Regulation of the Status of “Digital Nomads“ in Serbia
The idea of amending legal provisions of the Law on Foreigners (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 24/2018 and 31/2019) and the Law on Employment of Foreigners (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 128/2014, 113/2017, 50 / 2018 and 31/2019), planned by the end of 2020, came undoubtedly as a result of positive experience of employers who referred their employees to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the competent authorities in Serbia realized that work could be performed just as successfully from remote locations and not exclusively at the employer’s premises.
The proposal of the Ministry of Labor is to enable (or impose?) these persons to obtain a work permit for one-year period, therefore their work would be registered in the Serbian National Employment Service, given the fact that they are currently in the “gray” zone. Of course, this measure would include the regulation of the temporary stay of these foreigners in Serbia, and the payment of taxes to the state budget for the purpose of obtaining the residence and work permits.
As for the conditions for obtaining the work permit, as far as is known, the only requirement would be proving that the foreigner has earned a gross salary in the amount of EUR 3,500 per month in the previous 6 months.
Thus far it is not known whether and in which manner such workers would be taxed in Serbia, there is a concern that domestic citizens employed in Serbia would oppose the new amendments to these laws, claiming discrimination regarding tax obligations imposed on domestic citizens on the basis of employment, from which the foreign citizens would be potentially exempted.
This “nomadic” work and lifestyle in Belgrade is becoming increasingly attractive to foreigners, considering the criteria that are evaluated when choosing a destination for life (such as costs of living, entertainment, safety, etc.). Taking into account the above criteria, Belgrade is ranked as the sixth most attractive destination for the life of “digital nomads” on the world platform (https://nomadlist.com/). This ranking among other world cities indicates the potential of our capital to be the place that attracts and retains this type of worker. However, practice will show whether Belgrade will maintain this status even after the introduction of planned changes to the law and the imposition of additional requirements and costs on “digital nomads” for living and working in Serbia.