Serbian Passport: A Comprehensive Guide to Citizenship

Srpski Pasoš

Obtaining Serbian citizenship opens up a world of opportunities, from travel convenience with a Serbian passport to the right to vote and a plethora of social benefits.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll dig into the intricacies of Serbian citizenship, exploring various pathways, requirements, and the application process itself.

Keep on reading to find out what the Serbian Law on Citizenship entails and how you can navigate the process of becoming a Serbian citizen.

1. Serbian Citizenship Law

The Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia is the primary legal document that outlines the rules and procedures for acquiring Serbian citizenship and obtaining a Serbian passport. It defines various pathways to citizenship, including those by birth, origin, marriage, and more. The law also specifies:

  • the requirements that applicants must meet to be eligible for Serbian citizenship
  • the process for submitting applications
  • the documentation needed, and
  • the authorities responsible for granting citizenship.

If you’re seeking to obtain Serbian citizenship, understanding and adhering to this law is of the utmost importance.

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2. Serbian Citizenship Requirements

You can acquire Serbian citizenship through a variety of routes. Serbian citizenship requirements will vary depending on the basis on which you are applying. Here are some common ways to acquire Serbian citizenship and a Serbian passport:

1. Serbian citizenship by birth

If a child is born (or found) in Serbia, and both parents or their citizenship status is unknown, the child automatically receives Serbian citizenship by birth. The same applies to children who are born in Serbia to stateless parents. This citizenship is effective from the child's birth date. However, if it is proven by the age of 18 that both parents are foreign citizens, the child's Serbian citizenship can be revoked upon the parents' request.

2. Serbian citizenship by origin/descent

Serbian citizenship by origin or by descent involves several different situations. Let’s break them down:

If you're born to both Serbian parents, or one parent is Serbian and you're born in Serbia, you're automatically considered a citizen of Serbia.

But what if you're born abroad to one Serbian parent and the other parent's citizenship is unknown or they don't have citizenship? In that case, you can still become a Serbian citizen. The only requirement? A Serbian parent will have to register you as a citizen before you turn 18. This is done at a Serbian embassy or consulate, and it needs to be accompanied by an application for your registration with the Serbian government.

If you're over 18 and born abroad to one Serbian parent and another foreign parent, you can still apply to become a Serbian citizen before you turn 23.

Lastly, if you're adopted by a Serbian citizen, you can also become a citizen as long as the adoptive parent applies for your registration as a citizen.

All of these processes can lead to you obtaining a Serbian passport.

3. Serbian citizenship by admission

If you're a foreigner living in Serbia with permanent residence status, you can apply for Serbian citizenship by admission. You only need to meet a couple of conditions. Those include:

  • Being at least 18 years old and capable of working.
  • Renouncing your foreign citizenship or providing evidence that you will be granted release if you become a citizen of Serbia.

(Important: Serbia does not mandate renunciation in all cases and generally permits dual citizenship with many countries. You should also check whether your current country requires you to lose citizenship if you become a Serbian citizen.)

  • Having lived continuously in Serbia for at least three years before applying

(Exception: you can apply for Serbian citizenship after having lived there continuously for at least 2 years if you were born in Serbia and by declaring Serbia as your country).

  • Submission of a written statement where you declare that you consider Serbia your country.

Note: If your home country won't let you renounce your citizenship, you can still apply for Serbian citizenship by stating you'll renounce it once you become Serbian.

You can also request confirmation of Serbian citizenship if you meet all requirements except being released from your foreign citizenship, which will be valid for two years to help you obtain your release.

4. Serbian citizenship by marriage

You can receive Serbian citizenship by marriage, if your marriage with a Serbian citizen has been valid for at least three years and you have been living in Serbia with permanent residence status.

5. Serbian citizenship by investment

To obtain Serbian citizenship by investment, you can consider investing in a way that represents a special interest for Serbia, for example, establish a company in Serbia and employ a significant number of Serbian workers.

Are you interested in exploring the option of temporary residence permits through company formation in Serbia? You can find more information here.

6. Serbian citizenship through grandparents

Serbian citizenship through ancestry, such as grandparents, follows specific criteria.

If one of your grandparents was a Serbian citizen and you can prove this, you may be eligible for Serbian citizenship. Keep in mind that this process can be complex and requires thorough documentation to verify your ancestry.

And finally, even if you do not meet any of the aforementioned usual conditions, know that you can still be considered for Serbian citizenship. That is, if it is in the interest of Serbia. The government will decide on such cases based on a recommendation from the relevant ministry.

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3. Serbian Citizenship Application Process

We’ve already tackled some of the intricacies around the Serbian citizenship application process, but let’s highlight a couple of the most important things for you to know.

First things first, you file the applications for Serbian citizenship at the local police office, based on your residence. Alternatively, you can apply through Serbian embassies or consulates abroad. You don’t have to apply for Serbian citizenship in person; you can do it through a representative as well. If you’re under 18, one parent can apply for you with the other parent’s consent. If you’re over 14, your consent is required.

Generally, you’ll always have to provide a signed statement declaring that you consider the Republic of Serbia to be your country. After you apply for Serbian citizenship, the Ministry of Internal Affairs will provide you with a written confirmation. It depends on each particular case, but usually it takes around 6 months to receive a decision, after which you can enjoy the benefits of having a Serbian passport.

4. Serbian citizenship benefits

Obtaining Serbian citizenship comes with a host of advantages. Whether you’re considering it for personal or business reasons, here are some key Serbian citizenship benefits:

  • You can enjoy visa-free (or visa-on-arrival) access to 135 countries and territories with a Serbian passport.
  • You have proximity to other European countries since Serbia’s strategic location in the Balkans makes it a seamless bridge between Eastern and Western Europe
  • You have plenty of investment opportunities with reasonable requirements.
  • Serbia has a rich history and cultural heritage. You get to enjoy plenty of local traditions and festivals, as well as Serbia’s amazing cuisine.
  • Serbia offers diverse natural beauty, from Fruška Gora National Park to the Iron Gates gorge. There are plenty of hiking trails, lakes, and picturesque villages for you to explore.
  • Serbians are known for their hospitality and friendliness, so you might like it here if you want to be a part of a community that values human connections and honest relationships.
  • While Serbia is not in the EU yet, its eventual membership prospects mean that you may benefit from EU privileges in the future as a Serbian citizen.

5. Serbian citizenship for Russian citizens

Serbian citizenship for Russian citizens is one of our in-demand services, which is why we’ve decided to dedicate a specific section to it in our guide.

Considering that Serbia and Russia share a deep-rooted connection through their Orthodox Christian heritage and have a sense of kinship through the concept of “Slavic solidarity”, it’s no wonder that thousands of Russians have immigrated to Serbia in the past few years.

If you’re a Russian looking to move to Serbia, you’ll find that Serbian citizens still cherish the support Russia has given them during World War I hardships. But it is not only in politics that this solidarity can be felt. You’ll also find that Russian literature, music, and art have heavily influenced Serbian culture and that Russian writers, ballet, theater performances, as well as classical music have plenty of appreciative audiences in Serbian cities. If that hasn’t convinced you to get Serbian citizenship as a Russian citizen, here are some other practical benefits of obtaining a Serbian passport:

  • The Serbian passport ranks 37th globally on the Henley Passport Index. As a Serbian citizen, you can enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, China, and many other countries.
  • You don’t need to renounce your Russian citizenship to become a Serbian citizen.
  • Serbian real estate, agriculture, and technology sectors can be attractive to Russian investors.
  • Serbia has quality education and healthcare services, both of which are relatively affordable.
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6. Serbian Passport Features

To finish this guide, let’s cover some of the Serbian passport features:

  • The Serbian passport has a burgundy red cover and inscriptions in Serbian, English, and French.
  • It is biometric and it contains a Radio Frequency Identification chip storing essential information about the holder of the passport.
  • The data page contains the photo of the passport holder, their personal information, passport number, holder’s signature, issue and expiry dates, and a machine-readable zone for automated scanning.
  • Typically, the Serbian passport contains 32 pages for entry & exit stamps, as well as visas.
  • You can have dual citizenship if you hold a Serbian passport.

Attorney for Serbian passport/Serbian citizenship

In case you have issues or need assistance regarding the Serbian passport, you can always contact Serbian consular services worldwide. And, if you’re an immigrant seeking to settle or work in Serbia, and you need the help of lawyers who are up-to-date with the latest changes in immigration regulations, reach out to us at [email protected] for more information about citizenship, residence applications, and costs.

Featured image: blake-guidry on unsplash


Sonja Pekic Advokat Novi Sad

Author

Attorney at Law Sonja Pekić

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