If you are planning to register a company in Serbia, there are three things to deal with before you can start your operations. HUB8 coworking Belgrade spoke with Marija about the best practices, hopefully to make it easier for some of you.
Getting this handy gadget is usually the first step on the way of having company registration in Serbia.
It is not any electronic signature, but a qualified electronic certificate issued by a limited number of certified organizations in Serbia.
You can pick up your electronic signature only in person – there is no other way – so make sure you do this when you visit Serbia.
Here is where you can get your electronic signature.
Ministry of internal affairs (Police)
You can get a qualified electronic signature free of charge if you have a Serbian ID card with a chip (in Serbian čipovana lična karta) in a police station. If you don’t have a Serbian ID card with a chip, you can’t get your certificate here, so check the rest of the list.
If you do have a Serbian ID card with the chip, go to your nearest police station with your ID card and ask for an activation of electronic signature. You will finish the procedure on the spot, within one departure, and it costs nothing. You will get to choose PIN code. Write it down, and don’t lose it. Without it, your ID card electronic signature is unaccessible, as your qualified electronic signature will be hosted on your ID card. Although it is free of charge, it can be unhandy because you can’t hand it to a person in trust to conduct some tasks with it, as you will be left without your ID card during that period.
Serbian Post and Serbian Chamber of Commerce
You can get your qualified electronic signature from Serbian Post or Serbian Chamber of Commerce. They have information summaries on their web sites. Be sure to stress out if you are a foreigner as the procedure is specific.
You will need your passport if you don’t have a Serbian ID card. Procedure involves filling in the purchase form, paying the fee and submitting the documents by post or online. After a few days, your qualified electronic signature will be ready for pick-up, on a smart card or USD stick. You have to pick it up personally. Don’t forget to bring your passport. You will get a PIN code, too. Be sure to keep it safe, as without it, you won’t be able to use electronic signatures.
Private companies dealing with certificates
At the moment, there are two private companies that can issue qualified electronic signatures:
E Smart System Sertifikaciono telo ESS QCA (e-smartsys.com)
Both companies are available for phone and email correspondence before arrival, so you can get all the necessary information before you head there.
Once you have your electronic signature, you can prepare for the procedure of registrating company in Serbia.
The company can be registered online, with the qualified electronic signature of the founder. You can register as an entrepreneur (in Serbian preduzetnik) – physical person doing business activity with unlimited liability or private limited company (in Serbian društvo ograničene odgovornosti – d.o.o.).
You can do it yourself, or you can hire an accountant or a legal office to help you with it.
Before you can register a company in Serbia, you need to figure out some basic information about the company – the name, address of headquarters, business activity code and capital.
You can buy or rent an office space from a physical person or a company. Each of these transactions can have tax related to it. If buying or renting large space doesn’t look like a thing for you, you can rent an office in a coworking area or a virtual office. In each case, check with the service provider whether you can register the address of the hub or virtual office as a headquarter address of your new company.
Tax system in Serbia is rather complex, but there are a few main taxes you need to consider at the start.
If you decide to register as an entrepreneur, your profit will be taxed at 10%. Collecting a profit from your business bank account is untaxable.
If you decide to register company in Serbia as a limited private entity, your profit will be taxed at 15%. Collecting dividends from your bank account can be taxed, too. In most cases, with a 15% tax rate. If the Republic of Serbia has a double-taxation treaty with the country of your residence, you may use preferential tax treatment in Serbia, under specific conditions.
Value added tax in Serbia is 20%, but you can decide to stay outside of it if you have less than 8 million dinars of sales in Serbia in 12 months.
Tax and social contributions must be paid in most cases for owners and representatives (entrepreneurs included). Tax schemes depend on a number of elements, so be sure to check with an accountant what is applicable for your business model.
If you plan to hire employees, keep in mind that salaries are taxed at approximately 62%. There are a number of rules you need to follow as an employer, so legal support is highly recommended.
Last but not less important is withholding tax on licenses and royalties. If you buy a right to use a software, photo, design, music sample that belongs to foreign legal entity, you will face 20% withholding tax and possibly VAT reverse charge. Mention this to your accountant, so he can give you more detailed information and tax projections for the specific purchases you are about to have.
Most accounting agencies in Serbia cover payroll and taxes, aside bookkeeping, as core activity.
Marija Đorđić, Experta doo
certified accountant and tax advisor
English – Experta