A look at the possible Brexit scenarios and what they mean for Croatia’s confused British residents.
Brexit has been delayed. If May can’t get her deal through parliament, or if no other way forward is proposed, the UK could end up with a disorderly No Deal exit, despite parliament having voted overwhelmingly against it. If May passes her deal or parliament finds another route and that is passed then Brexit has been delayed until May the 22nd to allow for the necessary legislation to be passed. The UK cannot delay Brexit any further unless it agrees to partake in the European elections. Farcical, no?
Anyway, La La Land, sorry… I mean Britain, aside, let’s see how things currently stand for Croatia’s resident Brits. I’ve tried to update you a lot, but as you know, the Brexit situation has changed more times than Boris Johnson has changed his political beliefs, so it doesn’t always mean much. Still, let’s give it a go.
May’s deal/withdrawal agreement passes:
If, in the unlikely event May’s deal passes during the third meaningful vote on it (third time lucky?), then the withdrawal agreement concluded back in 2018 will come into force on May the 22nd this year, giving way to a transition (implementation) period until what we currently believe to be the end of December, 2020. This however, could be extended and altered.
What does this mean?
It means that you need to make sure you’re correctly registered with the authorities (MUP/Ministry of the Interior) as a resident in Croatia. You need to be in possession of a valid residency permit or the white piece of paper proving you’ve been approved and you’re just waiting for it to be made, before December 2020. If you’re due to gain permanent residency (after five years of continuous, lawful residency in Croatia), you can apply for it as an EU citizen would during this time. In short, nothing will alter.
May’s deal fails again, parliament can find no way forward, No Deal occurs:
This remains unlikely as this is only the desire of a handful of people who seem hell bent on such an insane idea. Still, it could happen. You need to make sure you’re correctly registered with MUP as stated above, and your registration, receipt of registration and/or residence permit will act as proof of your British citizenship and proof of you having been resident in Croatia before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It’s hugely important that you do this if you haven’t already.
Here’s how you should prepare for all scenarios, this guide will help you make sure you’re on the right side of the law should the UK crash out of the EU with no deal next month.
Here are MUP’s guidelines, with our explainers and points thrown in, in the case of a No Deal Brexit. Croatia has now finally confirmed it will protect British citizens living legally in Croatia and minimise any disruption as much as possible regardless of the Brexit outcome. Click the above link and read carefully. Here’s MUP’s original post on the subject.
Is there any new information?
Yes and no. Here’s what we know so far: Croatia has committed to protect its British residents regardless of the outcome, which is good news. You can click here for an overview of each EU member state’s guidelines for residence rights for Brits in the unwanted event of the UK leaving without a deal. It isn’t in alphabetical order, so scroll down until you find Croatia, or don’t, because I’ll just write what you need to know here and explain each point as necessary anyway. Here goes:
”In order to provide for the regulation of residence status of UK nationals and their family members, who on the day of departure of the UK from the European Union have already registered their temporary or permanent stay or have been issued with a residence card pursuant to Title X of the existing Aliens Act, certain amendments to the draft proposal for the Act on EEA nationals and their family members have been proposed.
Those provisions provide for keeping the existing residence status and lay down the right to work without obtaining additional authorisation (this provision will have no end date).
The residence documents already issued under the existing Aliens Act will be recognised as temporary national residence permits for nationals of the United Kingdom and their family members after Brexit (option c). These temporary national residence permits will be valid maximum up to one year from the entry into force of the Act (or until their expiration date, if the said date is shorter).
An obligation has also been prescribed to replace residence documents within a year from the entry into force of the Act. New residence permits will be issued in the format laid down by Regulation 1030/2002.
Pursuant to a special procedure, the draft Act will be sent before the Croatian Parliament for urgent legislative procedure.
b). On 19 March 2019 total of 655 UK nationals have regulated their residence in the Republic of Croatia (358 on temporary residence and 297 have permanent residence).
Having this in mind, we do not currently expect overburden of our administrative capacities.
We aim to implement a simple and straightforward procedure in order not to overburden UK nationals.
Therefore we are considering accepting applications for exchanging the recognised temporary national residence permits after 30 March 2019 (or no deal Brexit date) and issue first permits in accordance with Regulation 1030/2002 afterwards (in order to replace any temporary documents).
c). We have made a proposal for a recommendation addressed to all UK nationals and their family members residing in the Republic of Croatia who intend to continue residing in the Republic of Croatia, to register their residence in the Republic of Croatia in line with the provisions of the existing Aliens Act.
This recommendation was published on the website of the Ministry of the Interior https://mup.gov.hr/vijesti/information-concerning-the-future-relations-between-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union/283273
What does all that mean?
In short, legislation is being put forward to mean that the current residence document/permits you hold now, which were obtained via your EU treaty rights (the right to live and work in any EU member state) will remain valid for one year, or less if you’re due to update them (renew or apply for permanent residence) in less than one year.
This legislation will mean that essentially, British citizens already residing legally in Croatia will be treated like all other EU citizens and their unrestricted entitlement to access the Croatian labour market will remain as it is now – permanently.
There aren’t many Brits living here, so there shouldn’t be any particular extra burden felt by MUP or by individuals.
Eventually, residence cards obtained through EU law will cease to be valid for British nationals, but there’s nothing to worry about, you simply exchange them for whatever the new ones will be. Croatia is considering beginning permit exchanges as of the 30th of March (however this might be worth bypassing considering the fact that the UK will almost certainly still be a member of the EU on that date).
Need an example?
1) Let’s say you’re due to get permanent residency this year. You’ll apply for it as normal just like you were still an EU citizen, and you’ll be granted under the same conditions as EU nationals. Ask the official if you’ll need to alter it in a year’s time. If you do, you won’t be asked to make an application again, it will be a simple exhange for a new permit. It will still be permanent residence, just maybe a slightly different looking card.
2) You’ve still got a few years to go before you hit that magic five year mark. Your current temporary residence permit will remain valid for another year. Go and exchange it for whatever the new document will be as soon as MUP announce they’re beginning exchanges to save you any extra burden. Ask at your local police station for information on this, or send an email to [email protected].
3) Let’s say you’ve somehow managed to live in Croatia without any sort of residence permit (yes, it happens), you need to go and register your residence now and get a five year temporary residence permit. You can then exchange it for whatever the new document is when MUP begins exchanging cards, and then eventually get permanent residence.
What about healthcare?
If no other way forward is found and no further extension to the Brexit process is agreed, the UK will crash out of the EU. In this case, the EU health insurance card will cease to be valid for British citizens. As things stand, we can reveal that the Croatian Government is preparing a Draft Law Proposal on a Temporary Measure in the area of Obligatory Health Insurance designed to provide transitional healthcare arrangements after the UK leaves the EU to those who are residents in Croatia.
We’ll update you as soon as we know more about what that means.
Make sure to follow British Embassy Zagreb on Facebook, and sign up for email alerts from gov.uk’s Living in Croatia page, which is updated as soon as any new information comes out. Give our dedicated politics page a follow for much more on Brexit and beyond.