Friday, 10 February 2012

Doing Business in Croatia

With a Mediterranean climate, rich history and vibrant culture, Croatia makes for a memorable place to conduct business. To make the most out of your trip, please read our expert guide.

Croatian Language
The Croatian language (rather than Serb-Croat language) is a Slavic one, and has 30 characters in its alphabet. To help you when you don't have an interpreter, follow this pronunication guide to help you tackle the additional letters, and deal with more familiar characters. 
Š as in shop                           J as in yellow
Đ as in gin                           C as in biscuits
Ž as in treasure                       Nj as in canyon
Č as in church                                             Lj as in billion
Ć as in nature                                              Dz as in jam
Traveling around Croatia
Croatia has an extensive public transport system, with buses being especially well connected, and timetables for buses, trains and ferries have long since been made available online. 
If you prefer driving, all the major car hire companies operate in Croatia, though be sure to mind these important driving rules;
  • It is the law in Croatia that you must always drive with your headlights on.
  • There is a zero tolerance law [0.0 ml/l] for drinking and driving.
  • During the summer months [particularly July and August], when there are an increased number of visitors to Croatia, the roads and ferries can be very crowded. This is particularly the case on Saturdays. If you are planning an extensive tour around Croatia for the purpose of business it is probably best to avoid these months.
  • If you do have the misfortune to have a road traffic accident, you should call the Police [telephone number: 92], who will make a report about the accident- vitally important for insurance purposes. This should be the case even for minor 'bumps', but its always best to use your common sense
Business matters
In general, business in Croatia is conducted much the same way as any other European country, so one should not worry too much about additional formalities or specifically 'Croatian' business practices. Simple rules to follow are;
  • Do get in touch with your business contacts well in advance to make an appointment.
  • Refer to your business contact by their title. Sometimes your business contact may call you by your first name with your title [i.e. Mr Bob/Ms Sally]. This is less formal than using your surname, but more formal than just first names.
  • At Christmas time, a lot of companies send their business partners a small gift [such as a calendar, or a pen with the company’s logo].
  • Most business transactions are expressed in Euros, Dollars or Swiss Francs. However, payments must be received in the Croatian currency of Kunas. ATM machines are widely available, and the majority of business outlets take the major credit cards. 
However, one important thing that foreign businessmen in Croatia should be aware of is the country's penchant for bureaucratic procedures, and this red tape can be quite complex and lengthy. Make sure you are fully aware of the relevant processes (and what you can do to speed them up) before travel. See 'Buying Property' below for key examples.
Wining and dining
As in many business cultures, food and drink play a key part in building relations and celebrating particularly satisfactory mutual gains.
  • It is the custom that the person who hands out the invites to a meal should also be handed the bill for the meal. 
  • Punctuality for meals is especially valued, and if you are aware that you're going to be late do your best to inform the host.
  • As in the UK, a toast is finished by a clinking glasses with everyone else on the table. Make eye contact with the person you're 'clinking'.
  • Rakija is the Croatian form of grappa, normally served as an aperitif or digestif. Although it is  a grape based drink, it can be infused with a number of different fruit, herbs and grasses. Be warned that it is quite a strong drink.
  • Noted Croatian wines are Plavac [red wine], Teran [thick bodied red wine], Žlahtina [white wine] and Malvazija [white wine].
  • If you are a vegetarian, it is probably better to inform your host in advance. Some restaurants specialise in meat dishes and would not be a suitable dining choice for vegetarians.
Buying Property in Croatia
Recently, there has been much interest in the purchase of property in Croatia; its climate and recent stability have made it a growing holiday destination. While there are a number of estate agents who specialise in selling property to foreign citizens, you can also find property advertised in local advertising newspapers (though not always in English). 
If you find a property that interests you, it is imperative that you find yourselves a good lawyer since the purchasing process is complex. Your Embassy can offer you advice on finding a lawyer who speaks English. Due to the system of inheritance, where houses are jointly inherited by a number of family members, do not be surprised if you find that more than one person owns the property you are interested in buying. If this is the case, you must make sure that your lawyer has checked that all of the owners are willing to sell. In addition, as a result of property having been de-nationalised after the break up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the people living in the property may not be the recorded owners in the land registry. Again, it is imperative that your lawyer checks this. 
If you are a foreign citizen you will need to apply to the Ministry of Justice for approval to buy property in Croatia, a process that (predictably) can take a very long time.  
It can be slightly problematic more for people who are buying property with the intention of renting it out, since in order to legally rent out the property you must have ownership papers. In addition, in order to avoid paying capital gains tax you need to be the ‘official’ owner for a certain number of years. Once again, you should speak to a lawyer about this who can explain to you in detail the laws regarding the renting out of property.
Joining the European Union
Croatia is in the process of preparing for joining to the European Union, and hopes to have done so by the end of 2013.
Health care in Croatia
In case of an accident, the telephone number for an ambulance is 94. If it is a minor medical complaint, then there are a number of private GP’s or dentists who offer an extremely high standard of medical care and often speak a number of European languages. If not, they will be able to arrange a translator/interpreter for you. Your host/business partner/hotel will be the best contact to help you arrange this.
We hope that this brief guide is of interest to you. If you should need more information, please visit the Croatia Profile at TJC Oxford  or consult the Croatian Tourist Board []

Bon Voyage!

1 comment:

  1. Which country would you like to see a 'Doing business in...' guide for? If you have requests, please mention them below and we'll try our best!