Buying Real Estate in Croatia for foreigners: Where to begin?

When buying a property, often the foremost is the aesthetics or location of the property itself. However, the purchase of real estate is a legal process, so we must not neglect the legal side of it. What should you do…

When buying a property, often the foremost is the aesthetics or location of the property itself. However, the purchase of real estate is a legal process, so we must not neglect the legal side of it. What should you do and how or when should you do it to make your purchase neat and easy as possible? All of this shall be explained through a series of blogs by our tax advisor Ivica Baban.

Foreign citizens who buy real estate in the Republic of Croatia are generally divided into two groups, depending on where they come from. Citizens living within the European Union make one group, while those living outside the EU make the other one.

Why is this important?

While foreigners from the European Union may purchase real estate in the Republic of Croatia under the same conditions as nationals of the Republic of Croatia, those living outside the EU must obtain consent for the purchase of a real estate in the Republic of Croatia from the Ministry of Justice of the Republic in the administrative procedure. Without this consent, the new owner could not registrar his ownership of the land he purchased.

The only exception from this rule are agricultural land, for they are subject to a moratorium on their purchase by foreign nationals from the EU until June 2020.

There is an additional requirement concerning non-EU citizens. Only citizens coming from countries with which Croatia has reciprocity in acquiring the ownership rights of their nationals may go to administrative proceedings and seek the consent of the Ministry of Justice.

Consequently, other non-EU nationals coming from countries with which the Republic of Croatia does not have the principle of reciprocity in acquiring ownership of real estate of their citizens may not, as natural persons, purchase real estate in Croatia.

Yet, there is another option for them. They may decide to set up a company (most often it is a limited liability company or abbreviated d.o.o.) in Croatia and as owners of companies with headquarters in the Republic of Croatia, they are entitled to acquire ownership of the real estate.

It is necessary to know that the owner of the purchased property is then the company, not the owner of the company himself.

Don’t forget the taxes

When buying a property in Croatia, in addition to the purchase costs, the buyer may be obliged to pay a real estate tax (PPN). The height of this tax can be defined in two ways. Either it is 3% of the purchase price of the property or 3% of the estimated property value by the Croatian Tax Administration.

This will occur in situations where the seller does not calculate value-added tax (VAT) for the property sold, as evidenced by the seller’s purchase contract or invoice issued.

Notaries are obliged to submit a copy of the purchase contract to the Tax Administration of the Republic of Croatia, which will send a decision on the obligation to pay real estate taxes.

In case that the real estate transfer documents are not certified by a notary, the buyer is obliged to declare the obligation to pay real estate sales tax in Croatia within 30 days for those real estates that have not been subject to value-added tax on the sale.

Taxes apply to all – a foreign citizen from outside the EU who requires the consent of the Ministry of justice, becomes taxable at the moment of obtaining that consent.