The rise of the digital economy and remote work opportunities has led to a significant increase in the number of independent contractors worldwide — and an explosion in digital nomads seeking a new destination to work from.
With its growing tech scene, skilled labor market, attractive cost of living, and favorable business environment, Serbia has become an appealing destination for independent contractors seeking new opportunities.
If you're considering working as an independent contractor in Serbia, this article will provide you with all the essential information you need to know.
Understanding Independent Contracting in Serbia
What Is an Independent Contractor?
Independent contracting refers to a working arrangement where individuals offer their services to clients or companies on a contractual basis. As an independent contractor, you are self-employed and not considered an employee of the client. This arrangement offers flexibility, autonomy, and the opportunity to work on various projects for different clients.
In Serbia, you are an employee if you have a written employment agreement before you start work. This is the definition that’s outlined in the 2005 Labor Law, which determines employee rights.
How Are Contractors Classified in Serbia?
The differences between full-time employees and independent contractors are classified in Serbia’s Labor Act.
Broadly speaking, independent contractors fall into two categories:
- Lump-Sum Entrepreneurs — Who do not have to keep books, in return for a fixed, monthly lump-sum tax based on different criteria and subject to limitations.
- Entrepreneurs who keep books — These individuals have to calculate their monthly taxes, which vary based on how much they have earned.
What Are the Requirements to Work as a Contractor in Serbia?
1. Registering a Business
Before embarking on your journey as an independent contractor in Serbia, it's crucial to understand the legal requirements. Firstly, you will need to register as a self-employed person with the Serbian Business Registers Agency. While it may sound confusing, every independent contractor needs to be registered as a business in Serbia.
This process involves obtaining:
- A tax identification number (PIB) and
- A unique identification number (MBR).
You can register your company name (check if your chosen name is available here).
Core Activity Codes
Every company needs to have a ‘Core Activity’ that it is registered for, along with a code — which isn’t to say that you can’t fulfill other tasks that are related to your core activity. Some popular activity codes include:
- 6201 — IT, software development, web development, and other IT services
- 7021 — communications and public relations
- 7022 — consulting
- 8299 — other business consulting services
- 7401 — design services
You can find a full list of core activity codes here.
Documents Needed to Register
If you’re registering a company in person, you will need the following:
- A completed registration form
- A copy of your ID
- Proof of payment of registration fees (1,500 RSD)
You can also register for the Serbian Business Registers Agency portal and apply online.
2. Taxation and Social Security
In Serbia, self-employment income includes income generated from business activity and the provision of professional and intellectual services, as well as revenue from other activities. As an independent contractor in Serbia, you are responsible for managing your taxes and social security contributions. Serbia operates a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 10% to 15%.
Any individual who VAT registered is considered to be a taxpayer on income realized from self-employment.The VAT rate is 20% in Serbia.
The Lump-Sum Tax
In Serbia, entrepreneurs can also register for Serbia’s “lump-sum” taxation, which means that they do not have to keep books, and in return pay the same lump-sum tax payments each month which are determined by their age, location, and field of work. The lump-sum tax often means that overall tax bills are lower for registered payees.
In 2019, the Serbian government introduced a list of criteria to determine who is eligible for the lump-sum tax. Lump-sum entrepreneurs cannot be VAT registered, and have an annual turnover limit of 6 million RSD. They also cannot work in trade, real estate, or hospitality.
When working as an independent contractor, you will typically need to issue invoices to your clients for the services rendered. In Serbia, it's essential to include specific details on your invoices, such as your tax identification number, client's information, a clear description of services, and payment terms.
Regarding payments, ensure that you establish mutually agreed-upon payment terms and methods with your clients to ensure timely and secure transactions.
4. Getting Paid As a Contractor in Serbia
A vital part of working as a contractor in Serbia is getting paid. In terms of how you can get paid as a contractor, there are a number of options — these include:
- Bank transfer in EUR or RSD
5. Intellectual Property and Contracts
As an independent contractor, it's essential to protect your intellectual property rights and establish clear contractual agreements with your clients. Ensure that you discuss and define ownership and usage rights of the work you produce. A well-drafted contract will outline project scope, deliverables, deadlines, payment terms, and any additional terms and conditions to protect both parties' interests.
6. Building a Professional Network
Networking plays a crucial role in establishing yourself as an independent contractor in Serbia. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and leverage online platforms to connect with potential clients and peers. Building a robust professional network can lead to new opportunities, collaborations, and referrals.
7. Financial Planning and Benefits
Working as an independent contractor means being responsible for your financial planning and benefits. It's vital to budget and save for taxes, retirement, and any other expenses that may arise. What’s more, ensuring that you have health insurance in place for you and your loved ones is vital.
Independent Contractors in Serbia: Rewarding — When Done Correctly
Working as an independent contractor in Serbia offers numerous advantages, including flexibility, autonomy, and the opportunity to work on exciting projects. By understanding the legal requirements, taxation rules, and best practices, you can navigate the Serbian independent contracting landscape successfully. Remember to consult with professionals, build a strong network, and prioritize financial planning to make the most of your independent contracting career in Serbia.
To help remove the complexity, refer your clients to use RemotePass today — we’ll take care of the details, so you can focus on your work in Serbia.
Good luck on your journey!