Mario Perica in cooperation with Karanovic & Nikolic
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
A foreign natural or legal person may acquire ownership of real estate located in Croatia on the basis of inheritance, under the assumption of reciprocity. If the acquisition is not based on inheritance, the transaction must be approved by the minister of justice. The EU citizens/legal persons are equalled to the Croatian citizens/legal persons, with exception of the agricultural land and the real estate located in protected areas of nature, as defined by special laws. There are no restriction for holding shares in property owning companies.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
No. However, when dealing with transactions and clients originating from countries which are considered as high risk under the Croatian AML regulation, local banks are required to apply special procedures and request additional information and documentation. After individual assessment the bank may reject the transaction.
Lending is not subject to registration. Yet, the banks financing the purchase of a real estate usually require a mortgage over the real estate, which needs to be registered in the land registry.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
The buyer is obliged to pay the real estate transfer tax at the rate of 4% based on the real estate market value at the time of acquisition, but only if VAT is not payable.
VAT at the rate of 25% is payable in cases of (i) acquisition of construction land, and (ii) acquisition of a real estate from a registered VAT taxpayer, if such real estate are occupied or used for less than 2 years.
A court fee for registration or ownership transfer (approx. EUR 33) is payable.
Are there taxes applicable to owning real estate and can the burden of the taxes be passed to someone else (e.g. a tenant or an occupier - not being the owner)?
Currently there are no taxes applicable to owning the real estate. The government has postponed the introduction of tax on real estate which was supposed to be applied as of 1 January 2018.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
No. The law does prescribe certain exceptions from obligation to pay taxes, but such exceptions are applicable regardless of the nationality of the purchaser.
Regarding the real estate transfer tax, there is a tax break only for companies when they are inserting the real estate in its capital or capital reserves.
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
The ownership of real estate is evidenced by registration in land registries held by municipal courts. A competent court is the one where the real estate is located. The ownership of the real estate is acquired when the owner is registered in the land registry book.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
No. The land registries as well as the companies registries held by commercial courts are publicly available.