As a place to live, Serbia offers many benefits:
- Low rates of tax (15% or lower)
- Low cost of living (apartments can be found for under 200 euros per month)
- 2 international airports (Belgrade and Nis)
- Excellent 4G coverage
There are also some points to consider if you are thinking of making a permanent move:
- The vast majority of bars and restaurants allow tobacco smoking
- Air pollution is a health hazard in some cities, eg Nis and Belgrade
- Bureaucracy is very real – procedures can take months, and the need for physical signatures and ink stamps is commonplace.
Do not let this dissuade you – there are many hidden gems and great reasons to move to Serbia and our goal is to point these out and help you to get there.
Without a residence permit, every time you cross the border into Serbia you must either stay at a hotel, or spend several hours dragging yourself and your landlord along to a police station, to get your registration document. Without this you can be fined, and the police will also ask for this document when you apply for residence.
To avoid this repetitive scenario, and guarantee a smoother border crossing (as well as enable your Serbian bank account) you can apply for a temporary residence. After 5 years of temporary residence, you can apply for permanent residence (and then, citizenship).
In order to gain your temporary residence permit, you need a reason – and the most common reasons are:
- Company ownership
All of the above require documentary evidence, a residential address in Serbia, interviews at the local police station, and additional documents too.
Your residence will not start until the application is approved! So don’t delay – get in touch and let us help you along the journey. We can help you navigate the parts you don’t hear about in glossy websites – for instance, you may have been attracted by the low headline tax rates for entrepreneurs (eg 5% tax on a “Preduzetnik” earning up to the 60k limit). Note that recent rule changes mean exclusions now apply if your income comes from a single client, and the tax authorities have been clamping down on this hard.
It’s also worth noting that Serbia recognises ‘common law’ relationships – if you can prove you are living with your Serbian partner (witnesses etc) then you don’t actually need to be married to gain residence on this basis. Again, we can give more detailed advice on such options.
Different residence options also have different ‘weight’ when it comes to calculating the time needed before applying for permanent residence. Simply owning a property as a basis for temporary residence, for instance, will take twice as long as the company ownership route.
Whilst not a member of the EU, Serbian citizenship does provide schengen access, as well as Visa-Free access to Russia and China. It is therefore one of the few passports to provide access to both the East and the West.
Serbia also allows Dual Citizenship – you do not need to renounce your existing citizenship to gain a Serbian passport.
We provide more detailed guidance in our residence section.