Methods of Payment
Standard international forms of payment are common in Serbia. Larger importers regularly receive goods under short-term (three months) supplier credit. The following instruments are used in Serbia for payments abroad: remittances, documentary collections, checks, payment cards and letters of credit. The National Business Registers Agency provides financial statement data and solvency-related services.
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide.
There are 22 commercial banks in Serbia, down from 88 in early 2000, most of which are authorized for international banking operations.
The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) formulates monetary policy, manages foreign exchange transactions, and supervises banks, insurance companies, and voluntary pension funds. NBS pursues a strict monetary policy with the dual objectives of controlling inflation and stabilizing the exchange rate. NBS is independent from the government but reports to the Parliament. Since August 2012, Jorgovanka Tabakovic has been the Governor of the National Bank of Serbia. In June 2018, the Assembly of Serbia elected her to the position of Governor in the new six-year mandate since August 2018.
The Law on Banks provides the regulatory framework for the banking sector. Supervisory authority clearly is vested in the NBS to oversee the banking sector. The law requires that a buyer of more than five percent of a bank’s capital seek approval from the NBS and sets the required initial capital for a bank at USD 10.7 million (10 mil EUR). The law also stipulates that a minimum of a two-member executive board must manage a bank.
Foreign banks interested in opening a representative office in Serbia may do so provided they meet certain conditions. A representative office may not engage in banking operations. A foreign bank may open a representative office in the territory of the Republic of Serbia to conduct market research and represent the bank. The representative office of a foreign bank in the Republic of Serbia shall be registered in accordance with the law governing the registration of business entities. Along with the application for entry in the register of economic entities, the foreign bank shall also submit the consent of the National Bank of Serbia. NBS grants representative offices of foreign banks permission to operate and maintains the Register of Representative Offices of Foreign Banks. There are three representative offices operating in Serbia. The fourth representative office is in the process of being deleted from the Serbian Business Registers Agency. When the process is completed, the representative office will be deleted from the National Bank of Serbia records.
In 2010, Serbia amended the Law on the Export Credit and Insurance Agency (AOFI), transforming AOFI into a business finance and recovery agency. The primary tasks of AOFI are export credit insurance and financing business for Serbian export-oriented companies.
AOFI aims to help businesses export. To that end, AOFI acts jointly with development, financial and other institutions in the country, but also with relevant foreign companies and institutions. AOFI operates under the following principles:
- Preservation of the real value of capital
- High quality evaluation of the creditworthiness of the Client so that placement and collection safety could be maintained
- Providing export incentive by permanent promotion and development of AOFI’s operations in the area of receivables insurance
- Protection of shareholders’ interest
Foreign Exchange Controls
Serbian dinar is the legal currency in Serbia. The dinar officially floats, but the NBS has increasingly kept it pegged to the euro in recent years. There are no legislative restrictions limiting the ability of a local company to pay for imported goods or services. Companies in Serbia may hold a foreign exchange account in one or more banks that are authorized for international banking operations. These accounts may be used to make or receive payments in foreign currency. Foreign exchange may not be purchased for speculative purposes; however, foreign exchange purchases are permitted at any time to pay for imports. Repatriation of proceeds from exports should be made within 60 days from the day of export.
Serbia’s Law on Foreign Exchange Operations authorizes Serbian citizens to make transactions abroad through internet-based payment systems. However, many companies have raised concerns that the NBS uses excessive enforcement of the law to individually examine all cross-currency transactions – including intra-company transfers between foreign headquarters and local subsidiaries, as well as loan disbursements to international firms – thus raising the cost and bureaucratic burden of transactions and inhibiting the development of e-commerce within Serbia.
U.S. Banks & Local Correspondent Banks
There are no U.S. banks providing services in Serbia.
To access Serbia’s ICS, which includes information on the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, visit the U.S. Department of State Investment Climate Statement website.