Serbia is fast Becoming a Banking and Privacy Haven on the Edge of the EU
For many banking in Serbia seems an unlikely prospect. Serbia was a constituent part of the old Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia broke apart in 1995, leaving only Serbia and Montenegro. The citizens of Montenegro voted for independence in 2006, leaving Serbia to stand alone. In 2006 Serbia became the Republic of Serbia and is an independent, sovereign country. It’s situated between Eastern and Western Europe and is part of the Balkans. It’s capital Belgrade is a cosmopolitan city, welcoming to foreigners. People are well educated. English is widely spoken as well as Serbo-Croatian and Russian.
Serbia has a population of around 8 million people. Around 1.6 million live in the capital, Belgrade. Other large cities are Novi Sad and Nis.
Like other Eastern European countries Serbians value freedom and privacy much more so than in Western countries. This is due to the more recent history of communism and dictatorship. People in the east of Europe know the warning signs of tyranny and are more vigilant about making sure they retain their freedoms. This helps to make banking in Serbia an interesting option as they haven’t signed up for anti-privacy measures such as the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
Serbia is a landlocked country and shares borders with eight other countries. Serbia borders Hungary to the north. Romania and Bulgaria to the East, North Macedonia and Kosovo to the South. It also shares borders with Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro to the West. Although Serbia is landlocked it’s able to access the Adriatic Sea through Montenegro and the Black Sea via The River Danube.
Serbia is the only country outside the ex-USSR states to have a free trade agreement with Russia. It is also negotiating to join the European Union which it may do by 2025. This could give more freedom of movement around the EU but may limit some freedoms that Serbians are used to. It’s inconceivable, for example, that Serbia could be a member of the European Union while remaining outside CRS. In any case it may never happen and we can take advantage of the benefits of banking in Serbia right now.
Serbia’s biggest selling point for foreigners right now is that it’s a little known banking and privacy haven on the edge of the EU. You are still able to bank here in private without fear of your confidential banking information being shared with other countries.
Account Opening is Easy Compared to Some Traditional Offshore Banking Havens
Account opening is non invasive and straightforward. Residency is cheap and easy. Residency can lead to a Serbian passport which is improving rapidly. The Serbian passport offers visa free access to both Russia and China. That’s something that no Western passport can do.
Belgrade is fast becoming known as a business haven and a choice location for digital nomads. It was named as a city of the future in Southern Europe by the Financial Times.
Serbia has tax rates of between 10 and 20%, depending on the type of income There is a low corporate tax rate of 15%. Residents will only be liable to Serbian taxes on overseas income if they spend more than 6 months there in the tax year.
The average salary in Belgrade is around $600 per month. Serbia has its own currency the Serbian dinar. In mid 2021 it’ll take 100 Serbian dinars to buy one USD.
Getting to Serbia
If you plan on banking in Serbia you’d be best to visit the country and set things up in person.
Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade has direct connections to most European capitals. There are also direct flights to New York, The UAE, Iran, Qatar and North Africa.
It’s also possible to travel by train to Belgrade from Vienna, Munich, Prague and Budapest. If you have time to travel by train I’d recommend it.
It’s also possible to drive there from any starting point in Europe.
English is Widely Spoken
The native language spoken is Serbo-Croat but you’ll have no problem getting by in English when banking in Serbia. Most people will speak at least some English and younger people speak English fluently. The older generation are likely to speak Russian too.
Serbia is a welcoming and open country to foreigners. It’s possible to travel to Serbia without a visa for citizens of most countries. You can stay for up to 90 days. If you want to stay longer you’ll need a resident’s permit which we’ll cover in more detail in another article. If you’re planning on banking in Serbia it should be easy for you to travel there without a visa.
Serbia is an up and coming banking haven. They are not currently part of the Common Reporting Standard (CRS). This may change in the future but it’ll be easy to avoid by getting a legal residency in Serbia or elsewhere. We cover multiple residency options here and here. Meanwhile you can take advantage of banking in Serbia without worrying about your confidential information being shared with your home tax authority. American residents will have to plan more carefully if they want to legally avoid FATCA.
While you might not want to keep all your savings in a Serbian bank it’s worthy of consideration for at least part of your offshore banking and asset protection strategy.
Liberty Mundo helps high net worth clients reduce their tax bills, protect their assets from lawsuits and confiscation and move their legal residency overseas. We can help with opening overseas bank accounts and obtaining second citizenships and residencies. Contact us to help set up a personalised offshore strategy.