December the 14th, 2020 – A clear and concise guide for Brexit Brits in Croatia wanting to make sure they retain all of the rights they have afforded to them being nationals of the EEA as the UK withdraws from the bloc. I want to apologise in advance for the sheer length of this article, but in order to set out everything needed, there was no way to make it shorter.
The UK’s transition period is quickly coming to an end. The UK might have formally left the European Union on the 1st of February, 2020, but all EU law will continue to apply to the Northern European island nation until the 1st of January, 2021. After that, the laws of the bloc’s instutions will cease to apply. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the rights of citizens, both those of the EU living in the UK and those of the UK living in the EU, providing clarity in the very heart of the mother of all messes. Here is the Ministry of the Interior‘s latest advice to Brexit Brits in Croatia.
THE WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT
As stated, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ceased to be a member state of the EU in an orderly manner upon entry into force of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (the Withdrawal Agreement).
The aforementioned Agreement determines a transition period until the 31st of December 2020, during which time British nationals and their third country family members continue to remain subject to current European Union law.
The Croatian Act on amendments to the Act on EEA nationals and their family members, which has been forwarded to the Croatian Parliament to face legislative procedure, will legally lay down the implementation of the part of the Withdrawal Agreement related to regulating the residence status of British nationals and their third country family members after the transition period ends at midnight on the 31st of December, 2020.
The aforementioned amendments will lay down clear rules for the procedure of applying for temporary or permanent residence for British nationals and the issuance of their subsequent residence permits, as well as the issuance of the necessary documents to frontier workers who will need special permits.
A DECLARATORY RESIDENCE SCHEME, NOT A NEW APPLICATION
The residence status of British nationals and their family members will be regulated pursuant to Article 18, paragraph 4 of the Withdrawal Agreement, which sets out a declaratory scheme only. This is extremely important to emphasise. You can freely find the corresponding article (PDF form) within the Withdrawal Agreement here, but to save you the bother of scrolling, I have included the most relevant information below in italic font:
4. Where a host State has chosen not to require Union citizens or United Kingdom nationals, their family members, and other persons, residing in its territory in accordance with the conditions set out in this Title, to apply for the new residence status referred to in paragraph 1 as a condition for legal residence, those eligible for residence rights under this Title shall have the right to receive, in accordance with the conditions set out in Directive 2004/38/EC, a residence document, which may be in a digital form, that includes a statement that it has been issued in accordance with this Agreement.
I need to quickly state that there is more information to be accessed under this Article which details more specific circumstances, but putting it all here isn’t necessary, I provided a link to the Withdrawal Agreement in PDF form above should you wish to read further and in more detail.
Accordingly, British nationals and their third country family members who are subject to the Withdrawal Agreement will not be obligated to apply for a new residence status as a requirement for their legal stay in Croatia. Rather, a declaratory system will be applied on the basis of which British nationals and their family members will have a residence status on the basis of the very fact that they meet the conditions laid down in the Agreement and will continue to have the said status for as long as they meet these conditions. This means that their residence status is not subject to the constitutive decision of the competent authority.
REGISTERING AND THE ISSUANCE OF NEW RESIDENCE PERMITS
All the beneficiaries of the Agreement (Articles 9 and 10 of the Withdrawal Agreement) will have the possibility of registering their residence status given to them. After the procedure is concluded, they will be issued with residence permits confirming their new status. The registration procedure will apply to all persons regardless of whether they have regulated their residence status in the past on the basis of their EU-given right to the freedom of movement at a competent police administration/police station before the 31st of December 2020.
In addition to the relevant documents submitted for registration (depending on whether the British nationals and their family members in question held temporary or permanent residence in Croatia before the 31st of December 2020), the continuity of residence (Articles 11 and 15 (2) of the Withdrawal Agreement) and the condition of further stay in the Republic of Croatia will need to be determined as well.
The procedure for the registration of a new residence status will be simpler for the beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement who already hold either temporary or permanent residence before the end of the transition period, as opposed to those persons who fail to do so by the said date.
It will be possible to submit applications at the competent police administrations/police stations according to the location of residence starting from the 1st of January 2021. The current deadline by which all beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement will be able to apply is the 30th of June 2021. It will still be possible to submit applications after this deadline, however, the beneficiaries of the Agreement who do so might be fined for committing an administrative offense.
During the technical issuance of new residence permits, all beneficiaries will have to provide their biometric data. In accordance with the Proposal for the Act, previously issued residence permits will cease to be valid on the 1st of January 2021.
For the purposes of the Withdrawal Agreement, a frontier worker is a British national who has pursued an economic activity as a frontier worker in one or several EU member states in which they don’t reside, and who continues to pursue this economic activity even after the 31st of December 2020. Frontier workers will be able to apply for the issuance of a document confirming their rights as a frontier worker. Much like with residence permits, it will be possible to submit applications at the competent police administrations/police stations according to the location of work starting from the 1st of January 2021.
EU LAW JARGON BUSTER
British citizens who already hold temporary or permanent residence in Croatia (those who hold the status or will be granted it under EU law before the 31st of December, 2020) will continue to be able to exercise that right.
Although all Brexit Brits in Croatia can legally remain and must register for a new document, differences will be made between existing permanent residents and temporary residents.
The new system is of a declaratory nature, it is not a brand new application for a new residence status. It is identity confirmation to prove that you are entitled to these acquired rights and nothing more.
You must register for your new status before the 30th of June, 2021 if you are within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement (if you held residence in Croatia before the end of the transition period), if you fail to do so, you could face a fine.
The new residence document/card/permit Brexit Brits in Croatia who are within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement will receive will state ”Nositelj prava čl. 75. st. 1. Zakona EGP” (Holder of the right of Article 75 point 1 of the Law on the EEA) as opposed to the current EGP (Europski Gospodarski Prostor/European Economic Area).
The Withdrawal Agreement stipulates that those who hold permanent residence in an EU country can leave for up to five consecutive years without losing any of their rights in their host state. This includes Croatia.
This is a detailed article on residence for Brexit Brits in Croatia only, for more on driving licenses, healthcare and crossing the EU’s external border, click here for the British Embassy’s advice. Sign up for email alerts from the British Government’s Living in Croatia page, follow the British Embassy on Facebook here, and keep up with MUP in English language here.