Information about Croatia

General information

Croatia is located in Central and Southeast Europe, bordering Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the southeast, Montenegro to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest and Slovenia to the northwest. Capital city of Croatia is Zagreb.

The territory covers 56,594 square kilometres, consisting of 56,414 square kilometres of land and 128 square kilometres of water. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Dinaric Alps with the highest point of the Dinara peak at 1,831 metres near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south to the shore of the Adriatic Sea which makes up its entire southwest border.

Insular Croatia consists of over a thousand islands and islets varying in size, 48 of which are permanently inhabited. The largest islands are Cres and Krk, each of them having an area of around 405 square kilometres.



The hilly north-western parts of Hrvatsko Zagorje and the flat plains of Slavonia in the east which is part of the Pannonian Basin are traversed by major rivers such as DunavDravaKupa, and Sava. Dunav, Europe’s second longest river, runs through the city of Vukovar in the east and forms part of the border with Serbia. The central and southern regions near the Adriatic coastline and islands consist of low mountains and forested highlands.

As independent Croatia has been present on the contemporary international political stage for a little over two decades, since its independence from the Yugoslav Federation.


Most of Croatia has a moderately warm and rainy continental climate.  Mean monthly temperature ranges between −3 °C in January and 18 °C in July.

The coldest parts of the country are mountain areas of Lika and Gorski Kotar, where snowy forested climate is found at elevations above 1,200 metres. The warmest areas of Croatia are at the Adriatic coast.

The sunniest parts of the country are the outer islands, Hvar and Korčula, where more than 2700 hours of sunshine are recorded per year, followed by the middle and southern Adriatic Sea area in general and northern Adriatic coast, all with more than 2000 hours of sunshine per year.

Mean annual precipitation ranges between 600 millimetres and 3,500 millimetres depending on geographic region and prevailing climate type. The least precipitation is recorded in the outer islands (BiševoLastovoSvetacVis) and in the eastern parts of Slavonia; however, in the latter case, it occurs mostly during the growing season. The maximum precipitation levels are observed on the Dinara mountain range and in Gorski kotar.

People in Croatia

In 2016 Croatia’s estimated population was 4.19 million. Population density is 75.9 inhabitants per square kilometre. The overall life expectancy in Croatia at birth was 78.20 years in 2016. The total fertility rate of 1.43 children per mother, is one of the lowest in the world.

According to the 2013 United Nations report, 17.6% of Croatia’s population were born in foreign country.  Croatia is inhabited mostly by Croats (90.4%) and is ethnically the most homogeneous of the six countries emerged after dissolution of former Yugoslavia. Ethnic minority groups are Serbs (4.4%), BosniansHungarians, Italians, SlovenesGermansCzechs, Roma and others (5.9%).

There were 369 people granted international protection and 116 people granted subsidiary protection at the end of 2017. Majority of persons granted international protection are Syrian and Iraqi nationals. At the same time there were 1887 asylum seekers in Croatia placed in reception centres. Most of the asylum seekers come from Afghanistan (617), Pakistan (255), Syria (215), Turkey (193) and Algeria (100).

Foreigners with granted international protection mostly live in capital city Zagreb. Some live elsewhere, usually in cities at the Adriatic coast where jobs in tourist sector leads them.

Asylum seekers are placed in reception centres in Zagreb and Kutina, which is 80 km from the capital city.

Language in Croatia

The Croatian language is the official language of Croatia, and one of 24 official languages of the European Union since 2013. Croatian is a Slavic language and is used by over 5.5 million people worldwide.

Croatian language is very similar to languages spoken in other countries that have emerged after the collapse of the former Yugoslavia – Serbian, Bosnian and Montenegrin in particular. If you learn Croatian you will be able to understand and communicate with people speaking those languages. It belongs to same language group with Slovenian, Macedonian as well as Czech, Slovakian, Polish, Bulgarian and Russian. These are, however, different languages but if you know Croatian it is easier to learn them too.

Croatian language is spoken in many different dialects so it is sometimes difficult for people living in different parts of Croatia to understand each other. Standard Croatian is, however, based on the dialect which is also used by Bosnians, Serbs and Montenegrins; that is why people from those countries are able to understand each other.

Minority languages are in official use in local communities where more than a third of the population are ethnic minorities. These languages are CzechHungarianItalianRuthenianSerbian and Slovak.

Many Croats, particularly younger, speak reasonably well English. German language is also popular as a second language. German language is frequently learnt in schools and many people used to and still go to work in Germany and Austria.

The Croatian alphabet consists of 30 letters in total. In 30 letters, there are 5 vowels ( a, e, i, o, u) and 25 consonants. Once you learn the sound and letters of Croatian alphabet, it is easy to write as each sound is represented by a single letter.

Links to language learning opportunities:

Political system and society

Croatia is a parliamentary democracy. The head of the state is the President of the Republic ( and is elected every five years.

The holder of the executive power in Croatia is the Government of the Republic of Croatia ( The Government is composed of Prime Minister ( and ministers.

The Government proposes the state budget and legislation acts to the Parliament and implements the legislation enacted by the Parliament. It runs the foreign and internal politics of the state, monitors the work of the state administration and is in charge of the state economic development.

The Croatian Parliament ( which represents Croatian citizens, adopts the Constitution and establishes the basic social and political elements of the state. It consists of one house that currently has 151 members who are elected every four years.

The most important roles of the Parliament are:

  • forming and monitoring the Government,
  • adopting the State budget,
  • proposing and adopting legislation,
  • declaring war and peace,
  • calling a referendum.

Croatia is administratively divided into 21 counties (, 127 cities and 429 municipalities.


Members of the Parliament, the President, county, city and municipal majors and members of county, city or municipal Councils are elected by the citizens on elections. The Parliamentary elections and elections for counties, cities and municipalities are held every 4 years. Presidential elections are held every 5 years.

Every Croatian citizen older than 18 has the right to vote and also to be elected. Foreigners can vote and be elected only when they become citizens (link to How to become a citizen in Rights and responsibilities). In Croatia, political parties participate in elections not individuals.

Rule of law

Croatia is governed by the rule of law, which means that the laws are the means for regulating social relations and for preventing and resolving legal disputes. The Constitution is the highest general act by which the state defines the general principles and forms of its political and social order.

Everyone in Croata has guaranteed the same fundamental human rights and freedoms, regardless of nationality, race, sex, language, religion, political or other belief, material status, birth, education, social status, disability or any other personal circumstance.



What significance does religion have in Croatia?

Croatia, having signed the human rights declaration puts freedom of religion first. This is prescribed by law meaning that people are able to belong to a religious group and hold religious beliefs (if any at all) as they choose. It is also permitted not to be a member of a religious group. Religion is private. People are treated equally, irrespective of their religious belief.

Which are the main religious groups in Croatia?

Majority of Croatians declare themselves as Catholics. They make up to 91% of the population. There are different sub-groups making up Christians: approx. 86% Catholics, 4,5% Orthodox, 0,34% Protestants[1]. 1,47% of Croatians are Muslims. A smaller part of the population does not belong to any religion – either since birth or because they have resigned from a religion.

Religious Groups% of population
Atheist, Agnostics, Sceptics4,57

There are approximately 20 Islamic prayer rooms ( and 3 mosques in Croatia. The mosques are in Zagreb (, Rijeka ( and Gunja.

What are relations between state and religion in Croatia?

Religious and political affairs are separated in Croatia. The Croatian law is superior to any religious regulations. However, traditions and customs in Croatia are strongly influenced by Catholicism. For example, many of the Catholic Cristian festivities are celebrated as national holidays, such as Christmas, Easter, Assumption of Mary, All Saints’ Day.

Muslim holidays are not celebrated as national holidays, bur Muslims as well as other religious groups, are free to practice their religion.

Wearing the headscarf for religious reasons is allowed, but regarding the law it is important that women wear it voluntarily.

There is no official data regarding discrimination incidents towards person or a group because of their religious believes and practices. Statistics show that 24 hate crimes have been committed during 2015, 15 of which was motivated by racism and xenophobia. [2] A high number of cases is unreported. Hate speech and verbal assaults are the main forms of crimes motivated by racism and xenophobia, that are reported.

On the other hand, there are many people who like to share and be connected with migrants and there are associations working towards their inclusion and a peaceful coexistence. If you should have problems with discrimination you can get support; find more information in chapter Protection against discrimination (link).



Rights and responsibilities

Individual and collective rights of residents

Every person staying or passing through Croatia is guaranteed fundamental human rights. These rights are listed in the UN Declaration of Human rights

According to the Croatian Constitution (, all persons in the Republic of Croatia shall enjoy rights and freedoms, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, political or other conviction, national or social origin, property, birth, education, social status or other characteristics. Furthermore, all persons shall be equal before the law.

Rights of foreigners with granted international protection

Foreigners with granted international protection in Croatia are defined by the act on international and temporary protection ( They include civil, family and social rights such as:

  • residence,
  • access to work and self-employment without the work permit (link to Employment),
  • right to healthcare (link to Healthcare),
  • right to education (link to Education),
  • freedom of religion,
  • free legal assistance (which includes: providing general information on the rights and obligations arising from the granted asylum and subsidiary protection, assistance in lodging an appeal and representation before the Commission for Asylum in case the asylum or subsidiary protection are terminated or cancelled),
  • social welfare (if they have no income, do not possess any property or financial means and have no one to support them) (link to Welfare and social security),
  • right to family reunification (link to Resettlement),
  • right to request a travel document equivalent to a passport (for foreigners with temporary or permanent residence, international or subsidiary protection who cannot obtain travel documents from country they are residents of),
  • right to move freely within Croatia,
  • access to assistance in integrating into social life,
  • right to apply for Croatian citizenship after 8 years of residency in Croatia,
  • ownership of real property (pursuant to the 1951 Convention),
  • right to marriage (link to Family & Children),
  • right to be protected against discrimination (link to Protection against discrimination),
  • right to freely participate in public life.

As a foreigner with international protection in Croatia, you have certain obligations. Most important are:

  • to respect the Croatian Constitution, laws and other regulations of the Republic of Croatia;
  • to register your place of residence within 15 days from the service of the decision approving international protection;
  • to have your residence permit with you and allow persons authorized by law to examine it;
  • to attend a course in the Croatian language, history and culture.

Some of very important constitutional values are equality of all people, including gender equalityprohibition of all kinds of violence and discrimination.

In order to facilitate your integration, you can also actively participate and work together with the host population in building a better and cohesive society. This can be realized through socially useful work such as volunteering ( or community activities. It is important to show your will to integrate in the new society and to contribute to its development. This will be at the same time a precious opportunity for cultural and social exchange and personal growth of both you and the locals.


Rights of the asylum seekers

As asylum seeker in Croatia you have the rights to:

  • residence;
  • freedom of movement within the Republic of Croatia;
  • accommodation and appropriate reception conditions (link to Housing);
  • health care (link to Healthcare);
  • elementary and secondary education (link to Education);
  • information, legal counselling, and free legal assistance (link to Legal aid);
  • freedom of religion;
  • work (after obtaining work permit) (link to Employment);
  • documents (card for applicants for international protection)
  • to be protected against discrimination and violence.

As asylum seekers you also have certain obligations:

  • to respect the Constitution, laws and other regulations of the Republic of Croatia;
  • to cooperate with the state bodies of the Republic of Croatia and act in line with their measures and instructions;
  • to submit to verification and establishment of identity;
  • to undergo a medical examination;
  • to respect the house rules of the Reception Centre;
  • to respond to a summons by the Ministry of interior for an interview, and cooperate throughout the entire procedure of approval of international protection;
  • to remain within the territory of the Republic of Croatia throughout the entire procedure of approval of international protection;


Residence permit

You need to apply for your residence permit within 15 days after you have been granted international protection. Also, when you change the place of living, you need to register that change at the police station or police department.

You should have in mind that you will have to make a request for your residence permit renewal in the future. The request needs to be made minimally 60 days before your current permits’ expiration date. You apply for the renewal in your local police station or police department.

Right to the Croatian citizenship

If you have international protection in Croatia, you have the right to acquire the Croatian citizenship on the conditions defined by the relevant law.

Foreigners can apply for the citizenship after 8 years of continuous living with a registered residence (temporary and/or permanent) in the Republic of Croatia.

The application for Croatian citizenship is done exclusively personally, in the local police station or police department, or Croatian embassy if you are currently abroad.

The application form can be downloaded on the following web address:

Living in the community neighbourhood

How the community is organized?

Communities in Croatia are officialy divided into city quartes or local/village communities, which carry out administrative matters at the lowest level. They are engaged in meeting public needs of the community. Through local communities, the inhabitants of a certain area can influence decisions in their community. Communities are arranged in such a way that each community provides main public services like kindergarten, school, health center or doctor, grocery store, ATM, public transport and cultural and leisure activities.

People in the community are also connected through various associations, clubs and interest groups which organize different events on local level.

Living with others in the community and neighbourhood

Living in big cities or small towns and villages in Croatia can be quite different. If you live in a big city, it is not unusual if you are not very close to your neighbours. In smaller towns and villages people are often more connected. However, even if you live in a big apartment building, it is considered as polite to greet the neighbours you meet in common areas – stairs, hallways, elevators.

In Croatian society, it is expected to respect other people rights and their privacy. You can invite the neighbours you meet often for a cup of coffee, if you would like to get to know them better. However, it is not considered offensive if they refuse – in big cities it is normal for people living close to eachother not to socialize.  Also, it can happen that neighbours ask each other for a small favour – help with moving furniture or borrowing some sugar, milk, flower, etc.

As a good neighbour, you will be expected to follow the rules of living in the apartment building and in the neighbourhood. All building residents and neighbours have to show consideration for each other. In order not to disturb your neighbours, try to make as less noise as possible. Sounds of running, slamming doors, loud sounds on TV or computer, playing loud misic, drilling or putting nails into walls or having parties can be disturbing to others. These are just some examples, but generally you should avoid activities which are making noise especially between 10 in the evening and 7 in the morning.

It is not allowed to smoke in the restaurants, hospitals, schools and other public facilities; cafes in which smoking is allowed are marked with sign. It is also generally prohibited to drink alcohol in public places (streets). You should pay attention to your voice (intonation, height), as yelling even if not in anger can make people feel offended or uncomfortable.

Common areas and goods

If you live in multi-flat buildings, you should obey the house rules strictly. House rules are posted in every building. You should take care of common areas and appliances as they are your own. These are areas and appliances everyone in the building uses: stairs, hallways, elevators, basemenst, cortyards, electrical lights in common areas, intercoms and similar.

Usually, multi-flat buildings have building manager who is responsible for taking care of common areas and goods. Also, inhabitants jointly pay the bills for maintenance and costs of common areas (cleaning, electricity on the hallways etc.). Most big buildings have council of tenants, which meets regularly and decides about common matters (renovations, adaptations etc.).

Waste and recycling

Recycling is not yet mandatory in Croatia. However, you can find litter bins for certain types of waste and recycle it:

  • paper and cardboard,
  • bottles and jars,
  • plastic, tetra packs, cans,
  • textile,
  • the rest of the household waste.

You should not put bulky waste, electric and electronic appliances in and around the bins or in the emnviroment. Depending on the city/municipality, there is a disposal schedule for such waste when it is collected from your house or apartment. Or you should contact the communal company to come and collect it or bring it yourself to recycling yards.

It is preferable to recycle because it is good for the environment and community. Even if you decide not to recycle, you still need to dispose the waste in the bins and not in the enviroment.

If you live in a building, you can find the bins nearby your building. If you live in a house, you will have your own litter bin that is usually kept in your backyard. Depending on where you live, but most often on weekly basis, you need to take your bin in front of your house where your bin will be emptied by the municipal services company. Never throw away waste in the street instead of a litter bin.

Gardens and courtyards

If you live in a house and have a garden, if you will not use if for planting, make sure that you cut your grass regurarly.

If you live in a building, often there are courtyards. Courtyard is a meeting point for everyone in the area and is often a play area for children. Everyone using the courtyard has to be careful about plants and shrubs and other common facilities and use the litter bins provided in the courtyard.


Having an animal as a pet is common in Croatia. Usualy dogs and cats are kept as pets, but also birds, fish and other small animals. People keep pets in apartments and houses and that is allowed. Keeping other domestic animals in apartment or house is not allowed. You can keep domestic animals in the yard if you live in the village or suburb and if it does not distrurb the neighbours.

It is forbiden by the law to intentionally hit, hurt or in other way mistreat animals. Also, if you have a pet you have the responsibility to take care of other people and animal safety and public order. This means for example, that you have to keep the pet on a leash outdoors and keep the bag for waste and clean after your pet.

Protection against discrimination

What is discrimination?

Discrimination means that certain people or groups are treated worse that other. Protection against discrimination is human right.

In Croatia it is prohibited to discriminate individuals or groups:

  • because of their race, ethnicity, skin colour, religion, language they speak,
  • if they are women or men,
  • because of their political or other belief,
  • if they are rich or poor,
  • if they are married or not, have a family or not,
  • because they are members of trade union
  • because of their education, age, health condition, disability, genetic heritage,
  • if they are lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgender people.

Individuals or organisations are discriminating you if they treat you differently from everyone else because of something about you that they do not respect.

Discrimination can be a horrible and hurtful experience and, in many instances, it is against the law as a form of violence.


Some examples of discrimination:

  • someone saying hurtful, offensive things or attacking you repeatedly,
  • being made fun of (making jokes about you),
  • being excluded or left out,
  • having a group of people gang up on you,
  • being made to do hurtful or inappropriate things,
  • being threatened,
  • finding yourself having to defend who you are and what you believe against stereotypes and untrue claims.

People can be discriminated in these areas of public life:

  • workplace, access to labour market, employment
  • education, science and sports
  • accommodation
  • social welfare, pension system, social and health insurance
  • access to health care
  • government services – access to justice and administration
  • accessing goods, services and facilities
  • public information and media
  • membership in trade unions, NGOs, political parties and other organizations
  • participation in culture and arts.


Protection against discrimination

The Anti-Discrimination Act is the most important law for protection against discrimination in Croatia.

The Ombudsperson’s Office ( is most important institution for protection against discrimination. can give legal advice to victims, investigate the facts of a case and give recommendations to prevent or stop discrimination.

The main responsibilities of Ombudsperson are:

  • providing necessary information to individuals and legal persons about their rights and obligations and mechanisms of protection,
  • warning the public about the occurrence of discrimination,
  • conducting surveys concerning discrimination,
  • giving opinions, recommendations and suggesting appropriate legal and strategic solutions to the Government of the Republic of Croatia.

The Ombudsperson can give legal advice to victims, investigate the facts of a case and give recommendations to prevent or stop discrimination. It can not carry out legal proceedings or represent victims in legal proceedings.

If you want to file a complaint to the Ombudsperson’s Office, you can do that in writing (mail, fax or e-mail), by phone or in person. You cannot complaint anonymously; you have to give your name, explain your case and submit copies of relevant documents if possible. You should receive an answer from the Ombudsperson about the first steps taken in your case within 30 days of filing the complaint.

In addition, there are three specialized Ombudspersons, in charge of protecting rights of particularly vulnerable groups:

  • Ombudsperson for persons with disabilities (
  • Ombudsperson for children (;
  • Ombudsperson for gender equality (


How to file a complaint or press charges in cases of discrimination?

If you think you have been discriminated you can contact The Ombudsperson’s Office or specialized civil society organisations for legal advice.

If you want to press charges against someone in case of discrimination you need to address the court and will need legal representation. You can engage any lawyer you want, or if you have no means, you can contact specialized civil society organizations who are accredited to provide free legal aid (link to legal aid)

Family & children

It is usual in Croatia for a couple, men and women or two men or two women, who fall in love, to be in a relationship. If a couple is in a relationship, it is not necessary for them to get married and have a family.

What is considered family in Croatia?

In Croatia, family is traditionally considered to be married couple and their children; your brothers and sisters are also considered a family.

Many couples live together and have children before they get married, some also choose not to marry at all. If they live together as a couple for a long time they have the same rights as married couples. Two women or two men can form a life partnership, which means their relationship is legally recognized and in rights equal to marriage of men and women. However, same sex couples in Croatia cannot adopt children.

Getting married in Croatia

Wedding ceremony can be civil and religious. For a wedding to be valid, it must be performed by a registered and approved celebrant. This can be a state appointed registrar or a priest, imam and other religious officials with the right to solemnise marriages.

A civil marriage is a ceremony that is unconnected to any religion. If the wedding is a religious ceremony performed by a celebrant who does not have the right to solemnise marriages, the marriage is not official in the eyes of the law. For it to become official, a civil marriage is also required.

Who can get married in Croatia?

According to the Croatian law, two persons can get married or form a life partnership if:

  • they are both older than 18 years; exceptionally person not younger than 16 can marry with the prior permission of Centre for Social Work;
  • they are not married already; it is forbidden to be married to two or more persons at the same time;
  • they are not blood relatives: ancestors and descendants, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews.

Forced marriage is forbidden by the law in Croatia. This means that no one can force anyone else to marry. Everyone has the right to decide whom he or she want to marry. You always have the right to say no to getting married.

Equality of spouses

A man and a woman have equal rights and responsibilities. A woman and a man are both allowed to work if they want to and choose what kind of work they do. They decide where they want to live together, if they want to have children or not and how many children they would like to have. They have to equally take care of their children and household. All family members have to be respected, should help each other and support each other.

Children’s rights

In Croatia, the main document in the area of children’s rights is Convention on the Rights of the Child (

Every person under 18 years of age is considered a child. Every child is equal and has equal rights – it does not matter if the child has a mother and/or a father or not, or if parents of the child are married or not. Children you adopt are equal to your biological children. Male children and female children are equal and should be treated equally.

You should never leave your child under the age of 7 without a care of a person that is at least 16 years old. This includes leaving your child alone at your house.

All children have rights[1]:

  • to go to school,
  • to live with their parent(s), unless it is bad for them; they have the right to live with a family who cares for them; children whose parents do not live together have the right to stay in contact with both parents, unless this might hurt the child
  • to find out things and share what you think with others, by talking, drawing, writing or in any other way unless it harms or offends other people;
  • to give their opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously;
  • to think and believe what they want and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights;
  • to choose their own friends and join or set up groups, as long as it isn’t harmful to others;
  • to relax and play and to join cultural, artistic and other recreational activities
  • children have the right to privacy;
  • to good quality health care and to get help from the government if they are poor or in need;
  • children who have any kind of disability have the right to special care and support;
  • to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally; all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse including sexual, are forbidden.

What happens if rights of a child are violated?

It is forbidden by the law for parents, or any other person, to hurt or mistreat the child in any way. Beating, hurting or mistreating child in other way can be punished by financial fine or with imprisonment.

If parents do not meet children’s existential, emotional and social needs, they will be warned about their parental mistakes by the Centre for Social Work. If they decide that parents need help with upbringing of their child, they will provide professional assistance. In that case, a professional might come to your house according to the agreement and give you advice and support.

If the child’s life or health are seriously in danger, the social services might temporarily place him/her outside the family. The child will then be provided with care in special and safe accommodation or foster family until the risk or the problem is resolved. If children are severely or continuously mistreated and/or neglected, the court can decide to restrict parental rights or take away parental rights completely.

The Office of the Ombudsperson for Children and Center for Social Work is in charge of protection of rights of the child.


A man or a woman can ask for a divorce if they do not want, for whatever reasons, to stay married any longer. Divorce can happen if one or both persons want to end the marriage.

For spouses who want to get divorced and have underaged children together, counselling in Center for Social Work is mandatory. They have to agree on the Plan for Joint Parental Care. This Plan defines where children will live after divorce, time they will spend with each of the parents, how important decision in the interest of the child will be made, alimony and other issues parents consider important.

Custody over children when parents are divorced

Usually after the divorce, a man and a woman do not live together anymore. However, both parents have to continue taking care of the children they have together. Each parent has the right and obligation to spend time and create emotional relationships with their children.

Child custody means that the legal guardians, usually the parents, have legal responsibility for the child. Legal guardian has the right and obligation to care after the child, make decision and act in the best interest of the child. If a child does not have parents or parents lose their parental rights, the state appoints another adult person as legal guardian.

The best option is that parents who divorced agree on custody over children. If they cannot agree, the court will decide on the custody and which parent the child will live with. A parent who does not live with the child any longer, will have to financially provide for the child.

Where to get help and support regarding family and parenting issues?

It is considered normal and preferable to seek help of professionals if you have doubts and difficulties regarding family and parenting issues. Help and support can be provided by social workers, psychologists, school counsellors and other professions.

If your child goes to kindergarten or school the easiest way is to talk privately with counsellors or teachers there. They will refer you to other services if needed.  You can also contact the social worker in the Centre for Social Work who will inform and refer you to appropriate service. There are many other providers of help and support, such as counselling services in non-profit organizations, where you can schedule and appointment and get help and support free of charge and without referral (link to Psychological help in “If you feel lost in a new country”)

Being a parent in a new country

Coming to a new country, especially for those who are forced to move, can be difficult both for parents and children. Parents might be faced with cultural norms, customs and legal obligations regarding parenting that are different from what they are used to and the ways they were brought up as children.

Sometimes, children find it easier to integrate into the new community than their parents. Children naturally learn the language quicker especially if they go to school and spend time with their peers. This can lead to changing roles in the family and placing too many responsibilities on the child. It is important for parents to stay supportive to the development of the child and realization of their potentials. This include allowing the child to pursue its own interests.

[1] UN Convention on theRights of the Child

Protection against violence

Violence is generally prohibited in Croatia. Croatian Constitution and other related laws prohibit and punish:

  • any type of maltreatment,
  • any reference to or incitement or use of violence,
  • any reference to or incitement of national, racial or religious hatred
  • any form of intolerance.

Gender based and domestic violence

Croatia adopted The Law on Protection from Domestic Violence which provides highest level of protection of women from violence, regardless of their citizenship status.

Violence against women and domestic violence is a serious problem in Croatia. Domestic violence can have many forms:

  • use of physical force or psychological pressure;
  • causing feelings of fear;
  • physical attack regardless of whether or not it results in physical injury,
  • verbal assaults, insults, cursing, name-calling and other forms of severe disturbance;
  • sexual harassment;
  • illegal isolation or restriction of the freedom of movement or communication with third persons;
  • damage or destruction of property or attempts to do so.

What kind of protection and support to victims are there?

Victims of domestic violence must be protected.  Protection can include:

  • eviction of the offender from home shared with victim;
  • restraining order issued by court prohibiting offender to approach or contact the victim;
  • prohibition against stalking and harassing the victim.
  • court ordered financial fines or jail sentences (up to 90 days) on offenders.

Victims of domestic and gender-based violence have the right on police protection, psychological support and other types of help and assistance. This include accommodation in safe house, special shelter for women and children – victims of domestic violence.

If you are victim of any of these acts you should contact any official person or women’s organisations, especially the Autonomous Women’s House ( (08005544 free of charge phone) and Women’s Room( (+ 385 1 6119174) in case of sexual violence.

Hate crimes

Hate crime is a crime committed based on differences in race, skin colour, religious beliefs, national or ethnic origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Hate speech is a public expression that expands, promotes or justifies hate, discrimination or hostility towards a particular group.  Both hate speech and crime are prohibited and punishable by Criminal Code.

For any of these forms of violence you can contact police or human rights organisations (hyperlink to legal aid).

Contracts and binding agreement

A contract is a binding agreement on certain rights and duties of both contract partners. All sides in a contract are legally abide by what is agreed with contract. If what is agreed in the contract is not respected, the injured party has the right to legal remedy. 

Which forms of contracts exist and what are their regulations in Croatia?

Contracts can be made in a written form or orally.  Although oral contracts are respected it is advisable to agree on a written contract, depending on the issue. Oral contracts are widespread on daily issues.

Written contracts are usual for:

  • employment,
  • rent of room, flat or house,
  • services, such as electricity, heating, telephony (mobile and landline), Internet, TV,
  • buying or selling goods and properties, such as car, real estate,
  • loans (link to Money and Finances).

Before signing a contract, it is advisable to compare different providers, as often there is more than one company offering same services, for example mobile telephony.

The extent of the rights and duties depend on the age of the person agreeing on a contract.  Both men and women have the right to agree on contracts in equal measures. The contractual capability of a person is the essential prerequisite. Between the age of 15 – 18 a person has limited legal capacity, above the age of 18 a person has full legal capacity.

Limited contractual capability (age 15-18) means that you have means of things that were given to you (for example pocket money, income). You are allowed to make employment contract as far as your wellbeing or attending school is not at risk.

Full contractual capability (above age 18) means that you are entitled to conclude any business and contracts. You yourself are responsible for your behaviour and all its consequences. Generally, you need a residence permit (and in the most cases a bank account in Croatia) in order to sign a contract.

What should I know about employment contracts in general?

Employment contracts are usually done in writing in Croatia. There are several different types of contracts regarding work for various forms of employment or services you are doing for those who contract you.

It is important to read the contract carefully and understand it before signing. Find more information in Employment (link to Employment)  

Is there a service for consumer rights protection?

Your rights as consumer of goods or services are protected by Consumer protection act.

If you think your consumer rights are violated, for example:

  • the product you bought is damaged or not working properly,
  • you think the services you used are overcharged,
  • you bought something online and you are not satisfied with it,

there are services providing offering advice regarding your consumer rights.

Croatian Association for Consumer Protection (

Central information system for consumer protection ( only on Croatian language

Here you can find information regarding consumer rights in EU on English language (

Money and finances

Money in Croatia

In Croatia, the currency is Kuna ( The exchange rate( is approximately 7,5 Kuna for 1 Euro.

Bank accounts and bank cards

In Croatia for any transfer or receipt of money, you will need to open a bank account. There are many different banks to choose from that offer similar types of services, but the price of services may vary greatly, so it is recommended that you first check different providers and choose your bank according to your needs.

If you are granted international protection, you only need your ID card to open a bank account. If you are asylum seeker, you can open bank account if OIB number (personal identification number) is issued to you and you have valid passport. Other foreigners, like family members of person granted international protection will need minimally OIB number and valid passport; other documents may differ from bank to bank.

There are two types of accounts:

  • current account for receiving and carrying out payments, withdrawing cash and making deposits,
  • giro account mainly used for receiving payments of income such as annuities, temporary service contracts, etc.

There are also different bankcards. Most common are debit cards for payments and withdrawing the money at the bank or ATMs. When you open the account, the bank will issue this card to you for free.

There are also various credit cards, which allow you to buy things or pay for services on credit (paying in monthly instalments). You need to be very careful and informed about using credit cards, to avoid paying much more then you wish and can afford.

What is the common way to pay bills and expenses?

The most common way of payment is in cash or by bank card.

For goods and services, you use – like electricity, gas, telecommunication (land phone, mobile phone, TV), water and other utilities, the service provider will send payment orders to your address. You can pay them in the bank or post office. You can also pay the bills through e-banking that you can order with opening a bank account.

For the bills you have to pay every month, you can use long-term payment order, which means it will be automatically payed from your bank account every month. Commissions for the payment can vary considerably (most expensive being at the bank and post offices).

You must pay your bills regularly. The date of payment is indicated on each bill and a service provider can charge you the late payment interest. If you do not pay your bills, for example for electricity, the service provider will disconnect it. You will have to pay back costs and any costs associated with disconnection and later re-connection, to have the electricity connected again.

What are the risk and consequences of debts?

With inattentive money handling and non-payment of your bills and other expenses, you can quickly fall into debt. It is advisable to learn how to manage your money so that you have control over spending. It would be good if you can devote some of your income to savings each month.

Be careful when borrowing money, particularly large amounts, as you may not be able to repay them and you can only accumulate additional debts. If you do not repay debts in a time, the creditor or the state can automatically take certain amount of revenue from your bank account.

Loans and credits

If you cannot avoid taking loans or credits, make sure you deal with financial institutions accredited by the Croatian National Bank ( Also, be careful you understand all the conditions of the loan or credit.

What is typically Croatian

There is a wide range of traditions and customs in Croatia. Northern Croatia is very different from its’ Mediterranean part and the continental part on the east, from language to everyday habits.
However, there are a few meeting points for the general population: passion for coffee drinking, football, and meteoropathy.

Croatians enjoy coffee but more than that meeting people over cup of coffee in a café.  “Let’s have coffee” usually means, in everyday conversation, “let’s meet”, “let’s have a conversation”, “I have a gossip to tell you”. Croatians take time with their coffees – you can see us sitting in cafés, sipping coffee with frineds for hours any time of a day.

Football is declared “the most important secondary thing in the world”. Croatians love all kind of sports and are very proud of the achievements of national professional athleets. Most popular sport discipline among average Croatians are cheering for the national team and – having coffee with friends.

You can often come across Croatians blaming weather for changes in their mood or attributing to it a series of their health problems. South winds and weather associated with it, known as “juzina”, are the most to blame when we feel bad, sad, tired or just not in a good mood.

Rakija is, besides being a popular drink, a well-known national medicine for all kinds of health issues.

Some of very popular inventions by Croats are the tie ( and a pen (

Hum (, a Croatian town, is the smallest town in the world.

Besides having 1246 islands, 10% of Croatian territory is protected as a natural park, national park or a reservation park. Also, Croatia has one of the highest number of cultural and historical goods protected by UNESCO.

International protection

What is International protection?

International protection ( is aimed at protecting the fundamental rights of persons outside their countries of origin or statless persons, who lack the national protection of their own countries.

Types of international protection

There are two types of protection in Croatia: asylum and subsidiary protection.

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution (, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.” (United Nations)

  • Subsidiary protection ( is recognised to third country nationals or stateless persons who do not qualify as refugees but who have well-founded reasons to believe that they would face a real risk of suffering serious harm (death, torture, inhuman treatment) in their country of origin or former country where they lived if they are stateless persons.


A person can request international protection because he or she is fleeing persecution, torture or war, even if he/she entered Croatia illegally and is without documents. The person will have to justify in the application the circumstances of persecution or serious harm that have motivated the escape.

The right to apply for international protection is based on international agreements which obligate Croatia and other EU countries to grant international protection to people who need it.

Procedure for international protection and time frame

The procedure for international protection has following steps (

  1. Intention for submitting an application for asylum
  2. Application for asylum
  3. The substantive interview
  4. Decision of the MoI
  5. Appeal to the Administrative Court in case of denial (within 30 days after the delivery of the decision of the MoI)


Logging the application

You can seek asylum/protection at the border, at any police station, at the court, in the detention center and during the process of your deportation, and in any interaction with the police officers. You should request protection as soon as possible and it has to be submitted personally.  To have the status of asylum seeker, it is enough to express your intention for submitting an application for asylum (“izražavanje namjere za traženje azila”). After that you need to make an official application for international protection (“podnošenje zahtjeva za azil”) – and during the official application, your fingerprints are taken for the EURODAC data-base.

You have to provide documentation to justify the application (newspaper articles, photos, official documents such as complaints or medical reports), if in any way possible. The lack of documentation, however, cannot be the reason for the rejection of the application.

Even though there is the legal recommendations that you should get an answer to your asylum claim within 6 months, in reality the waiting can be as long as several months or even years. If no decision can be rendered within 6 months, you should be informed of this in writing and at your request you will be provided with information about the reasons for the failure to respect the time limit and about the time needed before which you may expect a decision. You are supposed to have at least one interview, but often you have more than one. It can often take a long time for you to even have your first interview, due to the unavailability of interpreters for some languages. The interviews often last for many hours and you are entitled to have regular breaks.

While waiting for the decision regarding your asylum application you are obligated to stay in Croatia and can be accommodated in Reception Centers in Zagreb or Kutina.

Procedure of examination

After a short initial interview conducted by the officials from the Asylum Seekers Centre for the purpose of lodging an application, a substantive interview will be conducted by the Asylum Department of the Ministry of Interior. According to the law, you shoul be interviewed as soon as possible after the application has been lodged. However, due to different circumstances you will probably have to wait some time for the interview.

During the interview, you are obligated to present all circumstances relevant to the asylum application, truthfully answer all questions, and submit all available evidence to support the application, i.e. give credible and convincing explanations of all the reasons for your application for asylum.

The official person that conduct interview and examines your asylum application:

  • examines facts and circumstances arising from the application
  • takes into account your position and personal circumstances (including sex and age)
  • takes into account the testimony you present during the interview,
  • examines the evidence you submit and available country of origin information, as well as the
  • takes into account activities you have done after leaving the country of origin to assess whether these activities might expose you to persecution or serious harm if you are returned to that country,

At the end of this process of determining facts and examining evidence the official person (case officer) issues a decision on your asylum application.

The procedure is conducted in the Croatian language and in the Latin script but you have the right on the interpreter.

The decision has to be communicated to you in written form with information about the rights, duties, deadlines and means to complete the application. The answer can be:

In the case of rejection, there is the possibility of re-exam, but exclusively when there are new documents previously not available to provide.

Applications by unaccompanied children are prioritised as specified by the law.

Free state-funded legal aid is available before the Administrative Court only and it includes assistance in the preparation of a law suit to the Administrative Court and representation before the Administrative Court. Legal assistance may be provided by attorneys at law and lawyers from organisations registered for providing legal assistance (link to Legal Aid).

Rights and responsibilities of asylum seekers

While having a status of an asylum seeker you have right to:

  1. residence – you have the right of residence in the Republic of Croatia from the day of expression of intention to apply for international protection until the decision on the application becomes final.
  2. freedom of movement within the Republic of Croatia;
  3. provision of the appropriate material reception conditions – accommodation in the Reception Centre, food and clothing provided in kind, public transport and financial assistance.
  4. health care – it includes emergency medical assistance, and necessary treatment of illnesses and serious mental health disorders.
  5. elementary and secondary education – just for children (under 18 years old)
  6. information, legal counselling, and free legal assistance;
  7. freedom of religion;
  8. work – you have the right to work after 9 months from the day of lodging an application and you have not yet received any kind of decision during this period, and you cannot be blamed for the delay.
  9. documents – The Ministry shall issue you a card for applicants for international protection within 3 days of the day of lodging the application


When it comes to your responsibilities, they include:

  • the respect of the Constitution, laws and other regulations as well as maintenance of public order.
  • the duty to cooperate with the state bodies of the Republic of Croatia and act in line with their measures and instructions;
  • to submit to verification and establishment of identity;
  • to undergo a medical examination;
  • to respect the house rules of the Reception Centre and to appear at the Reception Centre within the set time limits;
  • to respond to a summons by the Ministry for an interview, and cooperate throughout the entire procedure of approval of international protection;
  • to remain within the territory of the Republic of Croatia throughout the entire procedure of approval of international protection;
  • to report any change of residence to the Ministry within 2 days of the day of the change;
  • to respect the instructions and measures of the Ministry regarding restriction of movement.


Detention (

The detention centre in Croatia is located in Ježevo, 30km east of the capital city of Zagreb. Officially it is called “Prihvatni centar za strance”.

If you are asylum seeker your freedom of movement can be restricted for one of these reasons:

  1. establishing the facts and circumstances on which the application for international protection is based, and which cannot be established without restriction of movement, especially if it is assessed that there is a risk of flight;
  2. establishing and verifying identity or nationality;
  3. protection of the national security or public order of the Republic of Croatia;
  4. prevention of abuse of the procedure if, on the basis of objective criteria, which include the possibility of access to the procedure of approval of international protection, there is a well-founded suspicion that the intention to apply for international protection expressed during the procedure of expulsion was aimed at preventing the procedure from continuing.

Further information & links

Law on International and Temporary Protection:

Asylum Information Database:


What is relocation

Relocation is an EU solidarity programme that involves relocating individuals in need of protection from a member state of the European Union to another EU member state. The programme aims to relieve pressure on individual member states, particularly those located at the external borders of the EU. The basis for relocation programmes are joint decisions of European Union member states.


Which current relocation programmes exist in the EU?

Because of the increase in the immigration of people seeking protection within the European Union, in 2015 two new relocation programmes were agreed upon. In May 2015 a relocation programme for 40,000 individuals from Italy and Greece was passed by the European Union. This was followed by a further relocation programme for 120,000 people seeking protection in September 2015. Under these resolutions, a total of 160,000 individuals from Greece, Italy, and Hungary are to be admitted by various EU countries within 2 years. Following the resolutions, Hungary refused to participate in the relocation programme so the relocations only come from Italy and Greece.


What is the legal basis of the current relocation program?

The legal basis are the decisions of the EU Commission for the redistribution of refugees in “countries of arrival” (Italy and Greece) to other member states and the decisions of the responsible ministry of the (target) member state (see below). Persons that enter Croatia via a relocation program are legally treated as asylum seekers.

How does the current relocation programme work?

The selection of protection-seeking individuals in the currently ongoing relocation programme is based on proposals by national offices in Italy and Greece, with the support of staff of the EUROPEAN ASYLUM SUPPORT OFFICE/ EASO (link:

The Croatian Ministry of Interior grants approval for admission in Croatia in a next step. Relocation involves individuals who have already applied for asylum in Greece or Italy and among whom a high protection rate of at least 75% is expected. People seeking protection who have already applied for asylum in another European country are not considered for the relocation programme by the national offices.

As a person admitted to Croatia via relocation you must complete the full asylum procedure after arrival in Croatia.

When you come to Croatia you will be registered and accommodated in Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Zagreb. After your registration, the process is the same as for all asylum seekers including an application for asylum and later an interview.

Who is responsible for me on site?

  • National asylum authorities (of Greece and Italy, depending on where you are when you apply for relocation)
  • European Asylum Support Office (EASO)
  • International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

What are the steps if I get selected for relocation to Croatia?

  • The National asylum authorities in Greece and Italy can select you as a candidate for relocation with the support of the European Asylum Support OfficeIt then proposes you to the Croatian ministry of interior. As soon as it grants approval for admission in Croatia, IOM is involved.
  • A pre-departure health assessment and a fit-to-travel check before departure ensure that your health needs are assessed. Relevant information is shared with the Member State of Relocation, public health concerns are addressed and you will travel in safety and dignity.
  • Regarding the journey itself, IOM in Italy/Greece manages the movements, conducts a pre-departure embarkation sessionduring which you are informed about the practical details of the travel, provides medical or operational escorts on the flight if necessary and supports groups in transit where needed.

How long does it take to get relocated?

If it is decided that you are eligible for relocation, the transfer should be completed as quickly as possible, it will take 2-3 months approximately.

What will happen when I arrive in Croatia?

  • Accomodation

When you come to Croatia you will be registered and accommodated in Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Zagreb with other asylum seekers. The Reception Centre is open type facility with capacity of 600 people. While waiting for the answer you are obliged to stay in Croatia and can be accommodated in the Reception Center or in private accommodation anywhere in Croatia if you can afford it for yourself. After your registration, the process is the same as for all asylum seekers including an application for asylum and later an interview.


More on procedure for International protection you can find here (link to International protection). 

  • Documents

The Ministry of Interior will issue you a card for applicants for international protection within 3 days of the day of lodging the application

What social welfare services are available for me?

  • When asylum seeker

From the time of your asylum application until the finalization of the asylum procedure you are an asylum seeker. During the asylum procedure, you have a temporary right of residence, freedom of movement within the Republic of Croatia, freedom og religion, food and clothing provided in kind, free public transport, emergency medical assistance, and necessary treatment of illnesses and serious mental disorders. Financial assistance is very low and is about 13 Euros (100 kuna) monthly. You have the right to work after 9 months from the day of lodging an application upon which the Ministry has not yet rendered any decision and if you have not caused the reasons for the failure to render a decision.

Minors have right to elementary and secondary education and will be enrolled into schooling system within few weeks upon arrival.

There are different organizations that take care and provide whole range of services and activities for asylum seekers within the Reception Center and around the city.


Family reunification 

Can I bring my family to Croatia?

Family members in the context of the law are:

  • husband or wife if you are married, or partner whit whom you are in the relationship which is considered life partnership according to the Croatian law (link to Family in Croatia in Family & children)
  • yours and your spouse’s or partner’s underaged children and adopted children; children who are adults (over 18 years) can be reunited with you if they are unmarried;
  • if you are a child (under 18 years) your parents or legal guardians (persons who have parental rights considering you)
  • your other immediate relatives (elderly parents, for example) with whom you lived in common household and who are dependent on your care.

Actually, the system of Croatian law regarding family reunification is quite complicated. There are different rules for persons with granted protection, family members of Union citizens, Croatians and family members of Third Country Nationals [link to Glossary].

  • Asylum seekers

As an asylum seeker you cannot bring your family to Croatia.


  • Once received the international protection

As an asylee/refugee or foreigner under subsidiary protection have the right to bring your family to Croatia- family reunification. If you have a child that has not founded its own family, it will get international protection immediately. Other family members will have to regulate their residence as any other foreigners but can exercise the same rights as you.

Valid travel document is the requirement that must be met in order that a residence permit can be granted.

If for reasons of protection of the national security or public order of the Republic of Croatia, some member of your family shall not have the right of family reunification. If a member of your family is unable to obtain official documents to prove a specific family relationship, circumstances shall be taken into consideration on the basis of which it may be assessed whether or not such a relationship exists. A decision to refuse your application for family reunification cannot be based exclusively on the fact that no official document exists to prove a specific family relationship.

What is resettlement

Resettlement is a tool/way to protect particularly vulnerable refugees. They are transferred from a first host country, which they have fled to from war, conflict or persecution, to a third country that offers them admission and refugee protection. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has developed specific criteria for the selection of refugees considered for resettlement.

Most refugees look for protection in immediate neighbouring countries, (only a small percentage ever leaves to distant countries of the European Union to seek asylum there) but reliable assistance and long-term prospects are not always guaranteed there.

Legal requirements for resettlement

UNHCR has developed eight criteria for the selection of refugees to be considered for resettlement, the so called “UNHCR Resettlement Submission Categories”. In general, refugees must first be registered and recognized by UNHCR. According to UNHCR, individuals who meet at least one of the following criteria are considered for resettlement:

  1. Legal and physical protection needs
  2. Survivors of violence and torture
  3. Medical needs
  4. Women at risk
  5. Family reunification
  6. Children and adolescents
  7. Elderly refugees
  8. Lack of local integration prospect

UNHCR assesses individual resettlement needs with these criteria and then suggests which people should be selected. The final decision about the admission of a person is, however, the responsibility of the receiving country. Many countries have additional national admission criteria that are not the same as those of UNHCR.

How does the resettlement procedure work?

The selection and transfer of a refugee as part of a resettlement process is a complex process involving various international and national actors.

In order to benefit from a resettlement procedure, you must be recognized as a refugee by UNHCR.

Additionally, there has to exist a special degree of vulnerability [Link to legal requirements for resettlement].

This is the case, for example, when you are a child, if you have a disability, illness or if you are threatened by serious human rights violations in the first country of refuge.

UNHCR has developed eight resettlement criteria [Link to legal requirements for resettlement].] with which it assesses individual resettlement need and then suggests which people should be selected.

  • If at least one of these criteria is met and there is no lasting solution for you in the country of origin or the first country of refuge, the UNHCR proposes you to a state for resettlement.
  • This resettlement application is based on your approval.
  • The final decision about your admission is, however, the responsibility of the receiving country.
  • Many countries have additional national admission criteria that do not coincide with those of UNHCR.
  • If a state agrees to admission, the necessary formalities are set for departure and you are prepared for departure.
  • Upon arrival, the host state grants you prospects of residence and refugee protection.

What happens while I am still in the first host country?

Minister of Interior officials goes in the first host country during the pre-arrival period, and give an overview of the third country where you will be resettled. The overview is about asylum system in Croatia and all the topics connected with it (rights, duties, services provided, etc.).

You do not have any pre-arrival language support.


What will happen when I arrive in Croatia?

  • accommodation

After your arrival in Croatia you will come to the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Kutina, a town 80 km from Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. There, after a first interview, you would receive your asylum decision within two-three weeks post-arrival. In addition, medical examinations are carried out as there is weekly presence of doctors in the Reception Centre.

You will spend your first weeks in Croatia in this Centre, together with other refugees. After you get your asylum status you have the right on your own apartment. Even though you should get an apartment immediately after receiving the decision, in reality the waiting can last few months.


  • documents

The Ministry of Interior will issue you a card for applicants for international protection within 3 days of the day of lodging the application


What social welfare services are available for me?

  • When asylum seeker

From the time of your asylum application until the finalization of the asylum procedure you are an asylum seeker. During the asylum procedure, you have a temporary right of residence, food and clothing provided in kind, free public transport, financial assistance, emergency medical assistance, and necessary treatment of illnesses and serious mental disorders. You have the right to work after 9 months from the day of lodging an application upon which the Ministry has not yet rendered any decision and if you have not caused the reasons for the failure to render a decision.

As for the language support under the resettlement programme, all newly arriving persons undergo a minimum of 80 hours of Croatian course while at Reception Center in Kutina, as well as no less than 18 hours of socio-economic orientation (getting to know their rights and how to go about their new environment). When the time allows, IOM normally provide some more Croatian, which depends on the timing of your leaving reception centre (how long you will stay there).


  • Once received the international protection

As person who has asylum or subsidiary protection status in Croatia you have right to:

  • residence
  • family reunification
  • accommodation
  • work
  • health care
  • education
  • freedom of religion
  • free legal assistance
  • social welfare
  • assistance for integration into society
  • ownership of real property pursuant to the 1951 Convention
  • acquisition of Croatian citizenship pursuant to the regulations governing the acquisition of citizenship.

Although there are different institutions and organizations that take care and provide whole range of services and activities, International organization for Migration has signed contract with Ministry of Interior stating that they will take care for resettled people. According to that, IOM supports most of your administrative tasks (documents, registration to different institutions such as Health centre, Unemployment agency, Social care centre, schools, etc.) as early as possible in order to speed up your entitlement granting. This is all being done with the help of their Arabic speaking staff, who continue to provide face-to-face contact when you move to your final destinations. IOM has established a duty phone number and created dedicated email accounts for each family/single in order to facilitate communication in case of absence in the field. So far, this has worked well, and many service providers got used to relying on this method of communication. Of course, wherever feasible IOM tries to do face-to-face, since this is usually most effective.

IOM helps the refugees find jobs and continue their education (through adult education scheme) which is also in the function of learning the language and community exposure, coupled with income generation. With time, this dependency is expected to reduce as refugees will grow more empowered language-wise and socially, which is the ultimate goal, i.e. continuing their new lives and turning to others for assistance less and less.

For other information see in other chapters.

Can I bring my family to Croatia?


Family members in the context of the law are:

  • husband or wife if you are married, or partner whit whom you are in the relationship which is considered life partnership according to the Croatian law (link to Family in Croatia in Family & children)
  • yours and your spouse’s or partner’s underaged children and adopted children; children who are adults (over 18 years) can be reunited with you if they are unmarried;
  • if you are a child (under 18 years) your parents or legal guardians (persons who have parental rights considering you)
  • your other immediate relatives (elderly parents, for example) with whom you lived in common household and who are dependent on your care.

Actually, the system of Croatian law regarding family reunification is quite complicated. There are different rules for persons with granted protection, family members of European Union citizens, Croatians and family members of Third Country Nationals [link to Glossary].

  • Asylum seekers

As an asylum seeker you cannot bring your family to Croatia.


  • Once received the international protection

As a person granted international protection you have the right to bring your family to Croatia – family reunification. If you have a child that has not founded its own family, it will get international protection immediately. Other family members will have to regulate their residence as any other foreigners but can exercise the same rights as you.

Valid travel document is the requirement that must be met in order that a residence permit can be granted.

It is possible that some members of your family shall not have the right on family reunification if there are reasons regarding protection of the national security or public order of the Republic of Croatia. If a member of your family is unable to obtain official documents to prove a specific family relationship, circumstances shall be taken into consideration on the basis of which it may be assessed whether or not such a relationship exists. A decision to refuse your application for family reunification cannot be based exclusively on the fact that no official document exists to prove a specific family relationship.

Information for different groups

Here you can find information related to special provisions, rights and services in reception, asylum procedure and international protection for different groups that are considered vulnerable.



Women and girls – refugees, especially if they are alone, face more risks. That is why they have the right to have their specific needs addressed when they are asylum seekers as well as when they are granted international protection.

Women and girls are considered in greater risk of various forms of violence just because they are females. This include:

  • physical and sexual violence against women,
  • domestic violence,
  • forced marriage,
  • “honour” crimes,
  • trafficking for prostitution or forced labour, and
  • other forms of persecution and violence.

These should be considered as reasons for granting international protection to women and girls in Croatia.

Special provisions in reception for women and girls

Women and girls have the right to submit an individual asylum application when family members accompany them. This means that their request will be treated and examined separately of request of family members accompanying them. They are entitled to be interviewed by female staff when their asylum request is examined. They should also be provided with women interpreters; however, in Croatia this is not always possible because of the lack of qualified interpreters for many languages of refugees, other than European.

In reception centres women and girls are accommodated separately from men and boys, except when they want to be accommodated with their families. Private bathing and sanitation facilities should be provided for women and girls in reception centres.

Health care rights

Pregnant women and women who gave birth have the right on same maternal health care services as Croatian nationals, free of charge, whether they are asylum seekers or granted international protection. This include regular health exams, medications if needed and counselling during pregnancy, hospital care and assistance during and after child birth.

Other women and girls have health care rights depending are they asylum seekers or persons with granted international protection. However, women and girls have usually available health care services regarding their reproductive health (women health) irrespective of their status.

Protection against violence

If a woman or a girl is a victim of domestic violence (violence committed by the member of her family) she has the right to be specially protected. She has the right to be separated from perpetrator and protected by the police if necessary and placed in special shelter for women and children – victims of violence (link to Protection against violence). Where she is placed must be kept a secret from those who may hurt her. She is entitled to medical, legal and psychological help.

If a woman or a girl – victim of domestic violence is asylum seeker, her application will be examined separately if she wants to. If she is already granted international protection or she has temporary residence in Croatia, she can get renewal of the residency independently of family member (husband or partner). This applies also to women and girls who got their temporary residence as a result of family unification.

Education rights

Girls have the right on education, according to their wishes and circumstances. Elementary education is mandatory and girls are enrolled in schools regardless of their status. They can also choose to go to secondary school both as asylum seekers and as refugees or temporary residents. Education on university is also available for young women refugees, but enrolment is connected with fulfilling certain criteria.

Children & youth

Every person under the 18 years is considered a child, according to the Croatian law. Children are recognized as vulnerable group in asylum and migration and have the right to be specially protected, even when they are accompanied by adult relatives.

Special provisions in reception for children and youth

Application for international protection on behalf of a child files the legal guardian. This is usually parent or other person who has legal responsibility for the child. The asylum application of the child is included in the application of child’s parent(s) or legal guardian.

Children who are asylum seekers should not be separated from accompanying parents or relatives. The exception is when there are reasons to suspect that staying with parents or relatives may harm or endanger the child. In such cases, officials in the reception centres should inform specialised child protection services, which will take actions to place the child in safe accommodation.

Children who are staying with family members have the right to be accommodated separately from other adult asylum seekers in reception centres. They have the right have their special needs, as children, satisfied.

Health care rights

All children until 18 years, including asylum seekers, those granted international protection and temporary residence, have the right on health care same as Croatian citizens.

Education rights

All children have the right on education, including asylum seekers and children granted international protection and with temporary residence status as a result of family unification.

Children – asylum seekers should be enrolled in school within 30 days from the asylum application. If the child doesn’t speak Croatian language, he or she is entitled to preparatory language classes as well as extra support in language and other school subjects.

Elementary school is mandatory in Croatia. The child who already started schooling in other country will be assessed before continuation in Croatia. This means that sometimes the child will be enrolled in grade bellow its calendar age if school authorities find it necessary.

Secondary school is not mandatory but every child who want has the right to go to secondary school. Children have the right to choose what kind of secondary school they want to go to but that choice may depend on the achievements in elementary school.

Preschool children can go to kindergarten if they and their parents or legal guardians want them to. Children who are granted international protection or have temporary residence permit go to regular kindergartens close to the place their live. Preschool children who are placed in reception centres (asylum seekers) have kindergartens or other types of educational and play activities within the centre but can also go to regular kindergartens together with children who are Croatian nationals.

Rights of a Child

The main institution to protect your rights as a child (link to Children’s rights in Family & children), is The Office of the Ombudsperson for children ( You can contact Office by e-mail, telephone or come there in person.

Unaccompanied children

If you are less than 18 years and there are no adult persons who are your family, relatives or legally responsible for you, you are considered unaccompanied minor. Unaccompanied minors are considered as vulnerable group and have the right to be specially protected.

Special provisions in reception and asylum procedure for unaccompanied children

In reception centres you will be accommodated separately from other adult asylum seekers. In Croatia you will be usually accommodated in the social welfare homes for children and youth. These are open type institutions, specialized to care for and support children and young people who are for various reasons separated from their families or have difficulties which prevent them to live with their families for a while.

You will be appointed a guardian who takes parental responsibility and has the mandate to take important decisions in your best interest. You have the right to be informed and asked about every decision concerning you, including do you want to apply for asylum in Croatia. Your guardian has the duty to give you information on your rights, services that are available to you and opportunities you have.

You have the right to be re-united with your family, whether your family is in your country of origin or in some other country. Also, you have the right to be in contact with your family while you are in Croatia.

If you decide to apply for asylum, your application has precedence in decision making. It should be examined by official in the Ministry of Interior specially trained for working with children and youth. Your guardian has the obligation to prepare you for the interviews regarding examination of your asylum application.

If you decide not to apply for asylum in Croatia, the Social Welfare Centre has the obligation to contact your parents and social services in your country or other country where your family is and initiate your return.

Health care rights

As an unaccompanied child (person under 18 years of age) you have the right on health care in the same scope as Croatian national covered with the basic health insurance.

Education rights

You have the right to go to school, in accordance with your age and interests. To decide which school grade you will start with, your previous education will be assessed. The additional classes and support in learning Croatian language will be provided to you.

Housing of unaccompanied children

You are entitled to stay in social welfare homes for children and youth until you finish your education but no longer than 21 years of age. After that, you will need to find the place to live on your own. Usually, the staff at social welfare home and other organizations supporting children and youth in welfare homes will help you find a job before you have to leave.

Help and support services

As long as you are in Croatia and no matter what is your status (did you applied for asylum or not, are you granted international protection) you are entitled to have psychological help, support and guidance if you need it. Your guardian has the obligation to connect you with professionals and organizations who are helping young refugees.

Children and youth who are separated from family or travel without adult family members are considered particularly in danger to become victims of trafficking in human beings. That means smuggling and exploiting children and youth, by force or by blackmail, for force labour, prostitution, begging or some other criminal activities. The police officers you get in contact with, social workers and your guardian are specially concerned to determine if you are a victim of trafficking and to provide you protection and support if this happened to you.


Families have the right to be united and stay together.

Reception conditions for families

Asylum seeking families are accommodated together in reception centres. All adult family members (over 18 years) apply for asylum separately; underaged family members’ asylum application is included in the application of the parent(s).

Single parents with underaged children are considered vulnerable and should be specially protected. If they are asylum seekers they should be accommodated in reception centres separately from other adult residents.

Family reunification

If you are granted international protection in Croatia and you have family in your country of origin or other country, you have the right to family reunification. Family members who can be reunited with you, according to the Croatian law, are:

  • husband or wife if you are married, or partner whit whom you are in the relationship which is considered life partnership according to the Croatian law (link to Family in Croatia in Family & children)
  • yours and your spouse’s or partner’s underaged children and adopted children; children who are adults (over 18 years) can be reunited with you if they are unmarried;
  • if you are a child (under 18 years) your parents or legal guardians (persons who have parental rights considering you)
  • your other immediate relatives (elderly parents, for example) with whom you lived in common household and who are dependent on your care.

Family unification is legal and administrative procedure that can be difficult and last long. It is advisable to consult with the organizations providing legal help and assistance to refugees and migrants to avoid mistakes and pitfalls.

Persons with disability

Persons with disability are those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments. This includes wheelchair users and people with other mobility impairments, blind and deaf people, people with mental health issues – or ‘psychosocial disabilities’ – and people with intellectual disabilities.

Reception conditions and asylum procedure for persons with disability

Persons with disabilities are considered particularly vulnerable and have the right on protection and treatment appropriate for their condition. This means that they have the right to be accommodated, while they are asylum seekers, separately from other adult asylum seekers in reception centres. Safety of persons with disability is of particular concern.

In some cases, disability – usually issues of psychological health and intellectual disabilities, can prevent the person to make decisions which are in her/his own best interest. In such cases it is possible by the law for person’s legal capacity to be restricted. This means that the person is not completely independent to make legally bounding decisions. Such person must have legal guardian who supports and assists in decision making in the best interest of the person with disability. This includes decision regarding applying for asylum. Legal guardian should participate in each stage of the asylum decision process but he/she can not act instead of the asylum seeker with disability.

Protection of rights of Persons with Disability

As restriction of legal capacity is very delicate issue, if you are or you know person with disability who might need assistance in participating in legal matters, it is advisable to ask for legal help. Ombudsperson for Persons with Disability ( in Croatia is the main institution for protection of human rights of persons with disabilities. Also, there is a number of associations of persons with disabilities and other non-governmental organizations which can offer advise and assistance.

Right to health care

If you are a person with disability you have the right on health care appropriate for your condition, whether you are asylum seeker or granted international protection in Croatia.

Right to education

You have the right on education, depending on your status and age, same as asylum seekers or persons granted asylum without disability. This means that, as asylum seeker, children with disability have the right on elementary and secondary education.

Persons with disability who are granted international protection have the same rights on education as Croatian nationals.

Elementary school (link to education) is mandatory in Croatia for all children between the ages of six and fifteen, including for children with disabilities (link to education). Children and youth with disability have the right to go to secondary school and university, if they want to. Throughout education, children and youth with disability in Croatia are entitled to have assistance in order to attend school and learn.

Right to work

Persons with disability have the right to work in Croatia, including persons granted international protection and asylum seekers, if they meet the conditions stipulated by the law.

If you are a person with disability granted international protection in Croatia, it is advisable to inquire about employment measures for persons with disability. This information can be obtained from Public Employment Service (link to Employment) or from associations of persons with disabilities.

Protection against discrimination

Discrimination of persons with disability is forbidden in Croatia. If a person with disability experiences discrimination – that he or she is treated differently from persons without disability, he/she has the right to be protected.

In such case, you can ask advice of file a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsperson for Persons with Disability (link to Protection against discrimination) or contact association of persons with disability nearest to you. Bear in mind, however, that there are usually no interpreters for your language in institutions and organizations which are not specialized in helping foreigners. You might need to ask someone who speaks Croatian and your language to help you.

Victims of trafficking in human beings

What is trafficking in human beings?

Victims of trafficking in human beings are persons who are controlled by other persons, to be exploited for things they would not choose to do on their own or to work without payment.

Victims can be recruited and sometimes sold by acquaintances, relatives or criminal gangs, often with promises of well-paid jobs. They are usually transported from one country to another or from the remote rural areas to cities. Victims are manipulated, forced, blackmailed or tricked by traffickers, their documents and financial means are usually taken away as to make them completely dependent on the traffickers. Victims are often physically, sexually and psychologically abused; this sometimes includes keeping them under control by using drugs.

Traffickers exploit victims or transfer them to others for purpose of forced labour, prostitution, criminal activities or other things victims would not normally choose to do.

Who is in risk?

Women and children, particularly unaccompanied children, are in greatest risk to become victims of trafficking. However, mencan also become victims, usually to be exploited for forced labour.

Person can become victim of trafficking in country of origin, during the journey and even in destination country. That is way it is necessary to be very careful when someone offers help in transportation, crossing the borders and makes promises of good jobs. Caution is necessary even if this person is someone familiar, including relatives as in the most cases person has been trafficked by someone familiar.

Reception conditions and asylum procedure for victims of trafficking

Victims of trafficking are considered particularly vulnerable in asylum procedure. They have the right on special protection and assistance from the moment they are identified as victims of trafficking.

In Croatia there is a National Referral System for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. This system proscribes the procedures and responsibilities of all relevant institutions in identification and safeguarding of victims of trafficking. Main actors in this system are specialized police officers, social welfare centres and civil society organizations, who work together in the whole Croatian territory. They are trained and obligated to apply special protection program for victims of trafficking.

Victims of trafficking will be placed in safe accommodation and provided medical, psychological, social and legal assistance, as soon as possible after being identified. Persons who can help in initiating protection program are police officers, reception centre staff, international organization, like UNHCR, Red Cross, UNICEF or other civil society organizations working in the reception centres or in the field.

Protection program for victims of trafficking

Victims of trafficking who are foreigners have the right to stay in safe accommodation in Croatia and within 60 days they should decide do they want to accept offered program of protection.

If the victim is a child (under 18 years) this period of deciding can last up to 90 days.

Person cannot be expelled from the country during this period. Participation in protection program is voluntary. Victim will be informed about program, help and assistance available and conditions he/she needs to comply with in the language he/she understands. No decisions should be made without victim’s consent.

If victim of trafficking accepts to be included in protection program, he/she has the right on temporary residence for one year, with the possibility of extension.

Victim of trafficking has the right on assistance and support regardless of does she/he cooperates with the police and judiciary system. Identity and personal data of the victim are protected as confidential and are not made public. Victims of trafficking should not be prosecuted or penalised for activities they were forced to do by their traffickers.

If victim of trafficking is a child additional protection measures will be put in place. Legal guardian will be appointed with parental responsibilities. Legal guardian has the obligation to secure all decisions are made in the best interest of the child; he/she is also obligated to inform and consult child’s wishes in all matters.

Victim of trafficking has the right to apply for international protection. They will not be returned to the country where there is a risk of death, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

When the victim is to be returned to country of origin or some other country, the Ministry in charge of police has the obligation to ensure safety of the return.

Torture survivors

What is torture?

Torture is prohibited and considered as major violation of human rights. Torture is intentional infliction of physical or mental pain, carried out by state or government official for a specific purpose.

Physical torture can take the form of severe beating, electric shocks, burns, mutilation, rape and sexual assault, suffocation. The most common methods of psychological torture include humiliation, isolation, mock executions or amputations, threats and being subject to viewing the torture of others.

The perpetrators of torture, in most instances, are members of the police, prison guards, military forces or government officials. In some instances, the perpetrators of torture can be health professionals including doctors or nurses, or co-detainees, acting with approval or on the orders of a public official.

Reception conditions and asylum procedure for victims of torture

Torture survivors are considered as vulnerable in asylum process and have to be protected and their needs addressed. Surviving torture is considered as reason for granting international protection. According to the Croatian law, border and accelerated procedures are not be used in asylum application of torture survivors, survivors of rape and other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, if adequate support cannot be provided.

Torture survivors have the right on appropriate reception conditions. This means that they should be provided with medicaland psychological rehabilitation services and legal aid, according to the individual needs. Usually, in Croatia, such help to torture survivors is provided by specialized non-governmental organizations.

In some cases, if person is identified as a torture survivor, medical and psychological report can be added in support to asylum application. These reports are documents which provide evidence of the effects of torture on psychical and psychological health of the survivor. They are written by experts, usually psychologist, psychiatrists and medical doctors. Asylum seekers informed consent is necessary for writing and submitting this report.



LGBTI stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons.

Reception conditions and asylum procedure for LGBTI persons

LGBTI persons may have special reception needs and/or grounds for international protection. Croatian law on international protection stipulates special guarantees regarding reception conditions and asylum procedures on the ground of persons sexual orientation. In practice, however, these guarantees are often difficult to implement.

Protection against discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is forbidden by law in Croatia. If you are LGBTI person – asylum seeker or you are granted international protection in Croatia, you might consider asking support of LGBTI organizations ( Some of them offer legal as well as psychological counselling. Bear in mind that they may not have qualified interpreter for your language.

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