Child Benefit by Application of EU Regulations – the Family Benefit in the Republic of CroatiaFamily Benefits in the EU – In General
According to the EU regulations, the family benefits are cash benefits and benefits in kind intended for coverage of family costs.
In the EU Member States, different types of benefits are considered as family benefits, such as parental allowance, children benefit/allowance, large-family supplements, child care subsidies for children with special needs and similar.
The family benefit in the Republic of Croatia is a child benefit.
If you are employed or self-employed and receive a pension or reside in a Member State of the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) or the Swiss Confederation, you may be entitled to family benefits in one of these countries, even if your child does not reside in that country, but in another EU Member State.
Note: In cases where an employer who regularly pursues his activity in an EU/EEA Member State or the Swiss Confederation sends his employee to another country to perform work for him in that country for a certain period (posting), such employee will remain covered by his home country legislation during the period of posting.
The provisions on posting enable also the self-employed persons to temporarily pursue their activity in another EU Member State while remaining subject to the legislation of their home country.
Entitlement to Family Benefit from More Than One EU Member State
EU regulations on the coordination of the social security systems contain clear rules prescribing which EU Member State is responsible for the payment of family benefits.
The priority rules determine which state will be primarily competent and which secondarily competent for the payment of family benefits if the right exists in more than one EU Member State.
EU regulations enable exercising of the right to the highest amount of the family benefit foreseen by the legislation of one of the subject EU Member States.
The primary competent state will pay the total amount of the family benefit. If the family benefit approved in the secondary competent state exceeds the family benefit in the state of primary competence, the state of secondary competence will pay the supplement as a balance between these two amounts.
If the right to a family benefit exists in the several EU Member States on different grounds, which country will be the primary competent and which will be the state of secondary competence for the payment of the child benefit is determined according to the following rules:
• Rights existing by employment or self-employment
• Rights existing by retirement
• Rights acquired based on the place of residence.
If entitlement to a family benefit exists in more than one EU Member State on the same grounds, regardless if based on employment, self-employment, pension or residence, the entitlement will generally be subject to the legislation of the state of children's place of residence.
Competent Institution and How to Apply
Since 1 January 2021, the entitlements to child benefits decided upon under the EU regulations fall under the competence of regional services and local offices of the Croatian Pension Insurance Institute (HZMO), according to the applicant's place of residence, i.e. according to the applicant's habitual residence. As an exception to the above, the applications for child benefit, which are dealt with by application of EU regulations and which are filed by the applicants residing or having their habitual residence in the area of Sisak, will be handled until further notice by the Regional Service in Zagreb, Unit for Child Benefit, Section for Child Benefit Entitlements under EU Regulations and International Social Security Agreements, Andrije Žaje 44, 10000 Zagreb.
The applications for child benefits should be submitted to the competent regional service or local office of HZMO, according to the applicant’s residence, through the web portal e-Usluga (e-Services) or by the oral statement given for the record. Applicants may also file their applications in postal offices in the territory of the Republic of Croatia, free of charge.
If one parent is an employed or self-employed person or receives the Croatian unemployment benefit or is a posted worker and the child resides in the Republic of Croatia, the application must be filed in the Republic of Croatia, even though - according to the income earned by household members or for other reasons – the entitlement might not be granted in the Republic of Croatia.
Attachments to Application for Child Benefit
Beside documents otherwise attached to the application for the child benefit in the Republic of Croatia, the additional documentation should be attached:
- A copy of the employment contract from abroad, a copy of the trade (craftsman's) licence from abroad
- A copy of the certificate of receipt of unemployment benefits abroad
- A copy of the certificate of residence abroad
- A copy of the decision on the foreign pension right
- evidence of total income earned abroad, in the net amount received in the year preceding the year of application
- A copy of the child benefit decision of the competent foreign institution approving the right to the child benefit (if the entitlement to the child benefit is granted in another EU Member State, the EEA or the Swiss Confederation).
If the applicant cannot provide the proof of work and residence abroad for the former spouse or partner, the applicant must attach a personal handwritten statement containing available information about the employment and address of the other parent abroad.
Handling and Forwarding of Application to Another EU Member State
After deciding on the application for child benefit filed in the Republic of Croatia, the competent Croatian institution will forward the information about the submitted application, payment of the child benefit in Croatia and information about the household members to the competent institution in another EU Member State to decide about the eligibility to the so-called differential supplement (the amount of the family benefit determined according to the regulations of another Member State, reduced by the amount of the child benefit paid in the Republic of Croatia).
If the right to child benefit cannot be granted in the Republic of Croatia as the primary competent state (if, for example, the household income exceeds the income threshold or the children are older than 19 and similar), but the eligibility conditions are met in the other EU Member State, the other EU Member State of secondary competence pays the full amount of the family benefit (child benefit).
In this regard, in cases when the Republic of Croatia is primary competent for the payment of family benefits, you should always apply in the Republic of Croatia, even though you may not meet the conditions for the entitlement under the Child Benefit Act (Zakon o doplatku za djecu). HZMO decides whether there is a right to child benefit in the Republic of Croatia and a foreign institution decides whether there is a right to the so-called differential supplement.
As each EU Member State applies the provisions of its national legislation when deciding on the right to family benefits, the competent institution of the EU Member State to which the application is forwarded will request from the applicant the additional information and documentation necessary to make a decision.
Exchange of Information Between Member States
In order to exercise the right to the child benefit in other EU Member States, the EEA or the Swiss Confederation, HZMO does not issue certificates of (non)receipt of the child benefit in the Republic of Croatia, but exchanges all information officially with the competent foreign institutions.
Changes Occurred During Entitlement
Beneficiaries are obliged to inform HZMO and a competent institution in another EU Member State about changes that may affect their right to the child benefit in order to exercise their right without interruptions. It refers in particular to the employment of the beneficiary and/or spouse/extramarital/divorced spouse, family members' residence, change of marital status and custody of children, the acquisition or loss of the pension right and similar).
Any change should be reported to HZMO within 15 days of the change, under the Child Benefit Act.
Payment of Child Benefit
Beneficiaries residing in the Republic of Croatia receive the child benefit on an account opened in a bank. For payment of child benefit, the beneficiary submits the Authorization/Consent Form issued and certified by the bank in which the beneficiary opened his/her account.
The beneficiaries residing abroad will receive the payment of child benefit in a convertible currency on their foreign bank account or by check to their home address, if such method of payment is possible in the other country.
As to receive the payment of the child benefit, the beneficiary submits a Request for the Bank Remittance of the Croatian Child Benefit issued and certified by the foreign bank in which the beneficiary opened the account.
A single mother is employed in Slovenia. She and the child reside in the Republic of Croatia. The right to family benefit exists in both states. According to the above rules, the state of primary competency for the payment of the family benefit is the country of employment, that is Slovenia, and the secondary competent state is the country of residence, that is Croatia.
The mother is employed in Slovenia; the father is a beneficiary of an Austrian pension.
The family is entitled to family benefits from both states. The amount of a family benefit from Slovenia is 100 EUR, and the amount of the family benefit from Austria is 150 EUR. According to the above rules, Slovenia is the primary competent state and Austria is the secondary competent state. Furthermore, Slovenia will pay the full amount of the family benefit (EUR 100), and Austria will pay a supplement in the amount of the difference between the two (EUR 50), given the higher amount of the family benefit in Austria.
The father is employed in Belgium; the family resides in France. The right to family benefits exists in both states. According to the above rules, the primary competent state for the payment of family benefits is Belgium, and the secondary competent state is France.
The father is employed in Germany; the mother is employed in Croatia, where she and the child reside. The right to family benefits exists in both states. According to the above rules, the primary state responsible for the payment of family benefits is Croatia, and the secondary competent state is Germany.
The mother, father and child reside in Germany. The mother receives a pension from Germany and the father from the Netherlands. The right to a family benefit exists in both states. According to the above rules, the primary competent state for the payment of family benefits is Germany, and the state of secondary competence is the Netherlands.
The mother, father and child reside in Italy. The father works in France and the mother in Italy. The right to a family benefit exists in both states. The amount of the family benefit from Italy is 25 EUR, and the amount of the family benefit from France is 50 EUR. According to the above rules, Italy is the primary competent state, and France is the state of secondary competence. Furthermore, Italy will pay the full amount of the family benefit (EUR 25) and France, given the higher amount of the family benefit, a supplement equal to the difference between the two (EUR 25).