Good to know about Croatia
Croatian real estate law has been oriented towards the laws of neighboring European countries for several years. This means that it is becoming easier and easier to buy real estate, especially for EU citizens. Nevertheless, when buying a property, you should seek professional advice in order to conclude a successful and legally binding contract. Here we would like to briefly explain the most important Croatian laws to you.
Even before Croatia joined the EU on July 1st, 2013, there was a change in real estate law, which now also makes it much easier for foreigners from the EU to acquire real estate in Croatia. The new "Law on Property and Other Real Rights" (GEDR for short) came into force on February 1st, 2009.
Since then, the real estate acquisition rights for foreign buyers from the EU are on an equal footing with the native Croatians, with only a few exceptions for agricultural areas and nature reserves for which a special right applies.
Before the new GEDR law, it was difficult for foreigners to acquire property in Croatia. The buyers first had to obtain approval from the Minister of Justice before they were allowed to legally acquire land or property in Croatia. This also applies to non-EU foreigners
In Croatia, you need an OIB number in order to be able to rent a house or to sell (several) houses commercially. So the first step for anything you want to do is the registration of your person in Croatian state.
Here we would like to bring you closer to the peculiarities of Croatian real estate law.
As in other countries, a building permit is required for new buildings in Croatia. The individual building areas are divided into different zones in a spatial plan (PPU). Since the spatial plan sometimes differs from the cadaster, the general rule is that the entry in the spatial plan applies.
The following zones are defined in the spatial plan:
Residential areas for residential or commercial purposes, areas for tourist purposes (T1-T3) and other areas for urban purposes (e.g. green spaces or fabric areas). Furthermore, the plan shows which areas are already built on and which are still undeveloped. The areas for tourist purposes are further subdivided into T1 for hotels, T2 for tourist purposes (i.e. tourist use is open here) and T3 for campsites. In order not to obstruct the Croatian coast, no new buildings may be built in a zone of approx. 80m from the sea. If you want to buy a house right by the sea, you have to fall back on an existing property.
Due to the history of Croatian real estate law (see below), some ownership structures in Croatia have not been fully clarified yet. This is indicated by the addition of a "seal" in the land register or cadastral register. If you are interested in a property, inquire beforehand whether this addition is noted and in this case be prepared for long-term clarification processes after the purchase.
Permits for nature reserves, agricultural areas, and forests
As already mentioned above, in principle, every EU citizen is allowed to purchase land or property in Croatia. However, special conditions apply to agricultural areas, forests and areas relevant to nature conservation. As in the past, this requires approval from the Croatian Ministry of Justice.
History of real estate law in Croatia
Before Croatia gained independence in 1991, the small Mediterranean country was part of socialist Yugoslavia. Thus it was only possible to own property to a limited extent because the majority was administered by the socialist state.
After the break-up of Yugoslavia, the rights were brought into line with the market economy legal system as closely as possible and at the same time enshrined in the Croatian constitution.
The biggest problem was to correct the entries in the land register, which often involved extensive genealogical research. In the meantime, the majority of the entries in the land register have been corrected, but there are still enough unresolved cases.
As a rule, the purchase or acquisition of a piece of land is possible without further problems once the regulations have been checked. For anyone who is not an expert in this area, we strongly recommend that you take advice from a lawyer.