Essential guide to getting a Temporary Residence in Serbia

May 2022

Contact: Kristina Vuljaj

Serbia is becoming more and more interesting to foreigners, which is why it has become an increasingly popular destination for immigration. It used to be known as a traditional emigrant country, especially in the post-war years. Foreigners who intend to get a permanent residence in Serbia must primarily obtain a temporary residence. Subsequently, they fulfill conditions for permanent residence.

Temporary Residence and Permanent Residence in Serbia

Before you apply for any permit as a foreigner in Serbia, it is first necessary to distinguish between a few key terms. These are the terms of temporary residence and permanent residence, which are one of the basic rights of foreigners under the Law on Foreigners.

  • Temporary residence is a place where foreigners who were granted a stay in the Republic of Serbia plan to stay for a period longer than 24 hours.
  • Permanent residence is a place where foreigners who were granted permanent stay plan to live permanently at a particular address.

Similar logic is behind the foreigner’s residency in Serbia, namely, temporary residence is the residency for a limited term, i.e. up to one year, whereas the permanent residency is unlimited right of foreigner to stay, live in Serbia.

Different Types of Residencies

The Law on Foreigners regulates the stay of foreigners in Serbia and it distinguishes between the three types of stay:

Stay up to 90 days

This stay can be visa-free or can require a visa, depending on which visa regime is established between Serbia and the country of the foreigner’s citizenship. For example, citizens of the United States of America do not require a visa for this type of stay. Indian nationals  do not require a visa for a stay of up to 30 days (for more details, go to the news article Visa(free) Regime for the Entry of Indian Citizens to Serbia ), while the citizens of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Nepal always require a visa, should they wish to enter Serbia.

Therefore, if a foreigner, who is in the visa regime, wants to visit Serbia,  they must apply for tourist visa, which can be issued for up to 90 days visit. The visa that is required to enter Serbia, i.e. for a short stay (for tourist, business and other purposes for one, two or multiple entries in the Republic of Serbia) is called the “C” type visa.

Temporary residence in Serbia is issued under the following terms:

  • work, employment, conducting business or other professional activity;
  • education, studies or specialization, scientific research work, practical training, participation in international exchange programs for pupils or students, or other scientific and educational activities;
  • family reunification;
  • other justified reasons in accordance with the law or international agreement;
  • and other.

Great news for everyone trying to obtain a temporary residence – now, it is possible to apply for a temporary residence permit electronically, so the process is much simpler than it used to be.

How Long Can I Stay in Serbia

The Law stipulates that a temporary residence may be granted for a period of up to 1 year and can be extended for the same period.

The most frequent questions about the temporary residence, as well as other relevant general questions regarding residency are discussed in detail in our text about obtaining the residence permit in Serbia.

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 a proof of sufficient means of subsistence when applying for a temporary residence.

The key question is: what are the costs?

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  refers to official minimal estimated salary in Serbia, per month of stay. Hence multiplies by months of the whole term or planned residency.

What about the 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 the health insurance as well.

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

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 or a voluntary health insurance policy or other document 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 dinars, or 160 dollars, i.e. about 140 euros.

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.

What about the Work Permit in Serbia?

work permit is not a condition for a temporary residence. Moreover, it can never be, since the National Employment Service actually issues work permits only to those persons who were previously granted temporary residence. Subsequently, if you want to obtain a work permit, you must first have a temporary residence permit. In case of joint submitting of a temporary residence permit and work permit, the authorities decide upon both simultaneously, meaning that neither permit will be approved unless the conditions for both permits are met. Work permit application is, on the other hand subject to additional administrative fees, which amount to app. 17.000,00 rsd or 160 EUR.

Requirements for Temporary Residence

In addition to the explicit legal requirements for the approval of temporary residence, there are other possibilities to acquire the right to temporary residence according to the Serbian law. They are based on the interpretation of the provisions of the laws governing temporary residence in Serbia, which in practice became very common conditions for acquiring the right to temporary residence. These bases are:

1) Temporary residence in Serbia on the basis of possessing a property

This is a great possibility for those who have or intend to buy a property in Serbia. It is much simpler if a foreigner already owns immovable property in the territory of the Republic of Serbia.  In that case, they only submit a proof of possession of this property when applying for a temporary residence.

On the other hand, if a foreigner intends to buy, for example, a house or an apartment in Serbia, it is necessary for them to conclude a sales-purchase contract. In practice, you need a lawyer to conclude the contract, since 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.). In Serbia, the purchase contract of immovable property has to be solemnized before a notary. 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.

2) Temporary residence on the basis of establishing a company

In case this is something that is of use to the foreigner, our legal system offers another option for establishing a legal ground for the temporary esidence permit –  establishing a company!

Nowtherefore, if you have decided to establish a company, but the dilemma is whether you will be a founder or, let’s say, a legal representative. For the Police Department, which is where you apply, it is important that you are registered in the Business Registers Agency, whether as a founder, legal representative, procurator … In other words, as long as you are enrolled in the Business Register Agency, your function is not as important.

However, 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.

Do your research prior to 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 a lawyer or another person experienced in this matter.

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