Need information on how to go about buying a property in Croatia? This guide offers some tips on doing business and what you need to know.
Traveling around Croatia for business
There is an extensive public transport system in Croatia, where buses are perhaps the best connected. Timetables for buses, trains and ferries can be found on the Internet. All the major car hire companies work in Croatia. The Croatian Tourist Board [www.croatia.hr] has an extensive list of hotels on its website.
* It is the law in Croatia that you must always drive with your headlights on.
* There is a zero tolerance law [0.0 ml/l] for drinking and driving.
* Be careful when Croatian roads are wet because they can be extremely slippery.
* During the summer months [particularly July and August], when there are an increased number of visitors to Croatia, the roads and ferries can be very crowded. This is particularly the case on Saturdays. If you are planning an extensive tour around Croatia for the purpose of business it is probably best to avoid these months.
* If you do have the misfortune to have a road traffic accident, you should call the Police [telephone number: 92]. They will come and make a report about the accident. This is the case even for minor ‘bumps’.
Generally, business in Croatia is carried out in the same way as in any other European country, where it would be difficult to define a business practice as being specific to Croatia. However, one important thing that anyone coming to do business in Croatia should be aware of is that bureaucratic procedures can be quite complex and lengthy.
* Do get in touch with your business contacts well in advance to make an appointment.
* Refer to your business contact by their title. Sometimes your business contact may call you by your first name with your title [i.e. Mr Bob/Ms Sally]. This is less formal than using your surname, but more formal than just first names.
* At Christmas time, a lot of companies send their business partners a small gift [such as a calendar, or a pen with the company’s logo].
* Most business transactions are expressed in Euros, Dollars or Swiss Francs. However, payments must be received in the Croatian currency of Kunas. ATM machines are widely available, and the majority of business outlets take the major credit cards.
Wining and dining
* The person who has done the inviting is usually expected to pay for the meal.
* Be punctual for meal appointments.
* When someone offers a toast it is customary for everyone to ‘chink’ the glasses with everyone else. When you are chinking your glass with someone else you should look them directly in the eye.
* Rakija is the Croatian form of grappa, normally served as an aperitif or digestif. Although it is normally a grape based drink it can be infused with a number of different fruit, herbs and grasses. Be warned that it is quite a strong drink.
* If you are a vegetarian, it is probably better to inform your host in advance. Some restaurants specialise in meat dishes and would not be a suitable dining choice for vegetarians.
Recent history of Croatia
Quite a few people still associate Croatia with the conflicts that followed the break up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Whilst this may be foremost in your mind, it is useful to remember that war in Croatia ended eleven years ago. Croatian people are now thinking towards the future, and these conflicts are therefore not an everyday topic of conversation. It is probably advisable to only broach this subject if your hosts/business partners have introduced it themselves. If this topic does come up, then it is advisable to be aware of the following:
* Don’t refer to the conflicts following the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a civil war.
* It is probably best not to ask your business contacts direct questions about their feelings on the conflicts.
Buying Property in Croatia
Recently, there has been much interest in the purchase of property in Croatia. There are a number of estate agents who specialise in selling property to foreign citizens. You can also find property advertised in local advertising newspapers. However, these adverts are in the Croatian language and you will need to get them translated. If you find a property that interests you, it is imperative that you find yourselves a good lawyer since the purchasing process is complex. Your Embassy can offer you advice on finding a lawyer who speaks English. Due to the system of inheritance, do not be surprised if you find that more than one person owns the property you are interested in buying. Many houses are jointly inherited by a number of family members. If this is the case, you must make sure that your lawyer has checked that all of the owners are willing to sell. In addition, as a result of property having been de-nationalised after the break up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the people living in the property may not be the recorded owners in the land registry. Again, it is imperative that your lawyer checks this. If you are a foreign citizen you will need to apply to the Ministry of Justice for approval to buy property in Croatia. This can take a very long time, and is something that should be taken into account. It can be slightly problematic for people who are buying property with the intention of renting it out because in order to legally rent out the property they must have ownership papers. In addition, in order to avoid paying capital gains tax you need to be the ‘official’ owner for a certain number of years. Once again, you should speak to a lawyer about this who can explain to you in detail the laws regarding the renting out of property.
Joining the European Union
Croatia is in the process of preparing for accession to the European Union. Although there is much speculation as to when this might be, there is no fixed date at the moment.
Health care in Croatia
In case of an accident, the telephone number for an ambulance is 94. If it is a minor medical complaint, then there are a number of private GP’s or dentists who offer an extremely high standard of medical care and often speak a number of European languages. If not, they will be able to arrange a translator/interpreter for you. Your host/business partner/hotel will be the best contact to help you arrange this.