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Everything You Need to Know About the Unified Permit in Serbia in 2024

Aleksandra Jaćimović

Attorney at Law

Marija Medić

Attorney at Law

01/04/2024
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Everything You Need to Know About the Unified Permit in Serbia

Are you planning to reside and work in the Republic of Serbia? Perhaps you aim to pursue professional specialization, training, or seek employment? In that case, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the procedure for obtaining the unified permit, which allows legal residence and work in the country.

What is the Unified Permit and When is it Required?

The unified permit is a key document that enables foreigners to legally reside and work in Serbia. Whether you are coming for employment, self-employment, or specialization, applying for a unified permit is necessary.

Application Process

The process of applying for a unified permit is relatively straightforward. The application is submitted electronically through a dedicated portal. This procedure now allows submission of the application without the physical presence of the foreigner in Serbia. If a visa is required to enter the country, the application is submitted after entering Serbia. After submitting the application, the foreigner is allowed to legally stay in Serbia until the administrative procedure for obtaining the unified permit is completed. In other words, as a foreigner, from the day you submit the application, you do not have to pay attention to the number of days of allowed stay as a tourist. You can normally live in Serbia until you receive the decision on the submitted request for obtaining the unified permit.

 

Conditions and Issuance Procedure

To obtain the unified permit, the foreigner needs to submit a valid personal document, evidence of the justification for the request, and the address of residence. The decision on issuance is made within 15 days, after which the permit can be issued for a period of up to three years, with the possibility of an extension.

Foreigners who have already been granted temporary residence and work permit before the amendments, can normally exercise all rights, without the need to apply again for the unified permit.

In order to understand the unified permit better, the foreigner should know that the unified permit can be issued only in cases of:

  • Employment
  • Special forms of employment (including seconded employees, assignments within a company, independent professionals, and professional training and improvement of employees)
  • Self-employment.

 

Labor Market Assessment and Employment Needs Assessment

Before deciding on the issuance of the unified permit, if the legal ground is employment, or special forms of emloyment, certain procedure related to the assessment of the labor market must be conducted.

The National Bureau of Employment (the NBE) provides its assessment of employment opportunities for foreigners in specific sectors. This allows permits to be issued in line with labor market needs, promoting economic development and the creation of new jobs. This procedure is initiated before the NBE, and entails the thorough research of the Serbian market, as well as research of unemployed Serbian citizens.

 

What Happens When the Request is Rejected?

If the request is rejected, the foreigner is allowed to appeal within 15 days. The appeal process enables the foreigner to challenge the decision of the competent authority and request a reconsideration of the case.

EMPLOYMENT OF EU CITIZENS

Why should you be careful with this issue? Namely, when you read the Law on Employment of Foreigners (hereinafter: the Law), you can see that the citizens of the EU have the right to free access to the labor market in Serbia. That would certainly lead to the conclusion that EU citizens are not obliged to have a unified permit in order to work in Serbia. But, when you come to the final provisions of the Law, especially Article 41 you will see that certain articles will be applicable only when Serbia becomes part of the European Union. Until then, their citizens must obtain a unified permit under the same circumstances as the citizens of other countries.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1) Is the manager (foreign national) of a company obliged to have a unified permit?

 

The answer to this question depends on whether a manager who is a foreign national will stay in Serbia for a time longer than 90 days within a 180-day period, counted from the first entrance date. Also, it is important whether a manager will be “hired” for that position based on the Employment Agreement or as a manager, i.e., without forming the employment relationship (in that case company and director are concluding a contract on mutual rights and duties – so called Management Agreement). According to the Act, a manager, i.e., a representative of a company registered in Serbia is not required to have a unified permit when the following requirements are met:

  • a manager will not reside in Serbia longer than 90 days in a period of 180 days, counted from the first entrance date;
  • a manager will not be employed by the company.

 

If a manager will be employed in the company, the answer is clear – they need a unified permit.

Let’s try to simplify the process. Simply put, we know that adequate permit is necessary when a foreign national wants to stay in Serbia longer than 90 days in a 180-day period. If a manager is planning to reside in Serbia for 20 days in a period of 180 days, they do not fulfill the conditions for a obtaining the unified permit.

2) Is a shareholder (foreign national) of a company obliged to have a unified permit?

Again, it depends on whether a shareholder will perform business activities and establish work employment. If YES, a unified permit is required. Of course, the same condition is required regarding the time of residence in Serbia.

The unified permit for residence and work in Serbia is crucial for foreigners who wish to legally reside and work in the country. Understanding the application process, issuance conditions and decision-making procedures can be vital for a successful stay and work in Serbia.

We hope that this blog will help you understand better the notion of a unified permit as well as the entire procedure for obtaining it. However, please note that the aforesaid cannot be considered legal advice. That is why we recommend you consult an attorney at law specialized in this area. That way, you will prevent any mistakes on the road to a unified permit.

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