Our online seminar 'Working, Investing, Trading after 1st January: The State of Play between the UK and Serbia' which we held on December 17 covered the UK's new immigration rules, the UK Serbia bilateral investment treaty and the state of the negotiations for a new Continuity Trade Agreement between the UK and Serbia
Our online seminar 'Working, Investing, Trading after 1st January: The State of Play between the UK and Serbia' which we held on December 17 covered the UK's new immigration rules, the UK Serbia bilateral investment treaty and the state of the negotiations for a new Continuity Trade Agreement between the UK and Serbia. The aspects of the seminar covering UK immigration (discussed by Vesna Collins) and the bilateral investment treaty (Dr Velimir Živković) remain completely current, but several events have happened since then: the UK and the EU finally signed a future trade agreement and CoVid regulations have changed.
Sadly, the UK and Serbia failed to agree the Continuity Trade Agreement (to replace the existing EU Stabilisation & Association Agreement without making any substantive changes). This means that the UK and Serbia have no agreement to cover bilateral trade as Serbia is not a member of the World Trade Organisation. Negotiations are continuing but we believe that it will take some time before any agreement comes into force and members should plan accordingly.
As the EU/UK agreement is now in force (provisionally), the customs regime has changed. The BCC has produced a 11 page guide to the agreement which we are happy to provide to members (please email email@example.com if you want a copy).
We have already heard from members about problems arising from the changes and the UK newspapers are reporting extensively about problems for UK exporters. We are interested in hearing about other members' experiences and are working closely with the British Chambers of Commerce. Below, we have details of the next BCC seminar about Rules of Origin on January 19. This will be of interest to anyone involved in the import/export of goods between Serbia and the UK, especially those who have not been shipping goods directly between the UK and Serbia but have handled them or used a hub within the EU during transport.
Entry requirements to the UK
Just before the UK shut down for Christmas, the UK Government introduced new measures tightening the rules significantly because of the impact of a new variant of the virus which is more transmissible. This includes new international travel restrictions.
All visitors (including UK citizens) arriving in the UK after 0400GMT Monday 18 January need to get a negative test within 72 hours of departure of the flight/boat/train arriving in the UK. This is just to get on board and carriers will refuse entry without a negative test and travellers will be fined £500 on arrival if they manage to get to the UK. Details can be found with the details here. Travellers still need a negative test even if they have been vaccinated. Travellers should also complete a travel locator form before travel.
Once travellers have landed in the UK, they will still need to quarantine for 10 days. You can get a private test after 5 days under the Test to Release scheme to get out sooner. While the Travel Corridor Scheme (exempting travellers from certain countries from the need to quarantine) is still operating, this currently does not apply to anyone arriving from the Western Balkans or anywhere else in Europe. A PCR test now costs RSD 18,000 in Serbia for foreigners.
Additionally, all four nations in the UK currently are currently in 'lockdown' - schools are closed, people must stay at home including working from home wherever possible and must not travel within the UK or internationally unless for reasons specified in the guidelines/regulations (which include returning to a place of work/residence but rule out any holiday travel). The details are slightly different in Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland. Most regulations are likely to continue until the beginning of April or until the death rate has fallen significantly following the mass vaccination campaign.
Entry requirements to Serbia
Serbian regulations currently require visitors to have negative PCR test results of no older than 48 hours for all foreign citizens arriving in Serbia (the regulations were rolled over on January 11). Serbian citizens and anyone with temporary or permanent residence in Serbia can choose to enter without a test but must isolate for 10 days (or until they get a negative PCR test). Travellers from the UK cannot use the NHS Test and Trace system to get a PCR test for international travel but must get tested privately, they should also follow UK travel advice.
As you can see these rules are complex and liable to change at any moment with little notice. If you intend to travel and think that the rules in both countries will allow you to do so, you must continue to check for any changes until you travel.
Whilst the BSCC aims to give accurate advice at the time of writing, please check everything from official sources. We accept no responsibility for anyone who relies on what we have written here.