The Returnee's Guide can be found on the website of the Central State Office for Croatians abroad. (Photo: HRT) The Returnee's Guide can be found on the website of the Central State Office for Croatians abroad. (Photo: HRT)

The Voice of Croatia’s Ivana Perkovac spoke with Marija Matek, the head of the Office for Welcoming at the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, who completed the guide with her colleagues.

Marija Matek is firstly thankful Firstly to all workers at the Central State Office for Croats Abroad who took part in the development, as well as all state bodies that participated in the development of this document, each within its own jurisdiction. She notes that she would like the document to assist all returnees in finding their way through the entire system of the Republic of Croatia.

“The guide was developed on the basis of numerous inquiries and contacts with returnees who contacted the office for assistance. So within it you can find all instructions on how to act in certain confusing situations. When developing the guide we took into account all categories of returnees, for example, the youth, entrepreneurs, pensioners and young families. We really wanted to encompass all and put everything in one place so that a person can find their way through the system, said Marija”

The guide itself contains 150 pages. However, according to the content, a person can see what they need most and manage in that way. “There are actually many chapters and topics, we processed a chapter on citizenship, legal regulations regarding place of residence, information on the personal identity card. For example you can find information on how to get a passport, how to get your personal identification number, your citizenship paper, register a child in the birth registry, legalization of foreign documents, customs reliefs and registration of vehicles, noted Marija Matek”

Information can also be found on moving household items and how to bring a pet across the border. Readers will find information on what to do when they want to start a company or register a farm business. The guide has basic information on the tax system, information on what to do if you want to buy property or build a house, information on the education system, recognition of foreign diploma’s, regulating military obligations, registering a vehicle. The entire healthcare system is inside the document, mainly the most pertinent topics such as how to regulate health insurance upon returning. For easier links to responsible bodies are provided that one must go to when resolving a certain problem, more detailed information and the necessary forms that must be filled out. The entire pension system has been explained, as well as the system of social care and homes for the elderly.

“You can find information on insurance firms, the judiciary, lawyers, public notaries, important contacts and the addresses of all ministries, counties and important telephone numbers, from airports to train stations, bus stations and a series of other differing useful information. We strived to sum up all information and its access in one place and the guide is electronic, meaning that all can find it on the website of the Central State Office for Croats Outside the Republic of Croatia,” said Marija.

Considering the rich content of the guide we must also mention that, in its development, the Committee for Croats Outside the Republic of Croatia, the Government Advisory Body for Croats Outside the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Heritage Foundation, ministries and other state bodies took part. Marija explained what the treatment of returnees will be like in all of the institutions mentioned and in the ministries responsible for all of these issues. “That is important and we strived to include all institutions in the development of the guide itself, so that all are familiar with their topics and work. Naturally they will be courteous to all returnees. We also strived to leave too many technical terms out of the guide although that was up to the civil servant that processed a given topic. If something is still not clear and additional assistance is needed, naturally we welcome all returnees at our office. The welcoming office is the support point for all Croatians outside the Republic of Croatia - returnees, in order to ease their return and entry into the system of the Republic of Croatia, regardless of the guide. The guide is a document that will only assist a person in becoming familiar with the system in advance, but at the welcoming office we continue to do our job, by telephone, email or direct arrival, meaning all assistance is still here, that’s why we’re here,” concluded Marija Matek the head of the Welcoming Office at the Central State Office for Croatians Abroad.