Financial markets are virtually the heart of modern market economies.
Banking in Serbia can seem formal and very complicated – particularly to those who have become cosseted by ‘on demand’ banking as it exists in much of the English-speaking world these days.
Banking system of the Republic of Serbia consists of the central bank - National Bank of Serbia and commercial banks. Out the total of 35 commercial banks, providing a wide array of banking services, 21 are in majority foreign ownership. Banks in Serbia are independent in their pursuit of profit-oriented business activities based on the principles of solvency, profitability and liquidity. Every-day payment transactions are, with a few exceptions, made in Serbian dinars, and one can use various types of credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Diners, American Express). All major foreign currencies can be freely purchased and sold in exchange offices throughout the country.
Many banks have ATMs, enabling you to draw currency any time you want so the next logical question, giving today’s technological world, is ‘Is a local bank account essential for an expat?’ The answer may be technically ‘no’ but any expat is going to find their life a lot easier if they do open a local account. These days it is much easier for people to work abroad. When we do, we usually need a bank account in the country we move to so that we can at least be paid, get cash and pay others.
Choosing a bank
Choosing the best bank for your needs is easy. First, you have to figure out exactly what you need from a bank. Once you know what to look for, you can quickly evaluate the competition and end up with the best bank account out there. Also consider a bank that is convenient to your everyday activities. Look for banks that are easily accessible as you drive to and from work or while you run your usual errands. It’s a good idea to check out different banks' Web sites (Most of Serbian banks have site written on English). There you can get a good idea of the types of accounts, available services and rates offered before you set foot inside a branch office. List of banks you can find HERE.
Collecting the documents
Once you’re there, you’re going to have to accept that foreign banking is different. Be prepared for more paperwork than you may be used to. Because banks’ requirements vary, it is not possible to be absolutely definite about what documents you will need to have. The documents that can be accepted may therefore differ from bank to bank. The best approach is to take with you as much information as you have available. Example of Documentation required for opening the foreign currency account:
- Request for opening of account for non residents
- Contract about opening and keeping of current account for foreign legal entity
- General authorization
- Card of deposited signatures
- Authorization for fax
- Request for closing of non resident account
- Contract about opening and keeping of depositing account of foreign legal entity for bond purchases.
Source: Banca Intesa
The application process varies depending on the bank you go to but as long as you have the correct documents, it should not normally be any longer than for customers who have the typical Serbian documents. Expats, who have lived in Serbia for more than a year, may have a foreign currency account both in the country and abroad. Foreign cash may be taken out from Serbia in the amount of up to €10,000 or its equivalent value in other foreign currency. For more information on import/export of dinars, go HERE.
Standard international forms of payment are all common in Serbia.
For more information on the banking sector in Serbia log onto the website of the National Bank of Serbia.