Like sunny beaches and freshly-baked burek, bureaucracy is part of the Croatian identity. If you’ve spent any time in an office here – be it the ministry of defence or the local estate agents – you’ll know that every interaction closes with the satisfying thunder-clap of a rubber stamp. Any person that means business will have one standing on their desk, and any document that means anything will be emblazoned in startling ink.
But that’s all about to change. Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic has (officially) ordered official stamps out of Croatian life. Documents will no longer have to carry seals to be considered legit.
The ruling is part of an effort to speed up the country’s ailing economy. Some may see Croatia’s stamp-habit as a charming continuation of bygone times – its kah-tunk the sound of daily office life, like the tring of the telephone and the hum of office chat. But in an age of streamlined modernity, this snail-paced analogue device just won’t do.
According to Ivana Sucic, from the Croatian Chamber of Economy (the rule’s main advocates), the move has been in the pipeline for years.
The legal framework was in place before the country joined the European Union in 2013 – and now that they are part of the EU, they’re doing all they can to keep up.
Thus marks the end of the rubber stamp, the stalwart of Croatia’s stationary scene. But tree-loads of paper will have to be shuffled before it's gone, and it’ll take up to a year to phase it out altogether. In the meantime, letters, contracts, and anything roughly A4, will continue to fall prey to the mighty thud of the beloved Croatian stamp.