Services market liberalization is a part of the regulatory reform led by the Ministry of the Economy and Sustainable Development. The main objective is to facilitate services market entry and to boost productivity and competitiveness.
The domestic market is open to competition from the EU market. Freedom of establishment on a permanent basis has been provided mutually within the EU. Furthermore, freedom to provide cross-border services on a temporary and occasional basis has been provided for various business activities for EU/EEA nationals, without obligation to register the establishment, to be a member of a professional chamber or to pass professional exam. Freedom of establishment has been provided as well.
Starting a business has been simplified, accelerated and digitalised. As regards the access to the services market, digital procedures are available for the growing number of professions (architects, civil engineers, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers, land surveyors, tax consultants, detectives, driving schools, intellectual property, private education, real estate agents, retail and e-commerce), and process is ongoing (for tourism and hospitality services, and other business activities). For a variety of other services, scanned documents may be sent by email, without seals and stamps, as well as without additional obligation of sending the documents via post office. Information on requests for the services sector are available in a single place.
Equivalent type of professional liability insurance is recognised from other EU/EEA states. The access to regulated professions through automatic recognition of professional qualifications for EU/EEA citizens has been facilitated, and the same applies to Croatian professionals in the EU market. The government does not demand information from domestic service providers that it already has in the system. The use of IMI system for verification of information on the cross-border service providers has been increased. Relicensing of construction companies has been removed, including energy certification, auditors, psychotherapists, as well as licencing of tourist guides, employment agencies and accountants. Professional chamber is not mandatory for construction site managers any more.
Removing fixed tariffs has enabled free price formation and negotiation in various professions and sectors such as accountants, real estate agents, architects, engineers, auditors, tax advisors, taxi drivers, driving schools, etc. Furthemore, it is possible to determine the price of legal services more flexibly, in such a way that in all legal matters lawyers can agree with the client in writing to work on a hourly basis, whereby they are not obliged to adhere to the minimum hourly rate.
Interior and landscape design is not exclusively under competence of architects, so there are no limitations for others to perform this business activity.
Automatic recognition of the professional qualifications has been implemented for the professions from EU Member States that have right of establishment in Croatia: doctors of medicine, dentists, midwifes, pharmacists and nurses that have right of establishment in Croatia. A general system for recognition of professional qualifications from the third countries has been introduced as well. European Professional Card issued for provision of services on temporary and occasional basis gives an automatic right to practice the profession without fulfilling any additional requirement. A person who wants to provide regulated professional services may notify electronically the competent authority thereof or Point of Single Contact for services. Obligation of testing Croatian language proficiency is not obligatory anymore for professionals from EU/EEA states, except for healthcare professions due to patient safety. There is a 30-day deadline for a competent authority to issue a decision on recognition of foreign professional qualifications after fulfilment of an additional measure.
Architects and engineers, lawyers, pharmacists and physiotherapists are no longer banned to advertise their services.
Territorial restrictions considering number of licenses have been removed (for example driving schools and taxi services). Taxi drivers can obtain licenses in any municipality. This enables expansion of professional business and their new investments. Furthermore, founders of driving schools and private archives are not under obligation to have economic justification of their business by means of an elaborate. The same applies to shopping malls. Architects, engineers, auditors and lawyers are free to open offices as most of other professions.
In majority of professions, there are no limitations in terms of the legal form. Therefore, the entrepreneurs decide independently whether they want to start a business as natural or legal persons. This enables removal of costs of obligatory status change, for example from natural to legal persons.
Architects, engineers and land surveyors are no longer under obligation to register their permanent residence in Croatia. Architects and land surveyors are no longer under obligation to prove that they are not under any criminal investigation or criminal proceeding.
Mandatory work experience for architects, engineers and land surveyors has been reduced to two years, for veterinarians to six months, while it is no longer required for tourist agency managers. Work experience for notaries has been reduced.
As other professions, civil engineers and online travel agencies are no longer under obligation of hiring minimum number of employees; instead, they independently decide in this matter. Freedom of concluding a full-time or part-time job contracts is provided for driving schools. Online travel agency office manager is no longer under obligation to have permanent residence. Also, there is no obligation to have a full-time employed office manager in every branch office of a travel agency.
Croatian lawyers may practice their profession in companies in other EU Member States. When the profession is practiced outside a law firm, the right to practice law profession does not cease to exist for Croatian lawyers in other EU Member States. Branch offices of EU law firms may provide consulting services on Croatian law as well. Lawyers from other EU states may start a law firm in Croatia, and they can provide legal services jointly with Croatian lawyers or lawyers form other EU states, without obligation to wait for recognition of qualifications to have an equal status with Croatian lawyers. It is possible to start the employment as a lawyer with another lawyer who as an employer independently practices legal profession, and within a joint law firm. Lawyers who without a justified cause do not practice their profession more than 6 months will no longer be deleted from the register. Specific administrative requirements for European lawyers have been reduced. The high fee for chamber re-registration is no longer payable.
DETAILED REGULATORY OVERVIEW OF THE IMPLEMENTED SERVICES MARKET LIBERALIZATION MEASURES