Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia

The Republic of Serbia offers several pathways to citizenship, including origin, birth, and international agreements. Notably, foreign nationals can apply for citizenship by admission if they meet specific criteria such as age, residency, and renunciation of previous nationality. The process was streamlined in recent legislative changes, aiming to expedite naturalization. However, proposed amendments faced setbacks from the European Union.

Citizenship of the Republic of Serbia can be acquired by:
  1. origin.
  2. birth on the territory of the Republic of Serbia.
  3. admission.
  4. according to international agreements.
Foreign national can apply for the citizenship based on admission if he/she is above 18 years of age, has release confirmation from foreign citizenship, holds permanent residence, has lived in Serbia for last 3 years, and able to submit a written statement confirming that he/she considers the Republic of Serbia to be his/her country.

Foreign nationals whose admission to the citizenship would be of interest of the Republic of Serbia does not have to fulfill above conditions.

In 2022, 84 foreign nationals gained Serbian citizenship out of which 50 were Russian.

Along with amendment of Law of foreigners and Law of employment of foreigners, Serbian government has worked on the amendment of Law of citizenship in 2023. with the goal of relaxing and speeding up the process of gaining the citizenship and facilitating the procedure by which foreign citizens could obtain a Serbian passport after holding a temporary Residence permit for one year only under certain circumstances.

The draft Law was withdrawn from the parliamentary procedure on 12th October 2023. In the official statement, the reason for withdrawal was stated: “a need to carry out additional consultations.”

The European Commission criticized the changes to the law, considering them a threat to security in the European Union (EU).

In the European Commission's annual report on the visa suspension mechanism, it is confirmed that the Government of Serbia withdrew this law after intervention from Brussels.

"While the EU respects Serbia's sovereign right to decide on its citizenship and naturalization policies, the European Commission has expressed its concern to the competent authorities of Serbia that the planned changes to the Serbian citizenship law could pose a risk to the public policy or security of the European Union (EU), given that citizens of Serbia enjoy visa-free access to the EU. After intensive contacts regarding this issue, the Government of Serbia has decided to withdraw the proposal", the document of the European Commission states.

Officials of this institution remind Serbia that as a candidate country for semi-legal membership in the EU, it is expected to gradually harmonize with EU policies and decisions.
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