With its romantic ancient cities, natural beauty, sunny coastlines and 1,000 islands, it’s no wonder Croatia is a tourist magnet. It’s the 18th most popular destination worldwide, in fact.
Whether you’re a tourist captivated by Croatia enough not to want to go home, or a global explorer looking to combine work experience with cultural adventure… You’ll find that the route to working in Croatia begins with research, and have to pursue it diligently rather than casually.
Jobs Aren’t Plentiful
First, the odds aren’t in your favor. Work opportunities in Croatia are limited. As a tourist haven, it has the usual restaurants, bars, and hotels; service industries are 70 percent of the economy. But with unemployment overall continuing to hover in double digits and a youth unemployment rate of 27 percent, businesses are more likely to hire locally than seeking outside help.
If you can provide something locals can’t–English language lessons–you’ll certainly have a better chance of working in Croatia. In this country in the Balkans, the official language is Croatian.
Fields With Promise
You may have a better chance of finding a job if you are a doctor or another health care worker, an engineer, or a math or physics teacher. This in addition to foreign language teachers. Tourism jobs may be more plentiful along the coasts, but professional jobs likely center in the big cities of Zagreb, Split (Spalato in Italian) or Dubrovnik.
Social work jobs in Croatia provide another opportunity.
Where to Look
As in most places worldwide, personal connections can be a ticket to work in Croatia as well. Croatia’s relaxed pace and café society could mean meeting someone over coffee and a chat that would link you to an interview for your dream job, whether to work in Croatia for a year or for a longer opportunity. Don’t be too bold, however–the culture feels more reserved, so take time to build relationships rather than approaching strangers with resume and business cards in hand.
Make use of job search engines and classified advertisements, including a resume or CV (CVs are more often used in Croatia). Don’t forget LinkedIn, either. For language teachers, ESL and TEFL websites are a valuable resource.
The Croatian Homepage Business Directory can help with your research, too.
The Croatian Ministry of Economy offers free advice for job-seekers, Labour and Entrepreneurship (HZZ, for Hrvatski zavod za zaposljavanje). Those looking for work can search vacancies and register with employers. Jobs are searchable by geographic area as well as by industry.
Legal Nuts and Bolts
Hunting for a job in Croatia can be similar to long-distance job-hunting anywhere. You’ll need a job to stay there, but you can’t find one until you’ve spent some time there if nothing more than for interviews and settling in.
In addition, though, you’ll need a visa if you will be staying longer than 90 days. For a stay of less than 90 days, you’ll need to register for a short-term stay. Either in person or through your accommodation provider.
Foreigners who require a visa must report their address to the police or the temporary stay will become invalid. This must be done once you provide notice of temporary stay acceptance. Details are available at Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs or the Ministry of the Interior. Even so, many experts recommend seeking legal advice before exploring how to get a work visa in Croatia.
While EU nationals don’t need a work permit in Croatia, some countries are exceptions: For people from Italy, a Croatian work permit visa is necessary if you want to work more than 90 days in a year. For shorter stints, you would need a work registration certificate. Other countries this applies to: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Greece, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Starting a Business
If you’re entrepreneurially minded, setting up a business might be a better alternative than seeking work. Here, opportunities become limited and work visas seem rare unless you’re in a high-demand field. In fact, Croatia a few years ago simplified its small business rules for nationals as well. This in order to stimulate entrepreneurship during its unemployment crisis.
Whether your dream is a restaurant or hotel, IT support, a coastal surf shop or an English language school… Once you’ve set up your business, you can essentially “hire yourself” as an employee. Then you can pave the way toward family members also gaining legal status.
The downside is the cost: about 100,000 Croatian kuna, or $20,000 American.
As you’re researching your business plan, you’ll want to also research the specific area of Croatia where you would like to work. Speaking English might be an advantage in tourist areas, for example. Of course, knowledge of Croatian will be helpful too. Although many Croatians also speak English and at least one other foreign language.
We recommend that you seek legal advice before starting your business, of course, and required that you hire an accountant as well.
Dream and Plan
So, when sunny Adriatic coasts, ancient cities fuel your expat dreams, it’s best to address the realities and make a plan. This will help you find work in Croatia. Expat life can be beautiful and is possible, but taking the right steps in the right order can keep red tape and frustration at bay.