Croatia is one of the most exciting new countries to offer remote workers a digital nomad visa, allowing up to a year of work and play in a stunning and culturally rich environment. The government officially launched the online application process in March, 2021.
Unlike Bermuda and Barbados, Croatia has a much more affordable cost of living, which is one of the key boxes on every digital nomad’s checklist. Estonia wins the title for being the first EU country to offer a remote work visa, but Croatia has considerably more favorable weather, elevating its status above the Northern European nation.
Below we’ll go into more detail about the program, how to qualify, pros and cons, and why we truly believe that Croatia is the full package when it comes to digital nomad options.
The 2021 Launch of Croatia’s Nomad Visa:
The pandemic has caused many governments to promptly revisit their take on long-stay entrepreneurs, as remote working has become more popular than ever, all while tourism remains hardest hit.
The government of Croatia has moved relatively quickly from the first inception of a digital nomad visa, into launching the live program. News in the nomad world exploded when Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic tweeted on August 26, 2020 that a digital nomad program was on the horizon. On January 1, 2021 the government internally launched the program, and now as of March 2021, online applications are now open, and visas are actively being issued.
*Side note, the ‘visa’ is actually a temporary resident permit, but every country/program promotes under the more widely accepted and recognizable ‘visa’ term.
Requirements for Croatia’s Digital Nomad Visa
There are some requirements all applicants will need to fulfill before getting approved for their digital nomad visa. They are as follows;
You Need ‘Remote’ Employment
First and foremost, you have to currently be a remote worker/digital nomad. This means you are either employed by a company located outside of Croatia that allows you to work remotely, or you own your own business outside of Croatia that provides you with income. You can’t be providing services in Croatia, hiring Croatian workers, etc.
You will need to show a minimum monthly income of at least 16400 Croatian Kuna, which is equal to approx. $2600 USD. You can prove this with paystubs, employment contracts, investment income and/or bank statements for the last 3 consecutive months.
If you don’t have a normal monthly income from your business to prove, but have lots in your savings account, you can also use this as proof of funds. You will need at least 193,700 Kuna or about $30,500 USD in your bank account to prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay one year stay in Croatia. (You do not need this if you can prove the above monthly income minimum.)
If you are bringing a spouse or child with you, the monthly income requirement will increase by 10% per dependant.
The program requires all remote workers to show proof of health insurance that specifies somewhere that it’s valid for the country of Croatia.
A valid passport with 3 extra months left on it past your intended stay, with a digital copy uploaded on your application form. For example, if you are coming from January 1 2022 for 1 year, your passport will need to be valid until at least April 1, 2023.
Purpose of Stay
This area of the online application form is a little vague, but it does require you to submit a document that shows why/how you are going to work remotely.
Local online news site Total Croatia News explains it as “This can be: (an employment contract or other document proving that your work is performed through communication technology for a foreign employer or for your own company that is not registered in the Republic of Croatia), such as a statement from your employer or from you (as proof that the business being done is through communication technology) and a contract of employment or proof of the performance of work for a foreign employer, or a copy of the registration of your own company and proof that you perform all of the stated tasks through your own company.”
Criminal Record Check
All applicants will have to submit a criminal record check proving they have not been convicted of any criminal offences in their home country (or the country they have resided in the past year).
Intended Address in Croatia
For hopeful nomads who’ve already found a long term rental or AirBnB, you can upload the contract, lease or booking confirmation showing the address. For those that want to get boots on the ground in Croatia first, and also want to wait for visa approval before committing to a rental, a hotel confirmation works as well. Simply make a reservation at the hotel you will stay at upon arrival into the country and upload the booking confirmation.
Unlike most of the other digital nomad programs, there is no collection of fees at the time of applying online.
However, there are some fees afterwards that applicants need to make to the government via online banking, but they are very affordable
- 350-420 Kuna for a temporary residence permit ($55-$65 USD)
- 310 Kuna for a biometric residence permit form ($50 USD)
Which Countries Can Apply for Croatia’s Digital Nomad Visa?
Citizens of any country are welcome to apply.
The application process might look slightly different if the applicant is from a country that requires a visa to visit Croatia.
For nations that don’t need a visa:
Countries like the USA, UK, Canada, and Australia do not need a visa to enter Croatia. If their digital nomad visa is approved, they will not have to take any extra consulate/embassy steps before arriving.
For nations that do need a visa:
An entry visa will still be required to enter the country, even if the digital nomad visa has been approved. The applicant will visit their nearest consulate/embassy to apply for their visa.
Why Be a Digital Nomad in Croatia?
Here are some of the pros of being a digital nomad in Croatia:
Being located in southeast Europe on the Adriatic is about a good of a location as you can get. Super well connected to other European cities, makes Croatia a great place for a true nomad to base out of. You have easy access to Italy across the sea, as well as land border access to countries like Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia. Flying to any major European capital is fast and easy (well, as soon as airlines add routes back post-pandemic.)
History of Border Rules
Throughout summer and fall 2020, Croatia was essentially the only EU nation that was allowing all third-party nations to visit, providing they had proof of a negative test. Even American tourists, who found themselves shut out of the majority of the world, were allowed access into Croatia for tourism. Their history of being more flexible with border rules during the pandemic is important to know for any nomadic traveler, as some nations sealed borders for months, effectively trapping some nomads both inside and outside of countries.
Relatively Low Active Cases
Currently, as of March 2021, Croatia only has 3700 active cases, which is considerably lower than other EU nations.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Croatia is very middle of the road, however more affordable than most digital nomad’s home countries. Croatia is cheaper than the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, and much of the EU.
Again, just like cost of living, Croatia has very middle of the road weather, but it seems to appeal to most. It’s not a oppressively humid and hot like some destinations nomads flock to, but thankfully not as cold as Estonia or Georgia in the dead of winter.
Cities like Dubrovnik and Split will see hot summers around 30 degrees C, spring and fall weather of mid 20’s, and winter weather highs around 8-15 degrees C.
Comparing Croatia to Other Digital Nomad Programs
Countries in the Caribbean offering nomad visas have huge price tags on their application fees, easily ranging from $1000 up to $3000 USD just to apply. With Croatia’s fees being so low, nomads aren’t ‘gifting’ thousands of dollars to the government just for permission to stay in the country for an extended period of time.
Non-Caribbean nations currently offering a digital nomad visa include the UAE (Dubai), Georgia, and Estonia. Both Estonia and Dubai have high monthly earning income requirements ($3000 and $5000 respectively), making Croatia’s program easier to qualify for. Georgia is similar to Croatia’s program in that it’s cheap and easy to qualify for, but Georgia might be too much of a culture shock for less traveled nomads. Croatia hits that sweet spot right in the middle.
Of course, no digital nomad program is perfect, and Croatia is no exception. Here are some downsides to the digital nomad visa in Croatia:
Before the pandemic, over-tourism in Croatia, specifically Dubrovnik, was a real issue. Cruise ships and day-trippers would make the city swell by tens of thousands within hours, making life crowded and uncomfortable to locals living there, especially ones who aren’t actively benefiting from the tourism industry. While this issue may never return in a post-pandemic travel world, it’s good to be aware of the program that was happening.
DN Infrastructure is still growing
As any early nomad knows, being the first in a new destination can come with a few hiccups. The digital nomad and remote working infrastructure is not as established as in some destinations, but local businesses are actively pivoting to remedy that. Is the internet blazing fast in all cities? Not necessarily. Are hotels and rentals ready to accommodate long-term nomads with the pricing and amenities they need? Some are starting, but there’s work to do.
Thankfully there are companies like Saltwater that have built amazing co-working spaces and communities, blazing the trail for incoming nomads.
How To Apply
Online applications are now open. You can apply for your Croatia digital nomad visa here
- Countries with Digital Nomad & Remote Work Visas
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com