It covers payment methods and information on, banking systems, foreign exchange controls, and U.S. and correspondent banking.
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, 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 available at https://www.trade.gov/trade-finance-guide-quick-reference-us-exporters.
There are 26 commercial banks in Serbia, down from 88 in early 2000, most of which are authorized for international banking operations (see https://www.nbs.rs/internet/english/50/50_2.html).
The Law on Banks provides the regulatory framework for the banking sector. Supervisory authority clearly is vested in the National Bank 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 National Bank and sets the required initial capital for a bank at USD 11 million. The law also stipulates that a minimum of a two-member executive board must manage a bank.
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. In 2012, the ruling coalition appointed Jorgovanka Tabakovic as the National Bank Governor and she is currently serving her second six-year term.
Foreign banks interested in opening a representative office in Serbia may do so provided they meet certain conditions. A representative office does not have the status of a legal entity and may not engage in banking operations. The entity that establishes the office guarantees all the obligations of the representative office. NBS grants representative offices of foreign banks permission to operate and maintains the Register of Representative Offices of Foreign Banks. There are five representative offices operating in Serbia.
In 2013, 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
- rotection of shareholders’ interest
Foreign Exchange Controls
The dinar is the legal tender in Serbia. The dinar floats, although the National Bank manages the float to avoid excessive volatility. 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 National Bank 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. However, one of the major players in Serbian retail banking, Addiko Bank, is majority-owned by a U.S. investment fund, Advent, and the European Bank on Reconstruction & Development (EBRD).