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Employment of Foreigners in Serbia

Apr 12, 2023

HBL > News > Article > Employment of Foreigners in Serbia

A work permit is a prerequisite for employing and engaging foreign nationals in Serbia. Below is a detailed overview of the possibilities for employment and forms of work engagement for foreigners in the Republic of Serbia.

According to the Law on Foreigners, conditions for entering foreigners into the territory of the Republic of Serbia, their movement, stay, and return from the country are defined. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of state administration bodies of the Republic of Serbia regarding entry, movement, stay, and return has also been established.

Furthermore, the Law on the Employment of Foreigners stipulates all conditions for employing foreigners in Serbia, the procedure for employment, and other significant issues related to the employment and work of foreigners in our country. Based on this Law, a new Rulebook on Work Permits for Foreigners has been adopted. It regulates the manner of issuance and extension of work permits for foreigners, types of work permits, and the way of their issuance and extension.

The following is a summarized overview of domestic companies’ most important possibilities if they want to employ or engage foreign citizens – employment contracts, issuance of work permits, and types of work permits.


Who is Considered a Foreigner According to Serbian Law?


A foreigner is any person who does not have citizenship in the Republic of Serbia, according to the Law on Foreigners provisions. Persons with dual citizenship are not considered foreigners. That is when they have the citizenship of Serbia and another state.

According to the Law, a foreigner also includes a refugee who the asylum regulations have granted the right to asylum. On the other hand, the following persons are not considered foreigners:

  • Refugees from the territory of the former SFRY, whose refugee status has been recognized by the refugee regulations and to whom the Law does not apply,
  • Persons from a particular category of foreigners who seek asylum,
  • Persons who have been granted temporary protection,
  • Victims of human trafficking or persons who have been granted subsidiary protection.


What Types of Contracts Can Foreigners Conclude?


The Law allows for the employment of foreigners through an agreement between the employer and foreign national. The agreement can be an employment contract or another work engagement contract.

Foreign nationals can also work without an employment relationship. However, they can sign contracts for specific work, temporary or occasional jobs, professional development and training, and director rights and obligations.

Other work engagement contracts outside of employment are also available to foreign nationals.


Is a Work Permit Required for Hiring Foreigners in Serbia?

The process of employing foreigners includes the first step of obtaining a work permit for foreigners, regardless of the type of employment contract concluded with the foreigner. Therefore, for the employment of a foreigner to proceed smoothly from the first day of signing the contract and by the Law, it is necessary to initiate the procedure for obtaining a work permit before starting their work.

It is recommended that domestic employers initiate the process of obtaining a work permit promptly and seek the assistance of legal and business consulting companies that provide services for preparing documentation for obtaining residence and work permits required for employing or engaging foreigners.

An employer who wants to employ a foreigner must obtain a work permit if the foreigner stays in the country for more than 90 days in six months or if the foreigner’s stay lasts longer than the mentioned period.

When a company in Serbia hires a foreigner for various types of contracts, such as employment, work, or professional development, the employer has to obtain a work permit.

The same applies when a company wants to hire a foreign director, i.e., a foreign national who can be employed in a Serbian company as a director.

If you need assistance obtaining work permits and employing a foreigner in a director’s position, the accounting and business consulting agency HLB&TM Consulting can be of service, helping you navigate through the procedure.


Prerequisites for Employing Foreigners


The basic prerequisites for issuing a work permit and a condition for employing a foreigner are:

  • Approval for temporary residence,
  • Permanent residence,
  • A visa for a more extended stay based on employment(a residence permit for a foreigner).

The visa for a more extended stay is approved for entering and staying in Serbia for 90 to 180 days. The implementation of approval for extended stay visas, as one of the conditions for employing foreigners, started on January 1, 2020.


Visa for Extended Stay


Anyone who wants to work in Serbia must apply for a visa based on employment. This is done by submitting a request for an extended stay visa or a D visa (for those working in diplomatic-consular representation). A work permit can be issued based on a long-term stay visa for employment.

Foreign nationals can apply for a visa electronically from abroad, even before they come to work in Serbia. If approved, the long-term stay visa can also be used for temporary residence, but only for 90 to 180 days. After this time, they must apply for temporary residence based on their employment.

Once the visa request is submitted, the applicant receives an identification number (ID) from their Serbian employer. Additional documentation is required from the foreigner and the employer to obtain the long-term stay visa based on employment.


Types of Work Permits


There are two types of work permits – one as a personal work permit and another as a work permit. Only one of the mentioned work permits can be issued for the same period.

The first type of work permit is a personal work permit which enables foreigners in Serbia to work, self-employ, and claim unemployment benefits freely. It is issued personally upon request of the foreigner.

The second type of work permit is a work permit, which can be issued as:

  • Work permit for employment,
  • Work permit for special employment cases,
  • Work permit for self-employment.

# A work permit for employment is issued upon the employer’s request in cases where a domestic company or legal entity in Serbia with a foreign national concludes an employment contract. The work permit for employment is issued for the planned job period up to the maximum duration of the temporary stay.

# A work permit for special employment cases is issued upon the employer’s request for special employment cases. It is issued in the following cases:

  • Work permit for posted workers,
  • Work permit for intra-corporate transferees,
  • Work permit for independent professionals,
  • Work permit for training and improvement.

## Work permit for foreign workers employed by a foreign employer – this type of work permit is issued to perform specific jobs or provide specific services on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, based on a previously concluded agreement on business-technical cooperation with a foreign company in which the foreigner is employed. The work permit is obtained at the request of the employer.

## Work permit for movement within a foreign registered company – this work permit can be obtained for the temporary posting or transfer of an employee to work in a branch or dependent company registered in Serbia. In addition, it can be issued to a person employed by a foreign employer for at least one year as a manager, executive, or specialist in certain areas (as key personnel) and who will perform the same work in our country.

The work permit for movement can also be issued for the temporary posting or transfer of a trainee employee. It is issued at the request of the branch or dependent company registered in the Republic of Serbia.

## Work permit for an independent professional – an independent professional is a foreign entrepreneur registered to perform activities abroad (self-employed individual). In the Republic of Serbia, they perform jobs based on a contract concluded with a domestic employer as the ultimate user of their services.

Per the Law, obtaining a work permit for an independent professional to work under a contract is necessary. This permit is issued at the employer’s request as the ultimate user of the services.

## Work permit for training and improvement of foreigners – issued to conduct training, internship, professional practice, foreigner’s professional training, or improvement. It can be issued at the employer’s or the foreigner’s request.

# Work permit for self-employment – this type of work permit can be issued upon the request of a foreign citizen only if they have a visa for a long-term stay based on employment or temporary residence approval in Serbia.

Self-employment of a foreigner implies their work in a company, a legal entity in which the foreigner is the sole or controlling member (so that the foreign citizen becomes the owner of the legal entity registered in Serbia, in which they will establish an employment relationship and carry out business activities).


What is the Procedure for Obtaining Work Permits?


The procedure for issuing work permits for foreigners has been significantly simplified since the Regulation on Work Permits for Foreigners amendment in August 2019. Additionally, the process of extending work permits has been greatly simplified for employers. Legal entities can apply for an extension of their work permits (work permits for posted workers and work allows for intra-company mobility) no later than 60 days before the expiration of their previous permit.

The application is submitted to the organization responsible for employment matters, which obtains opinions from ministries as a matter of official duty. After the application and required documentation are submitted, the National Employment Service resolves the process of issuing, extending, revoking, or terminating work permits.

Instructions on how to apply for work permits, forms, evidence to be submitted with the application, administrative fees, deadlines, and other significant issues related to the process of issuing work permits are available on the National Employment Service website.

Moreover, as of December 1, 2020, a regulation has been implemented requiring the submission of a unified application for temporary residence and work permits. By combining these two separate procedures, the process has been significantly expedited and simplified.


If you need help employing foreigners or obtaining work permits (for employment, posting, self-employment, and registering companies in Serbia), the accounting service agency HLB T&M Consulting is here to help. We can assist with obtaining work and residence permits for foreign employees and provide consultation services. Reach out to us with any inquiries or to schedule a consultation.