Moving From the UK to Croatia

Cliffs in the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia has everything from laid-back cities, charming villages and ski slopes to beautiful forests and lakes. Not to mention the lucky people there enjoy 2,715 hours of sunshine a year. Tempting, right?

Maybe you’re thinking about packing up your life in the UK and moving to Croatia, and you wouldn’t be alone. Croatia is one of the safest countries in the world, with a reasonable cost of living. It is a great choice for expats seeking a better work-life balance.

Croatia visa requirements

After 1st January 2021, British citizens who want to travel and work in the European Union face some restrictions. After Brexit British citizens are considered as third-country nationals by Croatia, which generally refers to non-EU/EEA nationals. As a result, it is now more difficult to obtain long-term residence.

To move to Croatia from the UK, it is necessary to submit an application for a long-stay visa at the nearest Croatian embassy or consulate. The most frequently requested long-stay visas include those for employment, education, family reunification, and digital nomads.

Also, within the first three months of your relocation to Croatia, you should apply to the local police station for a residence permit. This is an important document as it confirms that you have the rights set out in the withdrawal agreement. It also confirms your right to enter the country and removes you from the European Travel Information and Authorization System and visa requirements.

Types of visas

UK nationals can travel to Croatia without a visa using their UK passports. However, it is important to ensure that the passport contains an unused page for entry stamping and remains valid for a minimum of 3 months beyond the intended departure from the country.

The type of visas granted by Croatia to foreign residents is based on the purpose and duration of their visit.

  • Short-term visas – Croatian short-stay visas are available for medical treatment, tourism, business, and other short-term travel purposes. UK nationals can stay in Croatia for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa. Nevertheless, longer stays, study, work, or business travel require compliance with Croatian government entry requirements.
  • Work visa – with this visa, you not only have the opportunity to live in Croatia, but also to work there legally. However, before you can apply for it you have to find employment with a Croatian employer.
  • Student visa – it is for foreign citizens who want to get their education in Croatia. However, prior to obtaining a Croatian student visa, it is necessary to enrol in an officially recognised educational institution.
  • Croatia family visa – also referred to as the Croatia family reunification visa, is intended for individuals who wish to join their Croatian legal family members in the country.

Applying for a residence permit

To apply for a residence permit after you move to Croatia from the UK, you must provide:

  • A completed application: The police will provide you this or you can download it.
  • A valid passport: You must have more than 6 months’ validity left on it.
  • OIB identification number (like a national insurance number): It’s best to get this as soon as you arrive. Find out how here.
  • Health insurance: Your UK health insurance will only cover you for urgent care and will not be valid in Croatia at all after 31/12/20.
  • Registered address in Croatia: If you are renting, you will need a notarised rental contract OR the owner of the property at which you’re staying can confirm that you are renting from them at the police station.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself (the police will tell you the exact amount they want to see): You have three options. You can show a Croatian bank statement to prove you have enough, alternatively, a work contract or salary payments from a Croatian company.
  • 2 passport photos
  • Application fee: You usually pay this when your application has been approved. In some cases, you must pay an administrative fee earlier using tax stamps.

Where to live in Croatia

A lot goes into choosing which city to start your new life in. Most foreigners relocate either to the big cities, especially Zagreb, with vibrant nightlife and many cultural attractions or to the coastal resorts on the Adriatic coast. If, on the other hand, you’re hankering after a very quiet life for half the year, opt for coastal cities like Split or Dubrovnik.

Working in Croatia

Croatia has a huge service sector and a well-developed market economy. Individual salaries can vary depending on your skill level, experience, location, field of employment, and employer. The capital city Zagreb, generally provides higher salaries in comparison to other areas because of the presence of multinational corporations and government institutions. Conversely, regions located farther away from major urban hubs tend to have lower average wages.

When it comes to yearly earnings, the typical employee in Croatia receives approximately 19,500 EUR. Nevertheless, this yearly amount can vary depending on year-end bonuses, overtime pay, and other variable components of compensation that make up the total salary package for workers in Croatia.

English is fairly widely spoken across the country. Over 75% of people speak it there, although it’s worth noting that job opportunities can be hard to come by for non-Croatian speakers. But don’t let that prevent you from moving to Croatia and living your dream Mediterranean lifestyle. Be bold … chase new prospects, and create opportunities by investing in property, going freelance or starting a business. Innovative ideas and ventures will give you a strong competitive edge there.

Transport in Croatia

The railway network is less than desirable. Limited routes, long delays and slow speeds mean most locals and tourists avoid them. Buses and coaches, however, are well-maintained and provide a reliable and cheap way of getting from A to B.

Over the last decade or so, the motorways have been upgraded and are pleasant to drive on, but rural roads, including those on the islands, can be rather narrow and winding. You should also keep an eye out for small and large animals crossing — or simply standing in the middle of the roads. Keep your credit card or cash at hand for paying the highway tolls.
Putting down roots on one of the islands? Fear not! There are plenty of ferry routes. In summer, these are mostly aimed at tourists, but they still cater to residents of larger islands who commute to the mainland during winter.

Driving in Croatia

UK driving licenses were valid in Croatia until 31. 12. 2021. Thus, to ensure you have a valid driver’s license, you must exchange it as soon as you move to Croatia. The UK government is advising you to do it as soon as possible – if you delay exchanging your license you may have to take driving school in Croatia.

To exchange your license, normally you have to go to the nearest police station and bring along the following:

  • your old driving license
  • an official translation of it in Croatian
  • a recent medical statement that you are fit to drive (if applying after 31/12/20)
  • two recent passport photographs
  • a completed application form
  • fees (approx. £12)

However, before exchanging your UK driving license, check with the local police or with your embassy in Croatia if there are any other special requirements.

Moving to Croatia from UK with family

Living in the pearl of the Adriatic, you will discover it is incredibly family-oriented. A perk of moving there with your family is that you’ll enjoy some of the longest maternity leave in Europe. But if you’ve already got your little ones, knowing your schooling options is a must.

Public education is free and compulsory for 6-15-year-olds, and children of foreign residents are entitled to additional Croatian language lessons. You must enrol your children in a school within 30 days of relocation to Croatia.

After finishing primary education, your little Einsteins may continue with optional secondary education.

You can choose from three types of secondary education:

  • General or specialised grammar schools
  • Vocational schools (business, technology, or industry, etc.)
  • Art schools (dance, music, fine arts, etc.)

You may also choose one of the international schools in the capital, Zagreb, which offers better quality resources and teaches in English.

Studying in Croatia

Some of Croatia’s universities are the oldest in South-East Europe. Unsurprisingly, the highest-ranked universities are based in the major cities, Zagreb, Rijeka and Split, which also means you’ll have a variety of options to relax and socialise on your doorstep.

Accommodation and food costs depend on lifestyle choices, but you can easily live on as little as £360 to £630 a month as a student. Tuition fees come in around £720 to about £2,000 and up to £2,700+ for international students.

You must have sufficient funds for the duration of your study, as most Croatian higher education institutions do not offer scholarships or financial aid to international students.

Healthcare in Croatia

The quality of medical care in Croatia is fairly good and, like education, is free(ish) and paid for by the state. You must sign up for health insurance before applying for your residence permit.

Both public and private health insurance can be used with public and private healthcare providers. HZZO (Croatian Health Insurance Fund) offers two options:

  • Obavezno – Mandatory coverage for all residents (approx. £65 per month)
  • Dopunsko – Optional supplemental coverage (£7 – £15 a month)


Croatia has a lot to offer and will allow you to master the art of relaxed European living. Sunny days, crystal blue sea, terrific food and wine…what more could you ask for?

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about what moving to Croatia from the UK entails. And if you are already considering relocation to the Pearl of the Adriatic, don’t hesitate to contact our removal company. We will take care of every aspect of the move ensuring your stress-free relocation.

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