Living in Serbia 

My rights and obligations as a recognized refugee

If you fulfil the conditions set down by the law, the Asylum Office will grant you either refugee status or subsidiary protection. Subsidiary protection status is valid for one year and may be extended. Refugee status is granted for a longer period, i.e., for as long as the reasons for your leaving country or origin persist.   

Persons granted subsidiary protection or refugee status in Serbia enjoy the following rights: 

1) to reside safely in Serbia;  

2) to receive financial support for accommodation for a period of up to one year;  

3) to move freely within the country (but are not allowed to go to another country);  

4) healthcare;  

5) education;  

6) labour market access;  

7) legal aid;  

8) social assistance;  

9) to own property;  

10)  to practice freely their religion;  

11)  to reunite with family members;  

12) to have personal documents:  refugee ID card or ID card for subsidiary protection, and a travel document;  

13) integration assistance.  

UNHCR and its partners can provide supplementary assistance and advice and help connect job-seeking refugees with potential employers. 

For further legal advice, contact IDEAS at phone number +381 (0) 69 565 7254 or email . For integration support, contact Crisis Response and Policy Centre (CRPC) at +381 (0) 60 0991 634 or email [email protected] 

At the same time, your protection status implies certain obligations: 

  • You must respect and observe the laws of Serbia; 
  • You must report a change of address, and/or the loss of your Personal ID to the Asylum Office (through your legal representative) within three days’ time; 
  • You must report all significant material or legal changes: change of address, name, marital status, receipt of cash assistance, or new employment, to your integration adviser, within 15 days’ time; 
  • All children up to the age of 15 are obliged to attend preschool and primary school; 
  • You must cooperate with the authorities who are examining your application. 

Access to National Documents

Persons granted refugee status are issued ID cards valid for five years. ID cards issued to persons awarded subsidiary protection are valid for one year. To renew your ID, contact your lawyer. You must report all changes of address/loss of your ID card to the Asylum Office, through your legal representative, within three days. In such cases, you will be issued a new ID card.  

The identity card contains your name, picture, and address. You must always carry it on you. The police officers have the right to check your identity in the street, as is the case with any other person.   

Persons granted international protection need to obtain a personal number from the Asylum Office, as a prerequisite for opening a bank account and gaining access to health care. 

Travel documents for refugees  A person granted refugee status can obtain a travel document valid for maximum of five years. To apply for a travel documentyou need to inquire with the Department for Foreigners of a local police station.
In Belgrade, you must make an appointment for applying for the travel document through the Asylum Office via email[email protected]The documents required are application for issuing a travel document; identity card (original) and a copy of the identity card; decision of the Asylum Office on granted asylum/subsidiary protection; certificate on EBS (registration number for a foreigner). 

UNHCR legal partner can assist you with this (contact IDEAS: +381 (0) 69 565 7254, or email [email protected] ) 

The Asylum Office will assess if submitted documents are sufficient and you will get an appointment for taking your biometric data, on which occasion you need to pay the administrative fee (approximately EUR 70). UNHCR can cover the costs of the administrative fee for you and will reach out to you upon receiving information on your request from the Asylum Office. In case your request is rejected, you have the right to appeal to the Asylum Commission, and a UNHCR legal partner can assist you. 

Travel documents for persons granted subsidiary protection  In exceptional cases of a humanitarian nature, persons granted subsidiary protection who do not possess a national travel document can obtain travel documents with a validity of maximum one year. The procedure is the same as for refugees, with the difference that proofs of humanitarian reasons for issuing a travel document must be provided with the application. UNHCR legal partner can assist you with this application. 

Access to Social Assistance

If you are in need of social assistance provided by the Stateplease contact CRPC for more information at +381 (0) 60 0991 634 or email [email protected] .  

Access to Healthcare

Refugees are entitled to healthcare services provided by the State. If you choose a private healthcare provider, you will be expected to cover all the expenses yourself. When in need of medical assistance, seek it at the Primary Health Care Centre in the place of your residence. Keep in mind that some medicines are free of charge, while you need to pay for others. You can get more information on such right/service through Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration (KIRS) in the centres. 

Access to Education

Under the Serbian law, primary education is mandatory for all children. Primary education is free of charge and lasts eight years for all children residing in Serbia. Secondary education is free of charge but not mandatory. Depending on the type of school, it may last three or four years. The academic score obtained in secondary school is important for enrolment in tertiary education. The textbooks, field trips and equipment are sometimes provided for free by public primary and secondary schools. 

Tertiary education may last four or more years depending on the branch you study. It is free of charge for the best students only. Each faculty organizes an entrance exam, which, together with the secondary school scores, will determine whether the student will have to pay tuition. The test is in Serbian language and differs for each faculty. Refugee and asylum-seeking students have access to tertiary education provided they pass the entrance exams. In exceptional cases, UNHCR may assist refugee and asylum-seeking students to access tertiary education and with scholarships to cover tuition fees. For information on support for higher education, contact UNHCR.  

Your diplomas can be validated, but this process is NOT free of charge. A special State institution oversees this process. NGO CRPC ([email protected]can provide more information and support the process.  

Access to Employment

The right to work is one of your basic rights. If you are granted asylum, subsidiary, or temporary protection, you can work legally. No work permit is needed, you only need your refugee identity document. If you are an asylum-seeker, you can start working legally, six months after you apply for asylum, with your ID and the document confirming your status, issued by the Asylum Office, Ministry of Interior. 

 For better access to the job market, you should be registered with the National Employment Service (NES) in your municipality/city, irrespective of academic or other qualifications. The NES has opportunities to improve your skills and chances for successfully accessing the job market. 

UNHCR Serbia cooperates with companies in Serbia that provide decent job opportunities for refugees and asylum-seekers. You can look at the List of employers and positions which are most often in demand and contact UNHCR if you are interested in applying.   

In order to open a private business, you need to be registered with the Serbian Business Register Company. For further information on this process, please consult CRPC, UNHCR partner organization, at +381 (0) 60 0991 634 or email [email protected] . 

Re-training is common in Serbia for persons struggling to find a job in their primary profession. It means that you can be enrolled in vocational training on account of your current skills or else on account of what is most needed within the job market. 

In case you are interested in international job opportunities, you can check out UNHCR Job-seeking advice for refugees page. There you will find advice on navigating the international job market as a refugee, on countries offering programmes, UNHCR employment partners and tips on how to find a job abroad. 

Support for integration in Serbia

Once you have been awarded subsidiary protection or refugee status, the Serbian Commissariat for Refugees and Migration, through its Integration Advisers, will provide support and assistance you need in accessing all the rights stipulated in the Law and facilitating your integration in the country. 

UNHCR and its partners can provide you with supplementary assistance and advice, free of charge. 

Depending on your needs, you may be supported to: 

  • learn Serbian, offline or online, and get certificates for your knowledge; 
  • access all levels of education, and validate your diploma; 
  • access vocational trainings of your choice; 
  • access decent employment opportunities; 
  • access tools and equipment for income generation. 

All the abovementioned support may be vital for your successful integration and self-reliance, beginning with the knowledge of the local language, to starting education and accessing the job market. 

General information on Serbia

The Republic of Serbia is a country in the Western Balkans. The capital of Serbia is Belgrade.   

  • Country calling code: +381 
  • National currency: Serbian Dinar (RSD) 
  • Time zone: Central European CET (GMT +1 hour) 
  • Official language: Serbian 
  • Working days: Monday to Friday. Non-working days: Saturday and Sunday. 
  • Serbia is home to some 40 different ethnic communities.  
  • Dominant religion: Orthodox Christianity 

For detailed information, please see the LINK