Doing business in Serbia means engaging in entrepreneurial activities in Europe in accordance with the European legislation. If you establish a new business venture in Serbia or if you re-domicile your existing company to the country, you can grow your company following the European business standards. An important advantage of Serbia is that you can do so without investing very much. Besides, the tax burden in Serbia is among the lightest tax burdens in Europe. The country is expected to join the European Union in 2025 (please note that it is not certain) and if it does, your opportunities will become even wider as you will have direct access to the EU markets.
Another weighty advantage that a Serbian-based company offers is the possibility to acquire legal residence in the country. Foreign nationals opening business companies in Serbia are eligible to apply for temporary residence permits. After five years of living on a temporary residence permit, the company owner can apply for a permanent residence permit. After three more years, he/ she can apply for citizenship of Serbia.
A residence card holder will have few problems opening a bank account in Serbia, which gives access to high-quality financial services. In addition, you can become a tax resident of Serbia and stop paying taxes in your home country. Taxes are low in Serbia by the European standards so you can save quite a lot. Please read on to find out about other advantages of registering a company in Serbia.
Ease of launching a business company in Serbia
A natural person or a legal entity is entitled to establish a business company in Serbia. Understandably, registering a company in the name of a legal entity requires more documents, more time, and more hassle. Registering a company in the name of a natural person, however, is almost as easy as squeezing a lemon. Opening a company in Serbia is a simple way of acquiring legal residence and then citizenship in Europe and possibly in the European Union in the near future.
As far as the business environment in the country is concerned, it is rather comfortable and doing business in Serbia is not stressful at all. The local Government supports business initiatives in every way it can: it offers tax incentives to beginners and innovators and finances the most promising business projects.
Other advantages of registering a company in Serbia
In addition to the advantages that we have mentioned above, registering a company in Serbia can bring the following benefits:
- Low amount of investment.
No large investments are required to start a business venture in Serbia. Office and warehouse rent is inexpensive in comparison to most other European countries. For instance, you can rent a small office in Belgrade for as little as 300 EUR per month. If you would like to buy commercial property, you’d have to pay 1,000 EUR per m2 or more.
- Government support in opening and operating the company.
The Government supports business people in Serbia: it finances business projects and provides free consultation services. Depending on the type of business activities that you are engaged in, you may be eligible for tax deductions and tax breaks. Besides, there are regional business development programs in each region of Serbia.
- European standards of doing business.
The Serbian legislation that regulates business activities in the country is in keeping with the European norms and standards. The prospects of the country to join the EU one day make it especially attractive for foreign entrepreneurs. They open companies in Serbia with the hope of getting access to the joint European market very soon.
- Opportunity to keep your money in a European bank.
A company owner in Serbia is entitled to set up both a personal and a corporate account even if the owner is a foreign national. When you obtain a residence permit, you will have access to favorable loan plans and other bank products of the highest quality.
- Favorable taxation.
Serbian tax rates are low in comparison to other countries in Europe. The corporate income tax is only 15%. The personal income tax rate is progressive and it starts at 10%. (Your income has to reach a certain threshold for you to start paying the tax: the income is tax exempt below the threshold.) In addition to that, Serbia has signed over 60 treaties on avoiding double taxation that can also let you benefit as far as taxes are concerned.
- Legal residence in Serbia for business owners.
Citizens of foreign countries registering business companies in Serbia are granted 1-year residence permits. The permits can be extended when their validity period expires. What is more, the Serbian authorities are planning to issue 3-year residence permits to company founders beginning 2024. After holding a temporary residence permit for 5 years, the foreign national is eligible to apply for permanent residence and then for citizenship after three more years. It is important to realize that you have to live in Serbia for the best part of each calendar year if you are to qualify for permanent residence and then citizenship.
Business areas that foreigners often choose in Serbia
Foreign entrepreneurs are engaged in all sorts of business activities in Serbia. Some of them register sole proprietorships, while others establish limited liability companies. A partnership is one more popular form of company ownership in Serbia. The most popular types of business ventures that foreigners launch in Serbia include the following ones:
- mobile fast food outlets;
- hot beverage outlets;
- grocery stores;
- cab services;
- IT companies;
- hairdressing salons;
- beauty salons;
- real estate agencies.
Some foreign nationals start new companies in Serbia while others buy existing business ventures. Small business is highly popular with immigrants in Serbia and they often engage in the service industry in particular and open hostels, snack bars, ateliers, dry cleaners, beauty salons, and fitness clubs.
If you are a skilled professional, you can also consider registering a sole proprietorship in Serbia. If your skills are great indeed, your services are going to be in high demand in Serbia because the country is short of highly qualified personnel.