E. U. citizens may, under condition of reciprocity, acquire property in Croatia. Reciprocity is presumed to exist unless proof to the contrary becomes evident.
Citizens need to obtain the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia. Prior to reaching a decision the MFA will seek an opinion from the Ministry of Justice, Administration and Local Self - Government. The whole process might take a couple of months, but in some more complex cases, up to one year.
In Croatia the ultimate proof of ownership is entry of the owners name in the local Land Registry (Zemljisne Knjige) on that specific property. The local courts will not allow a foreign citizen to be entered in the Land Registry without the MFA approval.
Here is a list of the documents, which you will need to supply to the MFA when requesting an approval to purchase property in Croatia:
1. The sales contract
2. An excerpt from the land registry for the particular property (In Croatian ZK izvadak). This document is usually obtained in each municipality (Opcina) at the local municipal court (Opcinski Sud); it's land registry division (Gruntovni Odjel)
3. A document from the local municipality (Opcina), from the following department: "Ured za prostorno planiranje". The document is called "Uvjerenje o namjeni", for the particular property
4. Proof of citizenship for both buyer and seller (photocopy of passport); any photocopies have to be notarised by a Croatian Notary Public
Once you have found your ideal property and before paying the deposit, the agents will check that your future property is free of any debts or mortgages, so that you can freely pay the deposit. The deposit is 10% of the agreed purchase price. You can either pay this by credit card, bank transfer or cash.
If either the buyer or vendor changes their mind, and decide that they no longer want to go ahead, they will have to pay double the amount of the deposit to the other party. This is Croatian law and will be enforced.
Paying the reservation deposit guarantees that the property you have chosen to buy is taken off the market and is reserved for you at the agreed fixed price. At this stage the Estate Agent will explain the procedures involved with purchasing a property, as well as negotiating terms with the vendor.
After the initial reservation deposit has been paid, you have up to thirty days to exchange your private purchase contract and the remainder of the deposit is due. On the assigned day of completion, the buyer and seller (or their authorized representatives) will be presented at the office of the Notary (Javni Biljeznik) to sign the title deed (Ugovor or Kupoprodaji Nekretnine). The Notary does not check any terms, but certifies that both parties have agreed to the terms stated, (the Notary is in place to witness both parties' signatures). At that stage your agent will prepare a copy of your contract and that along with all other necessary documents listed above will be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While waiting the Ministry's approval you can start to reside in Croatia. Once the approval arrives your agent will fax it to the local Land Registry and confirm you as a new owner and you will need to visit the Taxation Office to pay your tax.
In Croatia both the vendor and purchaser pay a commission to the selling agent, this is usually between 3% - 6% from each. The tax to pay to the government for purchasing a property is 5% of the agreed price. Even Croatian citizens have to pay this amount and it can be paid when you receive the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
For more information, read our guide to buying a property in Croatia.