Second Citizenship
February 7, 2024
Reading Time: 11 min

Serbia citizenship: a practical guide on all the ways to obtain the country’s passport

Getting a job in Serbia, studying at a Serbian university, or being a relative of a country’s citizen are the most common grounds for moving to Serbia and eventually obtaining a passport.

Serbia offers two more options for residency that significantly ease a path to citizenship. They are ownership of real estate of any value or investment in any Serbia-registered company.

Elena Ruda
Elena Ruda

Describes how to obtain a Serbian passport

All ways to obtain Serbian citizenship

Serbia citizenship: a practical guide on all the ways to obtain the country’s passport

3 primary ways to obtain Serbia citizenship

1. By birth and descent. A person obtains a Serbian passport if:

  • both of their parents are Serbians at the time of a child’s birth;

  • at least one parent is a Serbian at the time of their birth, and a child was born in Serbia.

A child born abroad to one Serbian parent and one foreign parent can obtain citizenship by descent. In this case, their Serbian parent makes the request to the competent authority in Serbia to register the child in the Register of Citizens. A person over 18 and under 23 applies for Serbia citizenship themselves.

2. By marriage. A spouse of a Serbian national can obtain a passport by family reunification. The couple must be married for at least three years before application submission. The foreign spouse must also have permanent residence and write a statement that they consider Serbia their country.

3. By naturalisation. A foreigner can obtain Serbia citizenship by naturalisation if they have lived in the country for at least 3 years with a temporary residence permit.

A temporary residence permit is granted under such grounds as employment, studying, doing research, and founding a startup. Investing in the country’s economy is also an option, similar to paths offered by such European countries as Greece, Spain, and Cyprus.

To be eligible for a Serbian passport by naturalisation, a foreigner must:

  • be over 18;

  • have a working capacity;

  • obtain permanent residency;

  • have a registered address in the country;

  • live in Serbia with a temporary residence permit for at least 3 years without interruption before applying;

  • submit a signed statement that they consider the Republic of Serbia their country.

Minor children of foreigners who obtained Serbia citizenship get passports if both of the parents acquired citizenship. If one parent obtains a Serbian passport and the other parent remains a foreigner, that allows a child to obtain citizenship as well.

If the child is 14 or older, they must consent to acquiring a Serbian passport.

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

Practical Guide

Comparison of citizenship and residency by investment programs

How to get Serbia residency by investment with prospects of citizenship

Wealthy people can obtain a Serbian residence permit if they buy real estate or invest in a company. They apply to the Police Directorate, the organisational unit of the Ministry of Interior.

Real estate ownership. A foreigner must buy housing buildings or units in Serbia, to which the foreigner has property rights. The applicant must reside in this property. The minimum cost of real estate is not established.

To apply for a residence permit, one provides the following documents:

  • a filled-out application form;

  • a valid passport;

  • two passport-size photos;

  • proof of administrative fee payment;

  • registration of either short-term or residential address in the Republic of Serbia;

  • proof of means of subsistence during the planned temporary residence;

  • health insurance;

  • an extract on immovable property.

In exceptional cases, the Police Directorate can accept other ownership documents instead of an extract. For example, a certified real estate purchase agreement, deed of gift, probate, or court decision.

Investment in a company. The company must be registered and operating in Serbia. There is no minimum required sum of investment.

A foreigner needs to provide the following documents:

  • an application form;

  • a valid passport;

  • two passport-size photos;

  • proof of administrative fee payment;

  • registration of either short-term or residential address in the Republic of Serbia;

  • health insurance;

  • proof of having at least €50,000, or around RSD 5,900,000, in a Serbian bank account.

Initially, a residence permit by investing in a company is issued for 6 months. Then, it can be prolonged as many times as a person wants.

To extend the document, the foreigner must enclose proof of paid cash capital contribution of at least €5,000, or RSD 586,205, to the share capital of an already registered company.

Obtaining Serbia citizenship through residency by investment

A holder of a temporary residence permit can apply for permanent residency after 3 years of continuous living in Serbia. Right after obtaining permanent residency, they can apply for citizenship.


Familiarise yourself with the investment terms

Look for a property or a company you would like to invest in. It is worth reaching out to legal agents for help with such types of issues.


1 month

Collect documents and file an application

An application for temporary residence approval is submitted to either the Police Directorate for the City of Belgrade or regional Police directorates. It is also possible to apply online via the eGovernment portal.

The decision on approval of a temporary residence permit is made within 30 days of the application’s submission date.

The temporary residence permit is granted for one year if a foreigner owns real estate and for six months if they invest in a company, and it can be extended.


3 years

Maintain conditions and apply for permanent residency

To be able to apply for a permanent residence permit, the foreigner must reside continuously in Serbia for 3 years. The applicant is allowed to be absent from the country for up to ten months or a one-time absence for up to six months during a period of 3 years.

The Ministry of Interior shall decide on an application for permanent residence within 60 days of the day of the application.

Upon receiving permanent residency, the applicant is issued a foreigner’s identity card that must be collected in person.


Apply for citizenship and get a passport

A foreigner can apply for Serbian citizenship right after obtaining permanent residency.

The documents are filed with the authority in charge of internal affairs according to the place of residence or temporary stay. It is also possible to apply with Serbia’s relevant diplomatic or consular mission, which will forward them to the Ministry of Internal Affairs immediately.

The application must be filed in person or through an authorised person.

3 other European countries with residency by real estate investment leading to citizenship

Residence by real estate purchase can be obtained in some EU countries: Greece, Cyprus, and Spain.

The Greece Golden Visa is granted to foreigners who invest at least €250,00 in Greek real estate, both residential and commercial. The investor can either own a property on their own or register it with an EU-based company if 100% of the shares belong to the investor.

Greek residents can move to Greece, optimise taxes and add their parents of any age to the application. Citizenship becomes available after 7 years of living in the country without giving up the first passport.

The Cyprus Golden Visa equals permanent residence: the investor obtains the status once and doesn’t need to extend it.

Real estate purchased under the Cyprus Golden Visa program must cost at least €300,000.

To remain a Cyprus resident, the investor is not required to live in the country permanently. They need to visit Cyprus once every 2 years.

The investor can obtain a Cypriot passport seven years after having permanent residence. Other benefits include:

  • optimisation of taxes;

  • an opportunity to own a business:

  • moving to an English-speaking country with a high quality of life.

The Spain Golden Visa requires an investor to purchase residential or commercial real estate for at least €500,000. Buying several properties with a total value of €500,000+ is also possible.

Besides buying real estate, the investor also pays VAT of €50,000 and proves their financial solvency. The minimum sum in the investor’s bank account is €28,800 for a sole applicant. €7,000 must be added for each dependent.

With a Spanish residence permit, the foreigner can travel visa-free within the Schengen Area, do business in Spain, move to the country or create a safe haven there. To maintain the status, one can reside somewhere other than Spain.

Obtaining Spain citizenship is possible after living in the country for 10 years and renouncing the first citizenship.

Ultimate comparison of Golden Visa programs

Practical Guide

Ultimate comparison of Golden Visa programs

11 benefits of Serbia citizenship

1. Moving to Serbia. Serbian citizens can move to the country anytime. They don’t need to extend their status and can stay in Serbia for unlimited time. At the same time, Serbian citizens are not obliged to live in Serbia permanently.

2. Low cost of living. One person needs around €570, or RSD 67,050, without rent to live in Serbia for a month. In comparison, the average monthly sum of money a person needs in Italy and Spain is €3,000 and €2,500, respectively.

3. Pleasant weather. The climate in Serbia is relatively mild. The warmest month is July, with an average temperature of around +30°C; the coldest is January, with a day temperature of about ‑4°C. Serbia has no long periods of rain, and the wettest month is June.

4. Сultural richness. Serbia has a long history, so many historical sites exist, such as Belgrade and Golubac Fortresses, Studenica Monastery and Kalemegdan. There are five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Stari Ras and Sopoćani, Studenica Monastery, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo, Palace of Galerius and Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards.

5. Prospect of becoming an EU citizen. Serbia was granted EU candidate status, so the EU authorities considered allowing Serbia to join the EU. Serbian citizens will obtain all other EU citizens' rights if it happens.

6. Passport’s strength. Serbian citizens can travel to 146 countries either visa-free or with visa-on-arrival. The list of available countries includes Australia, all the Schengen countries, China, Russia, and Japan.

7. Ease of travel within Europe. Serbia is located on the Balkan peninsula and shares borders with Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Hungary. Reaching cities like Budapest, Sarajevo, Sofia, and Skopje in 4—5 hours by car is possible.

Serbia is connected with other European countries by direct flights. For example, Belgrade’s inhabitants need around 2 hours to travel to Berlin and 3 hours to travel to Paris.

8. Good healthcare services. Serbia has both public and private healthcare facilities. The public healthcare system is universal for all its citizens and registered residents, funded mainly through contributions to the Health Insurance Fund.

Private healthcare is paid but costs less than in many other European countries.

Due to competitive prices and high quality of care, Serbia has become a destination for medical tourism, especially for dental services and cosmetic surgery.

Medical services in Serbia meet European standards. Hospitals are equipped with up-to-date equipment, and medical staff are well-trained.

9. Opening a bank account in Europe. Serbian citizens have no restrictions on opening bank accounts in Serbia, while non-residents and non-citizens can encounter many difficulties. For example, they must provide more documents, wait for a longer time, or even be denied opening an account.

Bank account owners can keep funds in Serbian dinars and other world currencies, especially major currencies like the US dollar and Euro.

10. Tax residency. A person becomes a Serbian tax resident if they spend more than 183 days per year in Serbia. Tax rates in the country are appealing: 10% on personal income and 15% on corporate income. It is one of the lowest rates in Europe.

11. Expat-friendly. Many foreigners move to Serbia to enjoy an affordable life and the country’s location in Europe. For example, in 2023, over 30,000 foreigners got jobs in Serbia.

Many nationalities have their own communities, which eases the integration process for newcomers.

How to obtain Serbian citizenship

Djerdap National Park. The country has several national parks: Djerdap National Park and Kopaonik National Park are the most popular

Disadvantages of Serbia citizenship

While Serbian citizenship offers certain benefits, it also comes with its share of drawbacks.

Dual citizenship limitations. Individuals who acquire Serbian citizenship through naturalisation are not permitted to hold dual citizenship.

Employment challenges. Securing employment in Serbia can prove to be a challenge, given the limited job market, relatively lower wages, and the common requirement of proficiency in the Serbian language at many workplaces.

Visa obligations for travel. Serbian citizens are obliged to obtain visas for travel to countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada.

Taxes in Serbia

Compared with many other European countries, Serbia has favourable tax rates.

Personal income is taxed at a flat rate of 10%. Residents and citizens of other European countries, for example, Finland or Spain, can pay up to 55% of their income.

Corporate income is taxed at 15%. It is one of the lowest corporate taxes in Europe.

The standard value-added tax rate is 20%. A reduced rate of 10% applies to food, some medicines, daily newspapers, hotel services, and gas. There is also a zero tax rate applicable to the export of goods, transportation and other services directly related to export, transit, or temporary import of goods, entry of goods in free zones and other services.

Avoidance of double taxation.The Serbian government has signed double tax treaties with more than 60 countries, including the UK, Egypt, China, and many EU states. These agreements exempt foreigners with more than one passport from double taxation.

Things to consider before moving to Serbia

A place to live. Belgrade is the capital of Serbia and the largest city in the country. Its population is 1,400,000, and it is the only place in Serbia with more than a million residents.

Belgrade is the economic, political and cultural centre of Serbia, which means living there is more expensive than in any other city.

Other major cities are Novi Sad and Nis. They are smaller and less populated.

Housing. The average price a person pays for a one-room apartment in Belgrade is €460—1,300, or RSD 50,000—150,000. In Novi Sad and Nis, prices are lower. Prices for the same apartment are €650—920 or RSD 40,000—110,000 and €200—500, or RSD 25,000—60,000, respectively.

Currency. Serbia has its own currency — Serbian dinar, or RSD. It is used everywhere in the country, but dollars, euros and other major currencies can be easily exchanged. 1 US dollar costs around 100—110 Serbian dinars, and 1 euro is around RSD 115—120.

Finances. One person living in Serbia needs at least €580, or RSD 67,050, per month without rent; a family of four will require around €2,000, or RSD 230,000.

Opening a bank account in a Serbian bank is helpful as it eases transactions within Serbia and Europe.

Transportation. Serbia is a relatively small country, so crossing it from north to south in 7 hours is possible. Buses run between almost all towns and villages.

Belgrade has a network of buses, trolleybuses and trams covering the city. The cost of a ticket depends on the zone a passenger goes to. The weekly transport card for all zones costs RSD 1,200, or €10. The metro in Belgrade is under construction and is planned to be opened in 2028.

People and traditions. Serbs are known for their hospitality. Welcoming guests and sharing food and drink is deeply ingrained in the culture. It’s common for hosts to offer the best they have to their guests, often accompanied by traditional drinks like rakija, a fruit brandy.

Family is at the core of Serbian society. Extended families are close-knit, and family gatherings are frequent and cherished.

Most Serbs are Orthodox Christians, and religion plays a significant role in their cultural and daily life. Religious holidays, particularly Christmas and Easter, are celebrated with specific customs and traditions. There is also Slava, a unique Serbian tradition that celebrates a family’s patron saint’s day with special rituals and feasting.

Serbs love celebrations and gatherings, often accompanied by vibrant music and dance. Traditional folk music, known as “Starogradska muzika”, and more modern turbo-folk, are popular.

Language. Serbian is the official language of Serbia. People living in Belgrade tend to speak English, but it is better to understand at least basic Serbian. One of the main difficulties is the Cyrillic alphabet. It differs from Latin, so to better understand the language, one should familiarise oneself with Cyrillic letters.

Emergency services. Common European number 112 works in Serbia. It works for emergency cases. Other important numbers are:

  • 192 — police;

  • 193 — fire department;

  • 194 — ambulance.

How to obtain Serbian citizenship: Belgrade

About 850,000 foreigners live in Serbia, with most of them coming from neighbouring Balkan countries and Germany. Expats usually reside in the capital city of Belgrade

Loss and reacquisition of Serbia citizenship

Serbia citizenship can be terminated by release or renunciation.

Termination by release. Serbian citizens can apply for citizenship by release if they:

  • are over 18;

  • are no objections on account of military service obligation;

  • had paid taxes and regulated other legal obligations in the Republic of Serbia;

  • had regulated all proprietary obligations;

  • have no criminal proceedings or, if sentenced to a prison term in Serbia, had served it;

  • have alien citizenship or evidence that they will receive it.

A parent can apply for the termination of their child’s citizenship. If the child is 14 or over, they must consent to do so.

Suppose a person released from Serbia citizenship doesn’t acquire another citizenship within a year after the application. In that case, the decree of release is cancelled, and a person becomes a Serbian citizen again.

Termination by renunciation applies to Serbian citizens who were born and live abroad. To file an application, the person must be over 18 and under 25 and have citizenship of another country.

Reacquisition. A person can reacquire a Serbian passport if they were released from citizenship of Serbia and acquired foreign citizenship or their parents filed a request to terminate the person’s citizenship by release or renouncing.

The requirements are the following:

  • be over 18;

  • file the application for a reacquisition;

  • not be deprived of working capacity;

  • write a statement that you consider the Republic of Serbia your state.

Key features

  1. The Serbian authorities grant citizenship by naturalisation, marriage, or descent and birth.

  2. To become a Serbian citizen, a foreigner obtains a residence permit and then permanent residency. A passport is issued based on a permanent residence permit 3 years after living in the country with a temporary residence card.

  3. The benefits of having a Serbian passport are no need to extend the status, moving to Serbia, the prospect of becoming an EU citizen, an opportunity to travel to 146 countries visa-free and a right to become a tax resident and decrease the tax burden.

  4. Serbian residency permits can be obtained by investing in real estate or a Serbia-based company.

  5. Greece, Cyprus, and Spain have Golden Visa programs, under which a foreigner can get their residency by investing in real estate and qualify for citizenship 7—10 years later.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for citizenship and residence by investment programs in the EU, the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East. Take advantage of our global 15-year expertise — schedule a meeting with our investment programs experts.

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