Some 16 million tourists visit Croatia every year, and with its pristine coastline and unspoiled national parks, stunning walled towns and youthful vibrant cities, you can see why. Since becoming the 28th member of the EU in 2013, Croatia has become more accessible than ever to visitors from Europe and beyond.
After worries subsided from the global financial crisis, Croatia is once again enjoying economic growth and stability, making it an attractive place to work as well as visit on your holiday. If you’re thinking of moving to Croatia for employment, you might need a work permit to do so.
Here’s a guide to getting your Croatian work visa and making sure all your paperwork is in order.
Your first priority should be to figure out if you need a work permit at all. In some cases, depending on your nationality and the role you’ll take on, a permit might not be necessary.
As of early 2017, Croatia is still subject to some transitional arrangements for workers from the EU. This means that although most European citizens won’t need a visa to live and work in Croatia, there are some exceptions. This currently affects citizens of Austria, the Netherlands, Malta, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. If you’re from these countries, visa arrangements are in the process of being changed, so you should check with your local Croatian embassy for up to date information.
EU nationals from other countries don’t need any special permissions to travel, live or work in Croatia. Third country nationals are likely to need a work permit to work legally in Croatia. The EU immigration portal is a useful source of information about work permits for Croatia.
To get a Croatian work and residence permit, you’ll have to apply at your local Republic of Croatia diplomatic mission. If you need to extend your work permit later, you can do so in Croatia by taking your documents to your local Police Station. This must be done at least 60 days before your visa expires.
Croatia is part of the EU Blue Card network, which is a useful tool for third country nationals. If you’re offered a Blue Card, this can be issued with up to two years validity, while regular Croatian work and residence permits are limited to 12 months.
The application can be done by either yourself or your employer, though you both will need to provide some documents to support it. Any documents which aren’t in Croatian will need to be translated and certified. Guidelines are available from the Croatian government website.
There are some categories of work which allow you to be employed in Croatia with a ‘work registration certificate’ rather than the work and residence permit. These tend to be used for people entering Croatia in roles such as a consultant, performer, journalist or a member of a religious order. A full list of the roles covered is provided on the government website. If this applies to your role, your employer can get a work registration certificate from the police station closest to your registered office.
The exact details of how your visa application is made and processed will vary depending on the local embassy procedures. Some embassies, for example, don’t have appointments, but operate on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, while others require you to make an appointment before visiting. Similarly, processing times will vary widely so make sure you have plenty of time before you intend to travel to Croatia and take up employment.
When you submit your application for a work and residence permit, you’ll need to include documents to support your application. The exact details may vary slightly depending on your circumstances, but you can expect the following to be required:
Recent passport-sized photo
Proof of your ability to support yourself for the duration of your stay
Evidence of health insurance
Proof of your academic qualifications and skills
Evidence of the company’s registration
Work and residence permits are offered under a quota system, which means that even if you fulfil the criteria, you can only be offered a work permit if the quota hasn’t already been met. However, there are some exceptions in which you might be offered a permit even if the limits have been reached for the period. In that case, you’ll be asked to provide more details to support your application, including an argued explanation of your suitability for the role and why it can’t be locally filled.
Depending on the type of work you’re planning to do, it might be possible to apply for an EU Blue Card. Similar to the U.S. Green Card, this document gives you the right to work across most EU member states (excluding Denmark, Ireland and the UK). To be eligible for a Blue Card, you must be from a country outside the EU, be highly skilled (typically meaning you have completed a bachelor's level university degree, or have five years of senior professional experience), and have a binding job offer or active work contract.
The Blue Card application process is fast tracked by member states. That means it’s typically quicker than other forms of work visa application. However, it may still take up to three months. Although you start the application process online and through a single point of contact, the process may vary depending on your personal circumstances. The Blue Card network has a great website and offers applicants support to help them understand the process.
To get a visa for a short period of time, you can follow the same process as outlined above. Typically, visas are issued for the duration of the employment contract presented, so if you show your embassy a fixed term contract, they’ll issue you a shorter visa to cover the time period.
You can get a Croatian visa for the purpose of seasonal working by following the same process outlined above. In this case, a visa is issued for up to six months and, after the visa expires, you won’t be able to work in Croatia again for six months.
If you’re from an eligible country (currently New Zealand and Canada) and under the age of 30, you might be able to get a working holiday visa for Croatia. This is issued for up to a year and doesn’t require employer sponsorship. However, numbers tend to be strictly limited and so your chances of securing a visa by this means depend on the time of year you apply.
To work as an entrepreneur, or in your own business in Croatia, you’ll need a business permit as well as a separate residence permit. Previously, the business permit covered both the right to work and live in Croatia, but this now has to be managed as two separate applications.
If you have the right to reside in Croatia already arranged, you can apply for a business permit at your local police authority. However, your application will only be considered if you have at least a 51% stake in a locally registered business or are working as a sole proprietor or freelancer.
Some businesses also need approval from the local chamber of commerce before your permit can be processed. In this case, you’ll need to show your business plan including details such as how much local employment you can create and the personal skills and qualifications you have that will make it a success.
If you hold an EU Blue Card, you’re entitled to take your family with you to Croatia. Your spouse, children or other dependant family members should be covered by this legislation.
If you hold a regular work and residence visa for Croatia, then you’re able to apply for your family to join you in Croatia. The application should be made at your local Republic of Croatia consulate and contain the following:
Proof of relationship to the visa holder - marriage/birth certificate
Copy of a valid travel document
Proof of sufficient finances for the time in Croatia
Evidence you have adequate health insurance.
Once you arrive in Croatia, if you’re a third country national, you must register your residence with the local police station within 30 days. If you don’t, your residence and work visa could be revoked.
If you’re an EU citizen, you’ll still need to report to your local police authority to register your residence within three months of arriving. You’ll then be issued a residence card for Croatia. Details are available from the Ministry of the Interior.
How can I move money to Croatia from my bank account abroad?
To get the most of your money, you'll want to open a bank account in Croatia, which you can do before you arrive.
Once you send money either to or from Croatia, consider using a money conversion service like TransferWise to avoid unfair exchange rates. There's a small transparent fee, and when your money is converted from one currency to another you’ll get the real exchange rate - the same one you can find on Google. Not only that, but TransferWise receives and sends money via local bank transfers instead of internationally, further saving you money by cutting out hefty international transfer fees.
If your trip is short or opening a bank account in Croatia isn't an option, you can always withdraw money from your foreign account using an ATM there. Just keep in mind it'll be more favourable to agree to be charged in the local currency, not your home currency.
Regardless of when you start your new job abroad, it should be fairly straightforward to get yourself a visa if you follow the right steps. The most important part is just to make sure to enjoy your new adventure.