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How To Open a Non-Resident Bank Account In Serbia?

03/03/2021

Have you considered the benefits of opening a non-resident account in Serbia? Do you need a long-term and continuous solution for receiving or depositing money in a foreign country?

If the answers to these questions are affirmative, which is the case for most foreigners applying for temporary residence in Serbia, then this is the right text for you! Below, we will try to answer some of the most common questions.

WHAT IS A NON-RESIDENT BANK ACCOUNT?

Relying on the laws of the Republic of Serbia, a non-resident bank account is a bank account whose beneficiary is a natural person or legal entity, who permanently resides or is registered in a foreign country.

Hence, the term non-resident does not rely on the person’s citizenship or company’s place of management, but rather on their registered center of life or business activities.

Non-resident bank accounts in Serbia can be opened in RSD (Serbian Dinar) or any other  foreign currency supported by the bank where the non-resident account is being opened.

WHO CAN OPEN A NON-RESIDENT BANK ACCOUNT IN SERBIA?

A beneficiary of a non-resident bank account in Serbia can be a natural person, as well as a legal entity, such as a company, branch, representative office, etc.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HAVING NON-RESIDENT BANK ACCOUNTS IN SERBIA?

There are numerous benefits of having a non-resident bank account in Serbia and they depend on the individual or dedicated need of each natural or legal person. We will briefly outline several benefits of opening a non-resident bank account in Serbia, depending on whether a non-resident is a natural or legal person.

Benefits of having a non-resident bank account in Serbia for natural persons

1. Common transactions

The non-resident bank account can be used for all common transactions such as receiving payments, ordering transfers, withdrawing money, etc.

The bank issues Visa or Master cards, which can be used anywhere in the world. Banks usually offer only one of these cards, which is something you should pay attention to before opening an account if the type of card you receive is important to you. Regardless of these two types of cards, the bank is obliged to issue a Dina card, which can only be used in Serbia.

2. Savings Account

A non-resident may open a savings account in the Republic of Serbia. Maybe you are planning to retire in a foreign country, so you wish to keep the retirement fund safely in a foreign country. This way, it will be preserved and will not depend on your obligations and activities in your country of residence.

On the other hand, the transaction fee from moving that money to the third country may be lower in Serbian banks than in the banks in your country of residence.

3. Special-purpose account in Serbia

The special-purpose account can be used if you are interested in investing in the stock market or other similar investments.

Benefits for companies with international/cross-border interest and cooperation in Serbia

If you have a long-term business partner in Serbia and your collaboration requires mutual payments or investments, having a non-resident bank account that you can manage, even remotely, is highly beneficial and practical. This step enables the saving of time and money for both you and your partners. By eliminating the need for lengthy international transfers and high fees, opening a non-resident account in Serbia will significantly reduce your costs. Additionally, it will facilitate international business and project collaboration, making it more efficient and profitable.

On the other hand, if a foreign company has some form of business entity registered in Serbia, a non-resident business bank account will even be required in some cases. Even when that is not the case, owning a non-resident business bank account will certainly make the investment in the company’s business activity in Serbia less costly, more efficient, and easier.

However, if the foreign company does not operate in Serbia yet, the non-resident bank account may be useful for future investments.

Fees for opening a non-resident bank account and transaction costs

The fee for opening a non-resident account varies from bank to bank. Some banks do not charge a fee for opening non-resident accounts, while at others, the fee for opening an account ranges from 50,000.00 RSD to several thousand EUR.

Overall, the banks operating under the regulations of the Republic of Serbia have lower transaction costs for international transfers. Although they differ from bank to bank, a common example would be 0.4% or a minimum of 5 EUR.

Also, the bank fees for the maintenance of an RSD bank account are exceptionally low, ranging from 5 to 10 EUR, whereas the maintenance of a foreign currency bank account is free of charge.

OPENING A NON-RESIDENT BANK ACCOUNT IN SERBIA FOR NATURAL PERSONS

As a non-resident, a natural person can open a bank account in Serbia by personally initiating the procedure in the bank. This is especially important for people who apply for temporary residence in Serbia of based on employment since their salary is paid through this account.

After submitting the request for opening and maintaining an account at the bank, the time required to open the account depends on the bank. Some banks can complete the entire procedure on the same day, while for others, it may take several days for the bank to approve the client. Upon approval, you will be required to visit the bank again to sign the necessary documentation for opening the account.

Upon approval, you would be requested to come to the bank again to sign all of the documents and and collect a copy of your contracts. From that day, your bank account is active. It usually takes the bank a few days (7 to 10 days) to issue the cards you choose. Depending on the tariff package, users can get a Dina card, which is a means of payment that can be used in Serbia, and a Master Card, or Visa card, which can be used in other countries. Additionally, depending on the tariff package, you can also opt for electronic banking, which greatly facilitates the use of banking services.

OPENING A NON-RESIDENT BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT IN SERBIA

Foreign legal entities have the option to open a non-resident business bank account in Serbia. During the process of opening a non-resident account in Serbia, a foreign legal entity can be represented by its legal representative, meaning that the managing director of the company or another authorized individual in that company does not have to be personally present in front of the bank officer. Of course, the personal presence of the managing director can be seen as an additional advantage before the bank.

To open the non-resident business bank account, the client first  need to go through the approval procedure in the bank (KYC procedure). This procedure consists of reviewing the company’s registration and ownership documentation. Given the fact that in this case, the bank will check the company’s data as well as the data on the natural persons who are shareholders/stakeholdersor represent the company, as well as the fact that the company may be only a link in the larger chain, In which case must come to physical persons who are located at the end of that chain and who have more than 25% stake/actions in the foreign company – the procedure of approval may take a bit longer compared to the approval procedure for non-resident bank of a natural person.

NECESSARY DOCUMENTATION AND RELEVANT INFORMATION

Here it is important to note that some banks have a limited list of reasons for opening non-resident accounts in Serbia, such as collecting court receivables, buying and selling shares in a company, and participating in tenders, while for some this is not relevant.

To give you an idea of the information that needs to be presented and revealed to the bank’s management and available to the Serbian National Bank, we can refer you to the documentation that will be required by the bank. Keep in mind that different banks may have different requirements regarding this issue. In some, the procedure will be simpler, while in others the whole procedure will take longer and the documentation you submit can be much more extensive. For this reason, it is recommended that you first consult with the bank where you plan to open a non-resident account about the documentation required to open the account. What is common for most of the banks is the following: 

  • Submission of the Extract from the Register in which the company is incorporated, i.e., the extract from the official business registry, which contains all the relevant information on the company.
  • On the other hand, the company will need to prove or state its Ultimate Beneficial Owner and submit the Extract from the Register of Ultimate Beneficial Owners maintained in the home country. (hereinafter: UBO).

Revealing and registering the UBO is an obligation of the bank and other government institutions or institutions that provide services to the public sector, according to The Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism.

Who is a UBO?

UBO represents:

1. A natural person who owns, directly or indirectly, 25% or more of the business interest, shares, voting rights, or other rights, based on which they participate in controlling the legal person, or who participates in the capital of the legal person with 25% or more of the interest, or a natural person who indirectly or directly has a dominant influence on business management and decision-making.

2. A natural person who has provided or provides funds to a company in an indirect manner, which entitles them to influence significantly the decisions made by the managing bodies of the company concerning its financing and business operations.

Obtaining the tax ID in Serbia

To open a non-resident business bank account, the company does not have to be a tax resident of Serbia. However, some of the banks will open the account only for the companies that are Serbian tax residents. Namely, they require their clients to obtain a Serbian tax ID number (hereinafter: TIN). On the contrary, some banks leave the option for clients to decide whether they will become tax residents of Serbia.

Obtaining TIN makes the procedure of opening a non-resident business bank account in such a bank more complex because it consists of two phases.

How can a foreign company obtain a tax ID in Serbia?

A TIN in Serbia is assigned to natural or legal entities by the Serbian Tax administration. However, to obtain it, a legal entity will need to justify the application for the TIN by proving future income, or business that may be subject to taxation in Serbia. The most common problem that occurs here is proving a direct market connection with the Republic of Serbia, i.e. the existence of specific business activities on our territory.

Example:

Company ABC from France plans to expand its business to Serbia and wishes to open a non-resident business bank account in a bank in Belgrade. The selected bank mandates the provision of a Tax Identification Number (TIN) as a prerequisite for initiating the account opening process. In order to fulfill the bank’s requirement, the company submits a request to the Tax Administration. The request includes all necessary documents, including basic company information and evidence of the legitimate reason for opening the account, such as a copy of the Cooperation Agreement with the Serbian company XYZ. After reviewing the request, the Tax Administration assigns a TIN to Company ABC, after which the company enters the procedure for opening a non-resident account with the bank.

Condition

If a company proves its expected income in Serbia, a business project, or cooperation, that takes place or is in connection to Serbia, the tax authority will issue a tax number to the foreign legal entity. However, this entity will also need to provide a tax representative who is a Serbian resident.

Given the fact that this initial step is more challenging than the actual process before the bank and it usually prolongs the procedure with the bank, it is important to make the right choice of a bank, one which will not require this as a precondition.

LEGALITY OF HAVING A NON-RESIDENT BANK ACCOUNT IN SERBIA

Is it illegal to have an offshore bank account?

Having a non-resident bank account is legal in Serbia, however, the repercussions are carried by the client, and they differ from country to country, depending on the regulations in each foreign state.

Furthermore, whether your country will be notified of the fact that you have a non-resident account opened in Serbia and what other information it expects regarding the account activity depends on the foreign country in question.

For that matter, Serbia is a member of the Egmont group, and participates in the activities of the Eurasian group for the prevention of money laundering. The activities in these bodies imply general cooperation and commitment to preventing money laundering within their members.

On the other hand, Serbia has the most specific cooperation with the US, given the fact that the two countries entered the bilateral treaty regarding the recognition of the FATCA regulations in Serbia.

As a country striving to become a member of the European Union and a member of the European Council and its Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, over the years, the Republic of Serbia has adopted several regulations on the foreign currency transactions, international transfers among which the most important one is the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism. Under this Law, apart from keeping the data on their clients, the information on the bank account beneficiary and transaction activities are also kept for 10 years.

Despite the different requirements and obstacles that can be found on the way to a non-resident account in Serbia, the fact is that more and more people are choosing this option. If you are applying for temporary residence in Serbia, you may be interested in the text we have prepared for you on this topic: Essential guide to getting a temporary residence in Serbia. On the other hand, if you manage a legal entity that does business with partners from Serbia, it might be good to consider the possibility of opening a daughter company, or a branch in the Republic of Serbia, especially since you can do this remotely today! You can read more about that in our text: Is it possible to establish a company in Serbia remotely?

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