I’m kind of new here, and as a reply to my introduction I was asked to share some points on Serbian residence.
To remind, as one of my investments I decided to purchase a piece of Serbian agricultural land to rent it out and hope for price growth. The problem is that this type of land can not be bought privately by a foreigner, so I have to create a company and buy this land to the legal entity. That is pretty straightforward, founding a company and assigning myself as a sole director, so I decided to go this way and also try to get most of the process for its money (i.e. get the passports for myself and my family - spouse and 2 children [11 and 14]).
Disclaimer: myself I’m yet rather in the beginning of the process, but the information received from the local lawyers, as well as the experience of my fellow countrymen that they share over internet, demonstrates its’ ease. Anyway, don’t treat my post as something that does not require further check on site or with some trusted lawyers.
Serbia. What is that?
It’s a nice country on the Balkan peninsula, located right between Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Macedonia. It has mild climate, beautiful nature, reasonable infrastructure, good cuisine (especially if you are a meat-lover) and friendly people. You can cross the country in some 5-6 hours from south to north and 4-5 hours from east to west.
Largest cities are Belgrade (2M+ inhabitants, international airport with good connection with the whole world), Novi Sad, Niš. My personal love is Novi Sad – yet a nice calm town with some 400K inhabitants (myself I was born and lived all my life in Moscow, which is a neversleeping megapolis) in just some 50 minutes from the airport, which has, however, some good hotels, nice residential areas, great restaurants (especially I like these fish ones at the Duna river), farmlands in 15 minutes to the north and national park (Fruška Gora) in 15 minutes to the south. Local ski resort (Kopaonik) is in 4 hours drive, and the Croatian Adriatic sea is in just 5 hours. If I would to choose where to live – that’s the best option for me.
I’ll just leave these links to some random Instagram accounts here:
The country is really beautiful, and the life rhythm is really optimal, as is the work-life balance. Okay, let’s move to the business.
I’d like to avoid rewriting the official materials and posts of law firms, so if you’d like to check the whole bunch of options and requirements, please follow the link to the website of the Ministry of Interior:
According to the MoI, there are 23 reasons to get the temporary residence permit, which is the first step towards the permanent permit or citizenship. Some of them are quite exotic (sportsmen, diplomats, medical treatment, consultancy for large banks and funds etc.), others are barely realistic for most of us (study, marriage, employment), but couple of them are quite okay: property and business.
In general, the option with the property requires that you (ha) own some local property and have sources of self-financing. However, if your plan is to get the permanent residency or citizenship, you’ll have to live in Serbia most of the time.
As opposite to the property option, grounding a company and hiring yourself as a director allows you to use in the future the ambiguity of the Serbian laws, that assume that if somebody is employed in the country and pays salary taxes, he or she is residing there. Strange but seems to be true.
So, roughly speaking, in order to get permanent residence in Serbia (and later the citizenship if required) by the “business” way, one needs to follow the next broad steps:
- Open a company and bank accounts, hire an accountant.
- Rent a flat (this step may be nominal if you have friends who can rent you the flat out for $1 per year or agree to register you at their premises) and print out the proof of sufficient finance (for the first temporary permit only).
- Get residence and work permit based on owning the company.
- Extend the residence permit 4 times, i.e. in total possess the residence permit for 5 years.
- Submit for permanent residence permit.
- Submit for citizenship.
- Opening a company is barely a €100: 6000RSD to the state, some 2000RSD to the notary and a bottle of rakija (local spirit) to the person helping you to fill in the documents.
- Maintaining a company with 0 or close to 0 activity (like my example of renting out the real estate) is roughly €300 per year for the accountant.
- Salary and income taxes for yourself (based on minimum salary) is roughly €2000 per year. Corporate tax should be 0 as you can definitely account anything towards company costs, even your evening pub visits.
- Residence and work permit fees are low, they’re within €100 each.
Please note that the above costs are based on my situation and on the fact, that I’ve worked on several projects in Serbia since 2017 and have local business partners, who let me use their corporate lawyer for consultations, provide me the company seat (legal address) for free and help with the residence address. Also I speak rather fluent Serbian, so I can pass the express language test in front of notary and not pay hundreds of money to the official interpreter or for apostile of the documents in my homeland. If you don’t have these valuable assets, you’ll have to count an extra €1000 for that.
< politics on >
I would like, just to support the opinion that we, Russians, are bad diplomats, to devote an additional paragraph to the problem, which is not visible from the start, but for sure is in place for most of the forum people here. When thinking to live in this godlike place you should always remember that the last real war here has finished just some 20 years ago, and if you are from US – be ready to the very negative attitude towards your person from most of the locals. US bombed Serbia badly, and at least 2 generations of locals will not forget it. You’ll have to use all your time and efforts to prove the Serbians that you worth to have the right to live in their land.
< politics off>