Rehashing Croatian Citizenship Act – Croatian Diaspora Takes A Spotlight

Zeljko Glasnovic, MP Croatian Parliament for Diaspora
January 31, 2019
Photo: screenshot


In its legal formulation, citizenship is a fundamental expression of membership in a nation! Automatic right to citizenship by descent/ancestry is far valuable for the Croatian national goal of having as many Croats return than what citizenship by naturalisation is. No question about that!

If I hear once more a Croatian government representative, or the President of the country for that matter, chivalrously (as they do) invite Croats living in the diaspora to return to Croatia, I fear I won’t be able to contain my outrage much longer! Why, you may ask – indeed. Well, all that the Croatian diaspora has been hearing from the political elites in power since about 1995 (when the Homeland War ended in military operations sense) is how Croats are welcome to return, how they should return to their homeland, how this, how that – all along those lines – and yet Croatia’s powers that be have done absolutely nothing to ensure that the process of receiving citizenship truly matches their invitations for return. That is, that citizenship is awarded to people of Croatian national descent living abroad who want to return or migrate to live in Croatia with minimal delay, if any!

One gets this bitter and irritating taste of something gone alarmingly wrong within this evidently national goal (and constant invitations for return have given a sense of national goal – i.e. succeeding in getting as many Croats as possible answer to the call [invite] for return) and pathetically incongruous means to achieve it, so far. Certainly, amending the existing Citizenship Act would represent one of the key means/strategies to achieve the goal of return. But, the highest of honours bestowed upon citizenship, an automatic entitlement to Croatian citizenship by descent (if one was/is born in the diaspora) is still locked to the condition that at least (only) one parent is a Croatian citizenship at time of birth of the child outside Croatia! This, of course, cuts out from that honour roll millions of people of Croatian descent living abroad. And those powers that be in Croatia are aware of this – some, especially those who show no desire for Croatia to be and grow strong, most likely prefer things to stay that way.

During the past week the Croatian Parliament agenda included discussions, presentations and suggestions from various parties about amendments to the Citizenship Act and those, bar one or two, gave no sense at all that what was afoot is a critical chance to ensure that the national goal of attracting as many as possible Croats from the diaspora to return to Croatia is actually addressed via amendments to the Act, including criteria for automatic right to citizenship. Representatives from the major party in government (Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ), such as Milian Brkic, Davor Ivo Stier, Ivan Suker and others kept waffling on about how their government is now bringing in the amendments that would make it much easier for Croats to become citizens of Croatia!

Front row: Zeljko Reiner (L), Milijan Brkic (R)
Photo: Hina

“This is a small step for Croatia, but a big one for Croatian emigration,” Milijan Brkic , HDZ Vice-President and Deputy Speaker Croatian Parliament, emphasised, accentuating the enormous potential and significance of the Croatian emigration.

With this we are sending out the message to the émigrés that our doors are open to them and that we are extending our hand to them for eventual return, and the first step is reception into the Croatian citizenship, and that we are extending our hand to them for investment into Croatia,” he said.

Well, well, well (!) – they are not pulling any wool over my eyes with this!

Firstly, Croatian diaspora gets deeply offended by such attitudes from Croatia that imply Croatia is not their homeland too. It is and it has always been so – the diaspora is part of Croatian nation! What does it feel like when people living in Croatia say “we extend our hand, open our door…to Croats from diaspora” ?! People say that such attitudes are pathetic, unproductive and have no place for a nation desirous of living with its diaspora.

Secondly, with their amendments they’re still keeping millions of people of Croatian national descent living in the diaspora who wish to return to Croatia, become citizens, in the less-important category of receiving citizenship through naturalisation! And that is no jackpot for Croats in the diaspora despite it being sold as such by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)!

Citizenship by descent means an automatic right to citizenship, whether one exercises that right or not.

Citizenship by naturalisation means that you pass the relevant requirements to become a citizen of a country that you weren’t previously a citizen of. This is the part about which the Croatian Democratic Union boasts – they say they will make this process easier, quicker for people who prove Croatian descent or belonging to the Croatian people.

Naturalisation is not an automatic right to citizenship and the Croatian diaspora needs to fight hard to achieve a widening of criteria for automatic citizenship right – at least those who want to return or emigrate (if they were born abroad) into Croatia.

“ … Perhaps one of the most important laws in modern history of Croatia is before us … for 28 years we gave been watching a Greek Tragedy … It’s a tragedy that the Croatian diaspora has become, I would say, Shudra in its own country, in the meaning of social castes in far India, they are there somewhere at the bottom … after all that they have given … this is a strategic question for the Republic of Croatia…we are constantly talking about the demographic plague … are we going to talk about the potential of the Croatian diaspora for the next three decades or are we going to finish this job … Independents for Croatia club will intercede to make things simpler…that law is still unclear…there are still smoke screens in it …in Article 6 for instance there are some 45 days for administrative purposes, which can block the process …well wait, the administration must complete its job as fast as possible … clarity and shortening of process …” said on 31 January 2019 in his presentation Zeljko Glasnovic, Independent Member of Parliament for the Croatian Diaspora. Video Link to his speech (in Croatian language) in Parliament on the Citizenship Act is presented below and well worth paying close attention to.


The important thing in Glasnovic’s presentation is that it contains inclinations towards possibilities of a special status in right to citizenship to be provided by the Act for people of Croatian national descent, including those whose ancestors have been living outside Croatia for many decades, whose families may have been deported or had fled e.g. post WWII, and are returning to live in Croatia.

Certainly, shining a special spotlight at the descendants of Croatian people returning to Croatia or emigrating into it is critical to the strategies of achieving the national goal of Croats returning to Croatia. No naturalisation process, no matter how short it is made, can ever replace in value for Croatia the automatic right to citizenship by descent. Descent meaning a descendant of Croatian people not Croatian citizens – the difference is paramount and enormous. I hope those in HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) will get to understand this difference and stop boasting about its new proposals to make naturalisation easier for Croats from diaspora and get on the wagon that is about automatic right to citizenship for descendants of Croatian people. Ina Vukic


  1. If Brexit goes ahead as planned I’m going to be applying for Croatian citizenship myself. My friend went there on holiday last year, that has to count in my favour surely?

  2. Many other nations manage to live with their diaspora. For how many generations is this situation a problem?

  3. Jerry Vlasic says:

    So, if I read this correctly, the fact that my paternal great grandparents emigrated from what is now modern-day Croatia (1890s from Karlovac/Restovo areas) would perhaps allow me to apply for Croatian citizenship? I would welcome that opportunity

    • Yes indeed, Jerry, as things stand now with amendments to the Act that are still in process of parliamentary discussions etc before voting, the citizenship through naturalisation process (prirođenje) provides for proff of ancestry, belonging to Croatian people/nation. And that process it is said is going to be quicker. Also, doing away with Croatian language knowledge test. My preference and preference of many would be to provide for automatic right to citizenship by proof of belonging to Croatian people etc, which is better than needing to go through naturalisation. We wait and see what happens with that in the coming months. Thank you for your comment.

      • Jerry Vlasic says:

        Thank you for replying to my query. Your preference for automatic right to citizenship via descent is understandable. I will be interested to see how the parliamentary discussions go. What do you think the timeline is for any recommended new amendments to the Act to become official law?

      • Time is now, still time Jerry, as there has only been the first reading as far as I’m aware a couple of weeks ago. My hunch is that we are looking at probably three or four months to the vote on amendments, I will be checking the parliament’s agenda for future sessions etc to make sure…cheers

  4. Interessant!

  5. Jerry Vlasic says:

    I know the first reading fo the amendments occurred. Has there been any other readings or movement in the process?

  6. Jerry Vlasic says:
  7. Jerry Vlasic says:

    I was in contact via email with a consular official and he indicated that amendments to citizenship act may be acted up before EU elections in late May if timing goes well.

  8. My father was born in Croatia and immigrated to Canada when he was 12. Currently I have all the documents to apply but would need to write the language test, since my mother is Canadian I never mastered the language. With these changes does it mean I would no longer need to take the language test?

    • Yes Nicole that is my understanding of the amendments to the act now going through parliament but I believe even now it may be possible to have the test waived…perhaps ask at Embassy or consulate if you are in Canada. Great to hear your news re citizenship application

  9. Jerry Vlasic says:

    I’ve tried emailing contact email for the Sabor a few days ago asking about the final proposal vote timeline, yet no luck on any reply

    • Not surprised Jerry! Should occur soon in Autumn I suppose … keeping tabs 🙂

      • D.Petric says:

        I am working with a consulting company to apply for Croatian Citizenship by descent. So far, they have found my grandparent’s berth certificates and marriage certificates… which is great seeing they were born in the 1890s. But, they want me to rush in order to get everything done by October 1st because the new law takes affect on that date. The company believes there is going to be a six month delay in any applications (old way or new way) because the bureaucrats have that long to develop new forms. Is this all true? it sounds like the Law has not passed yet?

      • D Petric I am not informed about any delays you speak of due to process or new procedure that will come in after the legislation is amended. I would imagine there will be a timeframe set to start applying any new elements of the law and I assume they will have forms ready to go once changes kick of. Yes I believe the parliament will vote in the new amendments soon after the Autumn session starts mid-September. A delay could be possible initially if one looks at their red-tape track record. We are being assured that things will move faster in the future but then it’s hard to know. I certainly hope so

  10. Hi,
    I have had all my documents ready for citizenship via the London Croatian embassy all year but i am not confident i would pass the test thus I am now waiting for this amendment to pass so i can hopefully bypass the test. My father is Croatian so I would like to obtain this more on the heritage grounds.
    Can you advise where i would get up to date notifications on the parliamentary status and then when this is hopefully adopted out to all embassies?

    • Hi Sheree, the Autumn parliamentary session starts around 15 September and on the website session Agenda is usually posted where one may track events and topics and voting etc. Once the amendments are passed then regulations ensue and yes all embassies and consulates would need to process applications as per rules. I believe the amendments to the Citizenship Act will be voted on early during Autumn, but cannot be sure. Cheers and good luck. Great to hear about your efforts

  11. Jerry Vlasic says:

    Any updates now that the Sabor is in session?

  12. Jerry Vlasic says:
  13. Sheree Siljac says:

    Brilliant, I will be getting in touch with my local consulate to see if i need to fill out any different forms. I will be submitting asap from when it comes into effect. Thank you so much for updating this thread.

    • Hi Sheree,

      Between today and 31st December 2019 the existing laws, language test, process and forms will remain the same.

      Then from 1st January 2020 there will be a freeze on citizenship applications until the new guidelines, process and paper work are put in place by the various Croatian consulates and embassies around the world. This could be one month delay or it could be 6 months depending on the particular Consulate and the directions of the Ministry of the Interior in Croatia.

      You can contact your local Consulate about different forms and such, but they will have no new information until some time after 1st January 2020.

      If there is a particular timeframe you must meet for citizenship (ASAP) then it would be better to submit your application now under the current rules. Otherwise you will face delays with the new process, as well as longer processing times once submitted as there are many people ‘waiting’ for the new laws to come into effect which will flood the system.

      Hope that helps your decision.

  14. I saw that, but does that include the elimination of the language test? It only mentions extending the age to acquire citizenship if your parent is Croatian. Wasn’t sure if they separated out the different amendments or if that vote means they all passed.

  15. I saw that, but does that include the elimination of the language test? It only mentions extending the age to acquire citizenship if your parent is Croatian. Wasn’t sure if they separated out the different amendments or if that vote means they all passed.

  16. Sheree Siljac says:

    Hi Ante,

    Thanks for your response.

    I understand all laws remain the same until 2020.
    I have contacted my consulate and also understand until all is in-place there is nothing i can do. I am just excited things are moving forward. I mean that as soon as its all possible ill be submitting asap.

    Many thanks,

  17. Good day,

    The new amendment is a positive step. My father was a Croatian citizen when I was born abroad and I do not carry the Croatian citizenship. I am married with children. Are they eligible to apply with me?

    • Not knowing your detailed circumstances it appears to me that They’re eligible via Naturalisation proving Croatian citizenship of grandparent…and you also via that. If they are minors you could all apply together…

      • I am not an ethnic Croat. My father was a naturalised Croatian citizen before I was born. He never registered me and has passed away a while back by now. I am not sure if the current changes help my naturalisation case.

        Please know that I am a US citizen and I am pursuing the Croatian citizenship to reconnect with my father’s identity.

      • Hleyic. Thanks on comment. Your father was a citizen even if not ethnic Croat and that may provide you with a possibility via naturalisation, however the process of naturalisation also takes foreigners with no ancestry in Croatian citizenship. Perhaps the best avenue for you is to ask at the Croatian Diplomatic or consular missions or engage a solicitor in Croatia to advise on that. Cheers

  18. Good day,

    The new amendment is a positive step. My father was a Croatian citizen when I was born abroad and I do not carry the Croatian citizenship. I am married with children. Are they eligible to apply with me?

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