What is the change? On June 30, 2015, Croatia’s first transitional phase of accession to the European Union ended, and member countries that did not already allow Croatians free movement and access to the labor market were required to decide whether to extend restrictions on Croatian nationals.

What does the change mean? As of July 1, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain have removed work permit restrictions on Croatian nationals, allowing them full access to their labor markets. Countries that will maintain restrictions on Croatian workers for another three years are Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

  • Implementation time frame: July 1 and onward.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits, residence permits.
  • Who is affected: Croatian nationals and companies recruiting them in the restricted countries.
  • Impact on processing times: Work permit processing will be eliminated in all but five remaining EU countries.
  • Business impact: Companies bringing Croatian nationals to most of Europe will not need to fulfill work permit criteria and regulations.

Background: Croatia joined the EU on July 1, 2013 under agreements that allowed individual member states to decide whether to keep or remove work permit restrictions on Croatian nationals during transitional phases. The first phase has just ended and as of July 1, Croatians may work freely in all countries except Austria, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the U.K., which will maintain individual work and residence permit schemes.

BAL Analysis: Employers will have to continue to observe work permit regulations for Croatian employees in the five EU countries for another three years.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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