, Spain and Uruguay are among the top 10, writes tportal.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Croatian Law on Foreigners: Changes, Updates and More for 2021

December the 15th, 2020 - You might remember the mammoth article I did a couple of years ago on the minefield which is Croatian residence procedures. I'm going to do a brand new one as opposed to constant updates to that one. The Croatian Law on Foreigners, often somewhat amusingly referred to as the Aliens Act, is an extensive document full of legal jargon and references to Articles that most (normal) people have somewhat of an allergic reaction to. For some unknown reason, I don't, so I'm going to explain the changes due in 2021, one by one. 

I'm not going to cover anything that has already been written about extensively in the article linked above, and instead only detail changes that are due in 2021.

Please note that the procedures for some of these new residence permits and new rules haven't yet been set in stone, therefore I'm not going to detail any application procedures until they officially become law (and that means appearing in the infamous Narodne Novine). Anything else would be hearsay and lead to confusion in what is already a needlessly headache-inducing process for many people.

BRITISH CITIZENS LIVING IN CROATIA

First of all, let's address the question on the lips of every ''Brexpat''. British nationals who hold regulated, lawful residence (be that temporary or the more desirable permanent status) are entitled to remain living and working in Croatia broadly as they did when the UK was an EU member state. I will summarise the main points of this article (which I absolutely encourage you to read very thoroughly if you're a British expat in Croatia).

1) Brits who hold residence before the end of the transition period are safe - If you are a British citizen and you hold legal residence in Croatia, you are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement which entitles you the right to continue living in Croatia. These are acquired rights derived from you having exercised your right to freedom of movement as a former EEA citizen.

2) A declaratory system, not a new application - You will need to exchange your existing residence permit (be it temporary or permanent) for a new card before the 30th of June, 2021 at the police administration/station responsible for your location of residence. This is not a new application, merely an exchange to a card which will state that you are the holder of the rights afforded to you by the entering into force of the Withdrawal Agreement. Those documents will be issued either free of charge or at a cost not exceeding that paid by Croatian nationals for similar documents.

3) All time spent living legally in Croatia is counted towards being granted permanent residence - For those Brits who don't yet have permanent residence in Croatia and are still waiting for their five years of temporary residence to pass before applying, you're safe. Croatia will count all time spent on your temporary residence permit (from before and after the end of the UK's transition period) towards granting you permanent status. For those who already hold permanent residence, nothing will change for you other than what was explained in point 2 (above).

4) Brits who move to Croatia after 01.01.21 will not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement - Acquired rights here refer to British citizens who utilised EU law in order to live in Croatia only. British citizens who move following the end of the UK's transition period will not be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and different rules will apply to them as they will be treated as third country nationals.

5) Brits who are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement and hold permanent residence can leave Croatia for 5 years in a row without losing their rights - If you're a British citizen and you have permanent residence in Croatia or indeed any other EEA country, you can be absent for a period of up to 5 consecutive years without losing your status as a permanent resident.

As I stated, I really encourage you to read this article in order to find out about your status, rights and things you need to do in much, much more detail. The article also explains and links domestic and EU law, as well as that set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, which can be read in full in PDF form here should you want to know even more.

Let's move on to other changes due in 2021.

DIGITAL NOMADS:

I'm no dinosaur, but I have to admit that this term always makes me grin a little bit. I'm not entirely sure why because as a translator, I too am location independent although I live permanently in Zagreb. The idea of working from anywhere is something that was unfathomable not so long ago, but alas - this is the modern way, as the Kaiser Chiefs might say. Much has been written by TCN about this, and we even have a digital nomad currently in Croatia writing for us and providing an insight into her experiences so far. You can read her work here.

Jan de Jong, a Dutch entrepreneur living in Croatia, managed to get the ball rolling for the up and coming digital nomad visa. He has since formed a digital nomad association and you can read about the ins and outs of that, as well as the story behind the visa here and here.

It all started with an open letter from Jan de Jong on LinkedIn addressed to Prime Minister Plenkovic, and the rest is history. As of 2021, a new category of residence permit will be ''born'' and it will be precisely for digital nomads. There are some catches which make it a bit tricky, and there will certainly be things which need to be ironed out. One clause is that a digital nomad cannot work for a company registered in Croatia.

As soon as more is officially available as 2021 arrives, we will update you with a detailed guide on 1) precisely who Croatia will consider to be a digital nomad, 2) what they need to present to evidence that, and 3) what they need to do to apply for this new temporary residence status in Croatia.

The digital nomad visa is an evolving story (here is the December 15, 2020 article on the new tax law regarding nomads, for example). You can follow the latest in the dedicated TCN digital nomad section.

THIRD COUNTRY NATIONALS (NON-EEA, NON-SWISS CITIZENS) WHO HOLD PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN THE EEA

You can find out the procedures for third country nationals who already hold residence in another EU/EEA member state or indeed in Switzerland here (scroll down to the heading: What if you're a third country national with approved permanent residence in another EEA country already?

2021 will bring new procedures for third country nationals who already hold permanent residence (please note that this is only permanent residence, not temporary residence) somewhere else in the EEA who want to move to Croatia. It is important to note that it has always been easier for third country nationals with established, long term (permanent) residence in an EEA country to move to another EEA country, but the rules vary from member state to member state.

Until 2021, if you want to stay in Croatia for longer than three months (before the expiration of the visa or residence card issued to you by another EEA country) you can apply for a temporary residence permit at your local police station in Croatia, or in the Croatian consulate of the EEA country which approved your permanent residence there. The application can be found here.

The new Croatian rules for such individuals due in 2021 aren't yet available. When they are updated in the Croatian Law on Foreigners and published on Narodne Novine, we will be sure to provide an update with all of the relevant information, advice and instructions.

MEMBERS OF THE CROATIAN DIASPORA WHO DO NOT HOLD CROATIAN CITIZENSHIP

It can often be heard how difficult it is for those with Croatian heritage who don't have Croatian citizenship to get their hands on that little blue passport. As with all administrative processes in Croatia, it can either be so easy that you're sure someone somewhere has missed something, or so needlessly difficult that it leaves you rocking in a dark corner, surrounded by thousands of copies of your birth certificate. The Croatian Law on Foreigners has (finally) seen that this is an issue, and a new residence permit for people with Croatian heritage but no Croatian citizenship is coming in 2021.

In order to be approved for this new residence permit coming next year, you'll need to be issued a special certificate from The Central State Office for Croats Abroad (click here for more), along with an application and other, accompanying documents which will certainly involve proof of identity etc, which haven't yet been detailed. The Ministry of the Interior hasn't yet finalised what needs to be done for people who want to apply for this particular residence permit. By the time 2021 rolls around, things will hopefully be more clear and we will provide a detailed update on what is needed.

For more on residence, citizenship and administrative procedures related to the Croatian Law on Foreigners, you can follow me here.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Opposition Criticises Bill on Aliens

ZAGREB, September 3, 2020 - Part of the parliamentary opposition on Wednesday strongly criticised the aliens bill, under which an annual quota for the employment of foreigners will no longer be determined.

"We are passing a crucial law that will determine the demographic future of Croatia at an extraordinary session, during the coronavirus crisis, amid unfavourable demographic trends," said Miroslav Skoro, leader of the Homeland Movement, noting that the bill had not received support from the Domestic Policy and National Security Committee.

Zeljko Sacic (Sovereignists) said that such situations were rare in the parliament and that the the bill should be withdrawn due to its deficiencies or discussed.

Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandrokovic said the fact that the bill had not received support from the Committee did not mean it could not be discussed.

"It is the plenary session that decides whether the bill will be passed or not," he said.

Ahead of the discussion on the bill, Miro Bulj (Bridge) warned about worrying demographic trends in Croatia and noted that the number of work permits issued to foreigners rose from 9,000 in 2017 to as many as 108,000 this year.

"... we are heading towards a total demographic collapse, there will be no more Croats in Croatia," he said.

Marijana Puljak (Pametno) said that almost 10 percent of the working-age population had left Croatia, and that according to data by the national statistical office (DZS), 40,000 people emigrated last year and a record 37,000 immigrated, of whom only 9,000 were Croatian citizens.

She noted that there was a lack of quality labour and that one should not make employment procedures more complex for employers. If we make procedures for the issuance of work permits more complicated, it will affect the business sector, Puljak said. 

Under the aliens bill, which is in its first reading, there is no longer an annual quota for the employment of foreigners and employers in search of workforce can contact the Croatian Employment Service, which will issue an opinion on the employment of foreigners.

 

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