EU nationals don’t need a visa or a work permit to stay and work in Croatia. Nevertheless, there are still some exceptions - citizens of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the UK are treated differently (as of March 2014).
If you are from one of these countries you will need a work registration certificate to work for up to 90 days a year. If you want to work more you will have to obtain a work permit.
Non-EU nationals need a work and a residence permit. They may be employed in Croatia only if they hold either a business visa or an employment visa, and a work permit.
The business visa is the most appropriate working visa for employees of Croatian companies with short-term technical assignments of less than one year’s duration.
If you intend to act as a company director or a new investor in Croatia, the business visa is necessary, but the work permit is not. A valid employment visa is required by all employees not covered by the business visa.
The application for the employment visa ("Entry visa for the purpose of employment") can either be made at the consulate or embassy in your current country of residence, or at the Ministry of the Interior in Croatia.
Officials at the Ministry of Interior state that processing times vary from consulate to consulate. It normally takes four to six weeks to receive an employment visa, and the following documents should be submitted at the time of application with an application fee:
- Completed application form;
- Two photographs;
- A notarised copy of the ID page of the applicant's passport (if being applied for through the Ministry of Interior in Zagreb) or the passport;
- Assignment letter or draft employment contract (translated into Croatian); and
- a short explanation from the employer of the visa applicant's qualifications for the post, and
- A justification of the employment of a foreign national instead of a Croatian national (a standard sentence or two is normally sufficient).
Within 24 hours of arrival in Croatia the recipient of the employment visa must register the visa with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) at a designated police station, and apply for the “extended residency permit” (“White Card”).
The extended residency permit is normally granted in two or three weeks. The individual can then apply for a work permit.
A business visa is required in two cases. On the one hand, a business visa is granted in cases where a foreign national is to perform work based on the existing agreements for business and technical cooperation, long-term production cooperation and technology transfer. On the other hand, it is also the appropriate visa for a person seeking to establish a business or to act as a director of an existing business.
Visas are issued at the Croatian diplomatic missions and consular institutions abroad. However, the involvement of the Ministry of Labour is also required where a "Resolution" is needed to confirm the desirability of the skills to be introduced, as is that of the immigration department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in order to validate the business visa upon entry (at a police station).
The documents required for a business visa application include:
- Completed application form that is obtained from Croatian diplomatic missions and consulates;
- Resolution from the Ministry of Labour,
- A notarised copy of the ID page of the applicant's passport, or the passport itself; payment of an application fee (approximately US$50/€40, depending on the country in which you are making the application);
- Rental agreement for assignee's living quarters, ID card of landlord, and proof of landlord's ownership (excerpt from the land registry).
Presentation of this evidence is required upon registration of the business visa, which must take place within 24 hours of entry into Croatia (i.e. it must be fully prepared in advance).
Additional documentation is required where the Business Visa is for the purpose of working at an existing Croatian company, although the Resolution from the Ministry of Labour is not needed:
- Two excerpts from the court registry for the company in Croatia;
- Decision of the Founder on the appointment of the applicant as a director of the company in Croatia;
- Additional letter from the founder addressed to the Croatian Embassy or Consulate in the applicant's country.
Business visas are issued the entire period of the assignment, but for no longer than one year when they must be renewed. Business visas are separate from the work permit, and foreign nationals in possession of a business visa must also apply for a work permit upon entry into Croatia.
Where a business visa is being acquired for a technical expert, for example, to work at an existing Croatian company, the Croatian employer will take care of the business technical agreement or work assignment documentation that is required.
Regulations for new foreign investors
Foreign investors have the same rights, obligations and legal status in the company as domestic investors. However, Croatian law distinguishes between the rights of residents and non-residents.
Foreign investments are regulated by the Companies Act, Foreign Exchange Act, Investment Promotion Act and other laws.
For detailed information please visit the Croatian Chamber of Economy website.
Upon arrival in Croatia
Within 24 hours of arriving in Croatia on a business visa, the investor or recipient of this type of visa must register it with the Ministry of Internal Affairs at a police station. The first purpose of this registration is to inform the authorities of the applicant's residential address; and the second is to apply for an "extended residency permit" or "white card".
This process has a fee of 20 Kuna, and requires the following documentation:
- Passport and copy of passport (including visa);
- The Resolution from the Ministry of Labour,
- Two photos;
- Copy of the company's registration and ZAP statement (clearly not possible if it is a new foreign, non-ethnic-Croatian investor);
- Completed application form for staying with a business visa;
- Hotel's stamp or copy of ownership or rent contract of the apartment and owner's identification;
Registration at the police station typically takes one to two hours if documentation is in order. It is clearly extremely difficult for an individual to make such arrangements (rental contract, etc.) outside the country or upon arrival without the sponsorship of a Croatian employer (who has undertaken all the preparations), or the comprehensive services of an intermediary (like a consulting company).
Actually receiving the "White Card" or "extended residency permit'' will take two to three weeks. The applicant (or his agent) should check on progress periodically, in case the application is incomplete, and he has not been told. Once approved, the applicant must go to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to get the "extended residency permit" stamped into his/her passport.