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10 reasons to invest in Serbia

The current economic situation has hit many entrepreneurs hard, with closed borders, sanctions, and other financial difficulties making business operations challenging. What was once a routine decision may now have expensive repercussions, and some businesses are struggling to make a profit.

Despite these obstacles, we are constantly seeking and discovering new solutions that can not only improve the financial outlook for businesses and individuals but also offer additional benefits.

Serbia, a small Balkan country, has more to offer than just the companies we have previously featured on the International Wealth website. A wealth of opportunities available in the country, both now and in the future, can prove beneficial to those willing to explore them.

Investments in Serbia

If you’re looking for a good place to do business, Serbia should be on your radar. With low operating costs and a strategic location in the Balkans, it’s an ideal destination for entrepreneurs and investors alike.

For those who pursue any of the below goals, Serbia is an attractive choice:

  • reducing company expenses without sacrificing quality or service
  • planning to obtain residency in another country at a reasonable cost, thanks to Serbia’s investor-friendly immigration policies
  • opening an offshore company account by registering a local branch, which can offer tax advantages and other benefits
  • creating an international business, with access to a growing market and a skilled workforce
  • living comfortably, with affordable housing, quality healthcare, and high living standards.

Below, you will find the 10 reasons why investing in Serbia is a smart move.

1. Affordable residency in Serbia

Residency in Serbia is a straightforward and cost-effective way for foreign nationals to not only live and work in the country but also hold bank accounts therein. 

The Serbian government has implemented policies to attract foreign investment. As a result, the residency application process is simple and efficient now. To obtain residency, you will have to establish a company, deposit a minimum of EUR 1500 into a bank account, and spend a few days in Belgrade. 

Once your application is approved, a renewable residency visa will be stamped in your passport, allowing you to live and work in Serbia hassle-free. For US and Schengen visas, the procedure is the same.

Obtaining a visa allows you to leave Serbia immediately and return to renew it after a year. 

However, residency in Serbia doesn’t automatically make you a Serbian tax resident. You must reside in Serbia to become one.

Serbia is conveniently located for travel by car to neighboring countries like Austria, Germany, Hungary, Croatia, and others. Direct flights are available to the USA and Asia. Due to its location, Serbia serves as an excellent transportation hub for both travel and work. 

2. Data protection and information security

Serbs prefer to live and let live, minding their own business only. Valuing their privacy and autonomy, the people of Serbia have successfully maintained these principles at the state level. As a result, even bank secrecy laws are upheld here in their unique way.

Serbia is committed to protecting the privacy of its residents, and will not disclose their data to outside entities. 

You should remember though that Serbia has joined the CRS (Common Reporting Standard), which facilitates the automatic exchange of tax information between participating countries. Under the relevant agreements, Serbia may share certain data when required.

3. Multiple banks

Is Serbia a favorable location to start a business? From a financial standpoint, specifically what concerns banking, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Serbia boasts a flourishing banking sector due to its strategic location, active trade, and its reputation as a regional business hub. Furthermore, the country is open to foreign investment, which enhances its appeal to international entrepreneurs.

Serbia comes with an impressive selection of banking options. For those seeking large European institutions, Erste Bank, Raiffeisen, Addiko, Credit Agricole, UniCredit, and Intesa all have a presence in the country. Additionally, OTP, a regional Hungarian bank, has acquired the operational business of the French bank Societe Generale. Turkey, a neighboring country, has expanded its banking presence in Serbia through Halkbank, and the UAE’s Mirabank operates in the country as well.

Are you about to invest in China, which is responsible for billions of euros in investments in Serbia alone? Look no further than the Bank of China’s branch. For those interested in American capital, options include Komercijalna banka and Opportunity Bank, and those looking to tap into Latin America can choose German-based Pro Credit Bank.

Several local banks, including Postal Savings Bank, are easily accessible to both individuals and companies, with no restrictions on minimum or maximum deposits.

When it comes to non-residents, opening a bank account has become quite a challenge in recent years. Even in Serbia, international pressure has made it harder for non-residents to establish a personal bank account without assistance from professionals, and the longevity of such opportunities is uncertain.

Under the circumstances, It makes perfect sense to get residency in Serbia. It is a relatively easy process, and the benefits of doing so are numerous

Previously, offshore companies could easily open accounts, but this is no longer the case. Opening an account without a personal account history is a rare occurrence nowadays. No need to worry though, the next section is tailored specifically to offshore owners looking to establish a presence in Serbia.

4. Account in a Serbian bank plus substance for an offshore company

Offshore corporations often encounter a significant dilemma, i.e., where to establish a banking relationship and set up a bank account. How can the bank be convinced that the company is operating legally, especially if the country does not require taxation or auditing?

One possible solution is to establish a subsidiary of the offshore company in Serbia. This entails several weeks of preparation, including opening a bank account, and a monthly support fee of a couple of hundred euros. The benefits you will enjoy in exchange, are many:

  • tax identification number
  • substance in Serbia
  • detailed accounting statements
  • affordable maintenance costs for the subsidiary
  • local bank account with a reputable bank
  • ability to maintain separate accounting for the parent and subsidiary companies, thereby regulating the tax burden.

Although it is possible to set up a comparable structure in several countries, Serbia provides a unique opportunity to access the service at an affordable price starting from only EUR 250 per month. In the country, you will enjoy the support of experienced professionals and banking institutions that acknowledge branches as fully operational resident companies.

5. Company incorporation in Serbia

Serbia provides a range of options for foreign entrepreneurs interested in starting a business, inter alia, registering a branch or a fully-fledged company. What makes Serbia an attractive destination for business? Firstly, there is no minimum capital requirement, and remote registration is possible with a valid PoA. Furthermore, the registration process can be completed in just a few working days, making it one of the fastest in Europe.

Following registration, companies can immediately open a bank account, and they are considered residents. Although the standard tax rate is 15%, special economic zones and tax incentives are available for businesses in various industries, including IT. These benefits have made Serbia a popular location for IT startups, as well as for companies looking to expand their operations in the Balkans.


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6. Citizenship by investment in Serbia

While Serbia does not offer an official citizenship-by-investment program, the country remains receptive to negotiations with potential investors. The crux of these negotiations is determining what the investor can offer in exchange for the desired benefits.

Through discussions, investors may negotiate tax breaks, citizenship, or other perks in exchange for substantial investments, regional development, or other forms of aid that could help boost the country’s economy.

FYI: several high-profile individuals, such as actor Steven Seagal and former Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, have become naturalized Serbian citizens through unconventional means.

Options for obtaining residency and ultimately citizenship in Serbia are available through regular naturalization, provided that certain requirements are met.

Serbia’s aspirations to become a member of the European Union are well known. Even though the process may take time, Serbia remains committed to its path toward EU accession. Even if Serbia doesn’t join the EU in the immediate future, there is still the possibility of obtaining European citizenship as a retiree. This could be a wonderful bonus, especially considering the many benefits that come with EU citizenship.

7. Endowment in Serbia

An endowment in Serbia is a unique combination of a private foundation and a common law trust, designed for both public and private interests. Non-residents often use it to safeguard their assets, plan for taxes, and increase their wealth. It can hold shares, accounts, and stakes in active businesses worldwide.

The law requires the owners of the structure to be registered as beneficiaries, but there is a critical detail to note. The beneficiaries are legally considered to be the trust or the manager, meaning that the founder of the structure and the beneficiaries who benefit from the Endowment are not required to be disclosed in the registry.

An endowment in Serbia is an essential tool to successfully protect your personal data.

8. Life in Serbia

Whether in the bustling and developed metropolis of Belgrade often compared to Vienna or Budapest, or in other towns and rural areas, living in Serbia is a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Prices in Serbia are relatively affordable compared to Austria or Hungary.

The country boasts a well-established infrastructure, which includes modern amenities such as business centers, coworking spaces, and offices. English is widely spoken. Serbia’s rich culinary traditions reflect its diverse history and geography, encompassing flavors from the Mediterranean, Germany, and Turkey.

For those seeking a vibrant nightlife scene, Serbia is often called the Ibiza of Southeast Europe. The country’s natural beauty, ranging from mountains to coastal regions in neighboring Croatia, Montenegro, and Italy, provides plenty of opportunities for adventure. The locals are friendly, the sea is warm, and the views are magnificent here. 

9. Business opportunities in Serbia

Serbia is becoming an attractive destination for digital nomads and entrepreneurs due to its relatively affordable prices, expanding business sector, banking options, delectable cuisine, and liberal atmosphere. You can choose to live independently or cater to the needs of this burgeoning demographic by providing the services they require.

Investing in local real estate is a viable option as analysts project significant growth in the sector. Not only are the locations idyllic, but property prices are also lower compared to neighboring markets. While the events of 2022 and a surge of migration have caused a price hike, one can still uncover profitable deals in the market.

10. Legal support

It’s always wise to seek expert advice until you fully understand all the details. Fortunately, legal services in Serbia are affordable, making it easier for you to navigate any complexities. 

Our partners in Serbia are well-versed in the local laws and regulations. They can assist you with a range of services, including opening a bank account, registering a company or a branch, and obtaining residency in the country.

For more information, please visit the section of the International Wealth website devoted to Serbia. Should you have any further questions or comments on the subject, please, email them to: [email protected]

Seize the day, because opportunities don’t last forever. Remember that there is always a chance to make a positive change in your life, but it’s up to you to take action and make it happen. So, don’t let fear or uncertainty hold you back from pursuing your dreams and reaching your full potential. Embrace the unknown, take risks, and be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. The rewards may surprise you, and the journey will be worth it. 

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