Buying property in Croatia
How to buy residential property in Croatia
Search the property registers
Checking the records of a piece of property is an essential step when buying real estate. By doing so, you can avoid a messy negotiation or inherit charges that have nothing to do with you.
The following information can all be found in public registers:
Size in square metres
Destination of the property
Owner OIB(s), in some cases
Registered address(es) of owner
Any charges or rights attached to the property
Detailed instructions on how to find this information about a property can be found in this notice.
Check how the property is zoned
Next, you need to check whether the property is zoned residential or agricultural. Unfortunately, the zoning information is not included in the public information you find in step # 1.
The zone type is important because not everyone can buy agricultural property. Anyone who is not a Croatian citizen is not allowed to buy land until 2023.
However, it is possible for non-Croatian citizens to buy land for agriculture if it is bought through a Croatian company they own. It is still not as easy as it sounds. There are many hoops to jump through. If you are interested in purchasing agricultural land through a company, we can put you in touch with a vetted real estate lawyer who can guide you through the process. Email us for a referral.
To find out how a property is zoned, you should make a request to the Upravni odjel za graditeljstvo I prostorno uređenje (Administrative Office for Construction and Spatial Planning). Here is a list of their offices.
If the property is a residential property (and you are not Croatian), you must apply for a certificate stating this. The cost is 40 kuna.
Draw up the preliminary contract
In Croatia it is customary to have two contracts when buying a property. The first one is a preliminary contract which states the intention to buy.
Technically, you can skip the preliminary contract and draw up only 1 contract, but this is not recommended. The preliminary contract comes with certain conditions that protect both the buyer and the seller, which is not possible with only 1 complete contract.
The preliminary contract will also determine the down payment. The down payment is usually 10% of the purchase price, which is paid upon signing the preliminary contract. If the buyer does not fulfil his obligations, he will lose the down payment and the property. If the seller does not comply, he must refund the buyer double the down payment.
You must get 3 notarised copies of the preliminary contract: one for the seller, one for the buyer and one for the government. Contracts are notarised by a javni biljeznik (notary).
Obtaining a Purchase Permit from Ministarstvo pravosuđa (Ministry of Justice)
Before foreigners can buy property in Croatia, they must obtain permission from the Ministry of Justice to buy the property. However, if you are an EU/EEA citizen, you can buy property without permission from the Ministry of Justice.
The purpose of this step is for the Ministry of Justice to check the existing reciprocity agreements with the country of your nationality. The country of your nationality (or the state/province in the case of the USA and Canada) must have a reciprocity agreement with Croatia in order for you to be allowed to buy property. If you are not sure if your country has an agreement, please check the form at the bottom of this page. We have included only those nationalities that have permission.
To request permission, you must submit a request to Ministarstvo pravosuđa.
This request must contain the following:
Original certificate of Upravni odjel za graditeljstvo i prostorno uređenje
Notarised copy of preliminary contract or full contract
Certificate from the land register confirming that the seller is also the owner (provided by the owner)
Proof of citizenship of the buyer (such as a passport)
Original power of attorney from a representative within Croatia who can receive mail on your behalf, if you do not have a registered address within Croatia
The Ministry has 60 days to review your application, and will then either approve or reject it. Although they have 60 days, most applications are assessed within 30 days.
The fee for this procedure is 35 kuna.
If your application is rejected, you cannot buy the property. If you have concluded a full contract from the beginning instead of using a preliminary contract, you will still have to pay the seller the full price of the property without actually buying it. You can get your money back, but only through legal proceedings, which are likely to be lengthy. Therefore, using a preliminary contract is the smartest move and limits your liability in case it fails.
Draw up a full contract
If the Ministry has approved your request to buy the property, your next step is to draw up the full contract with the seller.
This contract must be notarised. Although the contract does not need to be notarised to be binding, the contract that you eventually submit to the Land Registry to be appointed as the new owner must be notarised.
After you have drawn up the complete contract, you can finalise the payment of the balance. If you are an EU national or have a permanent residence permit, you may be eligible for a mortgage. We have two posts about mortgages, here and here.
Register the purchase with Uređena Zemlja (Land Registry)
Within 60 days of the final step (usually making the complete contract), you must register the purchase of the property with the Land Registry.
The cost of this procedure is 250 kuna. If you do not register at the land register until after 60 days, the cost is increased to 1,050 kuna.
When registering the purchase with Uređena Zemlja you will need to provide the following:
Full notarised contract
Certificate of Upravni odjel za graditeljstvo i prostorno uređenje
Decision on approval to buy from Ministarstvo pravosuđa
Proof of citizenship of the purchaser (such as a passport)
Original Power of Attorney for a representative within Croatia who can receive mail on your behalf, if you do not have a registered address within Croatia
During this process the Land Registry will review all your purchase documents and will either approve or reject the change in the land register.
It is very important that all your documents are 100% accurate. Even the smallest error, such as one wrong figure in an OIB, can lead to a rejection. If the Land Registry rejects you, you cannot register as the owner of that property for five years. That is the sanction for non-Croats.
Once you have received approval from the land registry that you are registered as a new owner, you can request a copy of the title deed. The cost of a copy is 20 kuna.
Once you have the title deed, you are officially the owner of a house in Croatia. Čestitam!
Need help buying property in Croatia?
If you need help in finding and buying a house, we can help you! We have a network of real estate agents and lawyers who can help you buy real estate in Croatia with confidence.
- Answer all your real estate questions
- Find land registers
- Clear property titles
- Help you find the right property
- Help you buy a property and represent you during the process
- Making sure you are not cheated by property sellers
- Prepare and review contracts
- Helping you sell a property
- Engage local contractors and interior designers