Acquiring Croatian citizenship by descent


Acquiring Croatian citizenship through descent (emigration) is of particular interest to individuals of Croatian descent whose ancestors emigrated from Croatia. This path to citizenship provides a unique opportunity for people to reestablish their connections with the country of their roots. In this article, we will explore the process of acquiring Croatian citizenship through emigration, often colloquially referred to as the process of obtaining Croatian citizenship by descent.


What do you need to know about acquiring Croatian citizenship by descent?


Who is an emigrant?

According to the Croatian Citizenship Act, an emigrant is a person who emigrated from the territory of the Republic of Croatia before October 8, 1991, with the intention of permanently living abroad. Additionally, a member of the Croatian nation who emigrated from the territory that was part of the former states in which today’s Republic of Croatia was located at the time of emigration is also considered an emigrant.

An individual is not considered an emigrant if they:

  • Emigrated from the territory of the Republic of Croatia based on an international agreement.
  • Renounced Croatian citizenship.
  • Emigrated to other states that were part of the same state community as the Republic of Croatia at the time of emigration.
  • Emigrated from the territory of the Republic of Croatia without having former Croatian republican citizenship or nationality within the territory of the Republic of Croatia.


Acquiring Croatian citizenship by emigration – who else, besides emigrants, can apply?

In addition to emigrants, individuals can obtain Croatian citizenship through this legal basis, including:

  • descendants of emigrants (children, grandchildren, etc.).
  • a foreigner who is the spouse of an emigrant.


Acquiring Croatian Citizenship by emigration – requirements

In order for a person to acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Croatia through this legal basis, they must meet the following conditions prescribed by the Croatian Citizenship Act:

  • qualify as an emigrant, as explained above, or be a descendant of an emigrant or the spouse of an emigrant. Descendants of emigrants must prove that they have at least one Croatian ancestor, usually a parent or grandparent. This connection to Croatian heritage is the cornerstone of the process of acquiring citizenship by descent. The spouse of an emigrant must also prove their status. Documentation of Croatian ancestry, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other official documents that establish the family connection to a Croatian citizen, is required.
  • be 18 years of age or older.
  • respect the legal order of the Republic of Croatia, have settled any due public obligations, and not have any security obstacles to their admission to Croatian citizenship.

Previously, competent authorities would assess the applicant’s knowledge of the Croatian language and the Latin script. However, this language test is no longer conducted, and individuals applying for Croatian citizenship through emigration (ancestors of Croats) are not required to prove their knowledge of the Croatian language and the Latin script.


Acquiring Croatian citizenship by descent – filing the application

Interested individuals must submit an application for Croatian citizenship to the relevant authorities (responsible for consular affairs of the Republic of Croatia in their country) in person, in a form prescribed by the law, and along with all necessary documents that prove eligibility for acquiring citizenship through this legal basis, along with the additional supporting documentation required by the competent authorities. All the documentation must be properly certified and translated into the Croatian language.



Acquiring Croatian citizenship by emigration (through ancestors) is a significant and often personally fulfilling journey for individuals of Croatian descent. It provides an opportunity to reconnect with the country of their ancestors. While the process may be complex, the reward of obtaining Croatian citizenship is a strong and lasting connection to a beautiful country with a rich history and culture. If you are considering this path, consulting a legal expert is a wise decision to inform yourself about all aspects of this process.


This article provides general legal information and should not be considered legal advice in specific situations. If you require specific legal advice, please feel free to reach out to me with confidence.



For additional information on other grounds for acquiring Croatian citizenship, you can visit: