Legal restrictions

1. Acquisition of immovable property by foreign persons/companies.

Rules for the acquisition of immovable property by foreign persons and companies are defined by the Law on Ownership and Other Real Rights.

As of 2009, citizens of European Union states and companies registered on the European Union territory have equal rights with respect to the acquisition of immovable property as Croatian citizens and companies, except in the case of agricultural land and immovable property located in specially protected areas (such as national parks, nature parks etc.).

In accordance with this, should a foreign person or company from a European Union state wish to buy immovable property on the territory of Croatia, other than property the acquisition of which is not possible for them, the only thing necessary is putting together a written contract on property purchase, having the seller’s signature notarised, and requesting a land registry registration.

Should a physical or legal person from outside the European Union wish to buy immovable property in Croatia, the principle of reciprocity is applied, i.e. Croatian citizens and companies must be allowed to acquire immovable property in that county, and approval must be granted by the minister of justice. In the past, approval was granted by the minister of foreign affairs.

2. Acquisition of agricultural land: restrictions and limitations.

In accordance with current legal restrictions, foreign citizens and companies, regardless of whether they are from or outside the European Union, may not acquire agricultural land. In line with the agreement between the Republic of Croatia and the European Union, this restriction will remain in place for citizens of EU states for the period of 7 years following Croatia’s full EU membership.

Croatian physical and legal persons have no restrictions with regard to the acquisition of agricultural land.

3. Acquisition of flat property: legal restrictions.

There are no restrictions with regard to the acquisition of flat property by physical and legal persons, and no approval is required from other apartment owners or the management company responsible for the relevant property.

4. Acquisition of immovable property in special areas (such as on the coast or near military-related sites or in national parks, in the mountains, etc.)

The Law on Nature Protection defines special regulations with regard to the sale of immovable property located within national parks, nature parks, reserves and alike. It has already been mentioned that foreign citizens may not acquire property in such areas.

However, there are also special rules for Croatian citizens wishing to sell such property. For instance, if the property is located within a national park, the seller is obliged to first offer the property to the Republic of Croatia, the county, city or municipality on whose territory the property is located; only if those authorities fail to exercise their pre-emption right, the seller may sell the property under the same conditions (i.e. not at a lower price) to a third person.

If they do sell it at a lower price, such contract may be declared null and void within the period of 5 years since its conclusion.

As for coastal areas, care must be taken that the property is not located within the maritime demesne, since the maritime demesne is not subject to legal transactions.

5. Acquisition of immovable property and listed monuments and memorials.

Listed monuments and memorials in Croatia are regulated by the Law on Protection and Preservation of Cultural Heritage.

Cultural heritage may include immovable property, which in turn may be owned by physical and legal persons.

With regard to the sale of cultural heritage, there is a legal pre-emption right of municipalities, cities, counties and the Republic of Croatia; only if those authorities fail to exercise their pre-emption right, the owner has the right to sell the property that is listed as cultural heritage to a third person, but under the same conditions as offered to the mentioned authorities.

6. Planning Code and legal restrictions (pre-emption right; approval by the municipality or other authorities; splitting a land parcel).

Local government units have zoning plans which define what can be built and where, and what certain property may be used for. Land books have no direct connections to zoning plans. However, when it comes to splitting land parcels, there are certain restrictions imposed by zoning plans, since splitting is done by the cadastre, which is competent to decide whether or not it can be carried out. The land registry court registers splitting in the land book based on the registration sheet from the cadastre and the valid decision made in the cadastral procedure.

7. Land given by the municipality to domestic inhabitants: legal restrictions?.

There are specific restrictions in cases of houses renovated after the war. In such a case, the owner of a renovated house may not sell it and is obliged to use it for 10 years. If they should do otherwise, they would have to return the funds invested in the renovation.

There are no restrictions in other cases.

8. Acquisition of immovable property and tax affairs.

As of 1996, paying the transfer tax is not a precondition for registering immovable property in the land book. Therefore, the land registry court does not take into account whether the transfer tax has been paid or not. As for transfer tax payment, it should be emphasised that tax administration is notified by the public notary authorising the signature, the land registry court registering the property, and by the person acquiring the property, who is obliged to report the transaction to the competent tax administration.

9. Destination of the land parcel and legal restrictions.

According to Croatian regulations, there are no special restrictions included in the description of the land parcel, since the only thing that matters is whether the property is owned by someone or not.

10. Any other legal, very specific restrictions.

No.