Marrying in Croatia
So, you’ve been charmed. Whether it’s Croatia’s beautiful, passionate people or her breathtaking landscapes, orange rooftops, amazing cuisine, homemade wine, citrus and olive trees… whatever has your heart yearning for a Croatian wedding, you wouldn’t be the first to be enticed by her magic.
Maybe you’re dreaming of a sweet ceremony along the Dalmatian coast, maybe you want to elope and stay for the honeymoon in the gorgeous Balkan. This region has romance woven into every whisper of the sea, however, you may want to take a much longer leave from work: getting married in Croatia takes some time and preparation.
Religious ceremonies are not legally binding in Croatia, and if it is something you are interested in for your wedding, realistically your only options of faiths would be Catholic and Orthodox. Either way, you would require proof of marriage by civil ceremony first - this article will get you through the process.
As of 2014, same-sex marriages are allowed under the Life Partnership Act!
However, bear in mind that the country as a whole remains largely conservative and religious, so for your own peace and safety you may want to be discreet with public displays of affection.
- All documents need to have been collected within 90 days of the wedding date.
- All documents, translated, verified and validated have to be handed into the registry within 30-45 days of the wedding day (details below).
- Passports must be valid for one year after the wedding date.
As a Canadian you can only spend 90 days within a 6-month period without a visa in Croatia. So, if possible, you might want to collect the documents before arriving here - mailing takes a long time!
And be forewarned, with just about every step of this process comes at a fee, including the gathering of vital statistics, translations, validation and verification stamps, etc. So make sure you allow some wiggle room in your budget!
If one of you is a Croatian, half the battle is won: they will only require their birth certificate and ID. For the Canadian partner, the process is a bit more complicated.
Documents required from Canada
As a Canadian marrying in Croatia, you will need:
- An original of your birth certificate, issued in your country of birth.
- A marriage search, to prove your current single status.
- If previously married and divorced or widowed, need all the related documentation.
All the above and any related information can generally be obtained from your local registry in Canada, but prices and details may vary by province.
You will also need to write up and print your
- Statutory Declaration of Single Status (Example)
DO NOT SIGN OR DATE IT quite yet, it needs to be sworn at the Canadian Embassy in Zagreb.
Regardless of your Canadian citizenship, if you were born outside of Canada or hold any other citizenships, the Croatian government will require the above documents from those countries as well.
I would also advise that you find a registrar’s office (maticni ured) in Croatia and confirm the required documents with a registry official (maticar) in your chosen city before you leave. Make sure you write down their name and number, and ask if they can be the one to marry you once you arrive. I realize that the language barrier may be a problem, but most officials in Zagreb would be able to speak English.
(You can find a list of registries here or Google maticni ured + city of interest).
Here’s the reason: Croatia is a land of legal ‘grey areas,’ and not all offices are up to date on all the requirements. My husband and I went to two different registries, and both gave us different information about the requirements, based on their current knowledge. The process described in this article is the more extensive one, so don’t worry, it should prepare you well. But if possible, it wouldn’t hurt to double-check!
What Happens in Croatia
If you’ve got room to improvise, even if you plan to have your ceremony along the coast, I’d advise that you arrive in Zagreb first. Being the capital, it is more ‘connected’: it has more English speakers within the offices, the biggest selection of translators, more public transport, the Canadian Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are there, etc. Zagreb as a city is also a lot more organized and reliable than the Dalmatian region.
- YOU MUST register yourself with the police within 48 hours of arrival. If you’re staying in a hotel or a hostel, they usually do the registration for you. If you are staying in private residence (eg. with friends or your fiancé’s family), you will have to go in yourself.
- The police will then direct you to the nearest tourist office, where they register you once again and give your equivalent of a “tourist visa” – it is a piece of paper with your date of arrival and the date you are allowed to stay till. This is particularly important if you’re marrying a Croatian, as the paper trail will help you with consequent applications for extended stay, residence permits, etc.
- Find an official court translator/interpretor (sudski-tumac) – no matter what language your documents are in, ALL of them (including your Statutory Declaration) will need to be translated into Croatian before you bring them into the registrar’s office. Here is one list of English-Croatian court interpreters from the US embassy, but you may also try to Google others. It will be the easiest to find English-Croatian translators, but if your documents are in any other languages, you should be able to contact any interpreter and ask them for leads.
If neither you nor your partner speak Croatian, and you haven’t made any English-speaking Croatian friends, you may be able to hire your interpreter to come along to the maticar with you (details below). You will also need a court translator to be present at your wedding ceremony, so make sure you develop a good relationship with yours!
- If you haven’t already, find a registrar’s office (maticni ured). Contact an official (maticar) who would be able to marry you, and set up an appointment to meet with them. A lot of the officials in Zagreb will be able to speak English, but that might be less common along the coast.
- Confirm the marriage process & required documents, make sure you’ll have exactly what you’ll need.
- Give them your intended wedding date, confirm they would be available to marry you within the time period.
- Explain the time crunch – if your documents are taking too long, or you’re already overstaying your tourist Visa’s welcome, talk to them about it very nicely. Sometimes they’re able to shorten the 30-45 day waiting period for document processing, but it is at their discretion.
After all the above is in order (you’ve collected your documents, translated them, & confirmed everything with a maticar) you are ready to visit two offices in Zagreb: the Canadian Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
If any of your documents need to be issued outside of Canada, please click here for details.
If you are travelling to Zagreb just for that and would like to have it all done in one day, make sure you call both offices and confirm that the people you need will be there. Their office hours are pretty short, so get there early.
1. At the Canadian Embassy
ALL the documents you have gathered from Canada need to be stamped and verified by the Embassy.
Note that the embassy stamps the originals of your Canadian documents, not their copies or translations.
- Your Statutory Declaration will be sworn in, signed and dated at the office.
- Croatia requires a Certificate of Non-Impediment issued by your respective Embassy of. Essentially it’s a statement on behalf of your country, saying that as far as your government is concerned, there are no impediments to you getting married. Unfortunately Canada does not issue those, but the Embassy in Zagreb will issue an equivalent: the Certificate in Lieu of Non-Impediment.
At this point you should have a total of 3 documents to prove that you are single: marital search (+ divorce documents if applicable), statutory declaration, & certificate in lieu of non-impediment.
2. At the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
At this office all your documents are validated and accepted by Croatia as legal.
- Everything that just got stamped at the Canadian Embassy gets a second stamp here.
- Since you will have just received the Certificate in Lieu of Non-Impediment at the Canadian Embassy, it will still be in English. You do NOT have to translate it to get stamped at this office, but you will have to translate it before you take it to the maticar.
- Now you are ready to call up your maticar and bring in your documents for review!
- Ideally this happens within 30-45 days of the wedding day.
- Once your documents are reviewed, the maticar calls you to set up a date for the civil ceremony.
- On the date of your civil ceremony, you will need:
- Your passports (make sure they are still valid for one year as of this date)
- Two witnesses
- If neither of you speaks Croatian, you will need a court translator (mare sure to book one!)
- Three days after the civil ceremony, your vital statistics will be sent in and your marriage documents will be on their way!
And just like that, all the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve put into the process will all be worth it. Enjoy your gorgeous Croatian getaway!
List of Croatian Consulates in Canada
Calling Croatia from Canada
- The country code is 385 so to call you dial 011 – 385 – area code – local number
Area Codes of Major Centres:
Calling Canada from Croatia
Dial 00 - 1 - area code - local number
List of Area Codes in Canada
403 / 587 (southern Alberta)
587 / 780 (central and northern Alberta)
236 / 250 / 778 (majority of BC)
236 / 604 / 778 (Metro Vancouver)
226 / 519 (southwestern Ontario)
249 / 705 (northeastern Ontario)
289 / 365 / 905 (Greater Toronto Area)
343 / 613 (eastern Ontario)
416 / 647 (Toronto)
807 (northwestern Ontario)
|Manitoba||204 / 431||PEI||782 / 902|
418 / 581 (eastern Quebec)
438 / 514 (Montreal)
450 / 579 (Greater Montreal)
819 / 873 (remainder of Quebec)
|Newfoundland and Labrador||709||Saskatchewan||306 / 639|
|Nova Scotia||782 / 902|
Croatia is on Central European Time (GMT+1). They do practice Daylight Saving Time, so the time difference isn't different during the summer (except with Saskatchewan, which does not practice DST). However, there is a slight difference for one week in March and one week in October when Croatia is ahead one hour less.
|Canadian Time Zone||
# of Hours Croatia is Ahead
# of Hours Ahead during last week of March and last week of October
|Pacific (BC, Yukon)||9 hours||8 hours|
|Mountain (Alberta, western Nunvaut, Lloydminster, Saskatchewan)||8 hours||7 hours|
|Saskatchewan||7 hours*||7 hours*|
|Central (Manitoba, Northwest Territories, central Nunavut, northwestern Ontario)||7 hours||6 hours|
|Eastern (most of Ontario, most of Quebec)||6 hours||5 hours|
|Atlantic (Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, eastern Quebec)||5 hours||4 hours|
|Newfoundland||4.5 hours||3.5 hours|
Emergency Information for Canadians in Croatia
Embassy of Canada in Zagreb
Prilaz Gjure Dezelica 4
Telephone: 385 (1) 488-1200 or 488-1238
Canadian Government's Travel Alerts for Croatia
Want to know more about marrying in Croatia? Let us know!