How to Marry a Croatian in the Republic of Hrvatska (Croatia) for Love and / or Citizenship

Love and Immigration "can" mix!

It is possible to A) Have an adventure: Go to Europe on vacation. Decide to check out beautiful, natural and unspoiled Croatia. B) While there, meet a wonderful person. Oh dear! Unexpectedly, of course, fall in love. This is it, and now what? Can an American citizen marry a Croatian, in the Republic of Hrvatska (Croatia)? The answer is, "Of course."

Before going shopping for a wedding dress or formal attire, you're going to have to take care of the paperwork. As they say, no job is complete without it!

City Hall

First step is to go to the beautiful, white stonewalled city hall where you want to marry and speak to the Matićar (Mah-ti-char). This person in some ways resembles an American Justice of the Peace, and can perform the wedding for you. (Or you can go to your parish priest, who will also require similar information.) At any rate, the American will be required to show a fair amount of paperwork before either the Matićar or the Priest, (or "Svećenik" in Croatian - pronounced Sve-che-nik) will agree to marry you. It took us about six months, but just the activity of preparing for our wedding and marriage was kind of romantic, like "two of us against the world". The whole town was rooting for us too - "did you get your papers finalized yet?" Another thing I must point out - we were doing this by mail - no internet - and live on an island, so each step required that we go to the mainland. Even so, better to get started right away. You never know what glitches you may run into.

I gave this same advice to another young woman (American) marrying a Croatian man (an adorable couple - they decided to live in the U.S.) and based on my experiences they were able to get it all organized in about three months. So - here's the meat and potatoes to getting married in Croatia!

Operation - Identification

At city hall, your identity must be confirmed (U.S. Passport, Drivers' License, Birth Certificate). Your name must be identical on the passport and birth certificate. The B.C. will probably need to be translated into Croatian, so ask for a Court Appointed Translator from English to Croatian to do the job for you (the Croatian word for this person is "Sudski Tumać", pronounced Soodski Toomach).

The Sudski Tumać will translate your American documents and stamp them for authenticity. Everything must be tip-top. Hopefully this is your first marriage. If not, the divorce decree will also have to be translated into Croatian (sudski tumać again :)) and an additional document called an Apostille, may be required. The Apostille, which many Americans may never have heard of - I hadn't - basically confirms that the accompanying document being submitted is legitimate. This is issued by the secretary of state in the state where you were divorced. This, too, will have to be translated and verified by your soon-to-be good friend the sudski tumać.

The Croatian government tends to be very careful to avoid potential problems before they happen. In Croatia, citizens, like my husband for example, have a special form called an Izvadak (Izz-va-dack), or in American English, "the story of my life". Date of birth, place of birth, parents' names, dates of birth, any former marriage(s), children, divorce(s) are all listed, making bigamy a near impossibility! It might not be a bad idea for the American court system to consider using such a document.

However, since we Americans don't have the Izvadak, we more or less have to create one. The Croatian government, in effect, wanted me to provide something as close as possible to my own Izvadak! This means I had to swear before the Consul at the US embassy that while my first marriage was finalized, it was important that I swear that my current status was truly that of an unmarried woman (no new husbands lurking around anywhere), and so I swore and signed. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Now, it was my husband's turn. In order for him to marry, he was required to sign a document saying that he was marrying for love and not for the purpose of immigration to America or obtaining American citizenship. Although he's not much of a mush-maker, it was kind of romantic in an obtuse kind of way. After many many years, it seems to be that he was telling the absolute truth. He truly loves his wife and children, and - although he (like many Europeans) is enchanted with America, he could really care less about becoming an American citizen.


Love is in the Air!

Source

Finding the US Embassy in Zagreb

Zagreb is a wonderful, interesting town. To date it has 1,000,000 residents which is small by U.S. standards, but it is culturally rich, splendid, and has a special essence. At night when I look at the tops of buildings I can almost imagine Batman jumping around. There are traces of its Austrian days, wonderful public transport, very well dressed women, and a friendly, urban classiness about it.

If you are traveling from Dalmatia, you have several options. There are buses, planes, trains, and private car - Croatia has a wonderful new highway that cuts travel time in half of what it used to be (from 8 hours to 4 hours or less). They are usually very comfortable, warm and roomy, with two generous breaks on the way up (and back). If you ask at the terminal, there are buses which show two movies in each direction. The trip takes about 5 hours from the Dalmatian capital and second largest city in Croatia, Split.

Once in Zagreb, the embassy is fully accessible by bus, which was OK if you are traveling without kids. It is actually located in a building slightly out of town, between the town and the airport, and the building - big beautiful, shiny - reminds me of a fortress not unlike Fort Knox. A taxicab would also be worth considering because it's a bit off the beaten track, unless you don't mind a 20 minute walk from the highway to the front door of the embassy. Your U.S. passport and I.D. information for both you and your betrothed will be required. No cameras, cell phones or weapons can be brought in.

The whole procedure won't take that long - the American embassy is a friendly and nice place to visit once you get in the door, especially for American citizens. Remember - this is where we had to swear and sign. They just want to discourage marrying someone for the wrong reasons, which makes a lot of sense.

If you want to marry in another country besides Hrvatska, the main point is to visit the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible. In general, American authorities worry about false marriages for immigration purposes. Getting a marriage license is definitely possible. If you want to marry your beloved, follow the paper trail and you will soon be as happy as I am - happily married to my Croatian husband. Best of luck. :)


Source

"Do"-ing the Deed

After getting the green light, everything else was easy. The dress was bought in Split at a wonderful shop called "Nostalgia". It's now closed, but there are many others - people are pro-marriage here. My husband's best friend was available as the translator. Our friends decided to host the wedding party at their place, serving traditional beef Rižot and tons of delicious side entries. Some friends and neighbors decided to make Hrustule and Cvite, traditional Croatian wedding cookies (stay tuned for recipes on these two delicacies in the near future.) Some young musicians - the Kopito Band - were on hand to lead the singing. After we married, a bunch of people waiting outside were on hand to throw dried flowers and Croatian pennies which was for me totally unexpected! After that, the entire wedding party walked between the stone houses with red roofs for a short roundabout procession to our reception area.

Blackout Days

One thing to note when marrying in Croatia, you can't just marry when you feel like it. Croatia is a predominantly Catholic country. The 40 days between Mardi Gras and Easter are considered blacklisted days, so no one marries until Lent passes. As they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do." Another tradition, if there has been a recent death in the immediate family, it is best to postpone the marriage, or to at least have a very modest ceremony.

The Culture here is quite interesting. Generally speaking, everyone HOPES you are pregnant! (I could be wrong, but in the U.S. it seems it's not nice to marry when you are pregnant - that you are forcing the groom to marry you.) In Croatia it's like God, the sudski tumać in the sky, has given you his stamp of approval "Ah, what a nice pair! Now you're pregnant - go on and get married!" I'm not kidding - people were actually disappointed that there was no bun in the oven. But a couple of months later, there was ! :)

Citizenship Options. After marrying, your spouse is free to apply for American citizenship. Of course, the first step is to apply for a green card which requires making two trips to the U.S. within a two-year period. In the end, my husband decided he would rather keep his Croatian citizenship and go with the resident Visa or non-resident Visa status whenever we travel to the States, or eventually decide to live there forever (we haven't gotten to that point as of yet - Croatia is just too darned beautiful and a great place to raise our two kids).

Our kids, on the other hand, have dual citizenship, as do their mom (me). The US government does not recognize any other citizenship besides its own, but having them is entirely possible (Croatia recognizes both, America recognizes only American).

Map of Croatia - Hrvatska

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Comments 19 comments

Ghost32 5 years ago

Fascinating Hub. I don't think I'll travel to Croatia with love in mind, though--and not JUST because my redheaded wife would have a fit!

No, it's because of the part about having to do so much explaining when it comes to a previous divorce. Having not one but SIX of those to explain--and also having to explain why a corpse should be permitted to marry (since nothing short of Death could possibly separate Pam and me)....well, all that seems a bit much.

Perhaps in my next lifetime?

Voted Up and Everything--even funny. After all, I DID start laughing aloud when reading, "Hopefully this is yur first marriage."


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Ha ha ha! Good to hear your comments! If nothing else, Croatia is a great place for you and Pam to visit. Glad you are happy in marriage #7, why not? We all deserve to be happy - thumbs up to you for believing in love - I did too. :)


littleshiva profile image

littleshiva 5 years ago from Charleroi, Belgium

Good one!


lewdduck 5 years ago

I wanted to say that I found your article very helpful! My fiancé and I are going to Croatia soon to get married and neither of us are Croatian (or really know anyone from there). So, figuring out everything that needs to be done has been a little complicated, since neither of us speak the language it has definitely felt like us agains the world at times. But I think we have been able to get everything in order and it is all coming together now.

The only thing that I can't seem to figure out is, once we have our Certificate of No Impediment from the US Embassy (in Zagreb), we're supposed to take that to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and EU Integration to get it authenticated. Do we need to make an appointment or can we just walk in and I can't seem to find their hours anywhere. Any help would be much appreciated. HVALA!


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 5 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Well, generally they do like you to have an appointment. If you don't, then bring your passport and try to get in. Probably you will be successful. Their phone number in Croatia is +385-01-661-2200. The building looks a little like Fort Knox, and they will frisk you at the door, but the people are very nice and are English-speaking. Hope you have a great wedding. Might be a great topic to write a Hub about, later, too!


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 4 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

How very interesting, great hub.


KBWilson3148 4 years ago

I would like to know how can two non Croatian's get married in Croatia. My fiancé is from Macedonia and i'm from the USA. We visited Zagreb in 2010 and we loved it so much that we want to get married there. Do anyone out there know if we can or ir we're even allowed to.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

I would think that the best thing to do is while you are still in the US, ask the Croatian Consul (for me it was in West L.A., but there are others) what documents you would need to bring with you (with or without Apostile) in order to marry in Croatia. Get the facts before you go to Zagreb. Call the US Embassy in Zagreb as well and let them know of your plans. Is your fiancé from the F.Y.R. Macedonia or Macedonia in Greece? Ask their consulate in the US, as well. Step by step, it is probably possible but find out the facts first. Good luck! :)


lewdduck 4 years ago

Hi,

So my wife and I (both US citizens) went ahead and took the plunge and were married in Split, Croatia. The people there are so amazingly welcoming and will desperately go out of their way to help you get married.

From them opening the US embassy (we missed our connectin flight in Paris and they allowed us to get our paperwork done on Friday, which is usually closed to the public) to the local split govt helping us to make sure all of our paperwork was in order, they would tell us that if we came all that way to Split, they wanted to make sure we were able to do it. We probably had more difficulty getting the paperwork done in the US then in Croatia.

It was a little intimidating (as we hadn't been to Euppe yet), making sure we had everything we needed, but it really isn't as difficult as it seems.

We definitely recommend contacting the Local Govt offices before your trip as they were able to help us with an issue (I was adopted and don't have an "original" birth certificate from my birth country) they were able to override the need for it. But only because I had been in contact with the office for over a month before we left.

The local Dalmatian paper even wrote an article about us that took up the entire back page!!! So for most of our trip the locals would ask us if we were the US couple that was married (me being of Asian descent made it pretty obvious it was us). Then the local tourist board in Supatar, Brac invited us to an amazing tour and 4 course meal at the local Konoba. Overall it was an experience so unbelievable and special it can't be expressed in words. We very highly recommend Croatia and cant wai to go back.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

WOW! What a great story, you really made my day! :) Yes the people here are fantastic, and you did well to make advance arrangements. Congratulations on having a dream come true wedding. I live on an island near Bra? myself. Best regards, ECAL


Almedina 4 years ago

Wonderful! I'm glad everything worked out for you. I am also currently dating my boyfriend who happens to live in crotia and I live in the us I'm single but I do have a daughter i was never married. My boyfriend and I have been talking about getting married and we thought it would be a better idea for him to live in the US. Do we have to get married in croatia and than start his immigration papers to the US?


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

I would suggest going for a (free) consultation with an immigration attorney for their perspective. We did it here because we were both in Croatia. If he wants US citizenship make sure he is in love with you and not just the real or imagined financial opportunities, especially for your daughter's sake. These unusual love matches can work out nicely, just get informed and take it step by step. Best to you, ECAL


croluna 4 years ago

Hi,

I'm from Croatia and he is American, we are in love for 2 years. we see each other every 3-4 month and that is really hard for us. He tried to stay here in Croatia and obtain temporary stay (privremeni boravak) but we didn't find a way. He tried to open some company but that didn't work. And now we are separated again. I'm still in college and I can't just go in USA and stay there. Currently we are investigating where is the best way to get married Croatia or USA that we can finally be together every day. If you have some advice for us I would be very grateful. (I'm sorry that my English is not so good)


donatello 3 years ago

how to married croatian? why would american girls want get married in croatia? grretings from croatia


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Hello, CroLuna, kako si?

I understand your situation. You will have to decide even if you change your mind where you want to live if you want to be together. Language will always be a barrier unless you are both fluent. There are places in the US with many Croatian immigrants, like San Pedro, CA, Bellingham WA and - if I am not mistaken, Cleveland OH. If your boyfriend wants to find a compromise where you can feel more at home and he can work, try that. Only you can decide whether it is worth it or not, but without risk, no reward. Good luck to you.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

If you find love overseas, you might find this information helpful. Croatian men are not all bad, you know! Regards....


donatello 3 years ago

yes there are i am croatian and whole man are bad like whole balkan so why american woman want to married with us?,that is so stupid americans and balkans that is not good, american girls & american boys ,not with croatia boys ,whole girls from usa get married in las vegas not in croatia


frane 2 years ago

Hello!

I have found your blog very interesting and helpful.My girlfriend is American and I'm Croatian,we are planning to get married in Cro,and we would like to have a church wedding.Can you share some useful,helpful information about paperwork and some other things that we might not be aware of.She's Lutheran and I'm Roman Catholic,she 'll need to convert if we want to get married in church.First there are some confusing informations about church wedding,is that wedding legal or we need to get married in Justice of Peace to have our marriage fully legal?Would it be possible to have ceremony held in two languages?And is it possible to find the priest in Cro who can do that?Thanks in advance!


jozo matic profile image

jozo matic 2 years ago from Split

Hi ,Anastasia

I'm from Croatia.where do you live in Croatia? I'm from SPLIT. Hajduk SPLIT.(Torcida).Do you know the song by Hari Rončević-Kad bi se moga rodit.

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