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The new Croatian Law on Foreigners (Official Gazette nr 133/20, 114/22, 151/22), which came into effect on January 1, 2021, introduced the concept of digital nomads into Croatian legislation for the first time, making Croatia one of the first countries in Europe to recognize the benefits of digital nomadism. By introducing the concept of digital nomads into Croatian legislation, conditions for the entry, movement, residence, and work of third-country nationals in Croatia who perform remote work through telecommunications technology from Croatia (but not for employers based in Croatia) have been defined.

Digital nomadism is a new phenomenon that can certainly be considered as one of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, leading to more and more countries adapting to the digital nomadism in order to attract a growing population of highly skilled and well-paid workers who have been enabled by technological advancements to work and pursue opportunities out of their country of origin.

According to the Article 3 par. 1/43 of the Croatian Law on Foreigners, a digital nomad is a third-country national (a person who is not a citizen of the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation) who is employed or performs work through communication technology for a company or their own company that is not registered in the Republic of Croatia and does not conduct business or provide services to employers in the territory of the Republic of Croatia.

Digital nomad can apply for a temporary residence in Croatia (Art. 57. par. 1/11), which is granted for up to one year (possibly shorter) and allows a digital nomad to reside and work in Croatia, however it is not possible to extend such temporary residence. After the expiration of the 6-month period following the expiry of the validity of the digital nomad's temporary residence, an application for re-regulation of the digital nomad's residence can be submitted. This means that a person that was granted a digital nomad permit should, after the expiry of the issued digital nomad permit, leave Croatia and return after the expiry of 6-month period following the expiry of the validity of the digital nomad's temporary residence. After this period, a person can normally return to Croatia and apply on the same basis (digital nomad visa) once again. In the described manner, Croatia does not impose any restrictions on the number of consecutive applications for obtaining a digital nomad permit, as long as the rule of a "pause" between two stays of 6 months is respected, during which the person (digital nomad) does not reside in Croatia.

The application for the digital nomad permit is submitted to the Ministry of the Interior and the process varies based on the fact whether the applicant comes from a country for which a visa is needed or is not needed for the entry to Croatia. Namely, if an applicant is required to hold a visa to enter the Republic of Croatia, an application is submitted abroad at the embassy or consulate of the Republic of Croatia. On the other hand, if an applicant is not required to hold a visa to enter the Republic of Croatia, an application can be submitted at the embassy or consulate of the Republic of Croatia or at the competent police administration/police station according to the temporary residence address (for example if an applicant has already found an apartment for rental, the application will be submitted at the police station competent according to the location of such apartment).

The approval process takes up to 30 days from the date of complete application, however this is not a legally prescribed deadline which means it can sometimes be a bit longer, depending on the number of applications received at each police administration/police station.

Among all the documents the applicant needs to prepare to support his/her application (copy of a valid travel document, contract of employment or service contract with a foreign employer, proof of health insurance for the period of time that a person plans to stay in Croatia, impunity record etc.), one of the most important conditions is that a digital nomad should prove he/she has a salary that meets the prescribed standards.

Pursuant to the Regulation on the manner of calculating and the amount of means of subsistence for third-country nationals in the Republic of Croatia (Official Gazette nr 14/21), digital nomads are required to have the amount corresponding to at least 2.5 average monthly net salaries paid for the previous year, in accordance with the official data published by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, while the mentioned amount is increased by 10% of the average monthly net salary for each additional family member.
When we put that in numbers, it turns out that the the amount required on a monthly basis for a digital nomad is a minimum of 2.539,31 EUR which can be proved with a bank statement or payslips for the last six months, while in case of applying for a permit for the whole 12 months, an applicant has to prove he/she has at least 30.471,72 EUR (proved with a bank statement, the funds have to be already available to the nomad at the moment of submitting an application).

When it comes to family members joining digital nomads for a stay in Croatia, the immediate family members can join the digital nomad who has been granted temporary residence in the Republic of Croatia. This category also includes cohabiting partners (an unmarried woman and unmarried man living together for at least three years, or a shorter period if they have a common child or if they continue the relationship by getting married).

The mentioned changes in the Law on Foreigners required amendments to the Income Tax Act (Official Gazette nr  115/16 , 106/18 , 121/19 , 32/20 , 138/20 , 151/22), which defines the tax status of their income. In order to simplify the procedure and attract an increasing number of digital nomads to Croatia, the provisions of the Income Tax Act exempt their income from taxation. Namely, according to the amendments to the Income Tax Act, digital nomads are exempt from paying income tax on the income they earn through their work in Croatia. As for contributions, digital nomads are not required to pay contributions for pension and health insurance in Croatia due to the fact that they are employed or perform tasks for their company that is not registered in Croatia.

In terms of health insurance, the Croatian Parliament adopted amendments to the Law on Mandatory Health Insurance and ealth Care for Foreigners in the Republic of Croatia on March 5, 2021, enabling the access to healthcare services. The aforementioned law stipulates that a third-country national on temporary residence in Croatia, staying in Croatia as a digital nomad, is not obligated to register for mandatory health insurance or pay contributions for it. As a result, they are responsible for covering the costs of healthcare services received at healthcare institutions, from private healthcare practitioners, or other healthcare providers in Croatia.