How to start a business in Croatia from the UK

Caroline Wire

Wondering how to start a business in Croatia? With foreign direct investment flowing into sectors like financial services and manufacturing, the time might be right to start a business in Croatia if you’re a UK entrepreneur. But how?

Read on for our full guide to starting a business in Croatia. We'll also touch on Wise Business as a smart and low cost way to hold and exchange 40+ currencies with mid-market exchange rates, low fees1, and flexible services.

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Table of contents

Doing business in Croatia

Croatia can be an attractive place to do business, with a good location and fairly straightforward business registration processes which can be supported by local agents. In terms of foreign direct investment in Croatia at the time of writing, most foreign entrepreneurs are invested in financial services, manufacturing and real estate - but there's a long list of other sectors which are popular for overseas entrepreneurs looking to make their mark2.

Expect Croatia business etiquette to be somewhat formal, at least at first - but not unfriendly. As in the UK, politeness goes a long way to forming meaningful relationships which can be mutually productive.

Croatian company register

Generally you will need local support to open a business in Croatia. This guide walks through some of the different entity types, but getting local advice from a professional that can assess your needs is essential.

Here’s a look at the most popular types of business entities one can choose to start a business in Croatia3:

  • Public Limited Company (DD)
  • Limited Liability Company (DOO)
  • Economic Interest Association (GIU)
  • Simple Limited Liability Company (JDOO)
  • General Partnership (JTD)
  • Limited Partnership (KD)
  • Trade Business (OBRT)
  • Branch Office (Predstavništvo)
  • Non-profit organisation (Udruga)

Let’s work through the most common business types in more detail, one by one.

Public Limited Company (DD)

You need a significant amount of share capital to set up a Dioničko društvo - a public limited company4. Liability is limited, and shares can be issued as ordinary, preferential or participatory, which offer the holders different privileges and voting rights. As with all Croatian companies, it’s essential to get local support and advice to set up a DD.

Limited Liability Company (DOO)

A limited liability company - Drustvo s Ogranicenom Odgovornoscu5 or DOO is the most popular company type in Croatia. It’s relatively simple to set up and usually needs far less share capital compared to setting up a full DD business entity.

Economic Interest Association (GIU)

A Gospodarsko interesno udruženje (GIU)6 doesn’t really have a direct equivalent in the UK. It’s an economic cooperation of sorts in which individuals can come together to promote their business or activities. There’s no share capital and you won’t make a direct profit from this business type, but it can be of use to promote another business entity you have.

Simple Limited Liability Company (JDOO)

A JDOO7 is a very popular type of company in Croatia, in which up to 5 people can come together with a very small stake or investment per person, to form a company. You might be able to set up this entity type with as little as a single EUR each, making it a good option for very new startups.

General Partnership (JTD)

A Croatian general partnership8 is similar to the UK general partnership model in which each partner is liable for the business jointly and severally. The partnership agreement must be set out in writing, and the capital invested does not necessarily need to be in cash - assets, time and other non-cash alternatives may also be considered.

Limited Partnership (KD)

Again, similar to the UK model, in a limited partnership9, as long as at least one partner has full liability for the business, other partners may limit their liability to the amount of assets invested in the first place.

Trade Business (OBRT)

OBRT10 roughly can be translated to craft or trade. These businesses are linked to the specific craft of an individual - anything from trades like plumbing and electrical work, to hairdressers or artisans and so on. This is a business which is inherently linked to one person, and which can’t be bought, sold, or passed on to another individual. Licences are required for some crafts and trades.

Branch Office (Predstavništvo)

If you’re a UK registered business owner or sole trader you may be able to set up a branch office11 in Croatia. In this case, the office is not a separate legal entity, but an extension of the business you have already registered in the UK.

Non-profit organisation (Udruga)

Finally, if you’re planning on running a non-profit, as a volunteer group for example, you’ll want to look into registering a Croatian Udruga. This can be done through an agent locally to make sure you have all the paperwork and requirements sorted out before you register.

How to start a business in Croatia - Step-by-step

As a third country national, the chances are that you’ll need to complete some of the process of adding a business to the Croatia business register in person12. E-services are usually only available for Croatian and EU/EEA residents. However, much of the business registration process in Croatia can be done through an agent. There’s a Croatian government support service called Hitro which can offer help with some stages of registering a Croatian business, and which is well worth looking into.

Here are the basic steps to Croatia company registration, to make sure your company is successfully entered into the Croatia business registry13:

  1. Check the name you want for your company is available14 - the team at can help with this and many other steps of the incorporation process15
  2. Have all documents notarised - if you don’t speak Croatian you’ll also need a court approved translator for this step
  3. Pay fees and capital - there may be other registration steps needed at this stage, based on the business entity type and activities, your advisor can help ascertain what’s required
  4. Open a business account for the company - we’ll cover how Wise Business can help here in detail a little later
  5. As needed, registration for pension, health service and tax

Setting up a business in Croatia - FAQs

Let’s walk through a few more important questions about starting a business in Croatia.

How much does it cost to register a company in Croatia?

The cost of registering a business in Croatia can vary a lot. There are certification costs relating to the documents you need to present, which are stated to average at just over 330 EUR16 - but on top of that there will need to be notary fees, translation where required, and - often - an agent charge. It’s worth looking at several different agents based on the amount of support you think you’ll need, to get the best match for your situation.

Is Croatia a good country in which to start a business?

Croatia actively promotes itself to investors and has government agencies which are there to help foreign investors navigate the process of starting a business. If you’ve spotted a niche it can be a good place to invest, offering a strategic location and a foothold to mainland Europe.

Can a foreigner start a business in Croatia?

Yes. According to Invest in Croatia foreigners can start a business in Croatia with the same rights and responsibilities as a Croatian citizen would have. They’re also legally able to repatriate profits and share capital when the time comes to do so.

Manage your Croatian Company's finances with Wise Business

Wise Business can help you manage your company finance between EUR and GBP, with easy to hold, receive, send and exchange currencies with the mid-market exchange rate and low fees1.

Open your Wise Business account to hold and exchange 40+ currencies, and get paid by others with local account details for GBP, EUR and other major currencies. Accounts also offer linked debit and expense cards, multi-user access, batch payments, cloud accounting integrations and more.

Check out how one business is making the most of Wise Business in this Open Collective case study.

Ready to learn more about how to open a Wise business account in the UK? Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Download the Wise app or head to the Wise desktop site
  2. Tap Register and follow the prompts to apply for a business account
  3. Add your personal and contact information
  4. Upload the documents needed which are detailed online and in this Wise Business account requirements guide
  5. Pay the one time fee to register your account and get a linked payment card if you need one
  6. Once your account is verified you can start transacting - your account will be live in the Wise app, your physical card will be posted to you, and you can get a digital card right away for mobile spending

Get started with Wise Business 🚀

If it’s the right time for you to start a business in Croatia, this guide is a good starting point. Use it to kickstart your own personal research, and check out Wise Business as a smart way to manage your money once your company is up and running.

Sources used for this article:

  1. Pricing/fees: Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  2. Invest in Croatia - FDI
  3. Invest in Croatia
  4. PSC - DD (in Croatian)
  5. PSC - DOO (in Croatian)
  6. PSC - GIU
  7. PSC - JDOO (in Croatian)
  8. PSC - JTD
  9. PSC - KD
  10. PSC - crafts
  11. PSC - branch office
  12. Croatian government - register a company
  13. Invest in Croatia - setting up a company
  14. Court Registry website
  15. Hitro - entrepreneur support site
  16. Croatian government - starting a business

Sources last checked Apr 8, 2024

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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