Why do foreign companies choose Serbia for business?
Thousands of foreign companies operate in Serbia, and according to official records from 2021, every tenth owner out of total number of active companies, foundations and associations is a foreigner. What makes Serbia so attractive?
- Highly favourable geographical position and excellent connections with other countries around the world allows Serbia to be a link between East and West.
- Low operating costs with a moderate tax load with a profit tax of 15%. The average gross salary per employee is € 830, and the salaries of developers in Serbia are far lower than in developed countries in Western Europe or North America.
- Highly qualified and skilled workforce enables the achievement of great results, especially when it comes to the IT sector. Quality staff is educated in several faculty centres, and most students speak at least one foreign language.
- A simple procedure for obtaining a residence permit on several different grounds, and one of them is a residence permit by company formation in Serbia.
- Doing business within free zones in Serbia provides special benefits and a preferential tax regime.
- Most of the key industrial products are provided with a duty-free regime and a safe path to a market of 1.1 billion consumers.
Which foreign companies operate in Serbia?
Among the most famous companies operating in Serbia are the following ones: Microsoft, Bosh, Panasonic, Siemens, Ubisoft, NCR, Zuhlke Engineering, Syngenta, Schneider Electric, Cisco, Gorenje, Michelin, ZF, Brose, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Continental, Geox and many others.
Since recently, the multinational company Magnus Aircraft for the production of light sports aircraft also operates in Serbia. This is a company with its headquarters in Hungary, which, with the opening of a representative office in Serbia, created an opportunity to dedicate its business more intensively to the market of the entire Balkans. The plan is to make Serbia a centre of operations; a place to provide support to its clients and a major location for business development.
Along with opening representative offices of foreign companies in Serbia, the purchase of domestic companies by foreign companies is also common. Such an example is the recent purchase of the domestic company Rosa Homolje by Coca-Cola, as well as the takeover of the Serbian company for the production of animal feed Patent Co. by the Austrian company RWA Raiffeisen Ware Austria AG. This is a stock exchange corporation and investment group with more than 40 subsidiaries in Austria and neighbouring countries.
The most popular activities of foreign companies in Serbia
The largest number of foreign companies in Serbia is from the IT sector, more precisely from the field of computer programming. At the same time, the largest number of purchases of domestic companies takes place in the IT sector since global leaders recognized the value of IT companies from Serbia, hence Epic games bought 3lateral, American Take Two bought Nordeus, while Endava bought Digital Services from Comtrade.
Besides the IT sector, foreign companies in Serbia are also engaged in consulting services, construction of residential and commercial buildings, wholesale, energy and agriculture. Also, seven medical institutions in Serbia are owned by foreigners. This includes the worldwide famous hospital chain Acibadem Health Group from Turkey, officially registered in the Netherlands, which is the majority owner of the Bel Medic health institution from Serbia.
An increasing number of international transport companies from the USA are opening their representative offices in Serbia and, with the help of modern technology, organizing the transport of goods from one state to another. Employees from Serbia are hired as dispatchers, brokers, sellers, and there are also those from Serbia who organize everything and negotiate with repairmen in America about truck repair and maintenance. One such company is CW Carriers USA, based in Florida, which has over 80 employees in the United States and Serbia, and its office in Belgrade has a finance, planning, insurance, monitoring and sales department.
How to establish a company in Serbia?
Establishing a company in Serbia is quite simple and fast. Before you start the registration process, you need to decide what will be the legal form of your company. If you want to get a residence permit, you can become an entrepreneur or start an LLC, therefore you have to submit certain documentation in accordance with your choice.
If you have opted for a limited liability company (LLC), the company may have one or more founders who can pool capital with resources. The second and simpler option is becoming individual entrepreneur, where you do not have the obligation of bookkeeping and you pay a pre-determined amount of tax. Various experts, especially in the IT sector, mostly work as freelance workers, i.e. entrepreneurs.
You can establish a company in Serbia in person, but if you want to save time, the registration of the company in your name can be done by an authorized person or agency.