Three, Four or Five Years for Croatian Permanent Residence? It Depends

Lauren Simmonds

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Croatian permanent residence after five years

Croatian permanent residence is typically obtained after five years and one day of living legally in Croatia with temporary residence. If you’re from the EU/EEA/EFTA, that means you must be in the country for at least six months per calendar year while you hold temporary residence, and that logically means you can also be out of Croatia for six months per year without losing your residence or any of your rights here.

If you aren’t from an EU/EEA/EFTA country, then your situation is a little more strict. You need to be in the country for much longer each year, with tighter restrictions on your movements abroad until you transition to permanent residence at the end of your five years.

What does that mean, exactly?

You’re free to be outside of the territory of Croatia on multiple different trips for a period of up to 90 days (three months) or 30 days from the day you’re given the green light and your application for temporary residence for one year is granted to you by MUP.

A little like levels on a game, this ”freedom” time increases as your time approved to be living here does, so you can be outside of the country on multiple different trips for up to 180 days (six months), or a maximum of 60 days in one stretch from the day you’re approved for two years of temporary residence. The latter is also the case if you’re registered as a Croatian citizen’s family member.

The reason it’s worth explaining the ins and outs of that is because many people assume MUP doesn’t or cannot check where you are and that once you have legal temporary residence in Croatia, that’s it until your next application, that is often the case, but may not be. They might never check up on you, especially if you’re an EU citizen, but they can, so it’s worth keeping it in mind. There are exceptions to these rules of course, much like with everything else in Croatia, and if you have a valid reason to be outside of the country for a longer period, such as illness, childbirth, military service, etc, you will likely be given permission to remain outside for longer, but you must explain this and ask.

Croatian permanent residence after four years

A little law change came in somewhat recently, making it possible for the spouses and other relatives of Croatian nationals to apply for Croatian permanent residence after four years as opposed to the typical five.

What does that mean, exactly? 

If you’re the family member or life partner of a Croatian citizen and you have been granted temporary residence for a continuous period of four years for the purpose of family reunification or life partnership, then you have the right to apply for Croatian permanent residence after four years of uninterrupted residence.

Croatian permanent residence after three years

In certain cases, individuals can apply for Croatian permanent residence after three years, completely removing the need to sit and wait for a further one or two. These cases tend to be a bit more complex, and they only cover quite a small number of people.

What does that mean, exactly?

If you’re classed or declared to be a member of the Croatian people with foreign citizenship or you’re stateless (you aren’t a citizen of any recognised nation) who can prove your status with a certificate issued by the state administration body responsible for relations with Croats outside of the Republic of Croatia, and if you’ve been found to have returned with the intention of living permanently in Croatia, you can apply for permanent residence after holding temporary residence (uninterrupted) for a three year period.

If, until the day of you handing in your application, you’ve been granted temporary residence in Croatia for three consecutive years, and you’ve been classed as a refugee for at least ten years, you can apply for Croatian permanent residence.

If you’re the child of third country nationals who already hold Croatian permanent residence, you too can apply for Croatian permanent residence after a three year period (of holding uninterrupted, lawful and documented temporary residence).

Croatian permanent residence under more favourable terms (discretion, highly individual cases)

In some cases, Croatian permanent residence can be granted under different rules. This regards highly specific situations involving the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, the Homeland War, and the situations which occurred immediately after in an administrative sense and which involved displaced persons.

What does that mean, exactly?

If you hold the citizenship of a third country, so a non EU/EEA/EFTA nation, and you had a registered residence in the Republic of Croatia on the 8th of October, 1991, and if you’re the user of a return programme, you can apply for Croatian permanent residence. You will need to provide MUP with an array of documentation proving your right to your claim which will differ from the usual procedure.



For more on Croatian permanent residence, keep up with our lifestyle section.


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