This review was prepared for Ukrainian refugees by the law firm Ilej & Partners in cooperation with Karanovic & Partners upon request and in coordination with the international legal network Multilaw and Ukrainian law firm Arzinger. The review is as of March 11, 2022. The review is not a legal advice and is for informational purposes only. For updates, please follow www.multilaw.com and/or www.arzinger.ua
1. Temporary protection
1.1. Croatian Government adopted the Decision on Implementation of Temporary Protection in Republic of Croatia for the UA citizens.
1.2. Temporary protection is applicable to persons displaced from Ukraine on or after 24 February 2022 for military invasion by the Russian armed forces launched on that date. The following categories of persons are eligible for temporary protection if they resided in Ukraine before 24 February 2022, on or before that date:
- citizens of Ukraine;
- stateless persons and third-country nationals, who are not citizens of Ukraine and who have been granted international protection or other equivalent national protection in Ukraine;
- family members of aforementioned persons, i.e.:
- a spouse;
- underage children;
- other close relatives of the person granted temporary protection, if they lived together as part of the family before coming to the Republic of Croatia and were supported by the person granted temporary protection;
- stateless persons and third-country nationals who are not citizens of Ukraine and who have resided in Ukraine on the basis of a valid permanent residence permit and cannot return to their country or region of origin in a safe and sustainable manner.
1.3. Temporary protection is granted for one year (i.e. until 7 March 2023). Temporary protection may be renewed up to two times for a maximum of six months each time.
2. Entering the country
2.1. Is any mandatory quarantine applied for UA citizens? If yes, please provide details (duration, where to stay, who pays for the stay, any exceptions)?
Although COVID-19 restrictions are still in place for persons entering Croatia (i.e. there is a requirement to provide (i) proof of vaccination; or (ii) proof of recovery from COVID-19; or (iii) a negative molecular test or (iv) a rapid antigen test), there are unofficial information circulating that all Ukrainian citizens will be allowed to enter Croatia even if they don’t hold any of the above documents or proofs, but will be tested for COVID-19 at the spot and referred to a reception center.
2.2. Is any visa required for UA citizen to enter the country? If yes, how UA citizen may obtain it under the circumstances?
Ukrainians who have valid biometric passport issued in the last 10 years and valid for three months longer than their stay in Croatia do not need a visa. Otherwise, visa is necessary.
However, it has been confirmed unofficially that UA citizens will be allowed to enter Croatia even without a visa.
2.3. Is entry without passport allowed?
Although citizens of Ukraine generally need a biometric passport, or a non-biometric passport and a Croatian visa for entry and stay in the Republic of Croatia, it has been confirmed unofficially that UA citizens will be allowed to enter Croatia even without a passport.
2.4. Shall UA citizen apply for any special status (refugee etc.) right after entering the country, or this can be done later? If yes, what is the further deadline to apply for special status?
The application for any special status can be done later (especially if a person travels with a biometric passport and can therefore stay in Croatia for 90 days in the period of 180 days), but we suggest the application to be done as soon as possible, in order to be granted the rights arising from the status of an applicant.
3. Stay in the country
3.1. For how long UA citizen may stay in the country if entered based on visa-free regime without any additional formalities?
UA citizens can usually (in the regular circumstances) stay in Croatia for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Croatian Government adopted the Decision on Implementation of Temporary Protection in Republic of Croatia for the UA citizens, according to which UA citizens can remain in Croatia for one year, without having to apply for a visa or asylum or any other stay permit, with a possibility of a six months to one year extension. While enjoying temporary protection in Croatia, UA citizens have a right to work and stay in Croatia (without having to obtain the work and stay permit), identification card, emergency medical assistance, education, family reunification and accommodation (subject to fulfilment of certain requirements).
3.2. Are temporary residency permits available for UA citizens?
Generally, temporary residence permits are available for UA citizens. In order to obtain them, one would have to prove the purpose of their temporary stay (family reunification, secondary school education and university studies, scientific research, humanitarian grounds, life partnership, work, and work of posted workers), have a valid travel document, have funds to support themselves, have health insurance, not be banned from entry and stay in the Republic of Croatia, and not be considered threat for public policy, national security or public health. Temporary stay is granted for a period of up to one year, with the possibility of extension.
3.3. Are permanent residency permits available for UA citizens?
Permanent residency permits are available for UA citizens. Permanent stay may be granted if one has been legally staying in the Republic of Croatia for an uninterrupted period of five years, which includes temporary stay, asylum or subsidiary protection.
3.4. Is refugee status available for UA citizens?
Yes, refugee status is generally available for UA citzens, however, temporary protection regime is the interim solution which is significantly less complicated.
3.5. Is there any other status except tourism, temporary/permanent residency permit, refugee available for UA citizens? If yes, please briefly describe the options.
At the moment the fastest and most suitable option is temporary protection described above.
4. Language issues
4.1. What languages can be used for communication in your country?
Croatian language is the only official language in Croatia. However, English language is widely used, especially among younger population.
5. Upcoming or expected legislative changes
5.1. Do you expect any major changes to the relevant legislation?
At the moment we don’t expect any major legislative changes.
6. Local help resources
6.1. Please provide links and brief descriptions to any local helpful resources.
https://www.hck.hr/ - Croatian Red Cross
https://www.hok-cba.hr/ - The Croatian Bar Association provides free legal aid to refugees from Ukraine
https://www.plavi-telefon.hr/ - Psychological support and counseling
https://www.caritas.hr/ - Caritas Croatia
Unlike any other news items in CEELM, these are published as received with no other edits than outlined in this editorial note.