Social welfare


Country Report: Social welfare Last updated: 15/05/23


Nikola Kovačević

The Asylum Act grants the right to receive welfare benefits to asylum seekers as well as persons who have been granted asylum; persons recognised as refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are equal in this regard.[1] The Social Welfare Act (SWA) defines social welfare as an organised social activity in the common interest whose purpose is to provide assistance and strengthen individuals and families for an independent and productive life in society, as well as prevent the causes of, and eliminate, social exclusion.[2] The Act also defines Serbian citizens as beneficiaries of social welfare, but states that foreigners and stateless persons may also receive social welfare in line with the law and international agreements.[3] This right is exercised through the provision of social protection services and material support.[4] The regulations on social welfare for persons seeking asylum or who have been granted asylum are within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues, which has enacted a Rulebook on Social Welfare for Persons Seeking or Granted Asylum (RSW).[5]

According to the Rulebook, persons seeking or granted asylum may receive monthly financial aid if they are not housed in an asylum centre and if they and their family members do not receive an income or that income is lower than the threshold required by the Rulebook.[6] Therefore, this Rulebook only provides social welfare to persons residing in private accommodation, which is counterintuitive, as persons staying in such accommodation usually do not require social welfare in the first place.

The request for social welfare is examined and decided upon by the social welfare centre with jurisdiction over the municipality in which the beneficiary of asylum resides.[7] Once granted, the conditions for benefitting from social welfare are re-examined by the social welfare centre on an annual basis. The second instance body is the Minister responsible for social affairs.[8] One of the problems identified in practice is the extensive length of the procedure to be granted social welfare.[9]

The conclusion that can be drawn is that provisions of the Asylum Act and RSW do not recognise the actual needs of both asylum seekers and persons granted asylum as a member of a particularly underprivileged group. The main reason for this claim lies in the fact that asylum seekers and persons granted asylum who are accommodated in Asylum Centres and who do not have sufficient means of livelihood are not eligible for social allowances.

As of March 2022, the highest possible amount of social welfare that may be paid on a monthly basis is around 18,000 RSD / 155 €. The amount is by no means sufficient to enable recipients to live even a modest existence in Serbia, but it is no less than may otherwise be provided to citizens of Serbia.

Apart from the housing support by the CRM provided to 4 persons granted asylum in 2022, there are no records which indicate that refugees or asylum seekers were granted social welfare support.




[1] Article 52 and 67 Asylum Act.

[2] Article 2 Social Welfare Act, Official Gazette no. 24/2011.

[3] Article 6 SWA.

[4] Article 4 (2) SWA.

[5] Rulebook on Social Welfare for Persons Seeking or Granted Asylum, Official Gazette no. 44/2008.

[6] Ibid, Article 3.

[7] Ibid, Article 8.

[8] Ibid, Article 9.

[9] BCHR, Right to Asylum in the Republic of Serbia 2019, 181-182.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection