In the context of globalization and increasing mobility of the workforce, Croatia, as a member of the European Union, faces both opportunities and challenges in regulating the employment of foreign nationals.

The Croatian legal framework for employing non-EU nationals is designed to balance the country’s economic needs with the protection of its domestic labour market. Furthermore, Croatia is in a specific situation since the country, due to significant emigration over the last past decades and taking into consideration aging of its population, has to deal with considerable lack of work force. This article delves into the nuances of the Croatian law on foreigners, focusing on the procedures and legal requirements for hiring third-country nationals.

Legal Framework

The primary legislation governing the employment of foreign workers in Croatia is the Aliens Act (Zakon o strancima, Official Gazzette, NN 133/20, 114/22, 151/22; hereinafter referred to as: the Act). This Act, together with the regulations issued by the Croatian Employment Service (Hrvatski zavod za zapošljavanje; hereinafter referred to as: the HZZ), establishes the criteria, procedures, and conditions under which foreign nationals may be employed and work in Croatia.

Legal Provisions and Their Implications

  1. Extension of Permits for the Same Employer and Third-Country National

The Act stipulates that third-country nationals can renew their residence and work permits for the same employer without undergoing labour market testing. This provision simplifies the renewal process, fostering continuity in employment relationships. The application must be submitted at least 30 days before the current permit expires, ensuring seamless legal status maintenance.

  1. Seasonal Employment in Specific Sectors

The Act recognizes the unique nature of certain industries, like agriculture, forestry, hospitality, and tourism, allowing up to 90 days of employment within a calendar year without a labour market test. This facilitates seasonal labour needs, especially in sectors heavily reliant on seasonal fluctuations. However, the total duration of such employment cannot exceed six months annually, ensuring a balance between meeting seasonal demands and protecting the local labour market.

  1. Specific Categories Under Article 110

Article 110 addresses key personnel in trading companies, EU Blue Card holders, and intra-corporate transferees, among others. This section underscores Croatia’s commitment to attracting skilled labour and promoting intra-company mobility, aligning with broader EU objectives.

Application and Decision-Making Process

The process for applying for these exemptions is streamlined. Applications can be submitted directly or via email to the relevant police administration or station, depending on the intended residence or employer’s headquarters. The decision is then made by the police authority based on the applicant’s place of residence or intended stay.

Market Labor Test (MLT)

One of the critical aspects of employing third-country nationals in Croatia is the Market Labor Test (MLT), introduced to ensure that available jobs are firstly offered to Croatian citizens or EU nationals.

Purpose and Process

Objective: The MLT is designed to assess the availability of Croatian or EU nationals who can fulfil the job requirements before offering the position to a non-EU national.

Procedure: Employers must request the HZZ to conduct the MLT. If the HZZ confirms the absence of suitable candidates in their records, the employer is then permitted to proceed with the employment of a third-country national.

Exemptions from MLT

Certain occupations, as identified by the HZZ’s Administrative Council, are exempt from the MLT. This exemption primarily applies to sectors experiencing a shortage of qualified domestic labour, such as construction, hospitality industry, tourism, etc.

Application for Work and Residence Permit

General Requirements

Employers must submit an online application for a work and residence permit on behalf of the third-country national.

The application must be accompanied by a valid employment contract or other relevant documents.

Specific Conditions for Different Categories

Extension of Existing Work Permits at the same Employer.

Seasonal Workers: In agriculture, forestry, hospitality, and tourism for up to 90 days within a calendar year.

Documentation and Compliance

Required Documents

A duly signed employment contract with a start date contingent on the issuance of the work and residence permit.

Proof that the job position, profession, and job description in the contract match those in the MLT or the HZZ’s list (for exempted occupations).

The Act requires the delivery of an employment contract and other documents cannot be taken into account. The employment contract must be signed by both parties, with the expected start date of work, with the clause that the actual start depends on obtaining a residence and work permit, visa, or application for temporary residence in the Republic of Croatia. It is important that the job title, occupation, and job description in the contract correspond to the job title, occupation, and job description from the application for issuing a residence and work permit and occupation. A citizen of a third country can work in the Republic of Croatia only in those jobs for which he has been issued a residence and work permit and only with the employer for whom he has been issued a residence and work permit and with whom he has established an employment relationship. When determining the wages of workers, it is necessary to be guided by valid legal and by-laws and collective agreements.

Employer’s Obligations

Employers must comply with the Aliens Act and ensure all tax and social security obligations are met.

Employers are required to have at least one Croatian or EU national employed full-time for the past six months or, in the case of seasonal trades, in the previous season.


Employing foreign workers in Croatia involves navigating a complex legal framework that aims to protect the domestic labour market while addressing labour shortages in certain sectors. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for employers seeking to hire third-country nationals and for foreign workers trying to establish employment relationship in Croatia.



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