Legal Grounds for Obtaining a Residence Permit in Serbia

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Few European countries are as open to foreigners as Serbia is. Citizens of a great number of countries can enter Serbia without visas. Depending on their home countries, they can legally stay in Serbia for 30 days or for 90 days. It has become even easier to enter Serbia since the coronavirus-related restrictions were lifted in May 2022.

Even though the rules of staying in Serbia are quite simple, a growing number of people from different parts of the world are interested in establishing permanent residence in Serbia rather than visiting the country as tourists. Below we describe the legal opportunities of becoming a legal resident in Serbia that are available in 2023.

Legal Grounds for Obtaining a Residence Permit in Serbia

Visa run or residence permit?

A foreigner arriving in Serbia has to acquire a ‘white card’ (a registration card) within 24 hours. If you stay in an official tourist place such as a hotel or a hostel, for instance, its personnel will do the job for you. A special website is available for them where they can easily do it. If you are planning to apply for legal residence in Serbia, we suggest that you ask the receptionist to print out your registration card.

If you are staying in a private house, you also have to acquire a ‘white card’. The task lies with the house owner who has to bring the guest’s passport to the nearby police station. The passport holder does not have to go anywhere. The procedure is free of charge.

If you are planning to use the visa run opportunity (leave the country and immediately re-enter thus resetting the clock), you have to bear in mind that you have to obtain a registration card every time you return to Serbia.

Some foreign nationals live in Serbia for months doing regular visa runs. But this method does not take your tourist’s status away: you cannot use the local clinics, you cannot study, cannot work, cannot open a bank account in Serbia, and so on. Besides, if you later decide to acquire Serbian citizenship by naturalization, the period when you resided in Serbia doing visa runs will not count towards the mandatory period of stay in the country. This is why we recommend applying for a legal residence permit in Serbia rather than crossing the country’s border every so often.

Document required for obtaining legal residence in Serbia

Cityscape of Novi Sad, Serbia.

Some nationalities do not have to submit apostilled application documents while some others do. The documents can be translated into Serbian when you arrive there. No police clearance is required, which shows that the requirements to the application documents are rather lax in the country. At the same time, you’d better bring all the documents that define your family status in this or that way: your marriage certificate, your children’s birth certificates, and so on.

You will probably be surprised to learn that your family status will matter if you want to buy some real property in Serbia. Besides, you are certainly going to need the documents if you use ‘family reunification’ as the legal ground for bringing your family over to Serbia.

If you are relocating with kids, you have to bring certificates that state the number of (full) years that they have been attending school.

The list of application documents is as follows:

These are basic application documents. Depending on what grounds you are applying for Serbian residence, some additional documents will be required.

Job in Serbia as legal grounds for residence

The simplest way to establish legal residence in Serbia is by finding a job there. The number of business companies is growing in the country and highly-qualified specialists are in high demand. You will have to bring the following additional documents when applying for residence on these grounds:

Purchase of real property in Serbia as legal grounds for residence

It’s not difficult at all to purchase some real property in Serbia given the fact that there is no minimum requirements to its cost. Even if you buy a small studio apartment, you will qualify for residence. The essential requirement is that you will have the live there: police officers may visit you to ascertain that you do.  

The essential additional document that is required is

Opening a company in Serbia as legal grounds for residence

The popularity of this method of acquiring legal residence in Serbia has grown over the recent years. Additional application documents that are required:

A few words about taxes on entrepreneurs in Serbia. You have two options to choose from:

The amount of taxes that you will have to pay in Serbia depends on the sphere of your business, our annual turnover, the location of your business, and even your gender. Female entrepreneurs enjoy tax benefits. 

Family reunification as legal grounds for residence in Serbia

Any foreigner legally residing in Serbia can legalize his/ her family members in the country with ease. Moreover, you can be in the middle of the process of acquiring a residence card and already apply for residence permits for your family members.

Of course, you will have to supply your marriage certificate and your children’s birth certificates. If you want to legalize your partner who you are not officially married to, it is also possible to do that. In this case, however, you will have to supply some conclusive evidence of your romantic partnership. You can supply proof of a shared residential address, for example, or certified statements from two witnesses that you have been living together for a considerable period.

Other legal grounds for residence in Serbia

There are other less popular ways of acquiring legal residence in the country. These include volunteering, religious services, research work, sports, talent support, and others.

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