- Serbia Is a Business-Friendly Country
- Top-10 Factors that Make Serbia Attractive to Foreign Investment
- Setting Up a Company in Serbia: Key Steps and Advantages
- Opening a Serbian Branch Office
- Setting Up an Endowment/Trust in Serbia
- Taxes in Serbia
- Using Serbian Banking Services
- Buying a Ready-Made Company in Serbia: Key Benefits
If you are looking for information about setting up a company in Serbia and opening a bank account, this article is the right place to look. It is a detailed guide to doing business in this beautiful country in the heart of the Balkans, including such topics as starting companies or local branches, running endowments or trusts, and using banking services. You will also find out why a company endowment/trust, and bank account in Serbia and getting permanent residency in this country are so popular among foreigners, and what key benefits they can provide for you. Also, we will include some important information about the possible difficulties of doing business in Serbia and ways to avoid them.
We would like to help you to make your first steps in doing business in Serbia as easy as possible. To start this sort of project, you need to understand the legal requirements and processes and learn about the steps needed to be taken to make sure you comply with the applicable regulations for newly founded businesses.
The article includes the following main sections with detailed information about setting up a business and opening a bank account in Serbia:
- Serbia Is a Business-Friendly Country
- Setting Up a Company in Serbia: Key Steps and Advantages
- Opening a Serbian Branch Office
- Setting Up an Endowment/Trust in Serbia
- Using Serbian Banking Services
- Buying a Ready-made company in Serbia: key benefits
Serbia Is a Business-Friendly Country
The Republic of Serbia, especially its capital Belgrade has become a real mecca of foreign business in South-East Europe. Today, it is an extremely popular business, commercial, and international banking hub. Foreign Investors from the USA, China, various EU countries, and even the Middle East have been pouring large investments into banks in Serbia and the country’s economy in general. What are the reasons for this popularity?
Serbia has an extremely varied investment landscape: from boutique spa hotels and ski resorts to tyre factories, heavy machinery plants, and gold mines – there are dozens of different businesses and enterprises financed by Foreign Direct Investment. In recent years foreign investors have been actively buying existing enterprises and setting up new ones. Currently, the largest volume of invested funds comes from the European Union, Serbia’s leading and most profitable trading partner. However, the country has been attracting entrepreneurs from all over the world (for example, the share of investments from China and the UAE has been increasing notably, pouring billions of dollars into the Serbian economy).
Serbia’s business friendly government is very welcoming to foreign investors, offering excellent conditions and incentives for company registration and modern asset protection tools. In this country, which may be called a real business bridge between East and West, the world’s major market players can discreetly do business together in a safe, neutral environment using internationally-recognized local and foreign banks. Getting permanent residency in Serbia is also financially attractive – at the moment, business taxes here are not as high as in many other European countries. For example, the company income tax rate (CIT) in Serbia is 15%, while in many European countries the rates are almost twice as high (Portugal – 31.5%, Germany – 29.9%, France – 29.9%, Spain – 25%). It’s also worth noting that Serbia is an official candidate for becoming an EU member, which means that in the not-so-distant future a Serbian residency permit might open doors for its holder to acquiring EU citizenship via Serbian naturalization.
Top-10 Factors that Make Serbia Attractive to Foreign Investment
What are the main reasons that foreign investors and entrepreneurs appreciate in Serbia when opening a company?
- Low business maintenance costs;
- Fairly inexpensive professional services;
- Transparent, business-friendly legislation and taxation systems, including Foreign Investor Protection Treaties;
- Secure and safe and banking experience, including access to major international banks;
- Excellent IT infrastructure;
- Great quality of life at a reasonable cost;
- Low crime rate – secure environment for business and lifestyle
- Stable internal and external political climate; positive relationships with most key political powers, including EU, China, Middle East, the USA, and Russia;
- Well-educated, multilingual population mix, which creates wider hiring prospects;
- Investing into Serbia allows to combine opening a profitable business with acquiring permanent residency in a European country.
To read more about what makes Serbia attractive for foreign investors follow the link below: Foreign investors’ benefits from Serbia’s free trade agreements
Setting Up a Company in Serbia: Key Steps and Advantages
The Serbian Law on Companies outlines five main legal forms for doing business:
- Private Entrepreneur, or Sole Proprietor;
- General Partnership;
- Limited Partnership;
- A Limited Liability Company;
- A Joint Stock Company;
In addition, both foreign and domestic companies can form branches and representative offices. Naturally, the legal form should be chosen according to the unique plans and situation of each entrepreneur. Each of the legal forms comes with different rights and responsibilities, and is best-suited to a certain situation and type of business operations of a company.
Registering as a Sole Proprietor in Serbia
The simplest business type in Serbia is a sole proprietorship (preduzetnik in Serbian). As in the majority of countries, a sole proprietor, or private entrepreneur, is an individual who takes full financial and administrative responsibility for all the business operations. If you are planning to run a fairly small business operating in a narrow market niche, mostly relying on your personal efforts, registering as a sole proprietor in Serbia is certainly a good idea. However, this type of business considerably limits your growth opportunities and flexibility. In addition, the main disadvantage of this type of company is the fact that the entrepreneur’s personal assets and property are not separated from their business. Since no initial investment in share capital is made, all obligations, duties, debts, and fees may be charged from the entrepreneur’s personal assets.
Starting a Partnership in Serbia
A partnership is the next level of complexity for a company in Serbia after a sole proprietor. There are two types of partnership – general and limited ones.
A general partnership (O.D. in Serbian) is started by two or more individuals or corporate entities bound by a partnership agreement. No minimum share capital is needed to run this type of business, and the capital is stipulated in the initial partnership agreement. All the key decisions are made by the members and, in case the company is liquidated, the members’ personal assets are not protected.
A limited partnership (K.D. in Serbian) is similar to the general partnership, but it may have two types of members: general partners, who have unlimited rights and liabilities in the company, and at least one partner, whose rights and liabilities are limited by their contribution in the partnership’s capital. There is no minimum share capital requirement for starting this type of company. The General Partner acts as the company’s Manager and legal representative, while the others remain silent partners to this or that degree.
Opening A Joint Stock Company in Serbia
Local or foreign investors with a larger amount of money they are willing to invest in a business in the country can incorporate a Serbian joint stock company (A.D.). In Serbia, there are two types of joint stock companies:
– a closed joint stock company – the founders are required to provide a share capital in the amount no less than 10,000 EUR; no more than 100 shareholders are allowed; and
– open joint stock company – the investors pay a minimum share capital of 25,000 EUR, and more than 100 shareholders are allowed. Only the stocks of an OJSC can be registered at the Stock Exchange in order to generate share profit. All major decisions are made by the general shareholders meeting, while the day-to-day business is managed by a board of directors, controlled by a supervisory board.
Opening a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in Serbia
A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is the most popular and common form of company in Serbia. This is why in this article you will find the most detailed description of the requirements and the steps needed to open an enterprise of this type. LLC has proven to be most suitable for a wide range of commercial activities. One of its main features is the fact that the founder of the business does not cover the company’s obligations with his personal property and assets (except certain cases of corporate liability or forced liquidation). In Serbia, opening and setting up an LLC is a lot simpler than in many other countries in south-eastern Europe and can take just over two weeks. The expenses will also be quite reasonable.
The minimum share capital for an LLC is 100,00 RSD (which is about 1.00 EUR). However, it is always better to consider registering a larger amount, because it helps to create an impression of the owners’ serious intentions for doing business in the country. The amount of share capital is stated at the time of registration, but the actual payment can be made within 5 years from the registration date. The amount of the basic capital should be determined according to the company’s development strategy, and the consequences of this decision can be really significant (for example, if the owners are planning a quick sale of a part of the company (share transfer), the value of the initial capital determines the tax burden associated with such transaction; if the entrepreneurs are planning to attract loan financing, a significant capital will insure the company’s better reputation with the banks considering the loans, and so on). One definite benefit of starting an LLC is that it is a separate legal entity, and its obligations are covered exclusively with its own assets, not the personal capital and real estate of the owners (except for some rare exceptional cases provided by the law).
The company registration is performed by the Business Register Agency of the Republic of Serbia (BRA). The founder submits a Registration Application and notarized Articles on Incorporation, signed by the company’s founder(s). The Articles on Incorporation must have notarized signatures of the company’s founders. It is allowed to make notarization abroad, by a competent authority of the founder’s country (most commonly, a public notary).
Articles on Incorporation must contain the following information:
- Name and registered address of the company;
- The company’s main activity;
- Information on the company’s founders (i.e., shareholders);
- The company’s authorities and governing bodies;
- Each of the company’s founders’ share in the total basic capital;
- Total volume of the company’s basic capital;
- The amount of pecuniary capital, as well as the estimated value and description of the non-pecuniary part of the basic capital of the company;
- Due date of payments of the investments in the company’s basic capital.
In addition to the Articles on Incorporation, other documents have to be prepared. Some are required at various stages of the procedure, others – only in certain specific situations. They will most likely include:
- Extract from the official business register for all the company’s founders and all the companies in the ownership structure of the group, leading up to the individual acting as the ultimate beneficial owner;
- Copy of passports/IDs of founders represented by individuals;
- Copy of passports/IDs of the company’s directors;
- Power of Attorney, if some actions connected with registration are to be done via proxy;
- Notarized Specimen Signature List, which some Banks require if the company’s bank account is to be opened remotely, via proxy.
It would be wise to prepare all the documents in advance so that the application procedure would go as efficiently as possible, because for certain obligations the law states clear and strict deadlines (for example, registration of the beneficial owner must be carried out within 15 days from the date of company registration). All the documents must be submitted in the original, with Serbian translations. In some cases, depending on the country of origin, it is necessary to get some documents apostilled and legalized in the corresponding administrative offices.
The prepared document package, together with the completed registration application should be submitted to the Business Registers Agency for registration. The BRA checks the application within 5 working days and, if it meets all conditions, issues a Decision on the registration of a new business entity. The new company gets a registry ID number and a tax identification number (TIN), unique for each entity.
Some Important Issues Connected with Opening an LLC in Serbia
Knowledge of certain issues and intricacies can greatly facilitate the entire registration process. Further on you can see an overview of some of the most common questions connected with the Articles on Incorporation and other aspects, vital in order to conduct the founding process effectively:
- When choosing the business name for an LLC, it’s necessary to make sure that the desired name is free. If a similar business name is already being used by another company, registration is impossible;
- When opening a Limited Liability Company, the owners need to state its main business activity, which has to comply with the Regulation on Classification of Activities. Just one main activity can be registered on the BRA website, but the company has the right to perform a number of other activities according to the applicable regulations. A corresponding license or permission of the state authorities may be required to register or perform certain activities;
- If the company is founded by a foreign legal entity, it is required to check if the legalized documents issued by the founder’s country comply with Serbian laws and rules (in case they need to get a local apostille or maybe even full legalization in the country);
- Mandatory bodies of an LLC include the assembly (constituted by all founders/members of the company) and at least one director (who acts as the company’s legal representative). It is possible to register several directors in order to facilitate the company’s day-to-day operations. If necessary, their powers can be limited to certain activities (e.g., by co-signature of the assembly member or another director);
- The director can be both an individual or a local or foreign legal entity, and under certain conditions, the director doesn’t have to have a Serbian work permit or even residence permit to perform this function.
The Registered Business Address (Seat of the Company)
Every company is obliged to register its business seat located in the Republic of Serbia. When choosing the seat of the company, you should keep in mind that this choice predetermines the organizational framework of Tax authority under which the company would be operating, as well as the location of the company’s main business activities.
At this point, it is also necessary to appoint at least one person responsible for receiving the company’s mail and managing its document flow. Certain documents must be kept at the company’s registered address, and that is often inspected by the state authorities. Also, failure to receive Tax Administration mail and packages may result in the company’s TIN getting blocked.
For companies that do not require a permanent offline office and actual business space, there is a more effective and rational choice – a virtual office. It ensures permanent reception of incoming mail and document management required by the law.
A virtual office can be an excellent solution for companies that, at least at the initial stages of doing business, do not have any need for many employees or any office space. Choosing a virtual office allows the company to significantly reduce costs of its initial operations. The virtual office service most often includes registration of a business address, receiving and sending the mail, and managing the documents. A business phone number, together with the service of receiving and sending messages, can be offered if required by the client. Also, the virtual office service often includes occasional use of a certain number of offices for the company’s employees or the conference space for corporate events.
A virtual office in Serbia can be acquired completely remotely, without visiting the country.
Registration of a Beneficial Owner of the Company
The newly founded business will be required to register its beneficial owner with the Business Register Agency within 15 days from its formation. The beneficial owner is to be registered in the Central Registry of Beneficial Owners maintained by the BRA.
A beneficial owner is an individual who owns the majority of the company’s capital (more than 25% of ownership) or has the greatest influence on the company’s decision making. The procedure for appointing the beneficial owner is defined by the Law on Central Register of the Ultimate Beneficial Owners.
If the company fails to fulfill this obligation, it is punished by a fine ranging between RSD 500,000 (about EUR 4,250) to RSD 2 million (about EUR 17,000) for the legal entity, and from RSD 50,000 (about EUR 425) to RSD 150,000 (about EUR 1,275) for the company’s Responsible Person.
Getting and Electronic Signature
A beneficial owner can be registered only by the legal representative of the company on BRAs platform. The registration requires the use of the legal representative’s qualified electronic signature. The deadline for registering the UBO is 15 days from the day of the company registration. It is a good idea to initiate the procedure of obtaining an electronic certificate (qualified electronic signature) as soon as possible. Please bear in mind that Issuing an electronic certificate for the qualified signature usually takes 5 – 7 days. Also, this procedure may be more complicated if the director is a foreign resident who doesn’t intend to come to Serbia in person.
Qualified Electronic Signature
A qualified electronic signature is a digital substitute for a person’s handwritten signature. An electronic certificate of a qualified electronic signature must be issued by the appropriate certification body (e.g., Ministry of the Interior, Chamber of Commerce, or Post of Serbia). In addition to the registration of the beneficial owner (explained above), a qualified electronic signature will be necessary to sign and submit the company’s financial reports.
It is important to note that the electronic certificate must be collected personally by the individual for whom the certificate is issued (this action cannot be done by a proxy). From this point of view, this solution appears impractical, especially if the legal representative of the company is located outside of the Republic of Serbia, because getting the qualified electronic signature requires their mandatory presence in Serbia after the registration of the company in order to receive the certificate.
Costs of Establishing an LLC
We can say that the costs of opening a Limited Liability Company in Serbia are quite low. Registration will include the following expenses:
- One-time fee of about EUR 50 paid to the BRA for company registration;
- Costs associated with certification of documents (specifically the Incorporation Act), which may vary in different countries. If the certification is done in Serbia, it will cost approximately 3 EUR per individual signature and 10 EUR per signature of a representative of a legal entity if the legal entity is listed as the founder;
- The costs for obtaining apostille and document legalization if one is needed;
- Translation costs depend on the language from which the translation into Serbian is made and the number of pages; the approximate fee is EUR 12 per standard page of 800 characters.
In addition to the list above, you should include travel expenses if you chose to perform some actions in person. However, such expenses can be easily avoided if you decide to establish the company via an attorney, who will act as your proxy. In this case, their work is based on a Power of Attorney, which allows you to bring your actual involvement in the procedure to a bare minimum.
Tax Obligations of an LLC
The company is required to submit a tax application for advance calculation of its corporate income tax within 15 days of its registration. If we talk about taxes, it is important to note that a company can opt to be registered with BRA as a VAT payer at the initial stage of registration. This choice is strongly connected with the company owners’ future business plans. However, regardless of the owners’ choice, the company is obligated to register in the VAT system if its turnover in the previous 12 months was greater than RSD 8,000,000.
An accountant is a crucial figure for a company’s operations. We strongly recommend you to choose an accountant before founding the company, so the tax policy and obligations corresponding to your short-term and long-term business goals can be planned properly and in due time.
State Subsidies, Grants, and Credits
Any businessman intending to start a business should check if there are any state subsidies and business incentives available for the new company. In Serbia, there are numerous state, regional, and local bodies of authority that can help a business entity to receive more favorable loans, tax relief, or subsidies, which can become a vital contribution to the company’s development.
The Serbian Law on Investments sets the general framework for receiving state support, whereas subsidies and loans are most often defined by various bylaws.
Here are some agencies and organizations that can provide useful information about current state subsidies and incentives:
- Serbia’s Development Agency
- Ministry of Commerce
- Development Fund
- Innovation Fund
- Employment Agency;
- Vojvodina Development Agency
- Information on Agricultural Subsidies
It is important to bear in mind the company’s registered address when monitoring the possible subsidies and other incentives provided by the local government: information on the government’s Local Economic Development Programs should be relevant to the region in which the company operates.
Following are the traditional forms of state support:
- Tax incentives, exemptions, and tax relief;
- Customs incentives;
- Reducing and refunding the mandatory social insurance payments;
- Covering leasing or disposing of real estate in public ownership.
It is important for the owners of companies registered in Serbia to familiarize themselves well with the legal requirements and regulations that are applicable to the activities of their business from the very start. The basic law regulating opening a company and starting its business operations is the Company Law of the Republic of Serbia.
However, to ensure full compliance with the applicable regulations, it is important to know and observe a number of other laws, both general (applied to all legal entities), such as Labor Law, the Law on Accounting, Fiscalization Law, Law on Archives, and ones that concern some specific features and activities of your company. Considering the complexity and diversity of the relevant regulations, specific knowledge of different legal areas (labor law, protection of personal data, prevention of money laundering, consumer protection, safety, and health at work, etc.) is needed. Only after considering all the applicable regulations and requirements and ensuring your company’s full compliance can you outline your work processes and set realistic financial and business goals, avoiding potential sizable fines for non-compliance.
Summary of Information on Various Company Types
Following you will find a table containing all the main features of different types of companies that a foreign investor can open in Serbia. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our portal’s experts for detailed explanations.
|Founders are liable with their private capital & assets||Suitable for medium and small business||Required shared capital is small||Payment of shared capital can be postponed||Founders participate in managing the business|
Opening a Serbian Branch Office
Opening a branch of a foreign company in Serbia is regulated by the Serbian Law on Companies. Even if a foreign branch is not considered a legal entity, it can perform activities and transactions in Serbia in the name of the parent company.
A Serbian branch office is the best option for companies working in banking, insurance or finances. There is no amount of minimum share capital regulated by the law. Incorporation process takes around five weeks from the day of filing the application. This type of entity can be managed both by a local entity or a foreign company, including those in non-EU jurisdictions.
A legal representative is required by law; they will also be responsible for starting the branch’s corporate bank account in a Serbian bank. Corporate tax rate for branch offices is 15%.
The company can hire both local and foreign employees. The branch office is legally dependent on the parent company, which means that the latter bears full liability for its branch office’s debts and obligations.
Documents Needed to Open a Branch in Serbia
If you intend to register a branch in Serbia, you should consider preparing the following documents to be submitted to the Serbian Business Register Agency:
- Name of the branch, the reason why it is being opened;
- Decision of the parent company regarding opening a branch in Serbia;
- Proof of registration of the parent company in the country of origin;
- Certificate of Registration and Constitutive Documents of the parent company;
- Articles of Association with full information about the owners;
- List of the members of the company’s management board and supervisory board;
- Name of the representative agent of the company and their legal status.
All the documents listed above must be notarized and translated into Serbian. If the application is approved, the Serbian branch of a foreign company receives the registration certificate, a tax identification number and certificates from pension and health funds. The newly found branch is also required to register with the tax authorities and the Employment Fund and to open a corporate bank account for its financial transactions.
Our team of experts will be happy to offer you full support in getting the right document package and making sure you comply with all the relevant regulations for opening a branch of your company in Serbia.
Setting Up an Endowment/Trust in Serbia
Another form of ownership that is also fairly popular among foreign investors is a Serbian endowment, or trust. It is a statutory structure that can be compared to a common-law Trust. However, there are some significant differences, which we will describe further on.
An endowment/trust in Serbia is governed by the Endowments and Foundations Act adopted in 2010 that defines an endowment as a legal entity without members, to which its founder assigned some property (assets, rights and funds) in order to pursuit some general public private interest, as long as it is not prohibited by law. Unlike a Foundation, it is expressly allowed to set up a Serbian Endowment for private purposes; (e.g, managing family finances, succession planning, and even doing business). Thus, endowments are non-profit non-governmental organizations, which serve the society or their owners.
KEY ADVANTAGES OF A Serbian endowment/trust
An endowment/trust in Serbia can offer all the advantages of a classic trust, mainly connected with the legal separation of the owners and their capital. However, a Serbian trust has an important advantage: it offers the true owner and founder of the trust the opportunity to manage the capital within the trust directly, using it for his personal goals and interests (for example, making direct investments, buying real estate, paying for their children’s education, and any other areas of their personal, private or family needs). In a classic trust, all this can only be performed by a trustee, who acts as an important link between the trust founder and his capital. The need for having a trustee puts great restrictions on the use of the capital and significantly increases trust maintenance costs.
Another important aspect is protection of the investor’s privacy. A classic trust does not provide any privacy protection to its owner when they have to open a bank account and operate the trust. In Serbia, the legal framework is a lot more favorable towards endowment/trust founders: they can keep their transactions private, open accounts and allocate their capital with much greater ease.
To establish a Serbian endowment, the founder is required to transfer a minimum capital equivalent to at least EUR 30,000 in RSD counter value at a middle exchange rate of the National Bank of Serbia on the date of establishment. The transferred capital may come in the form of assets (movable or immovable), claims and industrial property rights, as well as funds (foreign currency and/or RSD). The law does allow certain exceptions to this minimum capital requirement for a Serbian endowment in special cases.
Following are the key features of a Serbian endowment/trust:
- It is quick to open;
- It provides complete protection of the owner’s assets from legal risks;
- It offers full control and privacy of the owner’s capital;
- Banking operations with a Serbian endowment are easy and clear;
- The founding stake is tax-free; there is only a 2.5% donation tax;
- Termination of an endowment is quick an inexpensive; there is an option to safely dispatch the assets from the endowment to another structure;
- An endowment/trust can perform all kinds of business activities not prohibited by Serbian law.
The founders of a Serbian endowment/trust are not its shareholders or owners. That legally disconnects them from asset ownership. This allows to make sure that the funds are used only in the interests of the beneficial owner, according to the constituent documents.
Endowments/trusts are managed by the Managing Board and the Manager; the Managing Board is required to have no less than three members. In addition, endowments may have other bodies according to their internal bylaws, such as a program council, a supervisory board, etc.
To sum up, such key advantages of Serbian endowments/trusts as the opportunity to directly manage the assets, privacy protection, and significantly lower establishing and maintaining costs make them strong asset-protection structures attractive to foreign investors.
Our experts have accumulated a great wealth of experience in dealing with legal, organizational and taxation issues of various jurisdictions, including the Republic of Serbia. They will be happy to provide a free consultation to help you figure out where to start and what to pay special attention to when opening a company in Serbia.
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Taxes in Serbia
As we have mentioned above, taxes are one of the aspects that attract foreign investors to Serbia. Indeed, the country has an appealing and relaxed taxation system, transparent and easy to understand even for a foreign businessman. As you already know, the corporate tax in Serbia is among the lowest in Europe! Here are some local tax rates:
- The corporate tax rate is 15%;
- The dividend tax rate is also 15%;
- The social security tax for employees is 19.9%;
- The social security tax for corporations is 17.9%;
- The standard VAT rate is 20%;
- The individual income tax depends on the amount of personal annual income; it varies between 0% and 15%. Generous tax deductions are also available.
In addition, we must note that Serbia has signed over fifty double taxation avoidance treaties, which makes the country a wonderful gateway to international business. Indeed, Serbia welcomes foreign investments.
Using Serbian Banking Services
Generally, the Serbian banking system is stable and secure. It is dominated by a few banks owned or operated by groups of foreign investors (for example, UniCredit, Intesa, or Bank of China). Banks in the country are experienced in working with a whole range of modern financial instruments and dealing with international commercial banking transactions (for instance, issuing Letters of Credit, International Bank Guarantees, and so on).
Serbian residents and non-residents alike can easily open multi-currency bank accounts in the country. A curious fact: all bank accounts are actually multi-currency by default. An owner of a Serbian credit or debit card can typically spend the balances in Euros, US Dollars, and Dinars without paying any extra charges for currency exchange. For that reason alone, many foreigners choose to open personal non-resident bank accounts in Serbian banks.
After completing company registration with BRA, in order to make the company fully operational the company owners need to open a corporate bank account.
Choosing a bank is also an important moment in business. When making this choice, consider which country the founder of the company is from, which countries you most often do business with, whether the bank’s credit policy is important to you, and whether you already have existing cooperation with a certain bank. All of this can affect the process of opening an account, but also the efficiency and costs of further business through the bank.
It is always recommended that the parent and daughter companies do business through the same bank, i.e., a group of banks, or to enable the main part of transactions with the same bank (because of fees and speed of transactions).
Opening a Bank Account
Keeping in mind that every bank has its regulations concerning the process of opening an account and further relationship with the client, it can still be said that opening an account is fairly easy. However, it is important to make absolutely sure that all the documents are prepared on time. If that is done properly, the account can be opened within one week.
It is also relatively easy to open an account for a Serbian branch of an international (offshore) company – even one with 100% foreign ownership. The shareholders’ presence in person is usually not required: the corporate bank account can be opened by a local manager or attorney. With the right approach and with our assistance it is quite possible to set up a non-resident corporate bank account, though we should warn you that it is much more restricted, and requires special planning due to Serbia’s anti-money-laundering legislation. If you intend to open this type of account, you should use our help to determine if you qualify for this service in order not to waste your time and resources.
Following is the list of documents required to open a bank account in Serbia. Please note that an exact list of all the documents may differ, depending on the chosen bank and your specific situation. Still, in the majority of cases, the bank will request the following documents:
- An application for opening a bank account;
- A BRA’s approval for company registration;
- Notarized signatures of authorized representatives (OP form);
- A card with deposited signatures of the bank;
- Proof(s) of identity of the managing directors/representatives;
- Additional banking documentation, such as an application for online banking or contracts for opening accounts in various currencies, etc.
The procedure of opening a bank account of a business established in Serbia by a legal entity is a bit more complicated, because the banks require some additional paperwork (Personal ID of the true owner of a legal entity, the company’s founder, an excerpt from the competent government authority’s register, and the Founding Act of the founder company).
You can follow one of the links below to read more about opening a company and doing business in Serbia:
- Privacy protection, banking services, and starting a company in Serbia
- Consultations on legal and accounting matters in Serbia
- Opening a corporate account or a branch of a foreign company in Serbia
Buying a Ready-Made Company in Serbia: Key Benefits
If you really do not feel like investing a lot of time and effort in trying to figure out the best form of ownership, there is a brilliant solution – to buy a ready-made, or ‘shelf’ company in Serbia! It is an already existing company ready to start trading today, with a Serbian resident director and a bank account already open for it. In Serbia, the company is abbreviated as “D.o.o”. The term “shelf company” refers to the fact that such companies are kept in stock, like goods on a warehouse shelf, ready to go into active use.
If you would like to sign a business deal today, but you don’t actually have a company, then a ready-made company in Serbia is your best solution. It is already registered and exists as a separate legal entity. All you need to do is to complete the purchase/sale agreement and get the director’s name changed for yours – or you can hire the existing local director and let him continue managing the company. After that you need to inform the bank about the changes.
Purchasing a ready-made (shelf) company has some unbeatable advantages, the main one, of course, being the speed. You can email, text or call our portal’s experts today, and sign the contract according to which you will be taking over the company tomorrow! The formal procedures in the banks and business registration will take a bit longer, but the legal existence of the company will be assured from the moment the contract is signed.
Here are some of the key benefits of a ready-made (shelf) company with bank account in Serbia:
- The speed: purchasing a Serbian ready-made company opens access to the company within 1-2 hours, and to the bank account in just a few days;
- Buying a shelf company in Serbia is a little more expensive than establishing a new business in Serbia, but it is significantly quicker;
- A Serbian shelf company has a working bank account that will function without any problems if some basic compliance rules are followed;
- Company maintenance costs in Serbia are lower than in most other European countries –from just EUR 200 per month;
- After purchasing a ready-made (shelf) company in Serbia, the investor becomes eligible for applying for Serbian permanent residence;
- Serbia maintains friendly relationships with such diverse international partners as the EU (which it is planning to join soon), the USA, China, and other countries.
Still not sure which solution is the best in your situation? Why not rent a Serbian company for a start? Read about this opportunity in the following article: Easy solution: rent-a-company in Serbia
All in all, Serbia is a well-developed business jurisdiction that provides vast opportunities, has a favourable taxation system, great commercial experience, and government incentives to encourage foreign investment. And… it simply costs less to do business in Serbia!
In order to gain a deep understanding of the various business forms in Serbia and the most efficient use of the country’s banking system, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a private consultation with our experts based on your specific individual needs and situation.
If you are also interested in getting permanent residence in Serbia, you might find the following articles useful: