How to Obtain Croatian Citizenship Through Marriage to a Croatian Citizen

Lauren Simmonds



August the 5th, 2019 – Last year, I wrote about all the ways one can gain legal Croatian residence. From short term residence (kratkotrajni boravak) to temporary residence (privremeni boravak), all the way to the deeply desired golden egg known as permanent residence (stalni boravak). The paths to citizenship vary, so how does one obtain Croatian citizenship via marriage?

There are many methods, and if you’re from a European Union country, getting from point A to point B and C is usually fairly simple. If you’re not from the European Economic Area, your path to securing residence following your 90 days of free stay in Croatia can depend on many factors and usually aren’t as straightforward as they are for EEA citizens. Click here if you’d like to delve into that quagmire which I continually update as law changes come into effect. Oh, and pour yourself a large drink.

Recently, I wrote a guide on how you go from temporary resident to becoming a Croatian citizen as an unmarried foreigner through a process known as naturalisation. Click here to read that, and get another drink in order.

On that same citizenship note, I thought I’d continue through the paths that can lead a foreigner to Croatian citizenship, all of which are laid down by the Law on Croatian Citizenship. Let’s tackle another method of getting your hands on that little blue passport – through marriage to a Croatian citizen.

If you’re a foreign national and you’re married to a Croatian citizen, you’re entitled to residence in Croatia, but contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t automatically give you the right to become a citizen of this country. It’s amazing how many people still believe this to be true. Maybe it comes from the old ‘‘you’re only doing it for the Green Card” chestnut from across the Atlantic in the USA, but no, an immediate right to a passport is not something that exists. Not in America, and certainly not here.

So, how do you obtain Croatian citizenship? Read on.

If you’re married to a Croatian citizen, and if you’re a permanent resident of Croatia yourself, then you can apply for naturalisation without having to meet several of the requirements asked of unmarried naturalisation applicants. Still, it must be able to be seen from your behaviour that you respect the law, culture, and the way Croatian society is arranged. You must be of no threat to public order or national security. And yes, you will likely be asked for a multitude of documents depending on your situation.

Here are the requirements for naturalisation for a foreign national not married or in a registered life partnership with a Croatian citizen that you, as a foreigner who is married or in a registered life partnership do not have to fulfil:

1.) A foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen must not have had their working capacity taken away from them. What this actually means remains unclear and is likely left up to discretion, like many things. If you’re naturalising as a foreigner married to a Croatian citizen, you do not need to fulfil this requirement.

2.) A foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen technically needs to provide release from their other citizenship in order to gain Croatian citizenship. There are catches to this rule which don’t always make that the case, which I have explained in more detail, with a copy of that particular piece of law here. If you’re a foreigner naturalising and you’re married to a Croatian citizen, you do not have to provide proof of release from your other citizenship in any case.

3.) If you’re a foreigner naturalising without being married to a Croatian citizen, you must have permanent residence and have lived in Croatia for a lawful, uninterrupted period of eight years at the time of submitting the application for citizenship. If you’re a foreigner married to a Croatian citizen, you still must have approved permanent residence (acquired after five years of lawful, uninterrupted residence in Croatia, although there are exceptions to that rule which I have listed here), but your period of time living in Croatia does not need to amount to eight years.

4.) If you’re a foreigner naturalising as a Croatian citizen and you’re not already married to a Croatian citizen, then you need to prove your knowledge of the Croatian language, the Latin script, culture and the way society is arranged. The details of that are explained here. If you’re a foreigner naturalising and you are married to a Croatian citizen, you technically don’t have to prove this. 

However, there are still multiple cases of foreigners seeking citizenship who are married to Croatian citizens being asked to prove this. As with many other things with Croatian law, it can often be how an official or an administrative clerk decides to interpret things. You could ask at one MUP building and be told yes, and then ask at another the same day and be told no.

As stated, this is the appropriate part of the Law on Croatian Citizenship for unmarried foreigners following the naturalisation process. I have chosen to translate only the requirements and not the exceptions to some of these rules (you can read about those exceptions here), as this is merely to explain the requirements you do not have to fulfil as a person who is married to a Croatian citizen.

A foreigner who has submitted an application for Croatian citizenship can acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalisation if they meet the following requirements: 

1.) That they are over the age of 18 and have not had their ability to work (working capacity) taken from them

2.) That they have proof of release from their foreign citizenship or if they provide proof that they will be released from their foreign citizenship if they are allowed to acquire Croatian citizenship

3.) That they have lived in the Republic of Croatia with a registered residence for 8 uninterrupted years up until the point of submitting the application, and that they have the status of permanent residence as a foreigner

4.) That they know the Croatian language and the Latin script, the Croatian culture and the way society is arranged

5.) That it can be concluded from their behaviour that they respect the legal system and the customs of the Republic of Croatia

Okay, got that? Good. Now let’s look at the piece of legislation for those of you who are applying for naturalisation but are married or in a registered life partnership with a Croatian citizen. As I did above, I’ll provide the English translation in italic font.

A foreigner who is married to a Croatian citizen and who has approved permanent residence and lives on the territory of the Republic of Croatia can acquire Croatian citizenship by naturalisation even if they do not fulfil the requirements from article 8, paragraph 1, the points from 1-4 of this law.

Points 1-4 of the Law on Croatian citizenship which you do not have to fulfil if you’re married to a Croatian citizen are listed above. As you can see, proving your knowledge of the Croatian language, Latin script and the Croatian culture and the way society is arranged is not obligatory, despite the fact that some spouses of Croatian citizens claim to have been asked to prove it by MUP.

As with everything official in this country, you must submit your application in person to MUP (an administrative police station), and the documents you must provide along with your application to naturalise when married to a Croatian citizen are as follows:

Your curriculum vitae (CV)

An extract from the birth register and an extract from the marriage register issued within the last 6 months (the said documents need not be submitted if your birth and marriage have been entered in the national registers of the Republic of Croatia)

A certificate proving your citizenship status

A police clearance certificate issued by a competent foreign authority of your country of citizenship and the country of your permanent residence (which at this point would be Croatia), issued within the last 6 months

A certified copy of a valid (government issued) identity document (such as a passport) containing a visible photo of you

As I explained in my previous article about naturalisation as an unmarried foreigner, other documents may be required of you depending on your personal circumstances as many cases regarding residence and citizenship in Croatia are conducted on a highly individual basis. This is something that has both good and bad sides to it. If you can use it to your advantage, do so.

You will be informed of the outcome of your request in due time, in official written form. If your application is accepted, you’ll be asked to come and pay the necessary fees when collecting MUP’s decision and informed of what to do next. You’ll also be invited to come and pay the necessary fees when coming to collect a rejection from MUP. In both cases, you need to go to MUP in person.

If you’d like to know more about residence and citizenship in Croatia, make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page. Our articles on residence and citizenship will be updated as and when laws change, so it might be worth bookmarking the links I have provided within this article for future use.


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