Croatia joined the European Union (EU) on 1 July 2013. Although, Croatian nationals don’t require entry clearance or a visa to the UK, you must ensure that any Croatian workers have the appropriate work permission before employment.


All Croatian nationals (except those subject to a deportation order) have an initial right to reside for 3 months. After this, those who are here exercising Treaty rights as a self-sufficient person, a student or a self-employed person have an automatic right to reside.

For those seeking to work in the UK, worker authorisation requires to be obtained with the exception of those who fall into an exempt category.

This is due to the fact that member states are allowed to impose restrictions to new members who join the EU in terms of their accession to the labour market, these restrictions can be imposed up to 7 years after joining the EU. Similar restrictions on the labour market were imposed on Polish nationals.

There is a penalty regime in place which provides for fines of up to £5000 per worker. Also, any time spent in the UK without the appropriate worker authorisation document will not fall to be considered as time spent exercising Treaty Rights for the purpose of a future Permanent Residence application.

If you are considering hiring a new Croatian employer, it may be that they are exempt from worker authorisation.

There is a long list of Croatian nationals who fall into an exempt category and includes:

  • Those who were working legally in the UK without restrictions on 30 June 2013, i.e those in the UK with leave to remain under the Immigration Rules, e.g as spouses of British citizens.
  • Those who have ongoing permission to remain in terms of the Immigration Rules.
  • Those who have been working lawfully in the UK for a continuous period of 12 months ending on or after 30 June 2013.

For those who require worker authorisation, in order to work lawfully they must obtain employment through a licensed Sponsor. The licensed sponsor will then assign them a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), they will also require to meet the Tier 2 rules on English Language but are not required to meet the maintenance rules.

A Croatian national who meets the above criterion can apply in person or at the Premium Service Centre in Croydon for a Purple Registration Certificate. This Certificate must be obtained before employment starts.

Persons in the above category do not require to obtain any documentation.

However, in order to prove their right to reside, they can apply for a Yellow Registration Certificate. The Certificate could be helpful when dealing with third parties, eg when opening a bank account.

A Croatian student does not need a document unless they wish to work. In order to work, they require to obtain a Yellow Registration Certificate before starting employment.

What documents are required by a person exempt from worker authorisation?

Again, Croatian nationals in this category do not require to obtain any documentation. However, they can apply for a Blue Registration Certificate. This document can be helpful to establish their right to work for employers.

The rights of family members differ as to whether they are Croatian nationals themselves and whether their Croatian national family member is subject to Worker Authorisation.

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