How To Get Croatian Citizenship
More and more people choose Croatia as a destination for holidays, but many are also choosing to relocate to this beautiful country. It’s not hard to see why – long, hot summers, relatively mild winters (at least compared to everywhere else), fantastic food, culture, friendly locals, and stunning scenery.
For many years it was the case that anyone who wanted to obtain citizenship in Croatia had to be able to demonstrate a grasp of the Croatian language. Croatian isn’t the most straightforward language to learn. When this requirement was taken away, the number of people who began to seriously consider looking into citizenship via family lineage increased.
For those who have family ties with Croatia, the possibility to apply for citizenship has become a little easier. There are still many requirements that need to be met and a lot of paperwork to fill out, but with help and advice, this can be achieved.
If you have a grandparent or perhaps a first-degree parent who is Croatian and you want to look towards taking this step, you first need to do your research.
Things To Know Before Applying For Croatian Citizenship
Who Can Apply?
Croatian citizenship is available to those who have Croatian family ties, e.g., a parent or grandparent and those who are married to a Croatian citizen. There are rules which set out the finer details of both situations. However, it is also possible for a spouse of an applicant to apply for citizenship too. For instance, if you apply for citizenship because your grandparent is Croatian, your married partner can also apply as part of your application. You do not need to be living in Croatia in this situation.
There is a citizenship route available for anyone who is not originally from Croatia and marries a Croatian citizen. In this case, you would need to live with your Croatian partner in the country for five years, without breaks. You would need to obtain permanent residency first, and from there, you can apply for citizenship.
Citizenship For Children Of Croatian Nationals
Children of Croatian nationals do not need to go through the same drawn-out process of applying for citizenship, and in this case, they can simply request it instead.
This can be done if you meet the following:
- Your date of birth is after 18 October 1991, and you are under 21 years of age. Your parent (one or both) was a Croatian citizen when you were born.
- You have until 31 December 2022 to request citizenship if your date of birth is after 18 October 1991 and you are over 21 years of age. Your parent (one or both) was a Croatian citizen when you were born.
Croatian And Non-Croatian Names Must Be Identical
A very common problem arises when applying for citizenship through family ties. When a Croatian emigrates to another country, especially a country such as the UK, Australia, or the USA (English-speaking), their Croatian name is changed slightly, taking out the Croatian characters and fitting in with the English alphabet.
When submitting paperwork as part of your citizenship application, your name must be the same as your relative’s. For example, if your relative’s surname is Marić in Croatia and it is written that way on all paperwork, but your surname was modified to Marich, simply because you are living in an English-speaking country, those names don’t match, and you’ll run into problems. Prior knowledge of this issue is vital because you then need to either show a document that proves your original family name and the change, or you need to get your name changed back to the original Marić, therefore matching.
For those without Croatian characters in surnames, this isn’t usually an issue.
Some Relative Links Do Not Give You Automatic Right to Apply
You also need to check that your relative link makes you eligible for citizenship in the first place. There are certain situations in which this isn’t the case.
You are not eligible for citizenship if:
- Your family member left for another former Yugoslavia country
- Your family member left the country after the start of the war for independence (8 October 1991) – Their location after this point doesn’t matter; it is the date they left that causes the issue
For family members who left Croatia and went to other European countries, your right to apply for citizenship should still be acceptable, as there is nothing in the law that specifies a denial reason. However, this isn’t always the case, and there can be anomalies. It’s best to speak to an immigration specialist and double-check your case if you have any queries at all.
You Must Apply At Your Local Consulate
If you are applying for citizenship because you are married to a Croatian, and you’re living in the country, you must apply at your local consulate within the country. However, if you are not currently residing in Croatia, then you need to apply for citizenship at your nearest consulate building. This has to be the case and cannot be that you travel to another city to apply.
However, the consulate you hand your documents into aren’t the ones that process your application and decide. Your paperwork will be sent to Zagreb regardless of where you live. The issue can be that some consulates vary in terms of their requirements, and there is no standard ‘across the board’ set of rules. For that reason, you should contact your local consulate and get a list of their specific requirements. Your application could be rejected otherwise.
Criminal Charges Will Prevent Your Application From Being Approved
Every application needs a background check, and this needs to come from the country you live in. While small issues on a background check shouldn’t be an issue, if your background check brings to light any charges of a criminal nature, you will not be successful in your application.
Foreign Documents Must Be Apostilled
If you are submitting any foreign document as part of your application (which is very likely), you need to get these documented apostilled. This is an official stamp and seal that validates the document and gives the Croatian authorities confidence that the paperwork you’re submitting is official and reliable. The apostille usually comes as a certificate which you attach to the original document.
For instance, if you were not born in Croatia, then your birth certificate will need to have an apostille attached to it when applying. The critical thing to remember is that any apostille needs to be less than six months – the age of the document isn’t an issue, but the age of the apostille is.
A Note About Naturalisation
For those who have lived in Croatia for enough time, there is the opportunity to naturalize. However, there are some catches here and some people who this won’t be possible for. EU nationals cannot naturalize anyone with a Croatian spouse cannot naturalize and anyone with Croatian history.
Naturalization is not something to be taken lightly as it will require the person concerned to relinquish their nationality and, as a result, replace it with Croatian citizenship.
Applying for Croatian citizenship is a long process and one which requires due care and attention. Missing any documents from your application can mean a long delay or may even cause a refusal. It’s best to seek advice from an immigration specialist if you have any queries at all or contact your local consulate for requirements and other general queries.