Applicants for international protection

An applicant for international protection is a third-country national or stateless person who declares their intention to apply for international protection until the decision on the application becomes enforceable

A foreign national can declare their intention to apply for international protection:    
  • When undergoing border control at a border crossing point
  • In any police administration or station and in the Reception Centre for Foreigners if they are in the territory of the Republic of Croatia
  • In exceptional cases, to enable access to the international protection procedure, this intention can be declared in the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers
  • For children, this intention is declared by the child’s legal representative.

Application for international protection

An application for international protection is submitted directly, by giving a statement for the record in the Reception Centres for Asylum Seekers in Zagreb and Kutina. In exceptional cases, applicants for international protection can also submit their applications outside the Reception Centre within the appropriate time limit and depending on their personal situation.

Third-country nationals or stateless persons who have entered the Republic of Croatia illegally, arriving directly from the territory where they suffered persecution within the meaning of the 1951 Refugee Convention and where there is a real risk that they might be exposed to serious harm upon returning to their country of origin, will not be punished for illegal entry or stay if they declare their intention to apply for international protection without any delay and if they produce valid reasons for their illegal entry or stay.  

Rights of persons seeking international protection

An applicant for international protection is entitled to stay in Croatia from the day on which they declare the intention to apply for international protection until the decision on their application becomes enforceable. This enables them to freely move throughout the territory of Croatia, unless their movement is limited by law. 
Within three days from submission of the application for international protection an applicant for international protection is issued a card of an applicant for international protection. An applicant’s card is not proof of identity but only proves the applicant’s right to stay in the Republic of Croatia and their address in the country during the procedure.
Family members of applicants for international protection also have the right to stay in the country during the procedure for international protection. When an applicant loses their right to stay, the card has to be returned to the Ministry of the Interior to be revoked.

During the procedure for international protection, the applicants without any funds are provided accommodation in the Reception Centres for Asylum Seekers in Zagreb and Kutina, organisational units of the Service for reception and accommodation of applicants for international protection of the Ministry of the Interior, where they are provided with all material reception conditions (food, toiletries, clothing, financial aid, compensation of public transportation costs pertaining to the procedure for international protection...).
Various non-governmental organisations also play an active roles in reception centres and, pursuant to their agreements with the Ministry, organise various everyday activities such as Croatian language classes, creative and sports activities and also provide healthcare protection, psychosocial support, etc.
If an applicant for international protection has their own resources, they may stay at any address in Croatia, at their own expense and with prior approval from the Ministry of the Interior.

In addition, applicants for international protection are entitled to:

  • An interpreter for the language it is reasonably believed to be a language they understand if they do not understand Croatian 
  • Information on their rights, obligations and the procedure for international protection, as well as legal counselling
  • Provision of appropriate material reception conditions
  • Healthcare
  • Primary and secondary education
  • Free legal aid before a first-instance administrative court
  • Freedom of religion
  • Work, if the decision has not been taken after nine months from the date of their application without any fault of the applicant
  • Be appointed a guardian if they are a minor or a person without legal capacity.

Obligations of applicants for international protection 

Applicants for international protection are obliged to:
  • Abide by the Constitution, acts and other regulations of the Republic of Croatia
  • Cooperate with the competent public authorities of the Republic of Croatia and act upon their instructions and measures
  • Undergo checks aimed at verifying and establishing their identity
  • Undergo a medical examination
  • Follow the house rules of the reception centre
  • Answer the summons from the Ministry of the Interior to be interviewed and cooperate throughout the procedure for international protection
  • Remain in the territory of the Republic of Croatia during the procedure for international protection
  • Notify the Ministry of the Interior of any change of address within two days from the moment of the change
  • Comply with the instructions and measures of the Ministry of the Interior regarding the restriction on the freedom of movement.
Foreigners under transfer have the same rights and obligations until they are transferred to the competent member state of the European Economic Area.

Authorities competent to take the decision

In the first-instance procedure, the application for international protection is decided by the Ministry of the Interior. An administrative dispute may be initiated against the decision of the Ministry of the Interior by bringing an action before the competent administrative court.