CUDPA:Legal regulations for persons with disabilities in Croatia


Mirjana Dobranoviæ, msc (med.), CUPDPA President


According to the Census of 2001, of 4,437,460 inhabitants of Croatia 9.68% are persons with disabilities (429,421 persons).

As regards mobility, the status is as follows:

  • fully mobile - 324,512 persons with disabilities (75.57% of the total number of persons with disabilities)

  • permanently restrictedly mobile using a cane, crutches or walking frame - 85,220 persons with disabilities (19.85% of the total number of persons with disabilities)

  • mobile when in wheelchairs - 7,201 (1.68% of the total number of persons with disabilities

  • permanently immobile - 12,488 (2.91% of the total number of persons with disabilities)


The legal system of Croatia for persons with disabilities is implemented through 250 laws, sub-acts and decisions, as well as applicable international documents. Only the most important regulations are listed below per activities: Constitution of the republic of Croatia; 2001 census act; Register of persons with disabilities act; Health insurance; Education; Labour relations, employment; Pension insurance; Social welfare; Institutions; Taxes; Customs duties; State budget of the republic of Croatia; Ex-service and civilian war invalids; Special protection of patriotic war veterans; Establishment and organization of associations; Humanitarian aid; Non-combatant military service; Games of chance; Decentralization; Sports; Various fees; Foundations.


They are applied to regulate the following rights:



 Telephone subscription - TV subscription - Free public transport ticket - Membership benefits in the Automobile Association - Assistance to members - Advice on flat adjustment - Theatre tickets - Other services.



     Assessment of physical impairment - What is impairment? - What is disability? - What is handicap?


      Right to health care - Exemption from participation in charges for medical services - Free choice of physician - Medical panels - Health care at home - Hospital treatment - Hospital rehabilitation - Orthopedic and other aids - Right to medicines - Right to pecuniary compensations - Supplementary health insurance - Private health insurance - Penal liability - Other regulations.


      Acquiring a pension - Disability and disabled workers - Occupational rehabilitation - Disability pension - Physical disability allowance - Extended length of service for retirement - Travelling expenses compensation - Other rights.


      Right to childrenÂ’s allowance - Benefits for children with disabilities.


      Social welfare user - Right to counselling - Assistance in overcoming difficulties - Support allowance - Rent payment - Non-recurring assistance - Allowance for a care provider - Home care - Personal disability benefit - Training for independent life and employment - Institutional care  - Other forms of help - War veteransÂ’ benefits - Care of war veterans.


      Preschool education - Elementary school education - Secondary school education.


      Employee protection - Temporary work disablement - Leave or shorter hours - Benefits to parents of disabled children - Stimulating employment.


      Space standards for the disabled - Benefits for 4 trips - Exemption from annual road tax - Free use of highways - Car insurance discount - Accessibility sign - Free parking - Access into city centre - Traffic signs for the disabled - Driving licence.


      Tax-free revenues - Increased tax deduction - Exemption from local vehicle tax - Incentives for employing persons with disabilities - Tax and contribution benefits - 0% VAT on aids - Exemption from customs taxes on imported cars - Exemption from customs duty - Exemption from local sojourn fees.



*      Government committee for persons with disabilities

*      Government institute for the protection of families, maternity and youth

*      Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare

*      Ministry of Health

*      Ministry of Croatian Patriotic War Veterans

*      Croatian Public Health Institute, Register of persons with disabilities


In terms of the number and type of legal regulations, the Croatian legislation for persons with disabilities is fully satisfactory. There are, however, certain difficulties in the application of statutory regulations either by the government bodies or due to their abuse by citizens who are not entitled to benefits or due to uninformed persons with disabilities. For this reason, an increasing role in informing citizens with special needs is assigned to associations of persons with disabilities, which have to care for the quality of life of their members.


A positive example from the practice:

Architectural Counselling Centre
"For the Quality of Life without Barriers"


      Since we are an association of persons with physical disabilities, spatial barriers are among our major interests and activities. Recognizing the everyday problems of persons with impaired mobility, we have made an attempt to provide them with professional support by establishing our Architectural Counselling Centre for persons with disabilities, which started to work on 17 December 2001. The Centre is conceived as a counselling office, unique of this kind in the Republic of Croatia, where persons with disabilities as well as all interested citizens can get professional advice and information about elimination of space barriers, and improvement of the quality of life and everyday environment of persons with disabilities. The Centre also provides counselling to associations of persons with disabilities and helps them in their work.

      The Centre is staffed by young architects doing non-combatant military service. In this respect we have established very good collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. The Centre is supplied with good-quality technical-electronic equipment (PC, scanner, digital camera) and the relevant technical literature on adapted construction and catalogues of suppliers of such equipment. Contacts have also been established to ensure an adequate professional-consulting basis for reliable information in all spheres of the CentreÂ’s competence. These contacts primarily involve different services and persons dealing with construction problems – Ministry of Environmental Protection and Physical Planning and Ministry of Public Works, Reconstruction and Construction, numerous local administration and self-government bodies, and professional institutions –Faculty of Architecture, Architectural Society  as well as some independent architects. Through CUPDPA local associations or directly, the Centre has established collaboration with different local administration and self-government bodies all over Croatia.

      Improving the quality of life and the living environment of persons with disabilities is a painstaking and often unrewarding job; however, the continuing efforts and professional and competent work of the Centre have brought very good and encouraging results. Through its media appearances and counselling activities the Centre has made an appreciable contribution to the awareness of the importance of spatial accessibility to persons with disabilities. The Centre has been presented to the public in some ten media appearances, numerous texts in daily papers and professional journals, and at 5 gatherings. Flyers and posters have been produced to inform the target population – elderly, infirm and poorly mobile citizens, pregnant women, mothers with children in prams, etc. The work of the Centre is mainly focused on various conceptual designs for persons with disabilities. In the last one-year period the Centre has received a large number of inquiries and requests for help with remodelling the living quarters of persons with disabilities. Some 80 projects were done, 50 of which are architectural conceptual solutions in the narrower sense, while the remaining 30 involve various consultations about planning or execution of works, equipment supply or logistics. It is noteworthy that there is a 50-50 ratio of projects for adaptations of public institutions or areas (theatres, beaches, pharmacies, railway stations, promenades, schools, faculties, etc.) and those for individual users (mainly adaptations of flats or entrances to buildings).

      The Centre is the only counselling service of this kind in the Republic of Croatia where counselling and adaptation solutions are available free of charge. It is important that the Centre operates as part of the Croatian Union of Physically Disabled Persons Associations, offering a strong logistic support to this national union, as well as to the network of its members - local associations, thus promoting the activities of the Centre and continually informing the disabled population.


      It is clearly evident that, with its continuing professional and public activities, the Architectural Counselling Centre has contributed to the awareness of the need for full integration of persons with disabilities into everyday life. The deftly designed concept of the Centre, which took advantage of the legal possibility to engage young architects doing non-combatant army service, enabled minimal costs and investment into the necessary equipment and technical literature, and resulted in maximum efficiency and outstanding results.


      The large number of unadapted public institutions and areas are another argument for the need of continuing the work of the Centre. A very significant project is that of networking and linking all interested subjects and individuals over the CUPDPA Web pages. The project is aimed at providing better information about the problems of spatial accessibility to the profession (architecture and civil engineering) and to potential investors, but especially to persons with disabilities, many of them being computer literate but of restricted mobility.