Getting a Croatian 1 year “Temporary Stay” in Split: Part 2 – Forms, documentation, opening a Croatian bank account, Health Care…and costs.

Getting a Croatian 1 year “Temporary Stay” in Split Part 2 – Forms, documentation, opening a Croatian bank account, Health Care…and costs.
In Part 1 of our experience in obtaining a 1-year Temporary Stay in Croatia
, I covered: 1) the conditions for getting a prolonged stay, 2) finding an apartment in Split, 3) having a proper lease and getting it notarized, 4) obtaining your Croatian Identification Numbers (OIB).

Knowing and having all the above, you are now ready for filing the paperwork required for your Temporary Stay.
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Forms and required documentation

I’ve mentioned that you will have to file you application for Temporary Stay at the police station. Here are the forms and documentation required:

The application form (we got it at the police station but you can find it online here).
health insurance showing your current coverage. Note: our coverage ends 4 months after our application date, which leaves 8 months uncovered. This doesn’t seem to be a problem though because, as we would find out, you are obligated to join the Croatian Health Care system once a temporary resident (note: prepare for a shocking cost if you are coming from a non-EU country. That will be covered further below).
Proof of sufficient funds. We have savings and gave them a copy of our mutual fund statement. They seem more interested in current monthly income however. “Sufficient funds” depends on the number of family members: for one person it is 2,000 kn/mo, for 2 it is 2,750 kn/mo, for 3 it is 3,250 kn/mo (and goes up 500 kn for every other family member).
2 photos
– our newly notarized lease (as detailed in Part 1)
– copies of the letters containing our Croatian ID numbers (OIB) 

Note: although the application form is bilingual, we were told by our lawyer that the answers had to be filled out in Croatian. It was a bit funny: she used “wite-out” to cover my writing, then wrote out on a piece of paper what I had to write in Croatian. I rewrote my answers on the forms in Croatian.

Once filled out, and with all the documents in hand, we went to the Police station (with our lawyer Ana) and submitted our paperwork. You have to make sure all applicants show up in person with their passports in hand.

We were told at this point that it would take 30-35 days to get an answer on our Temporary Stay application and that, if we were refused, we would have 8 days to leave the country.

police station, split

Above: Main police station in Split. It’ll feel like home by the time you’ve completed the whole Temporary Stay process.

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Follow ups and opening a Croatian Bank account

A week after submitting our forms I received a phone call from the Police Station. The main question had to do with any dependents that we planned on bringing into the country. They seemed satisfied when we said we didn’t plan on bringing anyone over.

Two weeks later (ie. 3 weeks after submitting our application) we received a letter from the police asking us to come in for an interview and sign a declaration. We went with our lawyer and brought all our documents. After showing our passports and our marriage certificate, a form was printed out (in Croatian), which our lawyer checked before we signed. As I mentioned previously, you need a local lawyer to get you through this process.

The last requirement required by the police: opening a bank account with a Croatian Bank and depositing the “sufficient funds” stated above – in our case 33,000 kuna (2,750 kn * 12 months).

Our recommendation: go to PBZ bank. We first went to Zagrebačka banka (the largest bank in Croatia) and they had issues with their online form*. Our 30 minutes there were wasted. We then went to PBZ (Croatia’s 2nd largest bank) where we were treated very well by extremely competent staff (see Andrea at the branch in the old town – the nicest bank employee we’ve ever met anywhere). It took us about an hour to open up a bank account, requiring passports and tax numbers (US tax number for Lissette, Canadian SIN numbers for both of us).

*Note: If you are a US citizen, expect to have a harder time opening up a foreign bank account. Zagrebačka banka’s online form couldn’t handle Lissette’s info (for some reason I don’t understand) and even PBZ had issues. We were told that there are increased regulatory issues on American citizens opening up foreign bank accounts and that Lissette’s dual citizenship actually complicated matters.

With the bank account open, we deposited the required 33,000 kunas. We asked for a printout of the bank statement showing the amount and went to our lawyer’s office. They made copies. One of the lawyer’s assistants then went to the police station to submit the copy to the police.

pbz bank, Split old town


Acceptance…and more paperwork

About 10 days later, a total of 34 days from the date we had filed our forms, we received notification from our lawyer that the police had approved our 1 year Temporary Stay in Croatia. Woo Hoo!

Once more, we went to the police station with our lawyer Ana. However, before being able to get our Croatian Identity cards we needed to:
1) Have photos done (for the cards)
2) Pay invoices given to us by the police. Total: 590 kuna each (350 kuna fee for the issuance of the temporary residence certificate and 290 kuna fee for the preparation of the biometric residence permit ie.ID card)

Note: Croatian government departments don’t seem to be connected to each other, including to their Finance department. So when you pay for an invoice issued by the Police Department (the “MUP” as called in the local lingo), you have to take it to your bank (or pay online which is cheaper – Croatian banks charge a large commission). You then have to ask for a confirmation of payment from your bank which you bring back to the Police Station. We had to go through the same thing later when applying for our Croatian Health Insurance (at the HZZO).

A few days later, we came back to the Police dept with a) our receipts of payment, b) photos.  We were then fingerprinted and given a receipt which was our Temporary ID card. It would take about 3 weeks to get our official ID card.

It felt pretty good to finally receive the card. My first identity card from anywhere outside Canada (with a few personal details blanked out).

residence permit croatia

 

Signing up for Croatian Health Care

We were told that we had to sign up for Croatian Health Care and that the cost would be 450 kuna per month (that $90 CAD or $65 US). What we didn’t know was that as non-EU citizens we had an introductory one-time fee of 5293 kuna (about $1000 CAD) each – this amounts to the fee for a whole year. Ouch!

The good thing about Croatian Health care (which reminds me in many ways of Canadian Health Care) is that it is valid in all EU countries. In addition to your Croatian card, you can get a free EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) at any of the branches of the Croatian Health Insurance Fund (or “HZZO”). So if anything happens anywhere in the EU, we’ll be covered by Croatian Health Card just as if in Croatia. When travelling outside the EU you can get additional insurance at the HZZO (or at private insurers like Allianz) which is also backstopped by the HZZO.

For us that’s all a good thing: having travelled full-time over the last few years we’ve lost our Canadian Health Insurance and had to take out Expat Insurance (with Allianz) which is quite expensive. We won’t have to renew that.

The only thing that sucks is that one-time fee for non-EU citizens.

 

Anyway, how we signed up for Croatian Health Care:

– At about the same time that we received our Croatian ID cards we also received a letter from the HZZO (of course in Croatian) telling us to come to the HZZO to sign up and pay our invoices.
– We went to the HZZO building (on the waterfront below Marjan Hill) where they gave us the payment slips required to pay the invoices at the bank (for the above mentioned 5293 kuna each)
– We went to the bank, paid the invoices (the nice people at PBZ showed me how to do it on the smartphone – 2 kn commission as opposed to 75 kn per payment if you ask them to do it). They printed out a receipt of payment for us.
– We went back to the HZZO and the lady serving us filled out all the forms required. We signed. She then printed out a receipt which is also our temporary HZZO card until we receive the real thing (2 months we’re told). But we are now covered by Croatian Health Insurance.

hzzo office split

Above: HZZO office in Split.

 

Summing it all up…and costs

So, in the space of slightly over 2 months we’ve found an apartment in Split (which we love), have been granted a 1 year stay, have Croatian ID cards, and are now covered by Croatian Health Care. We’re all set.

Costs involved?

600 Euros – a month’s commission to the real estate agent for finding us that apartment
650 Euros – to our lawyer for advising us, handling the lease and filing our Temporary Stay documents. She also went with us countless times to the Police Station and translated all documents and letters sent us by different government offices. Well worth the money.
85 Kuna – for the notary ($17 CAD or $12 USD)
1180 Kuna (about $230 CAD or $170 US for both of us (for ID and certificate) once accepted
10586 Kuna (about $2100 CAD or $1500 US for both of us one-time fee for Health Care as non-EU citizens)

It might seem expensive but we now have a foothold in Croatia (and Europe). We are told that renewing our “Temporary Stay” going forward will be much easier.
For us it is an investment in the future. We couldn’t be happier 🙂 .

I hope our personal experience getting a temporary stay in Croatia helps anyone out there looking to do the same.
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Thanks for reading!

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Comments

  1. Impressive work Frank, I guess it is like creating a new identity as citizens of a new country. Great that you can have the EHIC card, we also have that and can use it anywhere withing the European Unit ( for now at least…not sure how it will be in the future, with Brexit and all that 🙁 ..). It is all quite expensive, but I am sure it will pay off in the end. Congratulations, very pleased for you both 🙂
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…Discoveries Down Under Part 3 – Hamilton Island, Whitehaven Beach And The Great Barrier ReefMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      You are right, it is exactly that Gilda (ie. creating a new identity elsewhere). So much to see in Europe, we are happy to base ourselves here. Who knows what the future holds 🙂

  2. Congratulations again! All your hard work has paid off. For sure it can only get easier as far as renewal. Ouch on the one time fee. It’s nice the insurance covers you across the E.U isn’t it? Even the car insurance does too :-). We are looking forward to visiting at some point and hoping we can get there this year. I’m trying to make places in Spain a priority. Who knows though? Looking forward to seeing some more of your neighborhood and even how your furniture looks in the new place :-).
    Kemkem recently posted…New Home In Valencia Spain at last.My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Kemkem, yes, you have a similar experience in Spain – we want see as much as we can of Croatia and the Balkans because, as you say, you never know what happens down the line. Nice position to be in though.
      I’ll eventually do a post on the neighborhood and apartment once we’re all set up 🙂

  3. Wow, Frank, what a journey! Congrats on seeing it through to the end. Lots of risk, big reward. We look forward to your further ventures in Croatia and Europe! We’ll be heading home in a couple of months, and will be checking in on you and Lissette for our vicarious Europe fix 😉
    (And maybe joining you in European living next year…)

    Paul
    Paul Menconi recently posted…The Photography ClubMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hope we get to meet you and Paula sometime in the future Paul! Hope all works out in California and that you are both travelling again soon.

  4. It’s good to know about PBZ after hearing and reading that Zagrebacka Banka is the official bank for us non-EU folks to deposit funds into. Choices, yay! We have friends in Split, a Canadian/American couple, who never indicated they had issues with opening their HR bank account so I’m wondering if this is a new development.

    Thanks again for your public service, Frank. 🙂

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      I’m not sure Lucija – but they weren’t especially friendly and it seemed a big deal opening an account. I’ve actually gone to Zagrebacka before to pay for some bills and their commissions seem higher than PBZ.
      It might just have been an issue of branches. But that PBZ branch is great, really nice, helpful people.

      • Cool, we’ll be sure to check out that PBZ branch when we’re back in Split. Again, the work you’ve put into outlining your experience is incredibly helpful and appreciated and I’m glad everything is falling in place for you both.

  5. Having gone through a similar process ourselves not too long ago all I can say is … A huge congratulations. Whew! I rechecked my math twice on the required amount you need for a year’s income which comes to under 5,000 USD – staggering low. Is the cost of living that low or is it a matter of showing that you have means to meet the median income threshold? Here in Portugal we have to show an annual income of $12,000 for a couple but there’s really no way that you could live on that and maintain a (modest) North American standard of living. Your observation about foreign banking difficulties for US citizens is correct. The US is one of only a handful of countries that requires its citizens who live outside the country to report foreign income. Banks that allow US citizens to open accounts have to jump through a lot of hoops to deal with US banking regulations and are required to report foreign accounts to the US (money laundering? tax evasion? terrorism? paranoia?). Regardless, it imposes an huge amount of work on those banks and many just don’t want to deal with the hassle (or the US government!) And the situation definitely won’t get any better in the immediate future …
    Anita recently posted…The King Tut Exhibit: A Little Bit of Egypt in PortugalMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Anita – thanks for confirming the banking aspect. You nailed it, they are imposing a lot of rules on these banks and they’re having a tough time coping. To a wider issue: A few years back Lissette’s US accountant (Lissette still has to file in the US) told me that I had to register with the US and get a US tax number, simply because I was married to a US citizen. I told her to f*ck off – I’m Canadian, I’m not going to be told by another country that I have to sign up to their system (just so they can spy on me). The frigin nerve.

      Yes, the “sufficient funds”. I have no idea why so low. No, Croatia is not cheap and I would think costs pretty much at par with Portugal, maybe even a touch higher. I was surprised though that I actually had to deposit those funds in a bank account (as opposed to just proving the amount).

      Thanks for the feedback Anita.

  6. Two new European citizen! My congratulations!
    I have read every word. Very useful information. I hope some day I will repeat your way, Frank, but it seems like it will be in Montenegro.

    Already for a long time, I want to ask, do you started to learn the Croatian language?
    Victor recently posted…Greek-Crusaders Rhodes: City and IslandMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks so much Victor!
      We’re planning to take classes in the fall…but honestly I don’t know how much we’ll learn. We’ll settle with just a few basics…

  7. Wow! Loved reading both posts about this process. I am so impressed that you got through all that to get what you wanted and that all the red tape was worth it. Do you have to go back to Canada to get your belongings shipped? And how worried were you that you wouldn’t get approved to stay after signing the lease?

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Patricia,
      We weren’t actually worried too much, we were pretty careful to make sure that we met all the criteria.
      Yes, I have to go back to Canada for a few weeks for some admin stuff as well as to see my mom in Mexico. Plan is to have our stuff shipped end May and it should be here before the end of June.
      When you went to Germany did you have any belongings brought with you or did you guys start from scratch?

      • We did bring some things with us and then bought filler items at IKEA. One of the odd things about Germany is most houses have no closets, shelves or any other kind of storage space so we bought a lot of that type of thing. Thankfully the place we rented came with a kitchen so we didn’t have to install one. We did have to buy light fixtures for almost every room though. Strange.

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          No storage or light fixtures? Yup, that’s quirky. Yeah, I would hope it came with a kitchen! My god…do you have to build your own steps to get to the 2nd floor in Germany? 🙂

  8. its never easy but that does sound like a VERY healthy dose of red tape!
    Andrew Boland recently posted…City Rumble – Quito versus LimaMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes – doesn’t seem so bad looking back at it now but going through it I had a few “WTF?” moments 🙂

  9. Congratulations! You managed to get through an impressive amount of complicated paperwork.
    Bespoke Traveler recently posted…Lettuce Be HealthyMy Profile

  10. This is great information for me to have as I am currently in Croatia and if Schengen won’t take me back, maybe I’ll end up doing the same later this year :)))
    Megan recently posted…Kirkjubøur: A Taste of Faroese History on StreymoyMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Megan. It’s a bit of a process but in the end we’re really happy with our choice. The only negative: the impossibility of getting permanent residency renting. We don’t want to buy or start a business. It’s the first thing Croatians will tell you NOT to do (they’re not the most positive about their country). So it’s good for the time being but we don’t know where we’ll be a few years down the line…

  11. Whew… my head hurts just reading about your journey, but how exciting for the two of you! It’s been really interesting for me to read your experience in comparison to Anita’s.

    We’ve dipped our toes into the applying for visas waters and I broke the news on the blog, so we’ve worked our way out of living in limbo land and can now begin to move forward, but we have a different long term game plan that either you or Anita. The BIG question, can we make it happen? 🙂

    It must feel great to have all of that behind you!
    Patti recently posted…Redefining Retirement: Again ~My Profile

  12. Robin Killoran says:

    This is the single most clear, helpful and practical (photos included!!!) document I’ve ever seen on obtaining long-term stay permission for any country! Well done, you, and thank you! I only wish someone could do the same thing for elective residency in Italy, but it’s tough to get the same answer from any two different people, even –or especially– in govt offices.

    During your residency in Croatia, are you allowed to work at all? I ask because I would like to earn a bit extra teaching English if that is possible.

    Once again…I’m so very impressed with the thorough and clear information presented here….thank you!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you so much Robin!
      I always say this was OUR experience – it’s possible that there are mini-variations that occur. I’m a bit anal and had to document the process, as much for ourselves as for others.
      Work? No. But let’s just say a lot of people in Croatia do what they want out of sight…and teaching English would fall in one of those categories.
      Thanks again 🙂
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Tips on visiting Creel, Copper Canyon, Mexico. And what you really have to know.My Profile

  13. It’s really great post.I got some good information.

  14. Wow! it’s great info.thanks for share it.

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