Second Citizenship
March 8, 2024
Reading Time: 12 min

3 ways to obtain Croatia citizenship: a step-by-step guide

Employment, studies at a university or family roots are the most common grounds for obtaining a residence permit and, eventually, a passport in Croatia.

A foreigner obtains the country’s citizenship by naturalisation in at least 8 years. With Croatia citizenship, one can enter 170 states visa-free, including the EU members, Japan, and the UK, move to Croatia, and enjoy access to European healthcare and education.

Elena Ruda
Elena Ruda

Explains how to obtain Croatia citizenship

How to obtain Croatian citizenship

3 ways to obtain Croatia citizenship: a step-by-step guide

Why Croatia: 9 benefits of Croatian citizenship

1. Moving to Croatia. Croatian citizens can move to the country anytime and stay there for as long as they want. They also don’t need to live in Croatia to maintain citizenship.

Croatia is a peaceful, affordable country with a rich cultural heritage and outstanding natural beauty.

2. Part of the EU. Croatia is a member of the European Union. It allows Croatians to live, work, and study in all EU countries without needing a special residence permit.

To get these rights, the foreigner must become a Croatian citizen, which takes at least 8 years. Citizenship in some other EU countries can be obtained faster and easier.

3. Strong passport. Croatian citizens can enter 170 countries visa-free, including the Schengen states, the UK, and Japan.

4. Ease of travel within Europe. Croatia is one of the Balkan countries located almost at the centre of Europe. Thus, its citizens and residents can easily travel to the majority of European countries.

It takes only 4.5 hours by car to reach Vienna, Austria, in Central Europe, and Venice, Italy, in Southern Europe. Other easy-to-reach destinations are Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

5. Safety and tranquillity. In the 2023 Global Peace Index, Croatia ranks 14th. It is safer and more peaceful than Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, and other European countries.

6. Affordability. Croatia is one of the most affordable countries in Europe. It is cheaper than, for example, Slovenia, Greece, or the Czech Republic, which are not considered expensive. A single person would need around €1,200 per month to live in Croatia.

7. Access to good education and healthcare. EU citizens can get a European Health Insurance Card for free. With it, Croatians get treatment in other EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or the United Kingdom at the same conditions and the same cost as locals.

Four Croatian higher education institutions are among the top 1,500 best universities in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings 2024. The best one is the University of Zagreb.

Croatian students can study in any European country without going through tedious bureaucratic processes. They don’t need to obtain a special student residence permit and extend it each year.

Croatian citizens can also participate in the Erasmus international program, allowing them to study one or two semesters in another country.

8. Cultural and historical heritage. The country’s strategic location at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe and the Mediterranean has imbued it with a unique cultural tapestry influenced by the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Austro-Hungarian empires.

Croatia boasts old cities with their special atmosphere of days long gone. It also has literature dating back to the 11th century and the klapa singing, a form of acapella singing, a UNESCO-protected tradition.

Ten sites in Croatia belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Some of them are the Historic City of Trogir, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, and Dubrovnik.

9. Natural beauty and diversity. Croatia is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, characterised by a diverse landscape that includes crystal-clear seas, lush forests, majestic mountains, and many islands.

Some of Croatian natural wonders include Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka National Park, The Blue Cave, The Brijuni Islands, Zlatni Rat Beach, and many others.

How to obtain Croatia citizenship

Plitvice Lake is located in the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the largest national park in Croatia. Its size is 30,000 hectares

3 ways to obtain Croatia citizenship

By birth or origin. A child acquires Croatian citizenship by birth if born in Croatia to at least one Croatian citizen.

Citizenship by origin is granted to children born abroad if at least one of their parents was a Croatian citizen at the time of the child’s birth.

By marriage. A spouse of a Croatian citizen can acquire the country’s passport if they have legally resided in Croatia for one year.

By naturalisation. A foreigner can acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalisation if they have lived in the country for at least 8 years: first with a temporary residence permit and then with long-stay residence. Minors can obtain citizenship alongside their naturalised parents.

Foreigners get a residence permit, for example, to work in a Croatian company or study at a university.

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Practical Guide

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Requirements for obtaining a Croatia passport

A foreigner can file a request for Croatian citizenship if fulfils the following requirements:

  • they are over 18;

  • they are released from foreign citizenship or submit proof that they will acquire release if granted Croatian citizenship;

  • they have lived with a registration address in the Republic of Croatia for at least 8 years without interruption until the submission of the request;

  • they have been granted foreigner status with permanent residence;

  • they are proficient in the Croatian language and Latin script and are familiar with Croatian culture and social arrangement;

  • they respect the legal order of the Republic of Croatia by paying public contributions;

  • they don’t pose any threat to the country.

A foreigner who previously had a Croatian passport and their descendants can acquire citizenship by naturalisation even if they do not meet the above requirements. This applies only to former citizens who emigrated from the area of the Republic of Croatia before 8 October 1991, intending to live permanently abroad.

The list of documents the applicant must provide when applying for citizenship includes:

  • application form;

  • evidence of citizenship status, for example, a certificate of citizenship, a certified copy of a valid passport or identity card;

  • CV;

  • letter of motivation for the acquisition of Croatian citizenship;

  • extract from the registry of births issued on a standard form under international agreements and conventions

  • marriage certificate, if applicable;

  • extract from the Registry of Civil Partnerships, if applicable, and a couple is civil partners;

  • evidence of no criminal record;

  • applicant’s consent to an authenticity check of foreign documents supporting the application.

The language exam is required at the stage of obtaining permanent residency. Everyone must pass the exam except preschool children, foreigners who have completed their primary, secondary, or higher education in Croatia, and unemployed individuals over 65.

Fees. The person must pay fees at every step of obtaining Croatian citizenship. The sums are:

  • €31.85 — an issuance of a biometric residence permit in regular procedure;

  • €59.73 — an accelerated procedure for the issuance of a biometric residence permit;

  • €83.62 — an administrative fee when obtaining long-term residency;

  • €139.36 — an administrative fee for citizenship;

  • €13.94 — a copy of the decision on admission to Croatian citizenship or long-term residency.

How to obtain Croatia citizenship by naturalisation

A foreigner must legally live in the country for at least 5 years to obtain a Croatian passport. Then, they can obtain permanent residence, and after 3 more years, they apply for citizenship. In general, the path to Croatia citizenship takes at least 8 years.


Pre-application: meet the requirement for a residence permit

It can be employment, studying, marrying an Icelandic national, or others.


2—3 weeks

Gather documents and apply for residency

A list of required documents includes:

  • a filled-out application form;

  • photos;

  • a copy of a passport;

  • health insurance;

  • proof of having means of supporting themselves;

  • proof of grounds for the temporary residence;

  • a certificate of no criminal record.

The papers are submitted to the competent diplomatic mission or consular office of Croatia before entering the country. Foreigners who don’t need a visa to enter Croatia may apply at the place of their intended stay.


5 years

Live in Croatia with a residence permit

The temporary residence permit is valid for one year and can be extended. You must live in Croatia for at least 5 years to turn it into permanent residency. To be eligible, you also must continue to meet the conditions for the initial residence permit. For example, still have a working contract with a Croatian employer.

Continuous residence in Croatia for 5 years means a foreigner didn’t leave the country for more than 10 months during the whole period while living in Croatia, or their one-time absence didn’t exceed 6 months.


2—3 weeks

Apply for long-stay residency

A foreigner can apply for long-stay residency after residing in the country for 5 years.

An application is submitted at a police administration or station according to the foreigner’s place of temporary residence.

When applying for long-stay residency, the foreigner must fulfil the following requirements:

  • have a valid foreign travel document;

  • prove financial means to support themselves;

  • have health insurance;

  • know the Croatian language and the Latin script;

  • not be a threat to public order or national security.


After 3 years

Apply for citizenship

The person is eligible for Croatian citizenship after 3 years with a long-stay residency. Application is submitted in person at a local police department according to the place of the applicant’s residence.


Up to 1 month

Obtain a citizenship certificate

After acquiring Croatian citizenship, applicants over 21 must register in the Registry of Citizens of the Republic of Croatia. Then, the certificate of nationality is issued and can be obtained in any registry office.

Does Croatia allow dual citizenship?

Croatia allows dual citizenship. However, there are restrictions: people who obtained a Croatian passport by naturalisation must renounce their first citizenship if they want to obtain a Croatian one.

Persons who are Croatians by birth or descent can have dual citizenship. However, some countries don’t allow dual citizenship at all. So, it is better to check whether your country of origin is one of those states.

Disadvantages of a Croatia passport

No dual citizenship. Foreigners who obtain a passport by naturalisation must renounce their other citizenship.

Eight years of residency. Obtaining citizenship by naturalisation is only possible if a foreigner has continuously lived in Croatia for at least 8 years.

Language exam. A foreigner must pass a Croatian language test and prove their level of knowledge is enough for everyday communication. The exam is passed upon applying for permanent residency.

No investment options. A Croatian passport can’t be obtained by investment. However, this opportunity exists in Portugal, Greece, and Cyprus. For example, investors can apply for Portugal citizenship in 5 years after submitting their residency application, while there is no need to live in the country permanently.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Portugal

Taxes in Croatia

Personal income tax. Croatia employs a system of progressive tax rates that vary based on one’s residence or usual place of living within Croatia.

Local governmental units can impose one of two progressive tax rates from a specified range, with 15% being the minimum rate and 35,4% the maximum rate possible. The range depends on the population of a specific city or town.

Personal income tax rates in different types of settlements

Settlement type


Lower rate


Higher rate


Settlement type

Town with fewer than 30,000 residents

Lower rate


Higher rate


Settlement type

Town with more than 30,000 residents

Lower rate


Higher rate


Settlement type

City of Zagreb

Lower rate


Higher rate


The lower rates apply to monthly incomes under €4,200, and the higher rates apply to monthly incomes of €4,200 or more.

If the local self-government’s representative body fails to set specific tax rates, a default rate of 20% applies to monthly income under €4,200. A 30% rate is imposed on income over €4,200.

Corporate tax. There are two tax rates applicable to corporate profit. Revenues of up to €1,000,000 are taxed at 10%. The 18% tax rate applies to more than €1,000,000 corporate profit.

Value-added tax. The standard rate is 25%.In some cases, it decreases down to 13% and 5%.

The 13% rate applies to accommodation services, daily and periodic newspapers and printed magazines. The 5% rate applies to a range of goods, such as books of professional, scientific, artistic, cultural and educational content and scientific journals.

Property transfer tax is 3%. A standard VAT rate of 25% applies to the purchase of real estate.

7 tips for moving to Croatia

1. Do research. Croatia is a country with diverse regions, each offering its own unique landscapes, cultural experiences, and attractions. Before making the move, do research to find the one that best suits your lifestyle, climate preferences, and job opportunities.

Zagreb will be the best choice for people who like a big city lifestyle and the fast pace of life. As the capital of Croatia, it generally offers more job opportunities than any other town.

In contrast to Zagreb, rural areas like Slavonia and Central Croatia are suitable for people desiring a calm and peaceful life close to nature and Croatian traditions.

Istra is ideal for those who love a mix of coastal and rural living, with a strong emphasis on food and culture. The area is also popular among expatriates, and Dalmatia is suitable for beach lovers and a laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle.

2. Think about housing. The cost of renting an apartment varies in different parts of Croatia, and Zagreb is the most expensive city in the country. The average cost of renting an apartment is the following:

  • €550 per month — a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre;

  • €450 per month — a 1-bedroom apartment outside the city centre;

  • €900 per month — a 3-bedroom apartment in the city centre;

  • €700 per month — a 3-bedroom apartment outside the city centre.

All about real estate in Europe

Practical Guide

All about real estate in Europe

3. Open a Croatian bank account. It’s essential for day-to-day transactions, receiving salaries, and paying bills. The largest banks in Croatia are, for example, Zagrebačka Bank, Privredna Banka Zagreb, and Erste Banka.

To open a bank account, a foreigner must provide their identification documents, such as a passport or an ID card, and a residence permit. They might also be required to deposit some money. In some banks, for example, in Otpbanka, foreigners with no residence permits can open bank accounts.

4. Navigate the healthcare system. EU citizens can access healthcare through their European Health Insurance Card in Croatia and other European Union countries.

Non-EU citizens can’t get medical services free of charge. However, some of their expenses can be returned by mandatory health insurance. After obtaining the document, each resident must choose their general practitioner or a family doctor. In any case, except for emergencies, one addresses their doctor, who then directs them to a specialist.

Foreigners can sign an insurance contract with the Croatian Health Insurance Fund, CHIF. In this case, they get some medical services for free. For example:

  • home visits and home treatment;

  • preventive care;

  • services of different doctors, such as general practitioners, gynaecologists, and paediatricians;

  • mandatory vaccinations;

  • prescription medications from the CHIF’s primary list of medications.

5. Familiarise yourself with transportation. Public transportation in Croatia includes buses, trams, and ferries. There is no metro system in the country.

If a foreigner’s driving licence is not valid in Croatia, they can exchange it. They must provide proof of identity, a foreign driving licence, a translation of a foreign driving licence, a medical certificate confirming that the applicant can drive a vehicle, one photo, and proof of payment of an exchange fee.

Exchange fees are:

  • €20.04 — a regular procedure;

  • €26.54 — an accelerated procedure;

  • €59.73 — an urgent procedure.

8. Make connections with the local community. Building a local network can be invaluable for support and advice. Join local expat groups, community centres, or social clubs. Learn about Icelandic culture, customs, and social norms. Engaging with the local community and participating in cultural activities can help integrate.

7. Learn about emergency services. 112 is a common number that can be called for emergency services, such as ambulances, fire and rescue, and police. It is free of charge.

Other important numbers are:

  • 192 — police;

  • 193 — fire department;

  • 194 — emergency medical help.

Losing, termination and reacquisition of Croatia citizenship

Losing Croatia citizenship is possible if a person obtains another nationality. The Croatian passport can be kept if a person has received permission from Croatian authorities to retain their citizenship.

Croatian citizenship can be revoked in cases of serious misconduct. It includes obtaining citizenship through fraud, engaging in activities deemed harmful to Croatian national interests, or serving in a foreign military without authorisation.

To renounce citizenship, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • be at least 18 years old;

  • have no military conscription obligations that would prevent the renunciation of citizenship;

  • have settled all taxes, fees, and other public dues,

  • have fulfilled any obligations to both legal entities and individuals in Croatia;

  • have cleared any financial responsibilities towards a spouse, parents, and children who are Croatian citizens, as well as towards individuals remaining in the Republic of Croatia;

  • possess foreign citizenship, or have provided evidence of impending foreign citizenship.

An adult person who renounced their Croatian citizenship cannot reacquire it.

Easier and faster paths to European citizenship

While Croatian citizenship by naturalisation can be obtained after 8 years of residing, some European countries offer a faster path.

Portugal grants Golden Visas, an equivalent to a residence permit, to foreigners who invest at least €250,000 in the country’s economy.

The investment options are:

  • purchase of investment fund units — €500,000+;

  • supporting arts and restoring cultural heritage — €250,000+;

  • investment in research activities — €500,000+;

  • business investment — €500,000+ and creation of at least 5 jobs;

  • opening a company and creating 10+ jobs.

Portuguese residents can obtain citizenship after 5 years of applying for residency.

The benefits of the Portuguese residence program include an opportunity to return investments in 5 years, add family members, including siblings, to the application, and live by the sea. There are also more residence permit types, for example, for financially independent people or startupers.

Will you obtain a residence permit in Portugal?

Practical Guide

Will you obtain a residence permit in Portugal?

The Greek Golden Visa is granted to foreigners who have invested at least €250,000. The options are the following:

  • purchasing real estate;

  • renting a hotel or a tourist residence for 10 years;

  • purchasing a land plot for construction or agriculture;

  • having a timeshare agreement for 10 years;

  • inheriting real estate or receiving it as a gift;

Purchasing securities and opening of a bank deposit require at least €400,000. Real estate investments will probably rise €800,000 starting May 1st, 2024.

The foreigner is eligible for Greek citizenship after 7 years of living in the country. Among the benefits of the Golden Visa in Greece are an opportunity to optimise taxes, get an investment return in 5 years, move to Greece and become a resident by purchasing real estate.

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Greece

Individual cost calculation of the residence permit in Greece

The Cyprus Golden Visa is a permanent residency permit for foreigners in return for an investment of at least €300,000. Money can be contributed to the purchase of residential or commercial property, shares of Cypriot companies, or securities.

The permanent residency status is granted for life but can be turned into citizenship after 5 years of holding a residency permit.

Cyprus Golden Visa Program can be appealing because of the fast process of obtaining the status, an opportunity to optimise taxes, return investment money, and earn income from investment in real estate.

Individual cost calculation of the Cyprus permanent residence

Individual cost calculation of the Cyprus permanent residence

How to obtain Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment

Malta citizenship can be obtained in 1 or 3 years. The path to a Maltese passport starts with obtaining a residence permit. With a resident status, the investor lives in the country for a required number of years and then becomes eligible to apply for a Maltese passport.

The requirements to obtain Malta citizenship by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment are:

  • buying or renting real estate;

  • contributing to the National Development and Social Fund, NDSF; and

  • donating to a non-government organisation.

The investor can’t choose between options; all of them are mandatory.

Contribute to the NDSF. The sum is defined by when the investor can apply for citizenship. The investor is eligible for a Maltese passport in 3 years if they contribute €600,000+ or in 1 year if they contribute €750,000+.

Renting housing implies choosing a property that costs at least €12,000 per year and keeping it for 1 or 3 years. To apply for citizenship, the investor signs a new leasing agreement. This time, the cost of a property must be at least €16,000 per year, and it must be rented for at least 5 years.

If the investor buys real estate, its price must be at least €700,000. The property can’t be sold for 5 years after obtaining citizenship.

The charitable donation sum is flat: it is 10,000, no matter how much money the investor contributes to the NDSF and which real estate option they choose.

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Individual cost calculation of the Maltese citizenship

Key takeaways on Croatia citizenship

  1. Croatia citizenship can be obtained by naturalisation, marriage, or origin and birth.

  2. To get a Croatian passport by naturalisation, a foreigner obtains a residence permit and then long-term residency for 5 and 3 years, respectively. A passport is issued based on long-term residency 8 years after living in the country.

  3. The benefits of Croatian citizenship are a strong passport, moving to Croatia, and being an EU citizen. Others include living in a country with a low cost of living, rich natural and historic heritage, and access to high-quality healthcare and education.

  4. Greece, Cyprus, and Portugal have Golden Visa programs, under which a foreigner can get their residency by investment and qualify for citizenship in 5—7 years.

  5. Malta citizenship by investment by naturalisation for exceptional services by direct investment is obtained in 1—3 years.

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Frequently asked questions

  • How to get Croatian citizenship?

    You can get Croatia citizenship by birth, descent, marriage, or naturalisation.

  • How long do you have to stay in Croatia to get citizenship?

    To obtain Croatian citizenship by naturalisation, one must legally live in the country for at least 8 years.

    The residency period is shortened to 1 year if a foreigner is married to a Croatian citizen.

  • How many passports can a Croatian citizen have?

    It depends on the ground under which a person obtained citizenship. If it is allowed by other countries, people who got it by birth, descent, or marriage can have as many passports as they want.

    A naturalised citizen must renounce their other passports when applying for a Croatian one.

  • What are the benefits of being a Croatian citizen?

    Some benefits of Croatian citizenship are:

    • an opportunity to live in Croatia, a safe and affordable country;

    • a strong passport;

    • ease of travelling within Europe;

    • access to good education and healthcare;

    • an opportunity to enjoy natural beauty and historical heritage.

  • Are Croatians EU citizens?

    Yes, Croatian citizens are also EU citizens, as the country is a part of the European Union.

  • How do I get Croatian citizenship by descent?

    Citizenship by descent, also known as citizenship by origin, is granted to children whose at least one of their parents was at the time of a child’s birth.

  • How much should you invest in Croatia to get citizenship?

    Croatia doesn’t grant citizenship by investment. It can be obtained only by birth, descent, marriage or naturalisation. The path to becoming a naturalised citizen takes at least 8 years.

    However, some European countries allow citizenship to be obtained faster when a foreigner participates in their Golden Visa programs.

  • What happens if I marry a Croatian citizen?

    Foreigners married to Croatian citizens can obtain citizenship after one year of residing with their partner in Croatia.

  • How to apply for a Croatian Domovnica?

    Domovnica is a document proving Croatian nationality. To obtain it, a person should apply for the issuance of the Domovnica to the registry office.