What you need to know when crossing Serbian border
Refusal of a foreigner to enter Republic of Serbia
Conditions for entry, movement and stay of foreigners in the Republic of Serbia are regulated by the Law on Foreigners (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 24/2018 and 31/2019) (“Law“) and bylaws adopted on the basis of that Law. This Law does not apply to foreigners who have applied for asylum or who have been granted asylum in the Republic of Serbia, who enjoy privileges and immunities under international law and who have acquired refugee status on the basis of the Law on Refugees (“Official Gazette of RS”). No. 18/92, “Official Gazette of the FRY”, No. 42/2002 – decision of the SUS and “Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 30/2010).
The current immigration regulations of the Republic of Serbia in principle allow foreigners to enter the RS, under general conditions, as well as special conditions that differ in relation to the country of origin of the foreigner. Therefore, the border police may refuse the entry of a foreigner who does not meet any of the legal requirements.
What can be done in that case? Is there a possibility of a different decision of the competent authority? You will find the answers to these questions below.
The Law on Foreigners defines the general conditions that must be met for a foreigner to enter the Republic of Serbia, and on the other hand, what are the reasons for refusing entry. When entering the territory of the Republic of Serbia, foreigners are obliged to undergo border control, which is carried out in accordance with the Law on Border Control (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 24/2018). During this control, the border police check the fulfillment of the following conditions, and approve or deny entry to the foreigner:
- It is necessary that the person has a valid travel document, i.e., a valid ID card when it is provided by a bilateral agreement or a decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia;
- It is necessary that the person has a valid visa in the travel document, if the visa for Serbia is mandatory for the country whose travel document the foreigner holds;
- A foreigner must prove the possession of financial resources for residence in Serbia. Sufficient funds are considered to be EUR 50 per day of stay, and the proof is cash in the specified amount, bank account statement, traveler’s checks, credit cards, as well as a letter of guarantee from the person with whom the foreigner will stay in RS. A foreigner who has been granted temporary residence or permanent residence in the Republic of Serbia does not have to prove that he has the means to support himself when entering the RS.
- Certificate of vaccination, i.e., confirmation that the foreigner has not contracted a contagious disease, if he / she comes from an area affected by an epidemic of contagious diseases, which are determined according to the data of the Ministry of Health;
- If minors travel with one of the parents, it is necessary to submit a certified power of attorney of the other parent, i.e., when traveling with a third party, both parents or guardians;
- It is also recommended that the foreigner has a health insurance policy for the period of stay in the RS for the amount of medical expenses which cannot be less than 20,000 EUR.
The Border Police will refuse the entry of a foreigner into the Republic of Serbia if:
- the foreigner does not have a valid travel document or visa, if required;
- the foreigner does not have sufficient means of subsistence during his stay in the Republic of Serbia, to return to the country of origin or transit to another country, or he is not otherwise provided with subsistence during his stay in the Republic of Serbia;
- is a foreigner in transit and does not meet the conditions for entry into another country of transit or the country of final destination;
- the foreigner has a protective measure of removal, a security measure of expulsion of the foreigner, i.e., a ban on entering the Republic of Serbia;
- the foreigner does not have a certificate of vaccination or other evidence that he is not ill, and comes from an area affected by an epidemic of infectious diseases;
- the foreigner does not have travel health insurance for the period for which he intends to stay in the Republic of Serbia;
- this is required for reasons of protection of the security of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens – A foreigner will be denied entry into the Republic of Serbia if the body responsible for security protection of the Republic of Serbia determines that entry and stay of a foreigner in the Republic of Serbia would endanger the security of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens. The competent authority determines that the foreigner poses an unacceptable security risk on the basis of information available to him that indicates that the foreigner:
- Participates in or is a member of an organization whose goals are prohibited by the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Serbia, ratified international treaties or generally accepted rules of international law;
- belongs to an organization, i.e., that it is in contact with organizations from other countries in respect of whose activities there is a grounded suspicion that their covert, illegal subversive activity is directed against the interests of the Republic of Serbia;
- participates in activities of advocacy, encouragement, planning, preparation, financing, support or execution of terrorist acts directed against the Republic of Serbia or other states or is a member of a terrorist organization;
- participates in or is a member of paramilitary associations, as well as that he participated in or was a member of those associations.
The competent body informs the Ministry of the Interior about the fact that a foreigner should be denied entry into the country, because security reasons require it. The Ministry enters the above in the electronic records of foreigners kept in accordance with the law.
- it is determined that in connection with the entry and stay of foreigners on the territory of the Republic of Serbia there is a negative assessment of security risk. The assessment that the foreigner represents an unacceptable security risk is made on the basis of data available to the body responsible for security protection of the Republic of Serbia, i.e. organizational units of the Ministry of Interior responsible for combating terrorism and organized crime, which indicate that the foreigner participates in financing, planning and preparation activities, supporting or committing acts of terrorism and organized crime or is a member of such a group or network.
The information that a foreigner should be denied entry into the country, because it was determined that in connection with his entry and stay in the territory of the Republic of Serbia there is a negative assessment of security risk of the competent authority is entered in the electronic records of foreigners kept in accordance with law.
- it represents the obligation of the Republic of Serbia in connection with the implementation of international restrictive measures;
- it is determined that the foreigner uses forged documents;
- the foreigner has already stayed in the Republic of Serbia for 90 days during 180 days, unless otherwise determined by an international agreement, unless it is a foreigner who has a long-stay visa (D visa) or an approved temporary stay;
- there is a justified suspicion that he will not use the stay for the intended purpose – a foreigner will be denied entry into the Republic of Serbia if during the border check it is determined that there is a justified suspicion that he will not use the stay for the intended purpose. It is considered that the foreigner did not justify that he will use the entry and stay in the Republic of Serbia for the purpose he reported when entering the Republic of Serbia when it is determined that:
- there are facts that indicate the unreliability of the caller, i.e., the issuer of the letter of guarantee or the person to whom the foreigner comes, or if the caller or the person to whom the foreigner comes gives up the previously given guarantees;
- during the border check, the foreigner does not want to declare or changes the statements on the reason for arrival;
- there is no clear reason for coming to the Republic of Serbia;
- does not have a return plane ticket, paid reservation of a hotel or other accommodation in the Republic of Serbia, confirmation or voucher from a travel agency or travel organizer, invitation or guarantee letter.
When conducting border checks and determining the facts and circumstances regarding the purpose of entry and stay of an foreigner in the Republic of Serbia and determining whether there is a reasonable suspicion that the foreigner will not use the stay for the intended purpose, the fact whether the foreigner was denied issuance of a visa for entry into the Republic of Serbia or other countries, i.e., whether he has been denied entry into other countries or has been banned from entering other countries.
- there is a justified suspicion that he will not leave the Republic of Serbia before the expiration of the visa, i.e., if there is a possibility of illegal migration after entering the Republic of Serbia.
Entry is refused through a decision issued on the prescribed form, which states the reasons for refusing entry, but not the explanation of those reasons for the decision. Refusal of entry is entered in the foreigner’s travel document.
Exceptionally, a foreigner who is found to have some reason for such a decision may be allowed to enter the Republic of Serbia if there are humanitarian reasons, the interest of the Republic of Serbia or the international obligations of the Republic of Serbia. Entry is approved through a decision on granting entry issued on the prescribed form stating the reason for entry, place and address of accommodation in the Republic of Serbia, time when a foreigner can legally reside in the Republic of Serbia and the border crossing where a foreigner must leave the Republic of Serbia.
What can be done in that case?
A foreigner may file an appeal against the decision to refuse entry to the body that made the decision within eight days from the day of receipt of the decision. The complaint is submitted in writing, in Serbian, with the payment of the prescribed administrative fee. The Ministry of the Interior shall decide on the appeal against the decision within 60 days from the day of receipt of the appeal. An appeal against a decision does not delay its execution unless there are some of the reasons that prohibit the forced removal of a foreigner. An administrative dispute may be initiated against the decision made in the second instance procedure.
Foreigners are temporarily accommodated in units specially designated for the purpose of receiving foreigners who have been denied entry into the RS by the border police. When it comes to the right of foreigners to be informed of their status by the diplomatic mission or consular post of their country or the country representing their interests, foreigners are allowed to contact the mission by their own phone or by phone in the accommodation unit.
In order to enable foreigners to receive legal aid, it is necessary to inform them about the manner of obtaining this assistance and the organizations that will provide them, i.e., enable them to be adequately informed about their rights and procedures for exercising these rights, and also the possibility of contacting local and international organizations that provide assistance in exercising their rights.
For example, at the Belgrade airport at the Belgrade border police station, in a prominent place in the room where persons who were refused entry to RS are accommodated, the contacts of relevant domestic and international organizations that provide assistance to these persons in exercising their rights are highlighted.
A foreigner may be forcibly or voluntarily removed from the territory of the RS after the decision to refuse entry, in the manner prescribed by law. However, an foreigner must not be forcibly removed to a territory where he or she is threatened with persecution because of his or her race, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, religion, nationality, citizenship, social group or political opinion, unless he or she is a foreigner who may reasonably be considered to endanger the security of the Republic of Serbia or of a foreigner who has been convicted of a serious criminal offense by a final judgment, which poses a danger to public order. Also, an foreigner must not be forcibly removed to a territory where there is a risk that he will be subjected to the death penalty, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, or where he is threatened with a serious violation of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Unaccompanied minors enjoy special protection, who must not be forcibly removed, unless the competent authority is convinced that the minor will be returned to a family member, guardian or appropriate institution for the reception of children.
During the border control at the entrance to the Republic of Serbia or on the territory of the Republic of Serbia, a foreigner may orally or in writing, before an authorized police officer of the Ministry, express his intention to apply for asylum. In that case, the Law on Asylum and Temporary Protection (“Official Gazette of RS”, No. 24/2018) applies. The authorized police officer of the Ministry issues a registration certificate of the foreigner who has expressed his intention to apply for asylum, allows the foreigner to enter the country and instructs him to report to one of the asylum centers, where he must report within 72 hours from the moment he is issued a certificate of registration, in order to submit an asylum application. Therefore, in this case, the foreigner must not be forcibly removed until the procedure on the application for asylum is completed.