End of restrictions for Croatian workers

On 1st July 2013, Croatia entered the EU and as a result benefited from EEA free movement. Whilst Croatian nationals are free to enter and remain in the UK, they are subject to restrictions on the labour market during the transitional period. These restrictions are enshrined in the Accession of Croatia Regulations 2013. The regulations came into effect on 1st July 2013.

These restrictions state that unless the Croatian national is exempt, they must apply for authorisation to work in the UK.

Those who are exempt include:

  • Those who had leave to enter or remain in the UK under the Immigration Rules on the 30th June 2013 and were not subject to any condition restricting employment.
  • Those who were legally working in the UK on 30th June 2013 and had been legally working without interruption for 12 months prior to this date.
  • Those who also hold the nationality of another EEA member state, including the UK.
  • Family members of EEA nationals (except Croatia) who were exercising Treaty Rights in the UK.
  • Students
  • Self employed people
  • Self sufficient people
  • Highly skilled people who hold a Blue Registration Certificate


In March 2018 the Home Office announced that they would not be extending the transitional period. This period therefore comes to an end on 30th June 2018. Croatian nationals will not be subject to restrictions on access to the labour market. As EEA nationals, they will no longer be required to apply for any document from the Home Office confirming their right to work or reside in the UK. Employers may accept their Croatian passports as proof of their right to work in the UK. Sponsor licence holders should ensure that their Sponsor Management System is updated after the 30th June 2018 to reflect that their Croatian national employees no longer require authorisation to work. Croatian nationals will be subject to the provisions agreed under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in the same way as other European nationals living in the United Kingdom. The proposed ‘settled status’ scheme is due to open in late 2018.

They may apply for settled status if they have lawfully resided in the UK for 5 years, or apply for temporary status if their residence is less than 5 years. The scheme is voluntary until 30 June 2021 when it then becomes mandatory.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.