HOW TO OBTAIN A RESIDENCE PERMIT IN SERBIA? – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

08
Sept 2022

Serbia is becoming more and more interesting to foreigners, which is why it has become an increasingly popular destination for immigration. This is probably because of Serbian liberal immigration legislation and policies, as well as incentives for attracting foreign investments and foreign experts. These facts made Serbia highly attractive for companies and individuals who find many benefits from moving to Serbia. This is the reason why we’ve decided to explain, in simple words and in one place, ways in which foreigners can legally reside in Serbia.

Since some country nationals need visas for entering Serbia, in the following text we would first explain three types of visas some foreigners need for entering Serbia. Furthermore, we would explain three types of stay in Serbia. While you probably hear about temporary residence permits, it is important to make difference between them and two other types of stay in Serbia: tourist visits and permanent residence. After we go through the most important information regarding every type of stay for foreigners in Serbia, we would explain in more detail the procedure of obtaining a temporary residence permit in Serbia. There are a lot of benefits for foreigners in Serbia, therefore, we dedicated a chapter to describe why it is not strange why numerous foreigners choose Serbia as a place for living and starting/extending a business. Finally, if you want to read our FAQs section which our clients who have already moved to Serbia find very useful, scroll to the very end of the blog.

ENTRY AND VISA REQUIREMENTS IN SERBIA

In case you are planning to visit Serbia, you must be curious about should you need a visa for entering Serbia or not. The answer is not simple since it depends on a fact which citizenship you hold. Some country nationals need a visa while, on the other hand, some do not need a visa for entering Serbia. If your country is on a list of countries whose nationals do not need a visa for entering Serbia, feel free to skip the following part and read further. Otherwise, the following information can be useful to you.

Serbian Law on Foreigners [1] prescribes three types of visas for entering Serbia:

  • Airport Transit Visa (visa A);
  • Short-stay Visa (visa C) and
  • Long-stay Visa (visa D).

Airport Transit Visa (visa А)

The Serbian Government may prescribe obligatory possession of this visa for citizens of certain countries for safety reasons.

This visa is issued for a validity period of up to six months for one or several passes through the international transit area of the airport without the possibility of entering the territory of the Republic of Serbia.

However, a foreigner who does not leave the international transit area of airports or the aircraft during the intermediate stop between two legs of a flight or between connecting flights shall not need a visa.

By the last changes of the Law on Foreigners, the transit visa (visa B) is abolished, which was issued for one, two, or more travels across the territory of the Republic of Serbia for a validity period of up to six months, while the time of stay for one transit cannot exceed five days. The designated visa now falls under visa C or the short-stay visa.

Short-stay Visa (visa C)

A short-stay visa is approval for entry, transit, or stay in the Republic of Serbia that cannot exceed 90 days in a span of 180 days, starting from the date of the first entry.

This visa is usually issued for the business purposes, such as business meetings and conferences.

When applying for the short-stay visa, the applicant should provide evidence of the following:

• Reasons for traveling;
• Sufficient financial means to cover accommodation and other expenses, or any other evidence related to accommodation;
• The number of financial means available to sustain themselves during the intended stay and return to the country from which the applicant arrived;
• Other evidence which substantiates the applicant’s intention to leave the country before the visa expiration date.

Long-stay Visa (visa D)

Long-stay visa is the approval for entry and stays for the duration between of 90 and 180 days in the Republic of Serbia. If you want to apply for temporary residence and need a visa in order to enter the Republic of Serbia, it is necessary to obtain this visa prior to arriving in the Republic of Serbia.

It is also necessary to emphasize that the basis for filing an application for a visa D must be identical to the basis for applying for a temporary residence permit. For example, in case visa D is issued to you on a basis of employment of a Serbian employer, it is not possible to apply for a temporary residence permit based on family reunification.

Where to File the Visa Application?

Visa applications should be submitted to the diplomatic-consular mission of our country in the country where the applicant legally resides. In case of emergency, the applicant may submit their visa application to the diplomatic-consular mission of the Republic of Serbia in the country where they have been approved legal stay, but which is not their legal residence.

From May 2021 online applications are available here: https://econsulate.gov.rs/.

General Visa Application Requirements

  • The application is submitted in person. An exception to this rule can be made if the applicant is established to have used previous visas issued on part of our diplomatic-consular mission in accordance with the law;
  • The application is submitted in the prescribed form;
  • The application should be submitted at least 3 months in advance;
  • The travel document should be valid at least three months after the intended departure from Serbia, it must contain at least two consecutive blank pages, and it must be issued within the last 10 years.

When filing a visa application, the applicant should provide the following:

  • completed visa application form;
  • passport;
  • photo;
  • evidence of payment for visa fees;
  • evidence of the purpose and reasons for staying in the Republic of Serbia;
  • letter of invitation – the individual invitation for a foreigner for a private or business visit should provide their letter whereby they commit to covering the expenses of the foreigner’s stay in our country;
  • appropriate and valid travel health insurance – the insurance duration must exceed the duration of the intended stay in the Republic of Serbia.

 

Special attention should be paid when submitting the enlisted documentation, since, unless all of the aforementioned requirements are met as prescribed, the visa application will be denied. Consequently, all the documents provided, including the visa fee, will be returned to the applicant.

The deadline for making the decision on the application is 15 days from the date of submission; it can, however, be extended up to 30 days if there are justified reasons to do so.

The term of visa validity and duration of stay stated in the visa is not to be extended; it may only be extended in case of professional reasons or force majeure.

RESIDENCE PERMIT IN SERBIA

Not all foreigners need a visa in order to visit Serbia and reside here. In case you do not need a visa for entering Serbia, you can consider some of 3 types of stay in Serbia.

Travelling and residency for foreigners in Serbia are regulated by the Law on Foreigners which lays out 3 types of stay:

  • tourist visits up to 90 days in Serbia, or otherwise if such prescribed by the bilateral or multilateral agreement;
  • temporary residence in Serbia;
  • permanent residence in Serbia.

Tourist Visits – Stay Up to 90 Days in Serbia

Tourist visits in Serbia are possible with a tourist visa or in a visa-free regime, which depends on the country of your citizenship.

Touristic stay of foreigners, who can enter Serbia in the visa-free regime, can last up to 90 days, within the 180-day term, unless otherwise determined by the Serbian government or bilateral or multilateral agreement between Serbia and the foreigner’s country. Staying in Serbia as a tourist, for example, the stay of 90 days within the 180-day term, means that 180 days keep rolling from the moment of the foreigner’s first entry and within those 180 days, a foreigner must not exceed, in this case, their 90 days of tourist visit to Serbia. For example, in case you enter Serbia on August 28, that means your 180-day term should be counted from then. In the next 180 days, you are not allowed to spend more than 90 days, counting from your first entry into Serbia.

Different statuses for some countries’ citizens can be prescribed by the Serbian government or bilateral or multilateral agreements. For instance, based on the bilateral agreement between Serbia and Russian Federation, Russian citizens do not need visas for visits of up to 30 days. Indian nationals do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days, while the citizens of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, or Nepal always require a visa, should they wish to enter Serbia.

On the other hand, foreigners that must obtain an entry visa for Serbia may apply for visa C (short-term visa). Visa C is issued for 90 days to be used within 180 days term.

In case you stay in a hotel, other hospitality entity, or as natural persons who rent their premises for commercial purposes in Serbia, they must register you with the local Police department within 24 hours upon your arrival. This kind of registration can be done personally in every local Police station, Department for foreigners, as well as, online. The same procedure should be followed when changing the address in Serbia. In addition, in case you stay with your cousin or friend at their home, they have the obligation to report your stay as well. After registration, you would get the so-called “white card” which would be necessary for the process of obtaining the temporary residence permit.

Temporary Residence

If planning to stay in Serbia for more than 90 days, you should apply for a temporary residence. If granted, the residence permit will be issued for a maximum period of one year, depending on each individual case. The most often case in practice is that the authorities grant a temporary residence permit for a period of 6 months, to the applicant who applies for the first time.

Reasons which make the purpose of the residence permit justified and due to which temporary residence can be granted are exhaustively listed by the Law.

Those are either:

  • Work, employment, or conducting business and other professional activities;
  • Family reunion;
  • Investment (real estate ownership);
  • Going to school, studying or doing a residency, scientific work, research, internship, participation in programs of international exchange;
  • Medical treatment;
  • Other justified reasons in accordance with the Law and international treaties;
  • and others.

Once approved, a temporary residence permit stamp would be inserted in your passport.

A foreigner who was granted temporary residence shall use their residency for the purpose it was granted for and in case the foreigner wants to extend their permit for the upcoming term, the application for extending the permit should be submitted no more than 30 days before the temporary residence permit expires.

The reasons for extending the temporary residence permit for the upcoming term are based on the lawful legal ground for the residency and the facts related to the previously approved term. For example, whether the foreigner has practically, or predominantly lived in Serbia, i.e. justified their application for the residency. In practice, this means the following: in case the competent authority grants the temporary residence permit to you for the period of one year, you need to spend at least half of the approved period (6 months and 1 day) in order to fulfill the condition prescribed by the law for the extension of the temporary residence permit.

Temporary residence terminates after the expiration date, if the residence permit was canceled, or if the state exercises measures of protection or expulsion towards a foreigner.

TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMIT BY COMPANY FORMATION

One of the most often bases foreigners choose for applying for a temporary residence permit is establishing a company in Serbia. Being a founder/member of the LLC established in Serbia or a Managing Director of a Serbian company represents the legal ground for applying for a temporary residence permit in Serbia.

There are four legal forms of the company in Serbia, however, LLC is the most often and convenient for most business activities.

Once you have decided to establish a company, the dilemma is whether you will be a founder/member or a legal representative of the LLC. For the Police Department, which is where you apply for the temporary residence permit, it is important that you are registered in the Business Registers Agency, whether as a founder/member, legal representative, or procurator… In other words, as long as you are enrolled in the Business Registers Agency, your function is not as important.

The Founding Act of the LLC

In order to establish a company in Serbia, lawyers specializing in the field of the Rights of Foreigners in Serbia can help you with drafting the Founding act, which is the most important document in the company formation process. There are mandatory elements of the Founding act prescribed by Law, however, depending on your current situation, the legal professional you engage would calculate whether is it necessary to include other provisions as well, in order to protect your interests as a foreigner in Serbia. One more important note regarding the Founding act is that this document needs to be notarized before a notary public. That can be done by you personally, including your physical presence at the notary’s public office in Serbia, however, you can issue the Special Power of Attorney to Attorney-at-law in Serbia to sign the Founding act on your behalf.

What Else You Should Consider While Establishing a Company in Serbia

Once the Founding act is finished and notarized before the notary public, it can be submitted to the Business Registers Agency together with other necessary documents. In case another foreign company would be the founder of the company you are planning to establish in Serbia, it is necessary to submit a properly legalized Extract from the foreign business registry. Since the procedure of obtaining as well as legalization can take some time, take care to advise in a timely manner with a legal professional who would provide you with all necessary details.

The Serbian Business Registers Agency will register the company in 3 – 5 working days from the day you submit the documents.

There are several obligations that need to be done promptly after the company is established:

  • The company’s bank account needs to be opened,
  • The tax return needs to be submitted to the competent tax authority,
  • You need to obtain the digital signature, as well as
  • To register the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO).

Since the choice of the bank is a big decision, you should consider this issue with your legal advisor even before the company is established.

Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneur is a natural person who performs a business activity, which brings them profit. The entrepreneur is registered after successfully completing the process in front of the Business Registers Agency.

Being an entrepreneur in Serbia presents the legal ground for applying for the temporary residence permit that foreigners often choose.

It is worth mentioning that all the duties and obligations that arise from performing the business activity of the entrepreneur have an unlimited effect on the entrepreneur’s personal assets. That is the main difference between entrepreneurs and founders/members of the LLC.

Besides that, there are a lot of advantages to performing the business activity as an entrepreneur, especially regarding taxation. Namely, for some types of business activities, you can choose a lump-sum taxation system, avoid the obligation to use a cash register, etc. You should inform yourself regarding the so-called “Independent contractor test” since the criteria are strictly prescribed.

In order to choose the right form of business for your needs and to legally avoid payment of tax liabilities that may arise through this, we suggest that you carry out this procedure with an expert’s assistance.

TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMIT IN SERBIA BY EMPLOYMENT

Serbia has definitely become more and more attractive for foreign professionals in a wide range of business activities, especially for the ones in the IT sector. While some of them decide to start their own business, others choose to obtain a work permit by signing the Employment Agreement with a Serbian employer and base their application for the temporary residence permit on that legal ground.

It is not only the Employment Agreement the one that may be concluded between a foreigner, as an employee, and a Serbian company, as an employer. Serbian Employment Law prescribes the so-called “flexible” forms of the engagement of the employees, such as example, service agreements, temporary and periodical jobs, etc. These agreements can be concluded with foreigners as well, in order to establish a legal ground for applying for a temporary residence permit in Serbia.

The foreigners in Serbia are not allowed to start working for the employer before the employer obtains a work permit for them.
However, there is no option to apply for a general type of temporary residence permit, which would allow a foreigner to come to Serbia for a job hunt, because the work permit is issued for the specific job position with the specific employer, upon the foreigner receives the contract proposal from the employer. This serves as a legal ground for the temporary residence permit and the work permit in Serbia.

The only exception is made for foreigners who reside in Serbia based on family reunions, who can obtain their personal work permit, which allows them to search and get employed for any job and by any employer in the private sector.

For a work permit, a foreigner shall obtain a residence permit first or prove the existing legal ground for the temporary residence and work permit in Serbia. Depending on the legal ground of your temporary residence permit, the procedure for the work permit differs.

TEMPORARY RESIDENCE VIA INVESTING IN REAL ESTATE

One of the perks of investing in Serbia is that you can get a residence permit by buying real estate.

In case you already own immovable property in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, the situation is even easier. You only need to submit proof of possession of this property when applying for a temporary residence.

On the other hand, if you intend to buy, for example, a house or an apartment in Serbia, it is necessary to conclude a Sales & Purchase Agreement.

However, before that, you need to check if you can buy real estate as a foreigner. The question that needs to be considered at the beginning is whether between Serbia and your country exists reciprocity in regard to buying real estate. The condition of legal reciprocity is met if Serbia has concluded a bilateral agreement regulating the issue of foreigners acquiring real estate with your country. For example, reciprocity exists between Serbia and the USA, which means that citizens of Serbia are eligible to buy real estate in the USA while the citizens of the USA are eligible to buy real estate in Serbia.

Once you confirm that you are eligible to buy real estate in Serbia, for the process of real estate purchase, it is necessary to carry out all the necessary checks for that real estate with the competent state authorities (to check if there is an encumbrance, who the owner is, etc.).

It is important to mention that the tax for the transfer of ownership amounts to 2.5% of the purchase price stated in the Sales & Purchase Agreement, which is a one-time tax. However, when buying an apartment from an investor directly, you are exempted from paying the tax for the transfer of ownership. In addition to that, you, as the real estate owner, are obliged to pay the property tax. This tax needs to be paid annually, in several installments. The exact amount of this tax may change from year to year, depending on the type of real estate, its age, location, etc.

In Serbia, the purchase contract of immovable property has to be solemnized before a notary public. After that, you are not yet the owner of the real estate in question, but you have to submit a request with all the necessary documents to the Real Estate Cadaster. The Cadaster is in charge of registration of the ownership right on your behalf for that particular real estate.

It is useful to know that, when applying for a temporary residence on this basis, you have to supply the Police Department with only a certified purchase contract, and not a Real Estate Cadaster registration decision. In other words, a foreigner does not have to wait for registration on the purchased property. A foreigner can go to the Police Department and apply for a temporary residence permit immediately after the certification of the purchase contract with the notary. Of course, you should submit other requested documents, which significantly speeds up and relaxes the application itself.

TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMIT IN SERBIA BY MARRIAGE

One more legal ground for applying for the temporary residence permit prescribed by Law is marriage with a Serbian citizen or with a foreigner who has approved a temporary residence permit in Serbia. Here is important to mention that the basis for the application is a common-law partnership with a Serbian citizen or with a foreigner who has approved a temporary residence permit.

All of the documents that the applicants need to submit in the application process need to be properly legalized, in case they are issued by a foreign authority.

The conditions, as well as the list of the documents, is different depending on whether you apply based on the marriage or common-law partnership with a Serbian citizen or with a foreigner who has an approved temporary residence permit.

Marriage of Convenience

A marriage of convenience is a completely new institute in the Serbian legislation, introduced by the last changes of the Law on Foreigners, and its goal is to prevent foreigners from unlawfully staying in the Republic of Serbia.

The responsible authority shall make an informed decision on whether each individual case represents a marriage of convenience, with special regard to circumstances such as how long the spouses had known each other prior to entering into marriage, whether they speak the language they both understand, whether material assets have been given for the purpose of entering that marriage, with exception of assets given as a dowry and provided that the spouses come from countries where giving a dowry is part of the tradition and whether there is evidence of previous marriages of convenience on part of any of the spouses in the Republic of Serbia or abroad. The responsible authority shall deny the request for temporary residence or extension of temporary residence for family reunification if there is a reasonable doubt that the marriage was entered into out of convenience.

PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING THE TEMPORARY RESIDENCE PERMIT

When submitting the request for the temporary residence permit, besides the lawful legal ground, foreigners need to submit a valid travel document and the following proof that:

• They have sufficient funds to sustain themselves,
• They have valid health insurance.

Proof of Enough Funds to Support Your Stay in Serbia

In order for the Republic of Serbia to be assured that a foreigner residing in its territory will be financially secured, the foreigner must display proof of sufficient means of subsistence when applying for a temporary residence.

The key question is: what is the proper amount of funds?

In essence, a foreigner will meet this requirement if they display the minimum needed amount at their non-resident bank account in Serbia. This amount is referring to the official minimal estimated salary in Serbia, per month of stay. Hence multiplies by months of the whole term or planned residency.

For September 2022, the minimum salary amounts to 47.767,08 RSD (gross I amount) which is approximately 407 EUR or 405 USD.

What About Health Insurance?

It is in both Serbia’s and the foreigner’s interest not only to be financially secured during the stay but to have health insurance as well.

For this purpose, when submitting a request for temporary residence, a foreigner should also provide, as proof, a private health insurance policy or health insurance from the home country with a condition that it applies to Serbia as well, based on bilateral agreement or government ruling.

The Rulebook prescribes more details on fulfilling the conditions for granting temporary residence to foreigners with regard to health insurance. The Rulebook stipulates that, together with their application for authorization, foreigners should enclose an international health insurance policy, a voluntary health insurance policy, or other documents issued in the RS. Those documents should be in accordance with the regulations in the field of health insurance.

The Rulebook also provides one additional option for foreigners. Specifically, instead of attaching one of these documents, a foreigner can prove that they have sufficient funds to cover the possible costs of treatment in the RS until the decision on their request has been made, as well as for the duration of the temporary stay. This possibility is a little more complex and requires greater financial efforts on the foreigner’s part.

Don’t Forget About the Fees!

It is completely understandable to take costs into account when making any life decision, and therefore it should not be forgotten that, in order to exercise the right to a temporary stay, it is necessary to pay the prescribed fees. As a matter of fact, the residence tax (for a stay over 3 months) for a foreigner will cost slightly less than 17,000 RSD, or 160 USD, i.e. about 140 EUR.

Online Application

From April 1, 2021, it is possible to submit an application for a temporary residence permit in Serbia electronically. Before this great novelty, the request for the temporary residence permit was handed over in person to the competent police administration on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. Regarding the online application for the temporary residence permit, even more, important is that it is possible to apply not only in Serbia but also from abroad.

To apply, you must access and register on the eUprava portal (electronic administration portal). For the purposes of the registration to the eUprava portal, you need only a valid email address. On the other hand, the issue of authenticating the identity of a foreign national has remained open, as foreigners do not have an electronic signature issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, and registration on the portal by entering a username and password does not provide reliable authentication. We hope that an adequate answer to this question will be provided by the technicians in charge of creating the electronic platform.

The decision on the Request itself will be delivered to an e-mailbox on the eUprava portal. If the Request is decided positively, a foreign national will have to be present at the competent police administration in order to put a sticker for temporary residency into their passport.

Unified Procedure for Getting Residence and Work Permit

When employment with a Serbian employer is a legal ground for applying for a temporary residence permit, a foreigner needs to obtain a work permit in Serbia as well. In other words, when concluding Employment Agreement with a Serbian employer, you would need not only the temporary residence permit but the work permit as well.

Up till May 2019, the Law stated that a foreigner must obtain a temporary residence permit first, and only then submit their request for the issuance of a work permit. Although separate, these steps were interdependent, which confused many of our clients who couldn’t figure out which action should be taken at what time.

However, from December 1, 2020, it is possible to submit a joint submission of a temporary residence permit and work permit, when the authorities decide upon both simultaneously, meaning that neither permit will be approved unless the conditions for both permits are met.

Having in mind that earlier, there were two procedures, and the authorities sometimes took two months before making a decision, this change makes the procedure significantly more efficient, and allows employers to hire foreigners much faster than before. This is a truly huge advantage, having in mind that there are foreigners who are skilled and knowledgeable in the fields necessary not only for employers but also for the Republic of Serbia. Also, this makes the procedure of coming to the Republic of Serbia and forming a company with foreign capital, and the business of companies that have foreign managing directors much easier.

In this way, the intended cooperation and information exchange between state authorities is achieved, as well as the goal for foreigners to easily exercise their rights, and simplify these procedures. So, the Police Department, and the Department for Foreigners are still authorized to approve residence on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and the National Employment Service is still authorized for the work permits. However, by this regulation, the cooperation of these authorities in the process of immigration is regulated.

PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN SERBIA

Permanent residence in Serbia can be granted to a foreigner by a relevant authority if one of the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • They have stayed continuously in the Republic of Serbia for a period longer than 5 years – up to the date of submitting the request for permanent residence, by having been granted a temporary residence permit in those 5 years (or more); or 3 years if they are married to a citizen of the Republic of Serbia, or to a foreigner who has been granted permanent residence;
  • Minor having a temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia, whereas one parent is a citizen of the Republic of Serbia or a foreigner with a permanent residence status;
  • They have Serbian roots;
  • They have been granted a temporary residence permit, however, if the interests of the Republic of Serbia or humane reasons demand so – they will be granted a permanent residence.

However, besides these formal conditions, reasons for requesting a permanent stay must be duly argued and justified. Namely, the Ministry of Interior decides upon this request within their discretionary power, bearing in mind formal as well as practical and real facts in connection to the request. For example, the time foreigner has spent in Serbia in the past 5 or 3 years.

BENEFITS OF ACQUIRING SERBIAN RESIDENCY

A large number of foreigners who choose Serbia as their new home and a new seat for their business is the best proof that there are a lot of advantages that Serbia as a country provides.

Some foreigners recognize the possibility to extend their business or take advantage of new business and investment opportunities closer to the EU.

Reasonable tax rates in Serbia are a great benefit the foreigners recognize, comparing Serbia with similarly developed countries. For example, in Serbia, corporate income tax amounts to 15%, while personal income tax is 10%.

The Serbian government is greatly aware of the potential foreign professionals and investors bring in our country, therefore, constantly improves the legislation as well as introduces new measures in order to motivate their decision to move themselves and their businesses to Serbia. This initiative is especially dominant regarding tax benefits.

There are some great tax benefits regarding employment. Namely, one of the favorable provisions for foreigners considered “newly-settled taxpayers” in Serbian law prescribes the possibility for their employer to pay 70% fewer taxes and mandatory contributions calculated on the employee’s salary, in case certain conditions are met.

Furthermore, not only the ones who are employed in Serbia enjoy the benefits. Certain advantages are provided for business owners as well. If you add a simple, quick, and economical procedure of the company formation in Serbia, there is no doubt that Serbia is a great destination in case you decide to move or extend your business.

Protective labor legislation, cheap costs of living, a good education system as well as a solid healthcare system is something that both Serbian citizens and foreign residents in Serbia can confirm.

FAQs

1. How Long Can I Stay in Serbia?

It depends. The duration of stay in Serbia is regulated under the bilateral relationship and bilateral agreements between Serbia and your country.

Therefore, depending on the bilateral agreement Serbia and your country concluded, you either must obtain a visa for every entry to Serbia (for example: for the citizens of the Philippines), or you can stay in Serbia as a tourist, without a visa, for a limited time.

The most liberal touristic regime is a visa-free entry and stays up to 90 days in the period of 180 days (for example: for the citizens of Ukraine).

2. Can I Use My Visa-Free Touristic Stay Upon Each Entry in Serbia?

Foreigners who are in a visa-free regime with Serbia are often mistaken on how to count their touristic days in Serbia. People often believe that their tourist visa-free stay begins each time they enter the country. While that is the rule that can be applied to some foreigners, in most cases, this would mean a violation of the law.

For instance, if you are entitled to stay in Serbia for 90 days, as tourist days, within 180 days, your 180-day period does not begin each time you enter Serbia.

Therefore, you should count how many days have you spent in Serbia within the last 180 days, to check whether you have overreached the 90-day limit within those past 180 days in Serbia.

There are foreigners who are entitled to stay in Serbia for 90 days within 6 months period starting from the date of the first entry. In this case, the days a foreigner spent in Serbia do not annulate each time he enters the country, whereas, the foreigner should count how many days he has spent in Serbia, from the day of his first entrance to the period of the previous 6 months. That is the situation with the citizens of Belgium, Argentina, Canada, the USA, etc.

On the other hand, there are some country nationals whose tourist visa-free stay begins each time they enter Serbia. This is the case, for example, with Russian citizens.

3. Can I Extend My Tourist Stay in Serbia?

In general, a touristic stay or touristic visa cannot be extended in Serbia. However, the Law on Foreigners does stipulate some exceptional cases in which it can be done while it does not list the examples of such exceptions.

Also, this provision was practically unusable in practice, given it required meeting particularly high standards, which were almost never met by a foreigner, until 2020, when Covid-19 hit, and people had limited ability to move and travel.

4. Can I Apply for a Long-Term Visa (Visa D) From Serbia?

As a general rule, visa D (“long-term visa”) can only be issued by the Serbian embassy in a foreign country.

However, from May 2021, all foreigners who come to Serbia with the intention to work can apply for visa D, online via the eConsulate portal, here: https://econsulate.gov.rs/.

5. How long does it take to get issued a temporary residence in Serbia?

The application for a temporary residence permit in Serbia should be submitted to the competent Police Department. The Police Department then forwards it to Belgrade, to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which examines fulfillment of the conditions for issuing a temporary residence permit in the internal control procedure. Data processing and the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs last for up to 30 days.

Once you submit your application for the temporary residence permit, you do not need to “count” anymore the days of your tourist stay in Serbia. In other words, while waiting for the decision of the Police Department you can legally stay in Serbia even if you exceed your touristic visit.

6. I Am a US/UK/EU Resident, or I Have a Schengen Visa and I Want to Apply for Temporary Residence in Serbia

Schengen regulations relate to the citizenship of the visitor. Therefore, if your country of citizenship is on the list of countries in the visa regime for Schengen, temporary residence in Serbia would not change your status and obligations in this matter.

The conditions for traveling to third-party countries should always be checked in that country’s regulations.

7. Can I Renew My Temporary Residence Permit in Serbia as Long as I Still Have a Legal Ground for Residency in Serbia?

The temporary residence permit may be extended as long as you provide a legal ground for the application. However, bearing in mind that the authority questions the justification of each application, besides the formal requirements, which need to be met, if you do not spend more than half of the approved time in Serbia, the application for extending the permit will most probably be denied.

8. Can I Become a Resident of Serbia Based on Retirement?

Even though the fact that you receive your retirement, which implies that you do not treat to become a subject of public welfare, this alone is not enough reason to approve the temporary residence and does not represent a legal ground to apply for the temporary residence permit in Serbia.

9. Do I Need to Be Physically Present in Serbia to Apply for Temporary Residence?

The application for a temporary residence permit in Serbia can be filed online, even before you move to Serbia. This is the novelty, which was introduced to the practice in late 2021.

10. What Documents Do You Need to Get the Residence Permit in Serbia?

In the application for the residence permit, you need to submit documentation that will be proof of the reason for their residence permit. The documentation differs depending on the legal ground and is regulated by different regulations.

11. What Are the Reasons to Terminate the Residence Permit in Serbia?

Termination of the residence permit may occur for several reasons:

  • Upon the expiry of the residence permit;
  • If the state exercises measures of protection or expulsion toward a foreigner.

12. Cancelling The Residence Permit in Serbia?

In Serbia residence permit may be cancelled in case of legal obstacles for denying entry to the Republic of Serbia, which reasons are founded on a fraud or national security reasons.

13. Illegal Stay of Foreigners in Serbia – Any Consequences?

In case you, as a foreigner in Serbia, reside with no legal basis, you must leave the Republic of Serbia immediately or within a period no longer than 30 days. The exact date will be stated in the Decision by the relevant public authority.

14. What Happens If a Foreigner Does Not Leave Serbia After the Residence Permit Expires?

If you do not leave Serbia within the ordered timeframe, the police will use force to remove you from the Serbian territory. In order to ensure enforcement of the protective measure of expulsion, your passport or other documents and travel tickets may be temporarily seized. The cost of the forced expulsion will be reimbursed by you, except when particular conditions are fulfilled, and the Republic of Serbia bears the cost.

Do Your Research Before Making a Decision

If you are not a citizen of the Republic of Serbia and are considered a foreigner, but you wish to reside in Serbia, the provided information may serve as a base, i.e., as the preliminary and core information you should have when considering this option. One should bear in mind that this is a complex area with variations that vary from case to case, i.e. from the requirements and capabilities of each individual applicant. Therefore, such information does not replace the legal advice of an Attorney-at-law experienced in the field of Rights of Foreigners.

[1] Law on Foreigners (“Zakon o strancima“, Official Gazette RS, no. 97/2008 and 31/2019)

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