Are you in the process of applying for a temporary staying permit in Serbia? Do you want to try to apply yourself without the help of an agency? If so, you might find this blog post useful as I’ve just gone through the process myself. I will layout all the bits and pieces that I went through as well as the documents I had to submit.
Until this day, I have had 2 work permits and staying permits within the past 2 years. However, after I left my previous job, I lost my permits, so I had to go through this process again but this time without the help of HR.
This visa differs from my previous visas because this time I applied my permit based on a common-law relationship (non-married community as it is called in Serbia). I live with my fiancé, but we are not yet married (he is a Serb and I am a Finn). Being engaged has nothing to do with this process, however. In other words, he is my sponsor.
The forms needed to apply for the temporary common law visa
The following are the forms needed as detailed as I could possibly explain. However, if you have more questions or additions just pop them below in the comment section.
You need to submit an official application form in Serbian (3 copies). At the police station, they told us that it can be downloaded from the Internet but we couldn’t find it. You can get the form near Savska 35 police station from an agency called Stranac or from another similar place. They fill out the form and print it off. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes and costs around 400 dinars.
You need to bring your passports and provide photocopies of both passports. If you apply for the first time there is a chance that you will only get a 6-month permit. However, they told me that I could get mine for a year if my passport was valid for at least a year and three months. This can be because I have had work permits before or they might have changed the legislation.
In my case, my passport was expiring 9 months from the date of application. This has an effect on how long of a permit they will grant you. For this reason, mine is now only 6 months long. For some reason, they cannot grant it until the expiration of your passport, but they will cut three months from the end date.
You need to submit two passport photos (size 3.5 x 4.5 cm). You can get these from many photo stores across the city e.g. Foto studio in Vracar. These are very cheap, just a few hundred dinars for multiple pictures.
Letter from your landlord
If you don’t own the house, you are living in, your landlord needs to prove that s/he lets you two live in that address. This can be done with a handwritten A4 piece of paper which has to be signed.
Ours was more or less in these words:
I (name + personal ID number of the owner of the house) hear-by confirm that I own the apartment (address). I confirm that (nationality + name + ID number + passport number) can live and have registered address in this address.
Signature of owner”
You need to acquire health insurance before applying. I’m a European citizen so my European Health Insurance Card was acceptable proof of that. This had to be provided as a photocopy. As far as I know, the card only works in the EU countries which is then quite weird of how they accepted that as proof of insurance.
CV’s in Serbian
You have to submit your CV in the Serbian language as well as your partner’s CV. These don’t need to be officially translated.
Proof of not being married + official translation
You need to provide proof about your current marital status – you cannot be married in order to file for this permit and neither can your partner. Your Serbian partner can get his/her from the municipality.
I’m a Finn so this can be in the form of a birth certificate (Apostille) but do check how it is in your country. In Finland, they send these forms via post because of the official stamp so even waiting for this will take a while. We have an option to receive the document in Finnish or English.
After receiving the document, you need to take it to the official English (or your native language), -Serbian translator. Remember that you need to meet in person at one moment because the translator needs to attach the papers together and prove that she is a legit translator with a stamp.
*Not required from 08.12.2019
You can get your white card from the police station until 24 hours after you land. You need to have your partner who is registered in that address with you or the landlord. This was still needed at the time when I applied for my permit.
However, they said I should keep my old white cards just in case they want proof that I have acquired permits before even though it’s not anymore an official requirement.
If you are processing your permits in Savska 35 Belgrade, then there is a bank just before the room where you need to go to submit your forms. This opens maybe around 30 minutes later than the foreign office so if you go early you need to wait.
Remember that you cannot submit any forms before you have a receipt from this bank that you have paid. They prefer cash but if you are paying by card make sure that your name is on the card. This costs 18.575,00 rsd.
Local bank account + letter from the bank
You need to have a local bank account. Mine is Raiffeisen. I had to visit one of their offices in order to get proof that I had enough money on my account for a living. They didn’t give an exact number but said that it is around the usual Serbian salary (between 40.000 and 45.000 Serbian dinars or around 400 euros). This costs around 5 euros.
You need to have two witnesses to confirm that you are in a common-law relationship with your sponsor. This needs to be verified by an official public notary office.
The witnesses need to bring personal IDs and the form they need to fill can be downloaded from the internet (just google ‘izjava 2 svedoka’) or you can buy them from any book store. By law, you cannot be present when the witnesses are going to the public notary office. The appointment shouldn’t take long, but it costs 1000 dinars per paper and you need two papers so 2000 dinars.
Sponsor’s ID card
Your sponsor has to have a copy of his/ her Serbian ID card. Keep in mind that the address on the ID card must match the address the couple is currently living in.
Expect a visit from the immigration
They didn’t tell me they were going to make a surprise visit, but it happened! A few days after submitting the forms they came to our house during working hours on a random day to check if we were a legit couple. They asked me to show them the paper they gave me after submitting the forms and my passport.
They asked all sorts of questions from me and also about my fiancé (where we met, when, what do we do for living etc.). It turned out the other man was from the same city as my fiancé so the end of the conversation was not so official.
How long does it take to receive the visa?
Gathering all the papers will take a while. You need to order the birth certificate from your home country and find an official translator, visit the bank, take passport photos, get a letter from the landlord etc. This plus multiple visits can take a long time. I won’t be using my experience as an example as we called and visited the police station multiple times just to ask questions and yet, we still didn’t receive the correct answers or a simple list of the forms needed.
Gathering documents aside, from the day you file the application you have three weeks until you have to take your passport to Savska 35 in the morning (date is on the paper they give you after you file everything) and return around 2 pm to collect it with your new permit.
Worth to remember
- dress code: the police station has a dress code, so don’t wear flipflops, shorts or singlets because they might not let you enter
- Always go early, there’s usually a bunch of people and no queuing option so it’s quite a mayhem
- ALL documents must be filled with blue pen NOT black pen
- make multiple copies of all official cards and passports you may need
- you must submit the application at least a month before the end of your stay (90/180-day rule)
- if you’re planning to work, you need an additional work permit on the basis of your common-law visa
- try to find all your old white cards/entrance as proof that you are living here
- overall applying this visa costs around 200 euros
- currently, the possible visas for foreigners in Serbia are common law visa/ temporary stay visa, marriage visa, business visa, student visa and work visa.
Hopefully, this has been useful to you and if you have any questions or comments just pop them down below and please do share your own visa-process with me. I’d love to hear how it went, and of course, good luck with the process!