In March 2018, Serbia passed a new law on asylum. The information below has changed since the new law came into force. We will soon publish an up-to-date blog post on what you should know if you're new in Serbia.
If you've just arrived in Belgrade, you may have questions about how and why to register with the police, and how to get the services you need while you wait for registration.
Here are the top 6 things you should know when you get here.
1. How and why to register.
In Serbia, refugees have to register at the police station when they arrive in the country. Registering gives you temporary permission to stay in the country and helps you get a place to stay in a camp.
When you register, the police will add your personal information to their database.
Important note: To register, you need to express your intention to seek asylum in Serbia. Expressing your intention to seek asylum does not mean that you have to apply for asylum or stay in Serbia.
How long it takes
The waiting period for registration gets longer as more and more refugees arrive in Serbia. It can be 10 minutes, or more than 5 days — it just depends on the availability of the police and the number of newcomers.
People under 18, families with small children, and women get priority for registration.
2. Who can help you register.
The organization Praxis can hep you register with the police.
You can call Praxis any day between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m., at any of these 3 numbers:
You can approach Praxis staff if you see them on the street — just look out for people in purple vests. They also might approach you.
To help you register, Praxis will ask your name, your date of birth and country of origin.
If you are under 18 traveling alone
If you are under 18 and in Serbia without your family, Praxis will arrange for a social worker to come with you to the police station. This social worker is meant to protect your rights and represent your best interests.
3. Your options for temporary places to stay.
If you have to wait more than one day for registration, you need to find a temporary place to stay. Most people will have to find their own place to stay, but there are some exceptions.
If you are under 18, you can ask the organization Save the Children for help. They can offer you a place to rest and sleep.
If you are a woman, you can ask the Novi Sad Humanitarian Center for help. They offer women a place to rest and sleep.
You can find the Save the Children and the Novi Sad Humanitarian Center at Miksalište, which is sometimes referred to as "Mikser House."
- If you have been physically abused or are in danger of physical abuse, or if you arrive on a day when many other refugees arrived in Serbia, you may get a place in a camp before you register.
After you register, you might move to another camp.
4. What to do if you have to sleep outside.
Refugees often sleep in parks and other public spaces in Belgrade while they wait to register. This can be very dangerous.
Be aware that refugees who are sleeping in public places can be attacked or robbed. The attackers might be local people, people from another country, or people from your own country.
Sleeping outside gets even more dangerous as it gets colder. If you must sleep outside, ask aid workers if they can provide you with blankets and warm clothes or help you in any other way.
5. How to get medical care and other services.
If you need medical help, visit the MSF office.
To learn about other services and organizations that can help you in Serbia, check out the Refugee.Info Service Map.
If you have questions about Serbia that we haven't answered here, you can always send us a message on Facebook. We'll either answer your questions or try to find someone who can.
6. What happens next.
After you register with the police, you will get a Certificate of Having Expressed the Intent to Seek Asylum.
This document expires after 3 days. It says you need to register at the camp listed on the document within 72 hours.
If you don't register at your assigned camp within 72 hours: You may not be able to get a place in a camp, and the police probably will not replace your expired document.