Written by our local expert SJ
Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.
The question “do I need a visa to enter Croatia” is asked of me often. Answering this for each individual is tricky as the circumstances and reasons for entering Croatia will determine if you need a visa to travel to Croatia. Plus other factors like, do you have a Croatian family or do you plan to work in Croatia will also alter the answer.
When it comes to figuring out Croatian visa rules, it can get a little confusing, to say the least. There are specific requirements you need to fulfill if you want to stay for a little longer than a regular holiday, and if you are considering working or staying long-term, you need to make sure that you stay inside the immigration laws, and don’t fall foul of things by not understanding what you need to do.
Official websites don’t make it particularly easy to understand the Croatia visa requirements information, but to make it all a little easier for you, we’ve summarised it all in layman’s terms.
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Visa For Croatia: Short-Term Stays
The ‘short-term’ definition means a stay of 90 days or less in any 180 day period. Basically, if you could back 180 days from the day you intend to leave Croatia, you can’t have been there more than 90 days within that timeframe.
Within this, some people require a visa, and some don’t.
Do Not Require a Visa/Registration:
If you fall into the following category, you do not need a visa for your time in Croatia, provided you are not exceeding 90 days in any 180-day period:
Foreign nationals who are not from an EEA Member State, but who are a family member of a Croatian national or a family member of someone from another EEA Member State – Again, visitors in this category must show a valid passport. The term’ family member’ covers a spouse, unmarried partner, children, adopted children, step-children
Nationals of a Third State (a country which is in the EEA)
A short-term stay in this category is reported to the local police station and can also be done online via the accommodation provider. Suppose you are a foreign national within this category and you own an apartment or holiday home in Croatia. In that case, you can register for your short-term stay with the Tourist Board, and you can also add on your friends and family who are joining you simultaneously.
Now, if you are going to be staying on a boat or ship during your stay, then you will need to register your short-term stay in the country with the police who are in charge at the port you board the boat at or at the border crossing point.
If you wish to stay for longer than 90 days in a 180 day period, you will need to apply for a temporary residence permit. There are different rules according to different categories here, so let’s discuss each one in turn.
Nationals of an EEA Member State and their family members
You can stay visa-free for up to 90 days (three months), but if you decide you want to continue your stay after that point, you need to visit your local police station no less than eight days before your 90th day. Basically, on your 82nd day, you need to be registering for your permit. Make sure you arrange your paperwork ahead of this time to avoid delays. You will then be issued with a biometric permit, which can be valid for up to five years, depending on your individual circumstances.
Regarding working, nationals of the EU Member States and their family members are able to work in Croatia under specific rules. Article 236 of the Foreigners Act defines this in more detail, and it is advisable to check this to ensure you are not crossing any red lines. Check this link for more information.
Third Country Nationals who have permanent residence in an EEA Member State, and their family members
The same time rules apply for this category, so no less than eight days before the end of your 90-day bracket. However, the difference here is where to register an application for a residence permit. In this category, a visit to the Consulate of the EEA Member State in Croatia, where the person or family member lives, is required. If there is a problem, visitors should instead go to the local police station for advice.
In this category, the following documents/requirements need to be met:
Can show funds to support themselves and members of their family, if applicable
In this case, a work permit will also be required, and this is the EU Blue Card system. Application for a residence and work permit needs to be done at the country’s consulate the person comes from in Croatia. Again if there is an issue, a visit to the police station will be required. This type of permit gives dual benefit, e.g., residence and work permits. This is given to those who meet the requirements of funds to support themselves, health insurance, and a valid passport, as well as:
A contract from their workplace, or a contract that lasts for at least a year, covering a type of work that is highly qualified
Proof of qualifications
Third Country Nationals
As before, a Third Country national is someone not from an EEA Member State. For those who want to stay more than 90 days in this category, this can be granted for:
Reunion of family
Scientific research grounds
Each application will be assessed individually, and supporting information will be needed, such as a valid passport, funds, and health insurance.
Summary of Supporting Evidence for a Temporary Residence Permit
A photograph in color, measuring 35 x 45mm
A valid passport and color copy
Valid health insurance
Evidence of funds to support the stay
A reason for the stay and any evidence to back it up, e.g., a marriage certificate, offer letter from a university, etc
All documents need to be original with a copy, and anything that isn’t in Croatian needs to be translated by a certified translator. Documents cannot be older than six months.
Once the temporary residence has been granted and the permit has been received, visitors must report to their local police station to register their details within no more than 30 days.
NOTE: This list is made to the best of my ability. To be 100% sure that the visa for Croatia rules and regulations have not changed, be sure to check with the Croatian embassy or consulate in your home country before making any plans to come to sunny Croatia.
Additional information can be found in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.