What conditions for Serbian citizenship should Russians fulfill?

cityexpert Advises for the Russians

What conditions for Serbian citizenship should Russians fulfill?

Citizenship implies a relationship between a person and the state. By acquiring the status of a citizen, a person receives certain rights guaranteed by the state (civil, political, social, economic, etc.) but also obligations and responsibilities (eg mandatory military service). Therefore, there are rights and obligations that are guaranteed only to citizens of a certain country, while foreigners cannot claim them (eg the right to vote - the right to vote and be elected). As a rule, citizenship represents a relationship of a permanent nature, which can end only in certain cases, with the fulfillment of prescribed conditions.

Acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Serbia

Acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Serbia is prescribed by the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, which recognizes four ways of acquisition:

  1. By descent
  2. By birth on the territory of the Republic of Serbia
  3. Reception
  4. According to international agreements

Acquisition of citizenship by descent is the main way of acquiring citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, while birth on the territory of Serbia is used as an additional criterion. Acquisition of citizenship by international agreements on conditions of reciprocity is a rare way. Dual citizenship of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the examples of an agreement concluded between two countries, on the basis of which citizens of one of the contracting countries can acquire citizenship of the other contracting country under simplified and privileged conditions and with the possibility to hold dual citizenship of both signatory countries.

Given the large number of Russian citizens coming to Serbia and purchasing real estate, in this text we will talk about their possibility of acquiring citizenship of the Republic of Serbia. Therefore, we will consider the acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by admission.

Acquisition of citizenship by admission

A foreigner who has obtained a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Serbia may, upon his request, be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, provided that:

  1. He has reached the age of 18 and is not deprived of legal capacity;
  2. Has exemption from foreign citizenship or presents evidence that he/she will be exempted in case of admission to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia;
  3. Has a residence registration in the territory of the Republic of Serbia for at least three years prior to submitting the application;
  4. Provide a written statement that he/she considers the Republic of Serbia to be his/her own country.

Dual citizenship - Serbia

Based on these conditions, we can see that the Republic of Serbia is not one of the countries that allow its citizens to hold citizenship of different countries at the same time. However, the same law still prescribes the possibility of acquiring citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, i.e. holding several citizenships.

What does the law say?

In particular, it is stated that:

"A person born on the territory of the Republic of Serbia may be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia if he/she has continuously resided on the territory of the Republic of Serbia for at least two years prior to submitting the application for admission and if he/she submits a written declaration that he/she considers the Republic of Serbia to be his/her country." (Article 16)

Serbian citizenship based on marriage is also one of the possibilities.

"A foreigner who has been married to a citizen of the Republic of Serbia for at least three years and who has obtained a permanent residence permit in the Republic of Serbia may be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia if he submits a written statement that he considers the Republic of Serbia to be his country." (Article 17)

"A member of the Serbian nation who does not reside in the territory of the Republic of Serbia shall have the right to be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia without renouncing foreign citizenship, if he has reached the age of 18 and has not been deprived of legal ability and if he submits a written declaration that he considers the Republic of Serbia his country. " (Article 23)

Citizenship without conditions

An interesting point of Article 19 of the Law on Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia states that a foreigner whose admission to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia would be of interest to the Republic of Serbia may be admitted to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia without meeting the conditions that this person has been exempted from foreign citizenship - registered residence in the territory of the Republic of Serbia for at least three continuous years and a written declaration that he/she considers the Republic of Serbia to be his/her country.

The decision on admission to the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia shall be made by the Government of the Republic of Serbia upon the submission of the competent ministry. This provision of the Law is a source of many debates, as it allows for an wide interpretation of what constitutes the interests of the State.

Thus, citizenship for the sake of economic, cultural, sports or scientific interests has been granted to famous athletes, actors, businessmen, including the famous actor Steven Seagal, ballet dancer Sergei Polunin, soccer player Gabriel Cleverson Cleo, former Red Star basketball players Demarcus Nelson and Charles Jenkins, as well as Russian judo player Alexei Nefedov. Famous humanist Arnaud Gouillon waited a long time for Serbian citizenship, although he had an organization called Solidarity for Kosovo and a Serbian spouse.

Controversial citizenship

The granting of citizenship to former Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the first female leader of Thailand to be suspended from office by the Constitutional Court and subsequently sentenced to imprisonment for corruption, has also caused much controversy among our public, although it is believed that this verdict actually constitutes a political persecution against her. When asked about the interest of the Republic of Serbia in granting citizenship to her, President Aleksandar Vučić replied that he supported the liberalization of the passport regime because Serbia needs people with capital, ideas and a global image.

Finally, it is important to note that the Law prescribes that if both parents acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by admission, their child under the age of 18 shall also acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia, i.e. at the request of a parent who acquired the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by admission, his/her child under the age of 18 shall also acquire the citizenship of the Republic of Serbia by admission, if the other parent agrees and if the child resides in the Republic of Serbia or even if the child resides abroad.

Aleksandra Đ. Andrejić
Aleksandra Đ. Andrejić
Attorney at law
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