September 30, 2020 – As the story spreads slowly in the mainstream global media, a Croatian digital nomad visa update.
Whisper it quietly, but the story is gathering pace and attracting increasing international attention and coverage.
Just 44 days after Split-based Dutch entrepreneur Jan de Jong invited Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic to introduce digital nomad visa for Croatia in an open letter on LinkedIn back on May 11, 2020, Plenkovic announced his government’s intention to introduce the visa, following a meeting with de Jong. The topic was appended to the updating of the Foreigners Act and introduced to Parliament the next day.
Do Jong has been very active in meetings with no less than six ministries since that commitment, as Croatia moves with uncharacteristic bureaucratic speed to introduce the visa, making it only the second country in Europe (after Estonia) and the fifth in the world to offer the nomad visa. With Croatia one of the top tourism and lifestyle destinations in Europe, strong remote worker interest in Croatia has so far been somewhat restricted by Croatia’s famous bureaucracy. Non-EU residents can currently only stay for 90 days at a time, but the new visa will allow a 12-month stay for bona fide nomads, who can tick a checklist of requirements, include health insurance, no criminal record, and proof of a certain level of income (this is expected to be lower than Estonia).
I spoke to de Jong earlier today, who said that things are very much on track. His latest meeting last week was with the Ministries of the Interior and Finance, together with a tax expert who helped draft the Estonian digital nomad visa law, and the Croatian tax authorities. Discussions went well, and his feedback from the ministries is that all issues should be solved by the end of the year, paving the way for the introduction of the visa in 2021.
The announcement has caused plenty of interest among the global nomad community, and it has led to various initiatives around Croatia to prepare the country for this new type of tourism, including the TCN/Saltwater partnership with the City of Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik Tourist Board announced earlier this week (read more in Dubrovnik Embraces Digital Nomads: October EF Week Events, April International Competition).
The new initiative received perhaps its biggest coverage so far yesterday, as The Guardian highlighted Croatia as one of the first five countries to open its borders to digital nomads in The rise of the ‘half-tourist’ who combines work with a change of scene.
And it was nice to see a mention of TCN in the accompanying links…
The digital nomad visa initiative has been entirely a private one until it reached the Prime Minister’s desk (you can learn more about the journey here), and the considerable media coverage generated has all been organic.
It is part of a growing trend of concrete results which are coming from writing about the positives and opportunities in Croatia, which the entrepreneurial sector are quietly pushing forward.
Another excellent example of this also involves de Jong and Dalmatian business partner Jerko Trogrlic, who recently started an initiative to combine Dutch technology and know-how with Croatian labour (creating 72 jobs) to grow tomatoes on a 5-hectare plot in an economically depressed part of northern Croatia (read more in CROP Croatia: Jerko Trogrlic and Jan de Jong to Make Croatia Plant Again).
Within days of announcing the initiative on LinkedIn, de Jong had received more than 5 million euro of investment offers from all over the world. And the international agriculture media has already picked up on the story, see above.
There are so many positive initiatives taking place in Croatia at the moment. And if we can start to slowly move away from the default negative mindset and start to celebrate successes rather than keep them under the radar (a Croatian can forgive you anything but success is one of the great truisms here), the arrival of Croatia 2.0 will be all the quicker, and there will be more investments, success stories and jobs created.
For the latest in the digital nomad world in Croatia, follow the new TCN digital nomad news section.