How to stamp official documents on Hvar
The office for the Notary Public (Javni bilježnik) on Hvar is in Stari Grad, behind Hektorović’s Tvrdalj, opposite the church of Sveti Rok.
Address: Javni bilježnik, Kod Svetog Roka, 21460 Stari Grad
Telephone: 00 385 (0) 21 765 547
Client receiving hours:
Mondays and Wednesdays 08:00 – 14:00
Tuesdays and Thursdays 08:00 – 16:00
Fridays 08:00 – 12.00
Closed weekends and bank holidays
A vital cog in the wheel of Croatian Bureaucracy
The Notary Public (javni bilježnik in Croatian) plays an essential role in processing official paperwork in most countries, and nowhere more so than in Croatia. There is one Notary Public on Hvar Island, Mrs Jadranka Plenković. Her office occupies a corner of the Hektorović fortified villa (Tvrdalj) in Stari Grad. It is reassuringly well ordered and welcoming, and operates with quiet efficiency.
What does the Notary Public do?
The Notary Public ensures, as far as is humanly possible, that legal documents are properly constituted, that anyone participating in a legal transaction is officially identified, and that the documentation is held in the archive for future reference if necessary. All major financial and bureaucratic transactions in Croatia are likely to require the input of a Notary Public at some stage. For instance, a signature to a sales or rental contract or to a power of attorney has to be witnessed and notarized to make it fully legally binding. (In some cases of sales, only the seller needs to do this, but it is generally better if both parties attend together.)
A signature witnessed by anyone other than a public notary, or simple photocopies of documents are never acceptable in court or for official purposes in Croatia. The Notary Public can make notarized copies of any official document, including sales contracts, and these copies have the force of the original if they are needed for legal purposes. Once notarized, a document cannot be changed.
Any document which needs notarizing has to be an original, of course. Documents in a language other than Croatian have to be translated by an official interpreter (sudski tumač). It is increasingly difficult to find properly qualified interpreters: Hvar has none for English, so translations have to be done in Split or elsewhere. The right rubber stamp is all-important.
How is notarization done?
When you visit the Notary Public, you must have proof of your identity. For Croatians this is an identity card or passport, and usually one’s personal identity number (OIB) which is separate from those documents. Foreigners should have their passports. Photocopies are not accepted as proof of identity.
Your details are entered into a ledger, and the transaction is performed. For signature witnessing, the Notary Public watches while you make your mark, then enters your details and a verification on the back of the document or on a separate sheet of paper with a special stamp. This sheet is attached to the original document with a multicoloured twisted cord, which is knotted and bound to the back page with a sticky seal which is over-stamped as a final precaution against tampering. The Notary Public retains a copy of the notarized document.
You can ask for as many copies of your notarized document as you wish, and the copies are double stamped and bound in the same way as the original. If you are likely to need copies for official purposes, which is usually the case for a purchase contract, it is a good idea to have them done straight away, as notarized copies done at a later date are significantly more expensive.
It is possible to have documents notarized outside Croatia. It is a process which for most countries is regulated by the Hague Convention of 1961. Documents have to be stamped with an Apostille, which is a certificate guaranteeing that the document has been verified by an accredited government official.
In the United Kingdom Apostilles used to be administered personally in an office with daunting but mobile queues near Admiralty Arch in London, but now all applications are handled in Milton Keynes – more details on:
For information on the Apostille in the United States:
Hvar for ease
Notarizing documents on Hvar has definite advantages. You attend in person, have control of your papers throughout, and receive your notarized document(s) immediately. In special circumstances such as severe ill-health or disability, a home visit can be organized.
If there are any problems, Mrs Plenković will explain clearly what you need to do to solve them. If you have to queue, you may have to wait as each process can be lengthy, but so long as you have arrived within the normal receiving hours you will be attended to, even after the official closing time.
You can pass the time admiring Petar Hektorović’s pithy Latin pleasantries engraved on the stones, or analysing how the walls have been altered over the years. Just one warning: there is no waiting room, so you sit or stand outside the office in a partly covered open space. It can be very hot in summer, or cold and wet in winter, so be prepared!
Public Notary Office, Kod Svetog Roka, 21460 Stari Grad
Telephone: 00 385 (0)21 765 547
Working hours for receiving clients:
Monday and Wednesday 8.00 – 14.00
Tuesday and Thursday 8.00 – 16.00
Friday: 8.00 – 12.00
(Closed on Bank Holidays)
© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) 2012, updated 2018