This article is intended for foreigners /persons without Serbian citizenship, Serbian and foreign employers. It provides basic information on the legal framework for obtaining a permit for temporary residence and employment or self-employment permit for foreigners in Serbia.
The requirements and procedure for employment of foreigners in Serbia is regulated by the Foreign Nationals employment act (“Official Herald of RS”, Nos. 128/2014, 113/2017, 50/2018 and 31/2019; hereinafter the Act).
Employing a foreigner can be achieved provided that he/she has a temporary residence permit and work permit. Evidence of eligibility for employment of a foreigner shall be kept in the premises in which the foreigner works.
Foreigner does not need work permit when following (main) conditions are fulfilled – if he/she:
- stays in Serbia not longer than 90 days within six months from the date of first entry in Serbia,
- is owner, founder, representative or Board member of a legal entity registered in Serbia,
- is not employed in that legal entity,
- resides in Serbia in order to establish business contacts or attend business meetings but does not intend to make earnings in Serbia,
- conducts other business activities related to the preparation of a foreign employer to establish a business in Serbia.
There are some other exceptions regulated by law.
Conditions of employment of foreigners defined by the Law on Employment of Foreigners do not apply to the employment of a foreigner who:
- is entitled to the privileges and immunities in accordance with ratified international agreements;
- is in Serbia, without employment, staying for carrying out tasks on the basis of relevant contracts and agreements with international organizations, between the relevant authorities of Serbia and other countries or within the framework of international projects on professional and technical cooperation, education and research;
- is representative of the foreign media registered in the records of representatives of foreign media, kept by the ministry responsible for public information in Serbia;
- Staying in Serbia to perform religious services or organizing or conducting charitable actions within the registered churches and religious communities in Serbia, in accordance with the law;
- is a volunteer, in accordance with the law regulating volunteering;
- on the basis of agreements concluded between the authorities responsible for defense and internal affairs activities of interest for Serbia and for the defense or security of the country or being educated and trained in these areas;
- is a member of the crew of a ship or aircraft, or performs road or railways transport and is employed by a foreign employer;
- is a member of a rescue team that provides assistance in eliminating the consequences of accidents and natural disasters, as well as cases of humanitarian aid.
Conditions of employment of a foreigner defined by the Law do not apply to a foreign citizen whose stay in Serbia does not last longer than 90 days within six months from the date of first entry in Serbia, and to the stranger who:
- is the owner, founder, representative or member of the legal person registered in Serbia, in accordance with the law, if not employed in the legal entity;
- staying in Serbia in order to establish business contacts or attend business meetings and without making a profit in Serbia, conducts other business activities related to the preparation of a foreign employer to establish and begin his business in Serbia;
- lecturer or researcher who participate in organized professional conferences or research projects or doing work in order to present or implementation of various scientific and technical achievements, and his supporting staff;
- The person performing temporary educational, sporting, artistic, cultural and other similar activities, or staying in Serbia in the scientific, artistic, cultural or sporting event, organized by authorized organizations, state bodies or authorities of the autonomous province and local governments, as well as supporting organizational and technical staff;
- is person sent to Serbia to carry out works on the basis of the contract on procurement of goods, procurement or lease of machinery or equipment and its delivery, installation, assembly, repair or training to work on the machines or equipment;
- independently or by assignment of the foreign employer stays in Serbia for carrying out tasks of equipping and displaying equipment and exhibits at trade and other fairs and exhibitions.
From the date of entry of Serbia into the European Union:
- foreign EU citizens and family members of EU citizens, who are not citizens of the EU and have a temporary residence permit or permanent residence in these countries, will have free access to the labor market in Serbia, employment, self-employment and the exercise of rights in case of unemployment,
- foreigner who is not a citizen of the EU, can be sent to work in Serbia without work permits if his employer is based in a Member State of the European Union, European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation, provided that (a) has a contract with the employer Serbia, (b) an employment contract with a foreigner and (c) the act of referral to temporary work in Serbia.
The rights and obligations regarding work, employment and self-employment of foreigner possessing work permit are the same as for the Serbian citizens.
Unemployed foreigner exercises all rights and assumes all obligations as Serbian citizens provided that he meets conditions in accordance with the Law.
Temporary residence permit for foreigners in Serbia
Residence of foreigners in Serbia is regulated by the Law on foreigners (“Official Herald of RS”, number 97/2008 of 27.10.2008.). Stay of Foreigners can be up to 90 days, temporary or permanent residence.
Notification of the foreigner’s stay with the Police Department, within 24 hours after arrival in the place of residence, shall be done by legal or natural persons who are providing accommodation services to foreigners, as well as Serbia citizen hosting the foreigner. Foreigner who does not use accommodation and not hosted by Serbian citizen is obliged to register personally.
Temporary residence may be approved for period up to one year and can be extended for the same period. A temporary residence permit shall be entered into passport. The period of validity of the passport must be at least six months longer than the period for which the permit is issued.
Temporary residence for work, employment, business or other professional activities, may be granted to foreigner who has been granted the right to work, or his temporary residence is a precondition for granting this right. The temporary residence permit will be granted to the foreigner until the expiry of approved employment contract in Serbia.
The procedure of approval of a temporary residence usually lasts up to 15 days.
The application for a temporary residence permit should be submitted at Police Department in the place of residence.
The application for a temporary residence permit should have following attachments:
- A valid travel document (passport),
- Residential confirmation (“white card”),
- Two photos (4x3cm, color, en face),
- Filled forms (three copies) and
- Paid administrative fee – payment receipt
A foreigner can be approved a temporary residence permit if he encloses to the application the following evidence:
- That he possesses enough resources for supporting himself;
- Of health insurance;
Proof of eligibility of application for temporary residence which is aligned with the purpose of temporary residence:
Founding the company or representative offices, or decision on registration of the company or representative office:
- business registration certificate;
- commercial bank statement on account turnover;
ownership of independent business (sole proprietor, handcraft, catering, etc.) or agencies:
- Business registration certificate
contract on consignment or business cooperation contracts, technical cooperation and transfer of technology:
- business registration certificate of domestic companies,
- agreement on cooperation between the foreign and domestic legal entities
- referral of the company that is sending foreigner (original and translation by certified interpreter);
the commencement of working relationship:
- decision on registration of the company or other legal entity in which the foreigner will be employed,
- an employment contract or a service contract
- National Employment Service (hereinafter: NES) opinion or decision in case of first Employment
Former Yugoslav republics citizens who are employed as domestic citizens:
- copy of employment card – providing insight into the original,
- certificate on employment
- business registration certificate, unless the foreigner is employed by public company;
carrying out temporary and occasional jobs (up to 90 days):
- service contract with the legal or natural person that owns farm as his main source of income
- registration of the legal entity or in the case of agreement with natural person, certificate that agriculture is his basic activity
training and practice – registration of the company where training or practice is supposed to be provided
- Certificate of the institution that organizes training or practice, the exact start and completion dates
- Agreement or certificate of carrying out training and practice.
Foreigner residence permit can be canceled and prohibited of entrance in Serbia.
A foreigner in the Republic of Serbia, who was granted a stay up to 90 days and a foreigner who was granted a temporary residence in the Republic of Serbia, shall be denied residence by the competent authority in case of occurrence one of the following impediments:
Foreigner residence permit can be canceled if:
- He does not possess a valid traveling document or visa if necessary;
- He does not have enough financial resources during his stay in the Republic of Serbia, for return to the country of origin or transit into third country, or he is not provided with other kind of support during his stay in the Republic of Serbia;
- He is in transit and he does not meet the conditions for entry in the third country;
- A protective measure of expulsion or security measure of deportation are in force or his residence permit was cancelled, i.e. another measure was recognized in internal or international law that includes prohibition of crossing of state border – for the duration of such measure i.e. rescinding of residence;
- He does not have a confirmation on immunization or other evidence that he is not ill, and he is coming from the area infected with epidemic of contagious diseases;
- which is requested by the reasons of protection of public order or security of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens;
- He is kept in an appropriate records as an international transgressor;
- There is a reasonable doubt that he shall not use his stay for an intended purpose.
When rescinding the residence the competent authority shall determine a notice period, which cannot be longer than 30 days, in which a foreigner is obliged to leave the Republic of Serbia as well as period in which a foreigner is forbidden to enter the Republic of Serbia.
Rescinding of residence and prohibition of entrance is to be entered in a foreign traveling document.
Foreigner’s residence permit termination:
- after the expiry of the time for which permit was granted;
- The cancellation of residence;
- if the protective measure of the expulsion from Serbia is imposed to foreigner.
Definition and types of work permits
Work permit is an act by which the foreigner may be employed or self-employed in Serbia, and can be issued as (A) a work permit or (B) a personal work permit. For the same period shall be issued only one type of license.
A. Work permit
A foreigner possessing work permit in Serbia can only work in accordance with given permission.
The employer at whose request permit was issued:
- cannot assign foreigner to work for another employer,
- is obliged to register the foreigner with Social insurance institute for the mandatory social security
- shall bear the cost of issuing the work permit and must not charge it to the foreigner.
An employer who employed the foreigner without proper residence and work permit is required to pay him all outstanding claims, in accordance with labor regulations including taxes and contributions for mandatory social insurance, assuming that the working relationship lasted for at least three months unless the contrary is proved.
A work permit is issued to (1) work permit for self-employment, (2) a work permit for employment, or (3) a work permit for the special cases of employment.
1) Work permit for self-employment
Self-employment of an foreigner’s is employment of in the company or other form of activity, in accordance with the law, in which the foreigner is sole or a control member, in accordance with the law.
Work permit for self-employment is issued at the request of a foreigner who has a temporary residence permit in Serbia.
Work permit application for self-employment should have following attachments:
- a statement of the nature, duration and scope of activities planed by foreigner;
- evidence that he has appropriate qualifications for specific activity;
- Pre-contract or contract as evidence of the ownership or lease of business premises in which he will carry out his business activity;
- proof that the applicant has the appropriate equipment to perform specific activities;
- a statement of the number and qualifications of people planed to be employed, particularly of citizens of Serbia, persons who have free access to the labor market and foreigners possessing a personal work permit.
Work permit for self-employment is issued for a period as long as a temporary residence permit, but no later than one year and may be extended provided that the foreigner proves that he continues doing the same work under the conditions for which the permission was granted.
A foreigner who got work permit for self-employment is obliged to start the business for which the work permit is issued within 90 days of receipt of this permit.
2) A work permit for employment
Employing a foreigner is realized trough an employment contract or other similar agreement by which a foreigner will realize labor rights in accordance with the law.
Employer is a domestic legal or natural person registered (entrepreneur) to perform business activities in Serbia, as well as branch and representative office of a foreign employer registered for business activities in Serbia.
Foreign employer is a foreign legal or physical person registered abroad to perform business activities.
A work permit for employment shall be issued at the request of the employer, provided that the employer:
- didn’t dismissed employees due to technological, economic or organizational changes at the same post for which the work permit for foreigner employment is asked
- one month before applying for a work permit for employment he didn’t found the citizens of Serbia, person who have free access to the labor market or a foreigner with a personal work permit, appropriate qualifications with the National employment service;
- submit a proposal of the employment contract or other agreement by which employees exercise their rights on the basis of work.
A work permit for employment is issued to foreigner who is having a temporary residence permit and fulfilling the requirements of the employer’s demands related to the appropriate knowledge and skills, qualifications, previous experience etc.
A work permit for employment shall be issued for a planned period of employment, but no longer than the duration of the temporary residence.
An employer may hire a student, provided that his work cannot exceed 20 hours per week and 80 hours per month.
The conditions for granting a work permit for performing seasonal jobs for foreigner are:
- a temporary residence permit of a foreigner;
- employment contract with the employer;
- the act of the employer on the accommodation and nourishment conditions during their stay and work in Serbia.
Seasonal jobs are jobs that have a seasonal character in the sphere of agriculture, forestry, construction or other activities, which are characterized by a significant temporary increase in the workload for a period of no longer than six months during the 12 months.
3) Work permit for the special cases of employment
Work permit for the special cases of employment shall be issued upon the request of the employer, for (a) foreigner sent by foreign employer, (b) movement within the company, and (c) independent professionals.
a) Work permit for the employees sent by a foreign employer to carry out work or services in the territory of Serbia shall be issued at the request of the employer.
The requirement for issuing such a work permit is that the foreigner has:
- a temporary foreigner’s residence permit;
- the contract concluded between the employer to whom these service will be provided and a foreign employer who is performing service. It must contain the place and the time limits for carrying out the service;
- proof that the foreigner is employed by a foreign employer for at least one year;
- Referral act for temporary work in Serbia defining the rights and obligations from work, accommodation and nourishment during their stay and work in Serbia.
This work permit is issued for the period for which the contract was concluded between the employer for whom services are provided and the foreign employer, but not longer than one year.
Exceptionally, a work permit for employees sent by a foreign employer registered to practice in the country with which Serbia has concluded the international agreement defining the referral shall be issued in accordance to the conditions and for the period specified in the agreement.
Work permit is not needed for period shorter than 90 days for employees sent by a foreign employer for reason of 1. Purchasing agreement 2. Installation agreement 3. training on equipment sold but for period longer than 90 days the same conditions are valid as for other purposes described earlier
b) Work permit for personnel redeployed within the company registered abroad shall be issued at the request of the foreign company branch office or subsidiary company registered in Serbia, for the purpose of temporary redeployment or transfer an employee to work in that branch or a subsidiary, only if that person is employed by foreign employer at least one year as manager or specialists in certain fields (key staff), as well as that he / she will perform the same work in Serbia.
These work permits are issued under the same conditions as for employees sent by foreign employer and for the period of time the temporary residence permit is valid, but no longer than one year.
c) Work permit for independent professionals shall be issued at the request of the employer, or the end-user services, if an independent professional has:
- a temporary residence permit;
- concluded an agreement with the employer, or end-user services that must contain a deadline for the job;
- the relevant higher education and / or professional qualifications and work experience required in the profession.
This work permit is issued for a period of time necessary to do the job, but not longer than one year.
Independent professional is self-employed natural person or entrepreneur registered for carrying out activities abroad, who according the contracts with local employers, and end-user services, carries out activities on the territory of Serbia.
B. Personal work permit
Personal work permit is issued at the request of an foreigner who has a permanent residence, has refugee status or belonging to a special category of foreigners, and approves him for free employment, self-employment and the exercise of the right to unemployment insurance.
Personal work permit shall be issued in cases stipulated by international treaty binding Republic of Serbia, in accordance with that agreement.
The personal work permit is issued for reason of family reunification and at the request of the family member of an foreigner who has been granted a permanent or temporary residence, as well as a foreigner member of the immediate family of a citizen of Serbia and the Serbian origin of a foreigner to the third degree of consanguinity in the direct line, if the person meets the requirement regarding the minimum age for employment in accordance with labor regulations.
Under immediate family members shall be the spouse in or out of wedlock foreigner who has a personal work permit, minor children born in or out of wedlock, underage adopted children or underage stepchildren, as well as other family members, in accordance with the law governing the residence of foreigners. Foreigner who has a permanent residence personal work permit is issued for a period of time as long as the ID card for foreigners is valid.
Refugee personal work permit is issued for the period of time same as the ID card for a person who possesses asylum status.
To an asylum applicant personal work permit may be issued nine months after applying for asylum, for a period of six months with the possibility of extension, as long as he possesses asylum status
A person who possesses temporary protection status personal work permit shall be issued for the duration of the status of temporary protection.
The victim of trafficking a personal work permit is issued for the duration of the residence permit.
The person to who possesses the subsidiary protection status personal work permit shall be issued for the duration of the status of subsidiary protection.
Member of the family of a foreigner who resides in Serbia work permit shall be issued for the duration of the residence permit.
Work permits issuing process
For the process of issuing, prolonging, invalidating and expiring of working license, local organization unit Nacionalna služba za zapošljavanje (NSZ) is in charge. Final decision of eventual complain is made by Minister for employment and work relations, against which can be started legal dispute in front of the court.
Work permit issuing, renewal, cancellation or termination process is under jurisdiction of organizational unit of the NES. Final decision on a possible appeal will be decided by the minister responsible for employment. Decision could be subject of an administrative dispute before the competent court.
The work permit is issued for a period asked in the application but not longer than it is limited by law. Work permit application shall be submitted together with adequate evidence of compliance with requested conditions. The permit validity shall be extended, if the conditions for extension are fulfilled.
The application for an extension of the work permit shall be submitted not earlier than 30 and no later than 15 days before the expiry of the previous permit.
The fee for a permit issuance is 12,530.00 RSD according to Law on republican administrative fees (“Official Herald of RS”, Nos. 43/03… 57/14).
Way of issuing, or prolonging the working license, way of proving acquired conditions defined by Law, acquired proofs for issuing or prolonging working license, form and content of working license are defined by responsible Minister by Rule book on working licenses. In Rule book are defined acquired documents for every type of working license.
With the application for the work permit s following documents should be submitted:
1) work permit for self-employment – Z-RD-SZ form
- the foreigner’s passport or ID card
- temporary residence permit for foreigners,
- A statement of the type, duration and scope of business activities planed, including information on number and structure of employees to be employed
- document or a certificate which proves that the foreigner has the proper qualifications to perform specific activities,
- The contract or pre-contract proving ownership or lease of business premises,
- proof that the applicant owns or rent appropriate equipment to perform specific activities,
- confirmation on paid administrative fee
2) a work permit at the request of the employer – Z-RD-Z form
- The registration certificate of the employer issued by relevant institution
- the foreigner’s passport or ID card
- a temporary residence permit for the foreigner,
- Proof issued by Social insurance institute (ZSO) that employer didn’t dismissed employees due to technological, economic or organizational changes at the same post for which the work permit for foreigner employment is asked
- confirmation that one month before applying for a work permit for employment he didn’t find the citizens of Serbia, person who have free access to the labor market or a foreigner with a personal work permit, appropriate qualifications with the National employment service;
- proposal of an employment contract or other agreement of employment, in accordance with the law
- a copy of the regulations on the organization and job descriptions or employer’s statement ( if legal entity employees less than 10 employees), which contains the description of jobs, type and level of the required qualifications, and education and other special conditions for that position
- a diploma or certificate (a public document) proving appropriate type and level of the required qualifications or education,
- document or a certificate which proves that the foreigner meets the requirements of the employer’s demands related to skills, qualifications, previous experience and other special conditions to work on the position, (10) proof that administrative fee is paid;
3) a work permit for employment at the request of the employer to perform seasonal jobs – Z-RD-Z form
In addition to the evidence from the previous point also following should be presented:
- employment contract that includes a provision on provided nourishment for foreigners
- the lease agreement, or other evidence of proper accommodation for foreigner during their stay and work in Serbia;
4) work permit for persons sent by foreign employer – Z-RD-UL form
- business registration certificate of the employer issued by relevant authority,
- foreigner’s travel document
- a temporary residence permit for a foreigner,
- the contract concluded between the employer for whom services will be provided and foreign employer which must contain the place and the time limit for the service,
- employment contract or confirmation of a foreign employer that a foreigner is employed for at least one year by a foreign employer, and that he is provided with proper nourishment
- the decision of a foreign employer to send the foreigner to work temporarily in Serbia,
- the lease agreement, or other evidence of secured accommodation for foreigner during their stay and work in Serbia,
- the proof that administrative fee is paid;
5) work permits for employees redeployed within the company – Z-RD-KPD form
- business registration certificate of the employer issued by relevant institution
- foreigner’s travel document
- a temporary residence permit for a foreigner,
- employment contract or confirmation of a foreign employer that a foreigner is employed for at least one year by a foreign employer on managers, managers or specialists positions in certain fields,
- the decision of a foreign employer to redeploy the foreigner to work temporarily in Serbia as business manager, or specialist in certain fields,
- the proof that administrative fee is paid;
6) work permits for independent professionals – Z-RD-NP form
- business registration certificate of the employer issued by the competent authority or Serbian citizen’s identity card for whom the service will be performed,
- decision on registration of independent professionals,
- foreigner’s travel document
- temporary residence permit for foreigners,
- agreement with the employer or the end user of services that includes service deadline,
- diploma or certificate of proving appropriate higher education or technical qualifications issued by relevant educational institutions,
- documents and certificates of professional experience,
- Proof that administrative fee is paid;
7) Personal work permit for foreigners possessing a permit for permanent residence, refugee status or belonging to a particular category of an foreigner – Z-RD-LRD form
- foreigner’s passport or ID card,
- approval for permanent residence or temporary residence for foreigners,
- approval of a foreigner’s refugee status that he belongs to a special category of foreigners,
- paid administrative fee – payment receipt;
8) personal work permit for family reunification foreigners ( in connection to point 7.) – Z-RD-LRD form
In addition to the evidences mentioned in previous point following evidence is needed:
- copy of the birth certificate, copy of marriage certificate, the statement of out of wedlock union,
- identity card for foreigners who have permanent residence or refugee status, whose family member is applying,
- Serbian citizen’s identity card for, whose family member is applying.
The license may be rescinded or canceled under certain circumstances.
The license will be canceled if:
- the foreigner works at position for which no license was granted or if he works for another employer;
- the foreigner does not begin his work within 15 days of the issuance of work permits;
- an foreigner who is issued a permit for self-employment not started to exercise his job for which his license is issued within 90 days of receipt of the license;
- at the moment of issuance or extension, the were not fulfilled requirements established by law.
The labor inspection shall immediately inform the National Employment Service on the existence of facts that are giving a reason for canceling the work permit.
The employer is obliged to inform the National Employment Service if the foreigner does not begin its work within 15 days of the issuance of a work permit for employment.
An foreigner is obliged to inform the National Employment Service of the fact that he is not started his work for which work permit was issued for period of 90 days from the date the permit is issued within the next 15 days.
Rescinding the work permit of the National Employment Service will be applied by the above-described facts, or ex officio.
The work permit expires:
- upon the expiration of the period for which it was issued;
- on his request;
- termination of refugee status, asylum, status of persons who had been granted temporary protection or a person who has been granted subsidiary protection;
- termination of the employment contract or other agreement without an employment contract that the foreigner realizes labor rights in accordance with the law, or voluntary dismissal by the foreigner who has a temporary residence permit in Serbia;
- if the foreigner terminates the status of an entrepreneur or a legal person ended their activities before the expiry of the work permit for self-employment;
- for reasons of public order or security of Serbia and its citizens, in accordance with the law;
- foreigner lost permanent residence or temporary residence in Serbia;
- if the foreigner becomes a local citizen;
- in case of death;
- if the foreigner has resided outside of Serbia for more than six consecutive months.
On the facts of the points 2, 4 and 5, foreigner is obligated to inform the National Employment Service within 15 days.
Supervision and penalties
Inspection over the implementation of the Act, or controlling fulfillment of conditions of employment of a foreigner in accordance with the law, is carried out by s the Labor Inspectorate.
For infringement of certain provisions of the Act administrative and financial penalties will be applied:
- 800,000 to 1,000,000 Dinars for infringement done by the legal person – the employer, plus 20,000 to 150,000 Dinars for the responsible person, with the possible prohibition on carrying out business activities for a period of six months;
- 50,000 to 500,000 Dinars for the infringement of the natural person – the employer who has the status of entrepreneurs;
- 15,000 to 150,000 Dinars for infringement done by foreign citizen;
- 500,000 to 1,000,000 Dinars for infringement related to NES ( National Employment Service), plus 20,000 to 150,000 Dinars for the responsible person…
Author: AKTIVA sistem