How the Croatian alphabet
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Lesson 7: Addressing letters to Croatia

Addresses in Croatia are in this form:

[street] [street number]
HR-[postal code] [town]
Croatia, Europe

Addresses in the rural areas may have "bb" after the street name. This stands for "bez broj" which means "without number".

For information on how to find church addresses and how to address letters to churches, see here.

More information on the correlation between area codes and postal codes can be found here.

Always send letters by airmail. Make sure "Airmail" is written on the envelope and that you pay for airmail postage. If you don't, it it goes by boat and may take 6-8 weeks to get there. Airmail takes 7-10 days.

Letters to villages don't really require a street address. Everyone knows everyone in those villages and the letter will get to the right person. It helps to have a postal code because there may be 2 or 3 villages with the same name in various parts of Croatia. But postal codes aren't absolutely necessary, especially in large cities. It's strange but true -- the larger the town the less you need a postal code, at least under the current postal code system. Later, when the large cities start to have many postal codes, it may be different. Right now, for example, all of Dubrovnik (with 6 or 8 post offices) has only the postal code of 20000.

It's a good idea to put "HR" in front of the postal code. HR is the internationally recognized code for Croatia. For example, if the postal code is 20218, then write it as HR-20218. HR stands for Hrvatska which is the Croatian name for Croatia (Croatia is a Romanized version of Hrvatska). Putting "Europe" on the envelope is always a good idea because many postal workers in the States have no idea where Croatia is. So they toss your letter into the "Africa" bag and it takes 6 weeks to get to Croatia.

What to do with old addresses from before 1992 (when Croatia was part of Yugoslavia).

The names of most towns and villages are the same. The postal codes have changed and many street names in cities have changed. The numbers on the streets, for the most part, have not changed. You can probably find the new postal code in the postal code on-line directory. But sending to the old address may work as long as you don't address it to "Yugoslavia". You may be able to find the new address in the on-line phone book.

Reading addresses in the on-line phone books:

Let's say you are looking for the surname Ivkovic'. First, you would go here:

Note that you have several choices under "Search type". "Start of name" used to be a way of eliminating businesses and hyphenated names. But this choice does not seem to be working right now. So use "all word forms or phone numbers."

If you fill in the form like this........ :

...... the result of the search looks like this (after scrolling down to #09):

The results with a small "plus in a box" to the right of the number are businesses. If you click on that icon you will go to a map showing where the business is located.

The village/town/city is the first name to appear to the right of the name. Most villages are linked to maps which means that if you click on the village name, a small map will be shown. In some cases the street address is also linked. This means it's a city or larger town. If you click on that link, you will go to a street map. Note that Croatian letters with the diacritical marks are shown. This is a good way to check the proper Croatian spelling of a name.

Information on the meaning of "Pok." which is found after many names is at the bottom of this page.

The phone number is to the right. The country code for Croatia is 385. The + in front of it is for the code that you must use to call out of your country (for the US it's 011). The area code is shown after "(+385)". For example, for #12 the area code is "23". The area code, by the way, is also the first 2 numbers of the postal code (except for cell phones). However, the postal code for Zagreb is "1" if you are calling from outside of Croatia, and "01" if you are calling from inside Croatia. A map of these area codes and corresponding counties can be seen here. This can help narrow your search if you are trying to locate the village. To find postal codes, go here (also see more information below).

For line #19 the area code is "98". This (and any area code starting with a 9) is a cell phone. These can be in any part of Croatia but here the village is given (Sinj). The full address is often not given with cell phones. A letter addressed to just a name and village (without the street address) will often get to the right person in villages but probably not in larger towns and definitely not in cities. Not all cell phones have been set up (by the user) to receive calls from outside of Croatia.

Any information after the town or city name should go on line 2 of the address (below the person's name). For example, in #24 above, the address is:

Ana Ivkovic
Koprivnic"ka 29
HR-xxxxx, Varaz"din
Croatia, Europe

But now we must find the postal code for Varaz"din. To do this, go here:

Part of the screen will look like this:

But this database is not as easy to use as the on-line phone directory. Here you must use the Croatian alphabet. So if your address has a village with no diacritical marks on any of the letters, then you are home free. (See about the Croatian alphabet here and about how the Croatian alphabet is shown on this website here.) But you will see that "Varazdin" gets no results. So the Z is probably the Z with a small v over it. If you know how to enter it from your English-based keyboard, great. But otherwise click on one of the choices under "town within counties" on the right column, look around until you find the appropriate letter somewhere within a village name, and copy the single letter (upper or lower case, it makes no difference). Then go back to the form and fill in Varaz"din and you will see a result like this (we used the upper case Z").

In this case, the top result is the right one. 42000 is the postal code. If it was one of the other villages, it would have had the full village name in the address shown in the on-line phone directory.

This is sure a tedious process but it's the best we can do until they change the database to accept English-only letters (as the phone company has done).

Misc. information in the on-line phone book
There is some information in the Croatian on-line phone book that can help you in addressing a letter or in finding the right person. Let's check over this list of Ante Ivkovic's, below.

"Pok." after a name means "of the deceased". (pok. = pokonji) Numbers 67-71 above are giving their deceased father's name to help better identify themselves. Notice that there are 3 Ante Ivkovic's in the same village of Brnaze. Putting the deceased father's name after the person's name on an evelope is the proper way to get the letter to the right person.

More information on the correlation between area codes and postal codes can be found here.