Travel to obtain Croatian digital nomad permit

April 18, 2021 – The number of successful applicants for the new Croatian digital nomad permit is slowly increasing. Delighted to welcome Steve Tsentserensky to TCN, with a great first piece on the journey and the timeline.

March 26e, 2021 – Zagreb

The e-mail is in Croatian. They are still in Croatian. Which makes sense because I’m in Croatia and it’s the government writing to me.

There is a moment of dread because, you know, I don’t speak Croatian and I’m sure this email contains the fate of my next 12 months.

December 8e, 2020 – New Jersey

“Will I get the results within 48 hours?”

“No, not a chance”

And with that, the swab goes deeper into my nose than I thought possible. I was both impressed and uncomfortable to be honest.

September 2014 – Dubrovnik

The story of 7e The digital nomad license kind of starts in 2014.

The first time I laid eyes on Croatia.


Among other things, I drank an Ožujsko (I have since learned that there are better beers) while enjoying the splendor of the Adriatic and bought a dark blue t-shirt with an anchor on it. . I still have it somewhere. The shirt, not the beer.

The love story did not start there, however.

It wasn’t until 2019 that this happened. Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was a few days in Zagreb in the middle of winter, just after the New Year, that would set the wheels of this trip in motion.


December 9e, 2020 – JFK Airport

Ranked consistently among the worst airports in the United States, it was a great joy and pleasure for me to be there this Wednesday evening. The traffic, due to covid, was non-existent, so getting to this place where the escalation is eternal was a cinch.

I make my way through the queue to finally make my way to the counter.

The woman is looking at my papers in this way that makes you unnecessarily nervous.

She calls a supervisor.

JFK lives up to its ranking.

“Do you have your PCR test?”

I had printed an encyclopedia of papers, including emails to Polish border security to make sure I could transit through Warsaw, to the MUP here in Croatia to make sure I was indeed cleared into the country, health insurance documents, proof of accommodation, etc. I never considered checking with JFK to see if they would let me fly with no PCR results in hand.

“Yes, in fact, I do”

In keeping with Jersey tradition – delivering unexpectedly or getting it wrong all the time, whichever you prefer – it turns out I got my results within 24 hours.

The gods arriving in Croatia were smiling at me and just like that, myself and a hundred Hasidic Jews were on their way to Poland on a crowded 788.


January 10e, 2019 – Zagreb

Fingers and toes completely frozen with snow dust on the ground, I was only in town for a matter of days, but it was the whirlwind of the people and their minds, the beauty of the architecture many years old. centuries and more that warmed my heart.

We don’t have this in Cleveland, where I’m from. I mean we have great buildings and people and the cold, but the chemistry is kind of different.

These were the streets that flowed into each other in an enchanted and chaotic way, making every detour a little magical mystery. The ease of crossing the city on foot or by streetcar (which run on time! You look at New York). The magnificent tiled roof of St. Mark’s Church with the medieval coats of arms of Slavonia, Dalmatia and Croatia on one half and the city symbol on the other.

The first meal I had was literally a mountain of cevapi.

Was it a little piece of heaven?

December 10e, 2020 – Zagreb – Franjo Tuđman Airport

I am still not convinced that I will be allowed in. This is life when your inner monologue isn’t your cheerleader.

The file that I am keeping contains basically all the communications that I have had with everyone in case I have to prove even the smallest detail of the fact that I am allowed to enter Croatia.

The line is short, but terribly long.

Finally, I arrive at the guard’s stand.

Slide the passport.

“PCR test?”

Drag it.

You never know where to look in these situations. Contact lenses? Minimal eye contact?

I still feel guilty about things I didn’t do at checkpoints.

Weeks go by in seconds.

“Welcome to Croatia”.

August 2020 – New Jersey

Frankly speaking for the land, it was a low time.

My job as a video producer and photographer had all but evaporated months earlier, and I was in the midst of a transition to being a full-time writer. The transition being a relative term. Writer too.

It was also around the time that I started seeing stories popping up for the Digital Nomad License and it completely captured my imagination.

The more I read, the more excited I was. Daydreams got richer. Clearer visions of the city and the sea.

The seed has been planted to come back and make it a longer stay.

I have set myself an internal goal of being back in Zagreb by December and may be obtain this visa if it was available. A long shot, however.


October 2019 – Zagreb

That handful of days in January wasn’t enough and the brevity of it all left me wanting more.

I had a second helper, spending an entire month in Zagreb and letting the details wash over me.

I know what you are thinking now, why did I spend so much time in Zagreb and not by the sea?

Often overlooked in favor of the dreamy and lush Croatian coast, Zagreb is secretly the whole fairy tale. You wouldn’t think so, maybe because you haven’t even considered it, but navigating it is like finding treasure. If Dubrovnik is the pearl of the Adriatic, then Zagreb is one of the (hidden) gems of Europe.

The joy of time seemed to slow down as people enjoyed afternoon coffees at a million cafes. Invest meaningful time in relationships. Take a tour of every square – Jelačić, Britanski, Kralja Tomislava and more – and the majesty of finding yourself through history, all with a running line of that Austro-Hungarian charm. The delicious dishes. The charming fact that the lanterns of the Upper Town are still lit manually. The parks that dot the city, the mountain trails of Sljeme.

And it was good. And I was sold.

Monday January 4e – March 25e, 2021 – Zagreb

It will come as no surprise to those in the know, but the Croatian bureaucracy is not known for its timeliness, so it was extremely shocking that the Digital Nomad License went from idea to reality in less than 6 months.

The goal I set for myself in August struck me as incredibly achievable.

I thought arriving in December meant I would be leaving 100% by mid-March. Which would have been disappointing but good. I had previously lived a nomadic life, working for cruise lines for a while, producing content for other companies around the world, then walking from country to country – usually 1 month at a time – before the pandemic. It was tiring.

Fun, but exhausting.

3 months in the same place, it was already a little better.

And then, all of a sudden, a year in Croatia was actually on the menu.

January 4the It was the first day back at work and I quickly sent an email asking how to apply.

I received a detailed message the next day with what I needed and 11 days later submitted (almost) everything.

This email was quickly lost and it wasn’t until February 1stst, after a follow-up email, that the process has officially started.

The only thing missing was a background check and let me tell you what that is do not easy to get fingerprints. It’s not something you think about every day or ever really, but when you really need it, in a foreign country, let’s just say getting them isn’t straightforward or easy.

At the beginning of March, my application was finally over and it was back to the waiting game.

In the meantime, my tourist visa has expired (luckily you’re allowed to stay if your papers are pending) so the stakes have risen dramatically.

It’s worth pointing out here that I never made a backup plan by chance. Croatia said no.



March 26e, 2021 – Zagreb

The e-mail is in Croatian. They are still in Croatian. Which makes sense because I’m in Croatia and it’s the government writing to me.

There is a moment of dread because, you know, I don’t speak Croatian and I’m sure this email contains the fate of my next 12 months.

I am at home in front of Ribnjak Park. The birds are chirping. Spring is in the air.

I open Google Translate – my trusted companion although I rarely need it since everyone speaks English here – and paste the text.

I am a little disappointed that he did not come on the 22nd, not a pleasant day in recent Zagreb history but it’s my birthday and it would have been a nice gift.

The email told me what I was patiently waiting to hear and come to their office.

Pro tip: Save an hour and make sure you don’t smile in the image you provide to the government as you’ll have to 100% go and print a new one.

Today, tomorrow and why Croatia at the start?

Croatia obviously got hold of me quite quickly. It is a sunny land of seemingly endless and varied beauty and a rich tradition of which I have clearly barely scratched the surface.

Maybe it’s my own Slavic background, scroll to the top and check out this last name, which helped make it click so instantly. Either way, there is now a deep and burning passion for the country and for getting to know it better.

The permit means a lot to this end; stability, exploration, relaxation, adrenaline, learning, life, a kind of home, office and more.

Living here and working remotely with absolute ease is a privilege and a joy that is hard to overstate. There is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that I can explore the country at my own pace, supporting local businesses along the way. Not having to rush around to see it all and have the chance to be truly immersed in the places I go and of course to meet more generous and proud people who make the country such a welcoming place.

With global warming and summer fast approaching, this splendid coast awaits me and it is exactly where you will find me.

To be continued.


Now see Zagreb through Steve’s eyes in this great video. Discover more of his work on

To learn more about digital nomads in Croatia, follow the section dedicated to TCN.

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