Serbia is one of the countries outside the European Union with valuable incentives for foreign employers and investors. According to Eurofound, the GDP per capita percent point change between 2012 and 2017 in Serbia was nearly 10%. The unemployment rate was reduced by 10.5%, while employment rates increased by 12%. These are only some of the reasons why Serbia is becoming one of the go-to spots for hiring talents.
However, securing a work permit for employees in Serbia can be challenging, especially for non-Serbian employers. As the Balkan nation looks set to join the European Union, it is taking extra steps to tighten its immigration policies. These may result in stricter verification of work visa documents, long processing time, and limited foreign entries.
If you're also considering expanding to, hiring from or moving your employees to this European country, ensure you have the right Serbia work visas and permits. This guide will tell you more about the requirements, conditions, steps, and costs for securing work permits for your workers in Serbia.
Types of Serbia work visas
Nationals or citizens of neighboring European countries can achieve temporary Serbia immigration without a visa. United States and United Kingdom citizens or residents can also stay in Serbia visa-free for up to three months. Meanwhile, foreigners from other developed nations must apply for a visa.
According to Serbia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government issues two main visa classes for foreigners — short (C) and long-stay (D) visas.
The C-Visa is a short-stay visa that is valid for up to 90 days within six months for single entries. A multiple-entry C-Visa permits the holder to enter Serbia multiple times within a year. This visa is for foreigners wanting to stay in Serbia for any of the following:
The long-term visa (D-Visa) permits foreigners to stay in the country for up to 180 days. It also enables a foreigner to extend their stay and apply for a temporary residence permit.
Non-Serbians wanting to work in the country can only do so on a D-Visa. Besides employment, individuals can apply for a long-stay visa for any of these reasons:
- Sports competition
- Business establishment
- Ownership of the real estate
- Family reunion
- Medical care
- Religious service
Who needs a work visa in Serbia?
Virtually anyone with a Schengen, UK, or US visa — and EU nationals — can enter Serbia for a short stay. However, foreigners from non-European nations and developing countries need a visa to enter Serbia for work. Although these individuals can stay in Serbia without a visa for a short period, they cannot gain temporary residence. Likewise, foreigners within Europe also need a long-stay visa for work.
Who needs a work permit in Serbia?
Anyone requiring a visa to enter Serbia for employment will need a work permit. Only Serbian natives or citizens are exempt from obtaining a Serbia work permit before securing a job. Foreigners from third-world and non-European nations need work permits in Serbia.
A work permit may also be compulsory for Europeans from other countries wanting to work. It may be due to the country’s status as a non-EU nation. This rule will likely change once the country becomes a member of the EU.
Legal aliens with the essential Serbia visa requirements to legally gain employment have similar employment rights as Serbian nationals.
Types of work permits in Serbia
Serbia recognizes various types of work permits. However, there are two major classes: the personal and the simple work permit. Other notable types of Serbia work permits include self-employment and special cases of employment work permits.
Personal work permit
The government issues personal work permits to legal aliens living in the country. Non-Serbians who are eligible for this work permit include the following:
- Third-world nationals with refugee status
- Non-Serbian permanent residents
- Non-Serbians with Serbian family connections in the country
This permit allows foreigners to gain employment with any employer and get virtually any job in the country.
Simple work permit
This work permit is for foreigners employed by a company in Serbia to fill specific positions. Serbia allows foreigners to fill certain vacancies or industries with a shortage of workers. Foreigners can apply to fill these roles before moving to Serbia.
Once they gain employment with a local company for these particular roles, foreigners can work legally with a simple work permit. With this work permit, the foreign employee may not be able to work for other employers.
Special cases work permit
Besides foreign residents or job applicants, companies can process work permits for their existing employees abroad. The special cases of employment work permits allow a peculiar category of workers or professionals to get jobs legally for a specific period.
Individuals eligible for this work permit are employees on transfer or assigned employees. These professionals can relocate to Serbia to continue to perform their previous duties for the company registered in the country.
Self-employment work permit
This work permit is for foreign residents wanting to earn a living as sole traders. The self-employment work permit doubles as a business license for foreign sole proprietors in Serbia. A company does not employ holders of this work permit.
To be eligible for this permit, foreign individuals must have a temporary residence permit. The ideal holders of the self-employed work permit include freelancers, remote workers, and small business owners.
Requirements for Serbia work visa and permits
When applying for a work visa, it is important to know the Serbia visa requirements. Applicants must present the following documents to get a visa:
- A valid international passport valid for at least 90 days before the visa issuance
- A completed visa application form
- An invitation letter from the local company
- Proof of visa fee payment
- Return travel ticket
- Health insurance
- Proof of sufficient funds for the duration of the stay
- 5cm x 4.5cm passport photograph
- Employment contract signed by the employer
- Company’s certificate of incorporation
- Technical cooperation document
- Proof of engagement in specific capacities such as sports clubs
- Certificate of registration as an employer, entertainment, or sports franchise
- Temporary residence permit
How to apply for a Serbia work visa
Applying for a Serbian work visa is straightforward. Applicants can go to the Serbian embassy or consulate closest to their location with their documents. Alternatively, individuals can apply online for an e-visa for work purposes.
Follow this process to apply for a Serbia work visa:
- Provide all the required documents for the visa application
- Ensure the information is valid and updated
- Fill out the visa application form online
- Ensure the information you filled in is correct
- Choose your preferred processing date
- Pay the visa application fee
- Submit your application and print out all essential documents
After submitting the visa application, applicants usually get a notification. This notification includes the following steps and confirmation of their successful visa application.
The standard Serbia work permit visa processing time is about 30 days. Fast-tracking this process is possible, but it may incur extra costs. The processing time may reduce to 20 business days if you want it done quickly.
How to get a work permit in Serbia
The Serbian National Employment Service oversees the work permit processing. It receives and reviews applications before approving them. Applicants must pay a fee of about EUR100 to apply for work permits. This proof of application and payment is crucial to processing the Serbia work permit.
Applicants also must attach documents showing their Serbia work permit application status and fees paid to other travel documents. The processing time is typically a month.
How to apply for a work permit
Only employers can apply for Serbia work permits. They do this on behalf of the employees and cover the application fees.
These are the steps to applying for a Serbia work permit:
- The employer applies for a work permit on behalf of their employee at the National Employment Service (NES).
- Upon receiving the application, NES conducts a labor market test. This procedure determines the availability of skilled labor within Serbia to fill the role. The labor code in Serbia prioritizes Serbian nationals, residents, and legal aliens over foreigners.
- The labor market test typically takes 10 days. If no individual in Serbia can fill the role, the employer may proceed with the application.
- After concluding the test, NES will draft a report on the outcome. The employer will need this document to process their employee’s work permit.
- Employers get 60 days to facilitate the work permit issuance for their foreign employees.
Conditions for applying
Employers wanting to apply for a Serbia work permit for their foreign employees must meet specific criteria. They must meet the following Serbia visa requirements to facilitate a work permit:
- Cover the cost of the work permit application and issuance
- Register their foreign employees for social security deductions
- Prove they can't find local talent to fill in the roles
- Present a copy of the employment contract
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Serbia work permits FAQs
How do I get a work permit in Serbia?
Employees have little to do to get Serbia work permits as employers ideally secure these documents for their workers. First, they make an official request to the Police Department (for foreigners). The department then forwards the request to the NES, which grants the permit considering various factors.
In some cases, the employer may submit the permit application directly to the NES’s organization department. Note that the employer is also responsible for covering the cost of a work permit issuance.
Can foreigners work in Serbia?
The job market in Serbia is accessible to both natives and foreigners within and outside Europe. Foreigners must obtain a work visa, a variant of the long-stay (D) visa, for employment purposes. In addition, they must get a Serbia work permit and temporary residence permit. These documents allow them to stay in the country for an extended period while working.
How much is a work permit in Serbia?
Processing a work permit in Serbia attracts an administration fee, regardless of the country of the employee. A work permit application costs RSD 12,530 (about EUR 100). Printing a copy of the online payment page or receipt is advised. Proof of payment of administration fees is essential for processing work permits.
What documents are required for the Serbia work permit?
The documents required for the Serbia work permit include a valid passport and a filled-out work visa application form. In addition, you must submit a recent passport photograph of 3.5cm x 4.5cm in dimension. The Serbia immigration officers will also request a return travel ticket, health insurance document, and proof of enough funds to cover the travel expenses.
The employment contract is one of the most crucial documents for a work permit issuance. Other documents relating to the employment status include the business cooperation agreement and documents proving work engagement in the country. Meanwhile, the employer will provide the certificate of business incorporation or sports or entertainment franchise establishment document.
Can Americans work in Serbia?
Like virtually every non-Serbian national, US citizens can move to Serbia for work. They must obtain a D-visa (long-stay) for employment reasons to gain access to Serbian soil. Besides securing a work visa, US citizens must obtain a work permit.
A Serbia work permit allows US citizens to earn a living while in the country legally. Americans will apply for a simple or special case work permit before processing their employment visa. Meanwhile, those already living in Serbia should apply for a personal work permit.
How long does a work permit in Serbia last?
The duration of a Serbia work permit largely depends on the temporary residence permit. A work permit is typically valid for up to 12 months and issued for the duration of the temporary residence permit. Work permit holders can renew this document when it expires. It is advisable to begin renewal applications while the permit remains valid.