Croatian Origin And Citizenship Act Disaster

Croatian passport
Photo: Jelena Zanko

Croatian ancestry (Croatian origin), in terms of “automatic” right to Croatian citizenship under the Citizenship Act, stops with parents! Even in the current proposals for amendments to the Act! Shame on you, Croatian government!

Article 4 (of Croatian Citizenship Act currently in force) A child acquires Croatian citizenship by origin:

1. if both of his parents are Croatian citizens at the time of the child’s birth;

2. if one of his parents is a Croatian citizen at the time of the child’s birth and the child is born in the Republic of Croatia;

3. if one of the parents is a Croatian citizen at the time of the child’s birth, the other parent without citizenship or of unknown citizenship, and the child is born abroad.

A child of foreign citizenship or without citizenship acquires Croatian citizenship by origin if he has been adopted by Croatian parents, pursuant to provisions of a special law. Such a child is considered to be a Croatian citizen from the moment of his birth.”

“Automatic” right to citizenship by descent/Croatian origin is not to be confused with the possibility of acquiring citizenship by naturalisation. The latter involves a rather exhaustive process that requires application and proof of Croatian descent – and proof is acceptable up to and including third generation Croatian direct blood line of those born to Croatian emigrants.

In any decent democracy when a government releases draft amendments or drafts of new legislation for public discussions and submission then that process lasts reasonably long enough for the public to find out about it and to respond. In most cases at least one month is allowed within which members of the public are able to submit comments and/or suggestions.

In Croatia, the deeply disturbing fact is that the public (be it organisation or individuals) are given ONE week only from date of the release of documents for public discussion to the closing of submissions! When it comes to legislation which directly impacts the Croatian diaspora, or Croatians living in it, then, since the Croatian government, president and every politician keep saying that the diaspora will save Croatian economy with its return and/or investments, one would expect that at least the diaspora (if not citizens living in Croatia) would be given a fair chance to respond to the call for submissions on amendments to citizenship law. On 24 October 2018 the Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs released the document on proposed Citizenship Act amendments for public discussion and submissions. The problem here is that submissions closed 3 November 2018!

Make your own conclusions as to how much this Croatian government really wants public submissions or ideas from its diaspora!

Be that as it may, there is at least some good news in the proposed amendments to the Croatian Citizenship Act and the good news stands to benefit particularly the members of the second and third, and so fourth, generations of people from Croatian descent living in the diaspora who do not have a command of the Croatian language. The amendments to the Act now recommend matters that concern the diaspora especially include:

• The Croatian language knowledge test be removed from the process of obtaining Croatian citizenship;

• Extension of time by which a person born outside Croatia, one of whose parents is a citizen of Croatia at the time of birth; they can now be placed on Croatian citizens’ register (through consulates and diplomatic missions) up until they are 21 years old.

• The possibility of acquiring Croatian citizenship by descent is also recommended for adults, born after 8 October 1991. As an exception to the regular acquisition of Croatian citizenship on the basis of an approved residency in Croatia, it is proposed that a foreigner who has started and graduated undergraduate and graduate studies in Croatian at one of the higher education institutions in Croatia, although not living in Croatia for eight years , if after graduation he/she lives in Croatia for at least 18 months he/she may obtain Croatian citizenship.

When a Croatian citizen passes onto his/her child their Croatian citizenship that child in effect becomes a Croatian citizen. This has always been the case, even under communist Yugoslavia laws, but the new proposed amendments to the Act proposes the period within which this can be done is extended until the child is 21. For many in the diaspora this is good news, especially those who did not know about this possibility and those who knew about it but didn’t get around to it in time.

One thing that disappoints me immensely (and I believe it equally disappoints many others) is that Croatian leadership and politicians constantly go on about how very important to Croatia and its future Croats in the diaspora are and yet – they fail miserably to reflect their words in deeds via Citizenship legislation! They call upon Croatian people to return to Croatia from the diaspora and fail to give as many as possible the right to do so as citizens by descent or Croatian ancestry! Citizenship means the right to live and work unimpeded and, therefore, facilitates any return from the diaspora.

In the preamble to the proposal for amendments to the citizenship Act the Croatian authorities say, among other things, that “The Croatian Citizenship Act incorporates the basic principles and standards known in European legislation, such as the principles of legal continuity of citizenship, the prevention of apartheid, the exclusivity of Croatian citizenship, the equality of marital, spousal and adopted children…”

Well now, Ireland is also in Europe and yet the right to citizenship by descent/ancestry is passed onto children as well as grandchildren. Hence, if you are born overseas you get your Irish citizenship if your parent/s or grandparent/s are/were citizens of Ireland! But Ireland said years ago it cares very much for its diaspora as part of Ireland and it demonstrates the commitment to its diaspora via its legislation. Then, there are provisions in British nationality law allowing a claim for citizenship from a grandparent or great grandparent. Then, main principle of Hungarian citizenship law is the ius sanguinis (latin for right of blood), meaning that descendants of Hungarian citizens are Hungarian citizens themselves by birth (regardless of the country of birth or the number of generations living abroad). Consequently, if any of your parents or grandparents is a Hungarian citizen or was one when you were born, it is very likely that you are one yourself.

Given all these examples and many more, when it comes to rights of citizenship by descent Croatia can’t really claim its own legislation reflects standards known in European legislation.

Croatia is amidst amendments to Citizenship legislation and boasts about how getting Croatian citizenship will be easier from now on via these new amendments to the Act, when in fact the changes do not cover that which is most needed to boost the prospect of people from diaspora of Croatian descent becoming citizens and returning to Croatia with relative ease.

And so ancestry or Croatian origin, in terms of the Citizenship Act, stops with parents!

Shame on you Croatia!

Not only should Croatia have followed Ireland, Britain … in extending the right to citizenship by descent/ancestry to grandparents but it should have gone further and extended it to great-grandparent ancestry, just like Hungary and some other countries do! Hopefully someone, who was fortunate enough to discover about public discussion and submissions on time, has made these submissions to the proposed amendments. We wait and see!

Given the history of Croatian emigration through the ages and the perils under which Croats were forced to emigrate this is the least Croatia, which says it loves its diaspora, can do for the diaspora and for itself. This is the least Croatia that keeps calling for the return of Croats from the diaspora could do for that deserving of citizenship rights diaspora. This is the absolute positive move Croatia that is reaching out to the Second and Third generation diaspora should have made, but failed miserably so far. Ina Vukic


  1. Reblogged this on Ace News Desk.

  2. As the political landscape changes its becoming the time of getting votes and power by any means and many countries are looking at either making people citizens or removing citizenship by any means be it fair or foul …… Sad times ….. Ina .. 😒

    • Political games people need to topple I think – keep the bastards honest so to speak, Ian, if possible

      • The problem is everyone bar a few have a price and those that want to use the weak can manipulate them to accept whats offered …. Honesty is too me the best policy but for some they find it easier on the surface to cheat and lie and find a way to get others to do their dirty work …. there’s always a hidden agenda as we both know …..

      • Once people start doing the manipulating, Ian, say yz turning up for voting in large numbers, then perhaps we may see a sign of positive change. Hidden agendas in the meantime are the thing to look for, sadly

      • ČestitamVam Ina na ovako yvrstnom hrvatskom rodoljubnom stavu. Kada bi mnogo veći broj Hrvaatica i Hrvata u Republici Hrvatskoj bioli toliko državotvorno svijesrtni kao Vi onda ba hrvatska država postojala u svojim povijestnim i narodnostnim granicama i bila bi gospodarski jedna od najboljih država Europe.

      • Hvala Vam Jozo – ima nas, no čini se treba još – ili, barem, jače

  3. sounds complicated!
    may all be born
    in the right place,
    at the right time 🙂

  4. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  5. What a nightmare, I think we are heading towards Gillard’s Communism all around the world. Keep letting the world know about this

    • Had to laugh in nasty surprise 🙂 a bit, attackandy, as the Gillard name appeared – oh God NO! But you are right, must keep going with the good fight to prevent it

  6. Vince78757 says:

    Sadly, it seems to be one step forward, two steps back…

  7. Vince78757 says:

    Sadly this is one step forward, two steps back. I’m confident it’s only the beginning though…

    • Indeed, Vince…but hopefully it’ll come to two forward one back if people get cracking on getting rid of the old habits and mindsets…much work needed

  8. Sounds like a week is hardly any time for people to respond, even given they knew about this new ruling.
    When we really begin to open our eyes to the world and its manipulative ways of control and labels, the more I see this world is in need of a complete overhaul ..
    When it comes, Even the politicians will be running to the hills.. And their own passports will not save them.. Sigh…
    Yes Shame on them..

    Sending continued thoughts your way Ina.. <3 Much love my friend..

    • Manipulation seem to be yje operative word, Sue 🙁 Yes perhaps one day politicians will run for the hills and that will be when people/voters really get on with their duty and don’t abstain from voting …Hugs

  9. Another great article Ina regarding applying for Croatian Citizenship. I have a question that I hope either you or someone else can help me with. I applied for Croatian citizenship back in April of this year and was informed that I received an email in October (6 months after applying) informing me that I am now Croatian citizen and that I am enrolled in the book of citizens of the Republic of Croatia for the domain of the City of Zagreb and they also sent me my MBG (citizenship number) as well as my OIB (Personal Identification Number). I have 2 children (my son is 21 and my daughter is 23) and I was going to apply for their citizenship at the same time I applied for mine (back in April) but they told me it would be quicker for them to wait until I got my citizenship and then for them to apply after the fact (originally I was told that going down this route the waiting time for the kids would be 6 months instead of 18 months). I was told in October that the information they provided me in April was wrong and that they would have to apply on their own (because of their age) and that the waiting period for them will be 18 months (not 6 months). I was born in Canada as was their mother (who has no Croatian lineage) and we are divorced. I was told that I would need to provide proof of their mother being born in Canada (her passport) and needed to provide the consulate with my children’s Canadian passports, criminal record checks and other documents and now that the price per child would be $306 CDN per person rather then $100 CDN per person regarding the application fee’s. My question is because of the amendments to the Croatian citizenship laws for diaspora and the fact that I am now a Croatian citizen, is the info above correct regarding the time it would take my children to become Croatian citizens (18 months)? I would assume the 6 months timeframe would still be in place since I am now a citizen? I guess what I am asking is what are my options to expedite the process for my children? I do look forward to any helpful info / recommendations and I would like to thank you in advance..

    • It seems your information is correct, Mike. Your adult children would need to apply for their citizenship, the new proposals are still proposals and need to be passed as legislation in Parliament. The fee of $100 for new passport seems low as far as my experience goes…the documents applications require seem right too although I’m not sure if they are applying on account of being your children why mother’s birth certificate needs to be handed in but reasonable it is to know the parentage. Obviously your sons will benefit from you being citizens and it should be quicker but unfortunately I her it still takes between 18 months and longer in some cases. Good luck and thank you

  10. Language and culture test is a powerful tool that would be lost. Despite any socialist bias that it have, it gives a little knowledge of Croatian language, culture and customs. It make new citizens become more likely to return or invest in Croatia, and they will have have less troubles with integration into Croatian society.
    Many of the citizenship seekers from overseas are not involved with the Croatian diaspora.
    Also it gives money. Those potencial citizenship seekers should seek a Croatian language course for learn the basic for the test. It cost some money that are used by diaspora members for cultural activities. It is a cash flow that would be lost.
    Finally it undermine people who only want citizenship for travel abroad or move to another EU countries, and do not want to learn a little bit of Croatian language, acting like a filter, making ones who decide to become citizens more Croatian.

    • Knowledge is powerful Goran, but needing to pass a test is a questionable tool in these cases where many returnees learn the language as they go or on the go etc!

  11. welcome

  12. Is there a date when the amendments will be oficial?
    My grandparents went to South America and unfortunately my father didn’t get his citinzenship.
    I wanted to apply for it and was waiting for the amendments but I wasn’t aware of the proposed changes.
    I exchanged emails with the Croatian embassy in Chile and they told me to wait until next year as new requirements will be set.
    But now, as you say, Ancestry stops with parents I wouldn’t be able to apply right?
    Hope the Parliament changes that part.
    Thanks for the information!

    • Yes you can apply, Max, so in your case getting citizenship would be easier in the process of naturalisation where you need to prove you Croatian belonging etc, may still not be required for the language test etc even if the amendments have not yet been voted in, in cases like yours I would like to see automatic right to citizenship as opposed by naturalisation etc…let’s pray the powers that be there get wise and implement that possibility

  13. I’m gathering the documents I need to apply for citizenship but i haven’t found my greatgrandma’s birth certificate. She was from mirca and I was told the records were burnt in a fire. I have her passport. Does anyone know if I can still apply without her birth/baptism certificate?

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