Access to the West Balkans Labour Market

On 29 December 2021 the Serbian Parliament ratified the agreement on free access to the labour market in the Western Balkans, signed earlier that month between Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia.

Said agreement was signed as part of the Open Balkan regional cooperation initiative aiming to facilitate access to labour markets of the three countries to their citizens.

Once the new regime is fully implemented, and following online registration, citizens of Albania and North Macedonia will be allowed to stay and work in Serbia for up to two years (with possibility of prolongation), without any special residence or work permit. Correspondingly, Serbian companies will no longer have to apply for work permits for such individuals, provided they present evidence of successful online registration for access to the Serbian labour market. This will remove a substantial procedural hurdle Serbian companies faced when employing citizens from Albania / North Macedonia.

One caveat is that a Serbian company employing Albanian / North Macedonian citizens under the new regime will not be allowed to use employment incentives (such as those discussed here) for such employees unless Serbia and the country of their origin sign a separate agreement on application of such incentives. Hence, companies seeking to employ citizens of those two countries will have to consider effects of such employment on state incentives before entering into any employment agreements with them.

The new regime does not change the rules that apply to permanent residence permits, nor to foreigners visiting Serbia for vacation.

The agreement will enter into force 30 days as of at least two countries ratifying it (with respect to such countries), and, if a country ratifies it later, 30 days after ratification (with respect to such country). The new regime will become functional once signatories set up the required systems (such as appropriate online registration portals).


Srećko Vujaković, partner

Damjan Despotović, partner

This text is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.

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