As a foreigner, opening an account with banks in Serbia may not make the most sense. If you’re not a resident or don’t plan on becoming a resident, there are better options elsewhere. However, as we’ll share, there are reasons why banks in Serbia are still interesting.
Opening an account with banks in Serbia as a non-resident is possible. However, the process of doing so comes with challenges, and once open, they can be difficult to maintain. In fact, in order to even obtain an account, you will need to provide proper documentation, identity requirements, and go through detailed due diligence. Of course, the language barrier can further complicate the approval process.
In this article, we’ll provide you with the information you need to know when opening an account with banks in Serbia. We’ll also cover the challenges you’ll face and common mistakes when applying for accounts. Of course, we’ll also discuss the benefits of banking in Serbia for non-residents. So, if opening an account with banks in Serbia is something you’re interested in, keep reading!
But, before diving in, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of the Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It helps non-residents navigate the world of international banking and start opening accounts faster and easier in countries like Serbia.
In the past, Serbia posed a high risk to the international financial system with respect to money laundering and financial crimes. So, it’s no surprise that Serbia was listed on the FATF blacklist as a high-risk country. However, in 2019, Serbia was removed from the FATF blacklist and has since continued to live up to international standards.
Today, Serbia’s banking sector continues to improve. At the same time, there has been significant improvement in the business climate as well. Not surprisingly, economic growth has improved over this period. This has been largely driven by a stream of investments into Serbia from major economies such as China and Germany.
That said, it’s worth mentioning that Serbia’s banking sector still has limitations. We’ll explore these, along with the challenges of banking in Serbia, in the following section.!
Like most countries, opening accounts with banks in Serbia as a non-resident can be challenging. In fact, as you’ll see below, some of these challenges are outright concerning and can limit your banking services.
For example, if you don’t have an address of the country your passport is in, you may be turned away. That said, if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s able to open an account, you may still have some limitations when it comes to operating the account.
So, if you’re considering opening an account with banks in Serbia as a non-resident, you need to understand the following challenges that you’re going to run into. We explore these in further detail below.
Not all banks in Serbia accept non-residents. In fact, as mentioned above, some banks may require an address in the country your passport is from, even if you don’t reside there. So, it’s important to do your homework beforehand and only choose banks that have a history of accepting non-resident clients.
In addition to complicating account opening applications in Serbia, being a non-resident also limits your banking services. Depending on the bank you choose, this can include no access to online or mobile banking for the first 12-months of your account.
In fact, if you’re looking to transfer money out of your account, you’ll have to physically visit a branch to do so. So, if online or mobile banking is important to you (which they probably are), you should choose the banks in Serbia that you’re considering, very carefully.
If you’re looking to open a non-resident corporate bank account in Serbia, your options are going to be limited. This is because non-resident companies are listed as high risk by Serbian banking regulators and most banks are therefore restricted from onboarding such clients.
Like most countries, banks in Serbia can freeze your account if they notice any suspicious activity. However, unlike banks in other countries, banks in Serbia take enforcement a step further. If a Serbian bank contacts you with compliance-related questions and you do not respond within 24 hours, the bank can freeze your account.
Banks in Serbia, like most places today, don’t allow remote account opening to everyone. In fact, in most cases, opening an account in Serbia remotely is not going to be an option. However, there are some options available (we share these options with members of GlobalBanks IQ).
Serbia uses its own currency, the Serbian Dinar. So, if you are looking for a non-resident bank account in Europe to access the Euro, look elsewhere. Instead, if you’re looking to open accounts with banks in Serbia, you should be prepared to bank in (and hold) Dinars. Of course, if you’re considering relocating to or working in Serbia one day, you will need a Dinar account in order to receive payments and cover expenses.
No surprise, Serbians speak Serbian. So, if you don’t speak Serbian you had better find a banker that does. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. To find a banker that speaks your language, you should check with other people who have successfully opened accounts in the past. Alternatively, you can focus on opening accounts in major cities such as Belgrade.
Again, these are just some of the top challenges you may face when opening an account with banks in Serbia. Of course, these challenges may vary depending on the bank and the type of account you’re looking to open. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the actual account opening process and the required documents in the next section.
If you’re interested in opening an account with banks in Serbia, you’ll need to pass each bank’s due diligence process. While the requirements may vary from bank to bank, you can assume that you’ll need to provide certified documents.
That said, if you’re looking to open a non-resident company account, you may be better off looking elsewhere. In fact, there are even options within the EU, US, and many top banking jurisdictions that will more easily allow you to open accounts for non-resident and offshore companies. We share these options with members of GlobalBanks IQ.
But, in addition to passing due diligence, bank selection is critical. With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure that you’re opening an account with the best Serbian bank that caters to your specific needs. Of course, you’ll also need to find a bank that will accept your client profile. And, even though there are 29 banks in Serbia to choose from, not all of them accept non-residents.
Importantly, these documents cannot be older than 3 months. Additionally, some banks in Serbia will request certain documents to be translated into Serbian by an authorized translator. Of course, requirements vary from bank to bank. So, confirming which documents are required before applying is critical to successfully opening an account.
Lastly, one final hurdle that you need to be aware of is the risk of actually being denied. For instance, if you do get denied, there’s a strong chance you will not be able to re-apply or have an opportunity to open an account with banks in Serbia at all. This is because bank compliance will essentially blacklist you from applying in the future. In other words, if opening an account with banks in Serbia is important to you, you need to tread carefully and do everything to increase your chances of success from the beginning.
We explore everything you need to know about international banking, account opening, and bank and banker selection in GlobalBanks IQ. This includes access to our library of international banking reports, our database of international banks, and detailed account opening strategies to help you successfully open accounts.
Now that you’re aware of the challenges and the requirements to open with banks in Serbia, it’s time to look at the notable advantages of banking here.
But first, it’s important to note that the specific advantages that one person may unlock from opening an account with banks in Serbia may be completely different than the next person.
In most cases, benefits should be considered on a case-by-case basis. This ensures that you choose the best bank for your situation.
So, here’s a list of some of the key benefits non-residents look to capture when opening accounts with banks in Serbia. We explore each of these in further detail below.
Opening a retirement fund or a savings account with banks in Serbia can be beneficial if you have plans to spend long periods of time in the country. Not only does it ensure your money is accessible locally, but it can also protect you from fluctuating exchange rates.
More opportunities present themselves after 12 months of having an account with banks in Serbia. Such as, being able to receive local payments, execute transfers, and more options for withdrawing money.
Serbian endowments are the Serbian version of a quasi-private foundation. They offer privacy, asset protection, and tax planning options. Naturally, banks in Serbia will be more familiar with such structures. So, if you are looking at using a Serbian endowment, banks in Serbia will be a great option for your banking requirements.
In addition to opening accounts in Serbian Dinar, banks in Serbia also offer accounts in USD, CAD, CHF, EUR, TRY, GBP, SEK, RUB, DKK, and JPY. So, if you are looking for a less traditional banking jurisdiction but still need access to any of the above global currencies, Serbia could be an option for you to consider.
These are just a few of the benefits available to you if you decide to open accounts with banks in Serbia. But, as mentioned, benefits will vary from bank to bank. So, it’s important to confirm that the bank you are considering offers the specific benefits that you are interested in before applying for an account.
But, the bottom line is, with the right information and knowing which banks best suit your needs, opening an account with banks in Serbia as a non-resident is possible.
To start opening a Serbian bank account, you can obviously follow the steps outlined in this article.
Or, you can access one of our membership services and get the help you need to find and unlock the best expat banking options with Serbian banks.
If you’re ready to take action and start opening international accounts now, you can access GlobalBanks IQ, our dedicated international banking intelligence platform.
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