Terms and manners of obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia are regulated by the applicable Law on Citizenship, predicting four grounds for obtaining Serbian citizenship:
- birth within the territory of the Republic of Serbia
- pursuant to international treaties
The most common way in which foreign nationals obtain the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia is admission.
Terms for Obtaining the Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by Admission
A foreign national, who has been granted a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Serbia in compliance with the applicable regulations and on personal request, can obtain the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by admission under the following conditions:
- they are adults (18 or older) and capable of employment
- they were constantly residing within the territory of the Republic of Serbia at least three years prior to application submission
- they have submitted a written statement that they consider the Republic of Serbia their country
- they have been released from foreign citizenship or submitted the evidence that they will obtain release if they obtain the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by admission
Will I Lose My Current Citizenship if I Obtain the Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia?
Obtaining Serbian citizenship and keeping your current citizenship is possible if the Republic of Serbia does not require you to renounce your current citizenship. Although the answer varies from case to case, one should bear in mind that the Republic of Serbia allows dual citizenship in relation to many countries. Apart from this, it is necessary that the country of the current citizenship does not prescribe a mandatory loss of citizenship in case of obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia.
The term related to the release from a foreign citizenship shall be considered to be met if a person is stateless or if they provide a proof that, in accordance to the law, they will lose their current citizenship when they obtain Serbian citizenship. The term is also met when a foreign country does not allow release from citizenship or stipulates release conditions, which a foreign national cannot meet, and the applicant submits a written statement declaring that they will renounce foreign citizenship if they obtain the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia.
Procedure for Obtaining the Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by Admission
The application for the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia is submitted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs or through a competent diplomatic or consular representative office of the Republic of Serbia. The application can be submitted personally or by an authorized person, while the decision on obtaining the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia is adopted by the competent ministry. In order to obtain Serbian citizenship, it is not necessary to pass any tests (language, history and culture). If both parents have obtained the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by admission, their child under the age of 18 will also obtain citizenship.
Along with the listed general terms, there are also some facilities for obtaining citizenship. This way, in order to obtain citizenship, a foreign national, who has been married to a citizen of the Republic of Serbia for at least three years and who is granted a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Serbia, shall submit only a written statement declaring that they consider the Republic of Serbia their country.
Obtaining Serbian Citizenship in the Interest of the Republic of Serbia
The law prescribes that in accordance to the decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, a foreign national, whose admission is in the interest of the Republic of Serbia, can obtain citizenship. The interest can be economic, scientific, cultural or sport. This is how the actor Steven Seagal, US basketball player Yvonne Marche Anderson, Gambian basketball player Sarr Ousainou, former Romanian prime minister Viktor Ponta, Brazilian model Adriana Lima and many others obtained Serbian citizenship. British actor Ralph Fiennes, known for acting roles in the following movies: English Patient, Schindler’s List and Harry Potter, who decided to shoot his movies in Belgrade, is among them. British actor John Challis, who came to Belgrade to shoot a movie and then obtained Serbian citizenship, joined him.
Citizenship by Investment
While certain countries offer wealthy individuals the “Golden Visa” immigration programme to ensure residence permit or citizenship, in Serbia, this is enabled through purchasing real estate or investment. Unlike certain countries, a minimum investment is not defined in Serbia and residence permit can be obtained by any investor, while the decision on the admission to citizenship is adopted by the Government.
In this way, Serbian documents were obtained by Matar Suhail Al Daheri, CEO of the Hepako company, engaged in real estate in Serbia, as well as Matar Suhail Al Daheri, the key person in charge of the investments in Serbia of the UAE sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who owns several companies in Serbia. There is also Ronald Wayne Burkle, an American billionaire, one of the most prominent investors in the technology, retail, distribution, entertainment, sport and hospitality industry sectors.
Serbian citizenship was granted to Kerem and Abdulvahap Soylemez, owners of a Turkish company Soylemez Rubber & Plastic, which operates in Serbia and manufactures parts for automotive industry. The Government of the Republic of Serbia initially provided subsidy for them in the total amount of 1,120,000 euros, under the condition that they hire at least 160 employees for indeterminate period within a three-year period. Since they have fulfilled all their obligations, giving passports to the company owners is an incentive measure aimed at keeping them in Serbia and realizing plans related to further successful operation and expansion. This way, apart from incentive subsidies, Serbian Government wants to show respect and support to foreign investments.