The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted amendments to the Law on Travel Documents

On 14 November 2019, the National Assembly of the Republic of the Serbia adopted the Law on Travel Documents (the “Law”), published in the Official Gazette No. 81/2019 dated 15 November, 2019, effective eight days after publishing in the Official Gazette on 23 November 2019.

The law now allows that the validity of a travel document may be less than ten years, when there are objectively justified legal reasons. As a novelty, a restriction is set for persons who have lost or damaged two or more passports over a period of five years, in which case their passport is issued for a period of one year, unless they have a regulated stay abroad for a period longer than one year. Amendments to the Law specify the deadlines for starting the application process for a new passport, which is 6 months before the expiry of the old one, but in some cases the request can be submitted earlier. Such cases are changes of data stated in the passport, damage of the passport, wear and tear of the passport, because the passport has been filled in or in case the photo no longer matches the appearance of the face. An application for a new passport can be submitted earlier than 6 months before the expiry of the valid one, with an increased fee for issuing the passport. The reason for these changes is the intention of the legislator to free up the capacity of the competent passport issuing authority. The provision relating to the passport issuance to a minor has also been amended, and can now, among other things, be issued without the consent of the other parent if one parent makes the request and submits certificate from the competent authority, which states that the issue of the passport is in the child’s best interest. Amendments to the Law now allow parties to the proceedings, in addition to the court or a state body, to notify the competent authority about fact that the reasons for refusing the application for a travel document and forfeiture of a travel document have been terminated. Regarding the advertising of the decision that declares the travel document invalid, the novelty is that it will now be advertised on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, instead of in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, which frees citizens from expenses. The Law stipulates that the manner of keeping, as well as the contents of the unique electronic records on issued travel documents, on approved requests for the issuance of travel documents, on confiscated travel documents and invalid travel documents, shall be regulated by the Law on Records and Data Processing in the field of internal affairs. This enables all records within the competence of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs to be kept in a systematic manner.

Amendments to the Law were made due to the fact that the last amendments to the Law were in 2014, while in the meantime other laws have been amended. This resulted in the need to harmonize the Law with other laws. In addition, certain terms needed to be more precisely defined or changed in order to enable the competent authorities to function efficiently, thereby enabling citizens to exercise their rights more easily. Amendments to the Law are also harmonized with the provisions of the Law on General Administrative Procedure. In addition, the Law made terminological harmonization with the Law on Personal Data Protection. The law came into force on November 23, 2019.