Today’s story has got everything to do with getting married as a Croatian national to a non Croatian national, in this case my husband with an Australian citizenship. As a Croatian national all I need to do is provide my OIB card (National ID card) to any Maticar (Town Hall) and they are able to access my marital status, so from my end everything is fine.
Here comes the tricky part for the Australian citizen. I am writing this on behalf of an Australian citizen already relocated overseas, not one with primary access to the Births, Deaths and Marriages office in Australia in whichever state they reside in. The Australian national wishing to marry in Croatia must provide the following documentation: 1. Birth Certificate (no older than 90 days) 2. Single status Certificate from Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Things to Consider: 1. Requesting a single status certificate from overseas and paying extra for express post still took about 4-5 weeks to be processed and arrive in Croatia. 2. We were fortunate that Luka’s father was able to pull out his Birth Certificate on his behalf in NSW and express posted it to Croatia, this still took almost two weeks.
Once you receive these certificates you need to make an appointment at the Australian Embassy in Zagreb (literally, online) and get an Apostille stamp on each document to verify it. Each stamp costs 370kn (approx. 50€) and takes about half an hour to process. You then need to have all your documentation translated to the Croatian language, including the Apostille stamp. DO NOT get any documentation translated before you get the Apostille stamp, the stamp is in english and must be translated to Croatian. I recommend Lingua-Soft, they have offices on Zagreb, Zadar, Split and Rijeka. This costs another 150kn per page, so things slowly begin to add up quite quickly, not to mention the time all this actually takes.
So, you’ve got your documents translated and you’re ready to say ‘I do‘ the Croatian way at a Town Hall, literally this is how you get married. Even if you have a Church wedding, you’re still legally and technically married when you say your vows at the Maticar. You find a Maticar (Celebrant at Town Hall) in your local council and show up between the hours of 8-12pm because that’s when they deal with “foreigners” aka passports such as Australian.
You think you have all your paperwork you’ve been told to provide by various sources including an endless list of Google searches, even the Australian Embassy has wished you well.. it’s all smooth sailing right? Yeah yeah.
When you live in Croatia long enough and things run too smoothly, you begin to freak out and ask yourself, “what obstacle awaits me any second from now….“
Here’s my story from my personal experience at the Maticar in Zadar
After literally waiting over 6 weeks to finally have gathered all the documentation, have it stamped and translated, Luka and I were ready to say ‘I do.’ I put on my Camilla, Luka looked like he just walked off the Riviera in Monaco, we had our witnesses and on our way we went. I had butterflies in my heart and stomach, today was the day. I had everything she was going to ask for. We said our final few words as boyfriend and girlfriend and walked into the building.
We were directed to room 7, Maticni Ured, knocked on the door, said hello and told the woman what we needed and were directed to wait outside. We waited and waited for about 15minutes, her assistant walked by and told us that she wouldn’t be much longer, so far so good. People seemed nice, this is Dalmatia, the only people who I know hate their lives here are those working in the local MUP, everyone else seem to operate in a chilled manner.
The woman calls us in, seems quite okay, asks for the paperwork for Luka and then for my OIB card. She looks me up into the system, I’m all set to get married, my single status is okay. She looks over the translations for Luka’s documentation, she seemed confused on Luka’s birth certificate. “Why would the Australian Embassy in Zagreb provide an Apostille stamp on this birth certificate?” she asks.
“The birth certificate was sent from Australia to Croatia and then stamped in Zagreb, only they can verify the document for you.” Often in Croatia you’re asked stupid questions, it’s best to just smile and move on.
Everything seems to be going well until she says, “A paper is missing.“
“This one, the one that says that Australia will recognise the marriage, Certificate of No Impediment.” She calls us over to her side and shows us what it looks like, it has been stamped and translated to the Croatian language.
“No one told us that, we were told that we need a birth certificate no later than 90 days old and a single status certificate,” I say.
“Who did you get your information from? If you called us we would have told you.” she responds. There’s a little white lie here because when you do call a Maticar and I have called many, unless you really force them for the correct information, most will just tell you to come into their office with your papers and they will deal with it from there. We had an occasion where we called one office and spoke with two different people on the requirements, both provided different information. In our case, not one Maticar mentioned the No Impediment Certificate over the phone.
Obviously quite frustrated, we then ask “what now?“
She apparently can’t go ahead with marrying us because we are missing this piece of paper.
I call the Australian Embassy in Zagreb and speak with the lady who dealt with our Apostille stamps the week before. I ask her if she is able to provide the Certificate of No Impediment on the spot, she says yes. I ask her why she didn’t tell us we may need this certificate since she knew we were getting married, she tells me that she only advises on the things she is asked about and cannot provide any extra information. Great standard of customer service at the Australian Embassy in Zagreb, the woman clearly functions like a local. Just as a general courtesy, knowingly that we may come to this obstacle as we did, she could have informed us. Now we would have to go back to Zagreb from Zadar, book an appointment, waste another hour getting this paper, wait for it to get stamped and then translated. Such an inconvenience considering we could have done it all the previous Monday. Seriously, think people think!
The Maticar is adamant she cannot marry us without this one piece paper, even though we know she can. In this very moment, she lacks empathy like majority of people who work in Government jobs in Croatia and are paid by the Croatian people to serve the Croatian people.
There’s literally no way around this, that paper must be here for the show to go on.
My friend chimes in, “Okay, this is your procedure, we get that and respect that but do you see this from our side, we are given different information from every single person we ask. It gets to a point where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s just frustrating. Is this information written on your website?“
She says that she doesn’t know which most likely is a no because this is the beautiful way in which this beautiful country of Croatia functions, no one knows a thing and you can’t access official information, especially in english. Most people in Government jobs have no idea what the laws are, what the procedure is, they just make up the rules that suit them best.
Luka spoke with the Australian Embassy outside on the phone and they confirmed that the Maticar could 100% marry us with his birth certificate and single status certificate (with Apostille stamp and translated to Croatian), that she in this moment is choosing to be difficult. She also confirmed that the Australian Embassy is allowed to advise outside what we were asking and if she was dealing with our case last Monday while we were at the Embassy, that she would have kindly informed us that we may need the Certificate of No Impediment and to grab it while we were there, as a ‘just in case.’
So, the lady who was serving us clearly didn’t want to go out of her way. But wait, this is Croatia.
This is how it operates, this is normal.
OK Fine, what next?
Back to Zagreb we go.
The fastest way to get the Certificate of No Impediment is through the Australian Embassy in Zagreb which costs 655kn (approx. 89€), this then needs to be stamped by an authorised personnel at the Embassy, verified at the MVEP and then translated to Croatian.
I asked the Maticar what kind of stamp needs to be on the Certificate of No Impediment and she told us that we then need to go to some Ministers Office in Zagreb and get a “pecat,” my goodness does this word trigger me.
The Certificate of No Impediment and the stamp & signature issued by the woman working at the Australian Embassy in Zagreb needs to be verified by another lady at the MVEP (Ministarstva Vanjskih i Europskih Poslova) which is located at Trg Petra Petretića 2 in Zagreb. Fortunately our experience at the MVEP was blissful and the lady who verified our documentation was very pleasant, professional and seemed to love her job. We also met another couple who wanted to get married at this office, the man was Croatian national and the woman was Japanese- I can’t even imagine the verification process for Japanese Nationals. At least, they too, had a sense of humour about it all.
The only annoying part about the process with the MVEP is that they will ask you to leave the building, go to a Tisak (it’s like a newspaper stand usually near a tram way) to buy stamps to a certain value. Why they don’t sell these themselves I’ll never understand. We had to walk down to Kvatric to buy something like 32kn worth of stamps. It’s just so much time wasting, makes you feel like you’re part taking in Croatia’s communist era. Oh wait, you are. Some parts of Croatian history remain prevalent in modern day.
From here, The Certificate of No Impediment needs to be translated from English to the Croatian language. This takes about 24 hours at the place I mentioned before.
We have our hands on every single piece of paper you could possibly need to get married in Croatia, it’s almost 3,000kn worth of documentation in our hands and decide to see what a Maticar in Zagreb would say. We walk into the Maticar, present our documentation and the Maticar says, “Your single status is just for NSW, what about the rest of Australia?” Ahhh, I warned you that every Maticar in Croatia is different, remember?
A single status certificate for Australia does not exist. Regardless, that’s what The Certificate of No Impediment is there for. The Australian Embassy literally confirms that there is no pending impediment for X and X to marry in writing. Not enough for the Maticar in Zagreb. Her boss also needs to look over the documentation because “she doesn’t understand” it all. Of course, nobody in the country knows how to verify official documentation, especially when you’ve spent an absurd amount of money getting it all. She then mentioned that regardless of what her boss says, there is a wait period of over 40 days to get married in Zagreb.
By this point we can’t be bothered to deal with another mind numbing situation getting in the way of getting married. The next day we leave to go back to Zadar. The following day straight to the Maticar in Zadar between 8-12pm. I had to write out a “zamolba” which is a letter to the Maticar in Zadar requesting she marry us in less than the usual 30+ day wait period and why. There’s no more time to lose or else the documentation will expire (and I’ll most likely have a mental breakdown).
It needs to be written in Croatian and signed by the couple.
Within 20 minutes she is locking in a time, 2pm this coming Friday. It’s Wednesday, we got married in Croatia within 2 days of registering at the Maticar. What a miracle! She gets a bottle of wine from us.
But before we even 100% confirm the date, Luka and I must walk down to the closest post office and pay the Maticar fee of 140kn and bring back the 70kn worth of stamps. And hurry up because at 12pm the office starts their hour long marenda and if you’re not back before then, you’ll have to stick around till 1pm to give the Maticar the stamps and payment confirmation. It’s a process that’s enough to drive you crazy but whatever, we’re happily married now and look back at the whole process and have a laugh!
So, what do you need to get married in Croatia to an Australian citizen?
Croatian National – Nothing except your OIB card
Australian Citizen – 1. Birth certificate no older than 90 days with an Apostille Stamp 2. Single Status Certificate from births, deaths and marriages with Apostille Stamp 3. The Certificate of no Impediment 4. A valid passport
All translated into the Croatian language.0