What to 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 where to get support while you wait for registration. Below, we’ve gathered some information that you should know when you get here.

How do I register?

To stay legally in Serbia, you need to register with the police when you arrive in the country. You can do this at border crossings or police stations (in bigger cities) that have a department for foreigners.

The police will ask for your identification documents and take your:

  • Personal data
  • Fingerprints
  • Photo  

When registering, you also need to express your intention to seek asylum in Serbia.
In Belgrade, you can get information and support with registration from:

These 2 organizations will communicate with the police and let you know when you can register, depending on the availability of the police. These organizations’ services are free of charge.

How long does registration take?

In Belgrade, you will most likely need to wait for a few days. 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.

Families with small children, women and people under 18 get priority for registration.

What happens after I register?

Once you register and express your intention to seek asylum, you will receive a reception certificate from the police. This document will allow you to get accommodation, food and basic services in the reception center that is assigned to you.

You will have 72 hours to get to your reception center. There are several reception and asylum centers throughout Serbia, and it’s the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration that decides in which one you can stay. The Commissariat manages these centers.  

Does this mean I need to start my asylum process in Serbia?

Yes. When you register with the police, you also need to express your intention to seek asylum in Serbia. This is the first step. After you register, you have 15 days to submit your asylum application to the Asylum Office and start your procedure.

If you want free legal support with your asylum application, you can ask legal advisers of UNHCR or other aid organizations in your reception center to help you. You can also seek help from Belgrade Centre for Human Rights. Their services are also free of charge.

Where should I sleep while I wait for registration?

Women, families and people under 18 can usually sleep in Miksaliste or another safe house for unaccompanied minors if places are available.  

Many male refugees sleep in abandoned buildings and in parks near the bus station in Belgrade because they cannot find shelter. This can be very dangerous as you risk being attacked or robbed.

Sleeping outside gets even more dangerous as it gets colder. If you must sleep outside, ask aid workers if they can help or provide you with blankets and warm clothes.

In some cases, the Commissariat can send you directly to the reception center while you are waiting for registration.

Where can I get support?

During the day, a limited number of people can spend their time at Miksaliste and at  Info Park.

At Miksaliste, you can charge your phone and connect to WiFi. At Info Park, you can get access to a computer with internet connection. At both of these places, you can find organizations that can provide you with information and refer you to other service providers depending on your need, free of charge.

If you need medical assistance, you can get it at Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières - MSF.

What risks should I be aware of?

Becoming a victim of human trafficking and other violence is a real risk. Be aware of people who say that they want to help you and offer you a variety of services such as transport or private accommodation. They could be people from your country or other nationals working as human traffickers who want to get your money and abuse you.

For any support, you can contact Info Park, Praxis, CRPC and they will help you without asking for any money.

What if I want to return to my home country?

If you do not wish to apply for asylum in Serbia and you’re sure that you want to return to your home country, you can apply for the Assisted Voluntary Return (AVR) program. It’s a program from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that helps people get tickets to return to their country of origin.

You can learn more about AVR and IOM here, and find IOM at your reception or asylum center.

In Belgrade, Info Park and Praxis can also provide you with information and refer you to IOM.