The procedure for granting international protection in Croatia is an administrative procedure regulated by the Law on International and Temporary Protection (LITP). Additionally, the Law on General Administrative Procedure is applied in the procedure, unless otherwise provided by the LITP.
The implementation of asylum policies in Croatia falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior, which is also responsible for the determining authority in charge of examining applications for international protection (see: Determining authority).
The Service for reception and accommodation of applicants for international protection is in charge of two reception centres located in Zagreb and Kutina respectively. Officials of the determining authority are thus not only responsible for conducting interviews but also for ensuring access to reception of applicants for international protection.
The procedure officially begins after the lodging of the application for international protection. Before this stage, a foreigner must express the intention to seek international protection. Immediately following the expression of the intention to apply for international protection, the applicants have access to reception and police officers or officials from the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection shall take the applicant’s fingerprints and shall photograph him or her, establish his or her identity, how he or she entered the Republic of Croatia, the travel route from the country of origin to the Republic of Croatia, and personal circumstances of importance for assessing the special reception and procedural guarantees.
Border officers, the police station, police administration or the Reception Centre for International Protection shall register the applicant in the records of the Ministry of Interior no later than 3 working days from the day the applicant expressed the intention to apply for international protection. If the intention was expressed before some other body, the Reception Centre shall register the applicant in the records of the Ministry within 6 working days from the day when he or she expressed his or her intention. The authority which undertook registration shall issue a certificate of registration of the applicant in the records of the Ministry, and, as necessary, shall set a time limit in which the applicant must report to the Reception Centre for Applicants for International Protection to lodge an application.
Applicants shall be permitted to lodge an application within the shortest possible time and no later than within 15 days from registration of their status in the records of the Ministry of Interior.
First instance procedure
After the application has been lodged, the Department for international protection procedures of the Ministry of Interior shall arrange the personal interview with the applicant as soon as possible, and shall issue a decision within 6 months of a duly completed application or a duly completed and admissible subsequent application. The 6-month time limit may be extended for a further 9 months under certain circumstances and, exceptionally, the procedure may last up to 21 months. The Department for the Dublin procedure is responsible for examining the Dublin criteria and carrying out Dublin transfers to another Member State.
The procedure for international protection in Croatia is a single procedure, given that applications for international protection cover both requests for asylum and the subsidiary protection, thus allowing the Department for international protection procedures to determine ex officio the existence of conditions for granting subsidiary protection status where the conditions for granting refugee status are not met. An application may also be processed under an accelerated or border procedure, although the latter is not used in practice according to Croatian Law Centre’s knowledge. The decision rejecting the application for international protection also states that the person is obliged to leave the European Economic Area within a certain period of time or will be forcibly removed.
According to the LITP the Ministry shall render a decision in an accelerated procedure within 2 months from the day the application or an admissible subsequent application is lodged. There are ten grounds for applying the accelerated procedure. The deadline for lodging an appeal according to the LITP is 8 days from the day the decision is delivered, but the appeal has no suspensive effect.
Procedures at the border or in transit zones are regulated by the LITP. However, according to the Ministry of Interior’s information from the beginning of 2019 they are not applied in practice. The border procedure was still not applied in 2021 according to the Croatian Law Centre’s knowledge.
Negative decisions may be appealed before the Administrative Court within 30 days in the regular procedure, and 8 days in the case of Dublin decisions, inadmissibility decisions or the accelerated procedure. Appeals have automatic suspensive effect in the regular procedure, Dublin cases and some inadmissibility cases, but not in the accelerated procedure.
As regards onward appeals, besides the possibility to lodge a non-suspensive appeal to the High Administrative Court, there is also a possibility to lodge a complaint before the Constitutional Court in case the applicant claims a violation of a right guaranteed by the Croatian Constitution. In that case, a foreigner would have to regularise their stay in Croatia in accordance with the Law on Foreigners, as stay under the LITP is not foreseen once the administrative dispute is over. However, it is not feasible in practice for rejected applicants to easily regularise their stay under the Law on Foreigners, as the majority of them would not meet the conditions prescribed by the Law on Foreigners to obtain a residence permit. This renders it very difficult in practice to appeal against a negative decision from the Administrative Court on constitutional grounds.
 Article 32(1) LITP.
 Article 33(8) LITP.
 Article 33(9) LITP.
 Article 33(10) LITP.
 Article 34(2) LITP.
 Article 35(1) LITP.
 Article 40(1) LITP.
 Article 41(5) and 51(1)(1) LITP.
 Information provided by the Ministry of Interior, 28 January 2019.