Both for the traveller and business person, Serbia offers a rich diversity: to see genuine wonderful places, to meet wonderful people and to experience a unique land in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, in the south-east of Europe. This small and practical guide to Serbia will help you better understand and get acquainted with Serbia. It might be difficult for a foreigner to get used to the local culture and spirit, but our team in Belgrade is committed to helping you throughout the integration process. Give Serbia and yourself a chance to have this new and unforgettable experience.
Serbia is divided into 29 districts plus the City of Belgrade. The districts and the City of Belgrade are further divided into 167 municipalities. Serbia has 2 autonomous provinces: Vojvodina with (7 districts, 46 municipalities) and Kosovo and Metohija. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade opposes, and is presently under the administration of EULEX. The part of Serbia that is neither in Kosovo nor in Vojvodina is called Central Serbia. Central Serbia is not an administrative division, unlike the two autonomous provinces, and it has no regional government of its own.
Belgrade – The capital city of Serbia
Belgrade (meaning “White City” in Serbian) is the capital and largest city of Serbia. The city lies on two international waterways, at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, where Central Europe’s Pannonian Plain meets the Balkans. With a population of 1,630,000 Belgrade is the third largest city in South-East Europe, after Istanbul and Athens.
Belgrade has the status of a separate territorial unit in Serbia, with its own autonomous city government. Its territory is divided into 17 municipalities, each having its own local council. It covers 3.6% of the territory of Serbia, and 24% of the country’s population lives in the city. Belgrade is the central economic hub of Serbia, and the capital of Serbian culture, education and science.
Serbia has connected West with East for centuries – a land in which civilizations, cultures, faiths, climates and landscapes meet and mingle. It is located in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula, in southeastern Europe. The northern portion belongs to central Europe, but in terms of geography and climate it is also partly a Mediterranean country. Serbia is landlocked but as a Danube country it is connected to distant seas and oceans. Serbia is a crossroad of Europe and a geopolitically important territory. The international roads and railway lines, which run through the country’s river valleys, form the shortest link between Western Europe and the Middle East.
Insurance of public transport passengers, motor vehicle insurance, aircraft insurance, and insurance on bank deposits are compulsory.
The Serbian climate varies between a continental climate in the north, with cold winters, and hot, humid summers with well distributed rainfall patterns, and a more Adriatic climate in the south with hot, dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy inland snowfall. Differences in elevation, proximity to the Adriatic Sea and large river basins, as well as exposure to the winds account for climate differences.
Vojvodina possesses a typical continental climate, with air masses from northern and western Europe which shape its climatic profile. South and South-West Serbia is subject to Mediterranean influences. However, the Dinaric Alps and other mountain ranges contribute to the cooling down of most of the warm air masses. Winters are quite harsh in Sandžak because of the mountains that encircle the plateau.
The republic of Serbia has a standard corporate tax rate of 10%. Capital gains derived from the sale of industrial property rights, real estate, shares and other securities, and capital participations are considered taxable income, and are taxed at the corporate rate. However, gains arising from certain government bonds or from bonds issued by the national bank are excluded from the tax. Dividends, interest and royalties are subject to a 20% withholding tax. Other taxes includes a value-added tax (VAT), with a standard rate of 20% and a lower rate of 10%, property taxes, transfer taxes, a tax on financial transactions, payroll taxes, and social security contributions. In Serbia, the republic government, rather than the city governments, collects local taxes and then disperses part of the funds to city officials. Local factories pay no city taxes in Serbia.
Customs and duties
Serbia’s has different tariff rates that range from 1–30%. Serbia applies a VAT of 20%, with an 10% reduced rate for basic foodstuffs, medicines, published materials, public utilities and certain services. Serbia imposes excise taxes on certain luxury goods.
Officials in general see revitalization of the infrastructure (roads, rail and air transport, telecommunications, and power production) as one step toward economic recovery. Another important aspect of economic reconstruction will be the revival of former export industry, such as agriculture, textiles, furniture, pharmaceuticals, and nonferrous metallic ores.
While politically, and economically, Serbia is much more stable than in previous years, the economy is still in a quasi-state of disarray, with rampant unemployment, with a large grey market, and a relapsing industrial base. Foreign investors, as well as several international financial institutions (EBRD, IMF, and the World Bank), have recognized economic reforms as being positive, and increased their capital transfers to the region.