How to apply for a residency permit as a digital nomad in Croatia: A Guide for 2021
Starting January 1, 2021, Croatia will grant digital nomads a temporary residence permit. You may know it as the “digital nomad visa” in common terms. With the establishment of this permission, non-EU citizens living in Croatia on a long-term basis now have a new alternative.
When the amended law governing foreigner immigration (and introducing this permit) was published in Narodne novine, it became official. Law changes are only effective if they are published in Narodne novine.
Croatia Nomad Visa
The truth about Croatia's “Digital Nomad” Visa
The visa for digital nomads is not a visa. It’s a permit to live in the country.
In Croatia, a visa refers to a tourist’s short visit. You can either show up in Croatia and remain for up to 90 days depending on your nationality, or you must apply for a tourist visa from abroad before entering Croatia. Some nationalities are only permitted to visit Croatia as tourists for a maximum of 30 days.
You can find all of the prerequisites for entering Croatia as a tourist on MUP’s website, as well as information on how long you can remain.
If you want to stay and live in Croatia after your tourist visa expires, you’ll need to apply for a residence permit. A residency permit, not a visa, is now the new basis for digital nomads seeking temporary residence in Croatia.
“Then why is it called a digital nomad visa by everyone?”
Foreigners’ short and long-term stays are referred to as visas in several nations around the world. Croatia is not one of these countries.
Given the global buzz around the introduction of a “digital nomad visa” in Barbados, Greece, Estonia, and elsewhere, the new Croatian residence permit has been mistakenly referred to as a visa, despite the fact that it is not. It seems “digital nomad visa” is easier to remember than “digital nomad residence permit.”
Download our free factsheet with more detailed information about this program.
New Croatian laws for Digital Nomads
In Croatian, the law that governs foreigners’ stay is known as “Zakon o strancima.”
Prior to the implementation of the regulation of digital nomads’ stay, this statute already existed. The new law does not only apply to digital nomads.
It also includes a number of reforms, such as the creation of a residence permit for Croatian diaspora members and new laws governing permanent and temporary stay.
Now we’ll go over what the law says about digital nomads staying for a long time in Croatian, then English. The term “digital nomad” appears twice in the law.
Unanswered questions about digital nomad residence permit in Croatia
There are still some unanswered questions about the digital nomad residence permit in Croatia.
Thankfully, the majority of our concerns have been addressed. That’s all that’s left.
1) Can you apply for this permit more than once?
This is something that isn’t explicitly stated in the law, thus it’s up to the minister to determine. The presumption is that this foundation for residency will be regarded similarly to the permits based on rent prepayment, volunteerism, and real estate ownership.
In actuality, MUP limits the number of times you can apply for residency based on rent prepayment and volunteering to two periods in a row. However, MUP allows some people to apply for real estate ownership many times with no limit (in actuality).
The digital nomad permit cannot be extended, according to MUP’s website, however it does state that you must wait 6 months before applying again.
Perhaps by “extended,” they mean extending the present permit to allow them to stay for more than a year. Based on their recent behaviour, this seems reasonable.
At the earliest, we won’t know how many times you can apply for this permission until the end of 2021. We won’t know until 2022, at the earliest.
We’ll have to wait till the first persons who gained residency based on being a digital nomad in 2021 try to apply for this permit a second time to see how MUP will manage this. This will not be defined by law. It will be at MUP’s discretion.
Things we know about digital nomad residence permit in Croatia
While the statute in Croatia that defines digital nomads is brief, what it does say is highly telling.
- Regardless of the basis for your application, all temporary residence permits must meet certain standards. In the following part, I’ll go over the criteria.
- A third-country national may submit an application for regulation of temporary residence for other purposes or purposes of residence of digital nomads after six months from the expiration of temporary residence granted for other purposes or purposes of residence of digital nomads, according to Article 57 of the law.
- To summarize, 6 months must pass between the expiration of your previous permission and the time you begin the application process for a new permit. Because no one can stay here for more than six months without a legal residency permit, you must depart for 90 days after your permit expires. Then, on a tourist visa, you can stay for up to another 90 days.
You can then apply for a new residence permit when those six months have passed. On MUP’s website, this is also stated.
- “…a third-country national who is employed or performs work through communication technology for a company or his own company that is not registered in the Republic of Croatia and does not perform work or provide services to employers in the Republic of Croatia,” according to Article 3. You cannot work for any company registered in Croatia, according to the description of a digital nomad in the law’s glossary.
- MUP confirmed to us that digital nomads’ close family members can seek for temporary residency based on family reunification. As part of the application for spouses, you will need to present a marriage certificate (apostilled/legalized, translated, notarized) or proof that you are in a common law marriage. Children’s birth certificates must be submitted.
- The digital nomad permit can be applied for a duration of up to one year, according to the MUP website. It isn’t possible to make it bigger. You can apply for a six-month permit if that is all you need. All you have to do is mention it in your application.
- It is in the law as a lawful ground for residence as of January 1, 2021. People can request to start an application right now by contacting their local MUP station. Already, the first digital nomad has been approved.
What is the application process for temporary residence as a digital nomad in Croatia?
In this part, we’ll go through the prerequisites and methods for applying for temporary residency in Croatia as a digital nomad (also known as the “digital nomad visa”).
There are three possibilities:
1) Anyone, regardless of their physical location, can now apply online here. According to your temporary address in Croatia, your application will be forwarded to the nearest police station.
2) If you require a visa to enter Croatia, you may apply for one at a Croatian embassy or consulate abroad.
3) If you do not require a visa to enter Croatia, you may apply for this permit at the following address:
- Croatian embassy or consulate in another country
- Police station closest to your temporary Croatian address
Before applying, it’s a good idea to check with Croatian embassies, consulates, or police stations for more information on possible COVID-19-related restrictions.
You can see if your nationality necessitates a visa. The benefit of applying from within the nation (assuming you do not require a visa to enter) is that you can stay in Croatia for up to 15 months at a time – 90 days as a tourist, plus another 12 months on the digital nomad permit.
If you are applying from outside of Croatia, contact the nearest Croatian embassy or consulate to learn more about the requirements and procedure. They will also provide you with more information on potential COVID-19-related restrictions. Here is a list of all Croatian embassies and consulates around the world.
If you plan to apply from within Croatia, contact the police (Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova, or “MUP”) in the jurisdiction where you propose to live. There will be a service desk dedicated to foreigners (“stranci”) at this station. They will also provide you with more information on potential COVID-19-related restrictions.
The following are the conditions for applying for a digital nomad residency permit in Croatia. MUP’s most recent requirements are listed below.
The following are the prerequisites for temporary residence as a digital nomad:
- A completed application, which can be obtained from the police, embassy, or consulate.
- Proof of intent, i.e., evidence that you are a digital nomad;
- A copy of a current passport or other travel document;
- A background check from your native country’s government *NEW FOR THE YEAR 2021*;
- Marriage certificate (apostilled/legalized, translated, notarized) if you have a spouse;
- Proof of a current private/travel health insurance coverage that covers the duration of your permit and the Republic of Croatia’s territory.
- Proof that you have enough money to support yourself;
- Provide a Croatian address.
Document copies can be supplied in either Croatian or English.
Let’s go over each requirement one at a time.
Temporary stay application
“Obrazac 1a” is a temporary stay application form for digital nomads (Form 1a).
MUP or the embassy/consulate will supply you with this application, or you can download it from the official website.
Provide proof of purpose
A proof of purpose paper establishes your status as a digital nomad. This is a work contract or other paperwork confirming that you work for a foreign employer or your own company registered outside of Croatia using “communication technology.”
The ministry has specified exactly what you must supply in order to demonstrate this. Keep in mind that each remote worker is unique and may require different evidence. The following is taken from MUP’s website:
1) A statement from a foreign employer or a third-country national that the person works remotely via “communication technology,” and 2) a work contract or a contract to conduct work for a foreign employer (service contract).
a copy of their own company’s registration and proof that he executes the duties through his own company.
In other words, they want to show that you are working and earning money from clients or employment outside of Croatia. MUP will either accept your response or return to you with a new request once you’ve provided what makes sense for your situation. On a case-by-case basis, what is required will be determined.
Prepare to have anything you supply translated and notarized.
Valid Passport/travel document
Your passport must be valid, which means it must be valid for at least three months longer than the duration of your intended stay. You will very certainly be required to give a copy of your passport; however, the police station may make a copy for you. Take your passport with you whenever you go to the police station.
If your passport is not in English, you will need a notarized copy that has been translated into Croatian. Please contact us if you require a translator recommendation.
Background check by the authorities
For the year 2021, this is a brand-new criterion. “5. enclose with the request for approval of the first temporary residence proof that he / she has not been convicted of criminal offences from his / her home country or the country in which he / she resided for more than one year immediately before arriving in the Republic of Croatia, unless the posted worker within a company benefiting from mobility from anot” says Article 59 of the law.
This may be easier to obtain while still in your home country rather than once you arrive in Croatia, depending on your native nation.
They want a federal background check, not a state one, if you’re an American. This is done through the FBI and requires the collection of your fingerprints. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE IN CROATIA TO DO THIS, AMERICANS. In Croatia, getting digital fingerprints for this purpose is nearly hard. Those who had their fingerprints taken in ink (which is extremely difficult) had their prints discarded because they were not clear enough.
When submitting the application, you must include your Croatian address. This address could be the location of your current or future stay.
If you don’t have a Croatian address when you apply, you can use a temporary address until you get the address where you’ll be staying throughout your stay. If you have a confirmed reservation for your accommodation, this can be the address of the hostel, hotel, or lodging.
Valid Health Insurance
You must have health insurance to live in Croatia. Digital nomads are exempt from mandatory obavezno state health insurance in Croatia, according to new changes to the Law on Compulsory Health Insurance and Health Protection of Foreigners in the Republic of Croatia (Zakon o obveznom zdravstvenom osiguranju I zdravstvenoj zatiti stranaca u Republici Hrvatskoj).
“(12) A third-country national on a temporary stay in the Republic of Croatia, who resides in the Republic of Croatia for the purpose of staying as a digital nomad and is required to bear the costs of using health care in a health institution, private practice health worker, or other health care provider in the Republic of Croatia, is not required to submit an application for mandatory health insurance.”
You must have private health insurance coverage for the duration of your permit to be eligible for residency in Croatia (up to 1 year). After you are authorized for residence, you have the choice of enrolling in state health insurance, but it is not mandatory, as it is with other categories of residence.
Provide proof that you have sufficient funds
You must demonstrate that you will be able to support yourself financially during the duration of your residence visa. The government has declared that digital nomads’ financial means must be at least 2 1/2 times the previous year’s average monthly “neto” wage (based on 2020’s average salary of 6.763 kuna). This sum is increased by 10% of the average monthly “neto” pay for each additional family member, life partner, or informal life partner.
The following are the financial resources available to digital nomads:
- For a single person (e.g., yourself) = 16.907,50 kuna per month
- For each additional family member, add 676,30 kuna per month
A foreign bank statement or confirmation of recurring revenue to your account will suffice (for the last 3 months). There are no restrictions on how much money you can earn. It can come from a variety of sources, including a job, a pension, and investments.
If you don’t have a regular monthly income, you can show that you have a total of 12 months X the monthly amount in your bank account, for example, 12 x 16.907,50 kuna = 202.890 kuna.
Step 4: Submit your application
Those that applied online should expect to get email responses to their applications. Only time will tell how this process will play out, as this option was only released on March 1st. If you did not apply online, return to the same police station, embassy, or consulate you attended before to obtain the necessary information and submit your application.
Your submission will be reviewed by the attendant/rep/worker/officer (or whatever you want to name them) to ensure you’ve met the standards. They will accept your application for processing if you have. If you don’t, they’ll ask for something else. Expect to be asked for something else, especially if it seems little or superfluous.
If your application is being processed, please sure you include a phone number in your submission (preferably Croatian if you are in Croatia). This is how the cops will contact you regarding your application. And now you have to wait!
The length of time it takes for your application to be processed varies based on the police station, the pandemic, and a range of other circumstances. You should not leave Croatia for at least a month while your application is being processed. Patience is required. It is legal for you to be in Croatia at this time.
Step 5: Getting approval for temporary stay
If your application is approved, you’ll receive a blue envelope, a phone call, or a phone call to your lawyer (if you have one). Those that applied online should receive an email with the approval decision.
Depending on your situation, the next steps are as follows:
1) If you applied online and were approved, you can enter Croatia using the approval decision you got. Proceed to the next step.
2) You must contact a Croatian embassy or consulate abroad if you require a visa to enter Croatia. To enter Croatia, you’ll need a biometric resident permit/card or a visa.
3) If you do not require a visa to enter Croatia, you may do so in accordance with the provisions of the Law on Foreigners.
It’s vital to remember that you must register your temporary stay within 30 days of receiving approval for your temporary stay or visa. Your temporary stay will be revoked if you do not comply.
Step 6: Get your temporary address registered
Another stage in the procedure is to register your temporary stay permit. Within three days of entering Croatia, you must register your address.
Return to the nearest police station based on your address.
You must give the following information:
1) Obrazac 8a application form.
2) A notarized rental contract, a landlord’s declaration, a title deed, or confirmation from a hotel, hostel, or other lodging.
Step 7: Get residence card
Following resident approval, everyone is required to obtain a biometric residence card.
Bring your passport photos back to the police station. They will take your fingerprints and signature at this time. You’ll also need to show documentation that you’ve paid the administrative fees. They will give you a white card in exchange for you handing them all of these things. This serves as a temporary evidence of residency. DO NOT THROW IT AWAY.
Because each country requires a different photo size, it’s best to acquire yours in Croatia. Near the police station, there is usually at least one shop that takes passport photos. Getting a package of images can cost roughly 100 kr.
These are not required until your permit has been authorized.
Step 8: Pick your residence card
You’ll be able to pick up your new residence permit three weeks after receiving your small white card. That white card, along with your passport, will be required, which is why I screamed in all caps DO NOT LOSE IT.
Everything is done, you can enjoy your stay now.
Administrative fees for the complete process
Fees at the Croatian embassy or consulate abroad:
You must pay administrative charges WHEN APPLYING if you submit your request at a Croatian embassy or consulate outside of Croatia.
The following are all of the costs:
- 420 kuna for a temporary residence
- 460 kuna for a visa (If you applied for your visa through the VFS visa centre, you may be charged an extra service cost.)
- 310 kuna for a residence card
Fees at the Croatian police station:
If you submit your request at the local police administration office in Croatia, you will be required to pay administrative fees AFTER your stay is approved.
You will be given needed payment slips by the police; however, you can also pay these fines online.
The following are all of the costs:
- 350 kuna for a temporary dwelling
- 240 kuna for a biometric residency card
- The biometric residency permit has an administrative charge of 70 kuna.
Paying taxes as digital nomads in Croatia
The tax code was amended several times before being completed on December 11, 2020. One of the revisions defines a digital nomad’s income and exempts them from paying income tax. This amendment has been translated for your convenience.
The amendment reads as follows:
(1) The following items are exempt from paying income tax:
26. receipts of natural persons realized on the basis of performing non-independent work or activity for an employer who is not registered in the Republic of Croatia on the basis of the acquired status of digital nomad in accordance with a special regulation.
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