Serbian companies Required to Submit Financial Statements using Electronic Signature
The procedures for annual financial reporting in Serbia are modernising. As of 1 January 2015, Serbian companies are now required to submit financial statements exclusively in electronic format using the electronic signature of the statutory representative. An exception to this new rule will allow micro companies to submit the financial statements in paper form for another year.
The new requirement for electronic filings has raised issues for Serbian companies with directors who are not resident in Serbia. Company directors must obtain a qualified electronic signature certificate allowing them to electronically sign financial statements, but these certificates can only be issued to persons with Serbian personal identification number. This means that non-resident directors who want to obtain qualified electronic signature certificate must first secure temporary residency in the country.
The Serbian Business Registers Agency ("BRA") officially requested that the Ministry of Finance resolve this issue by allowing electronic financial statements to be signed electronically by way of a Power of Attorney granted to a Serbian resident with a personal identification number who could easily obtain a qualified electronic signature certificate.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Finance has insisted that electronic financial statements can only be electronically signed by statutory representatives of a company (i.e. directors), referencing the Law on Accounting's provision on the statutory representative's ultimate responsibility for financial statements.
Possible Solutions for Current Inadequacies
The Ministry did present two less than optimal solutions to the existing problem, the first being that a non-resident director can obtain a temporary residence permit in Serbia in order to obtain a qualified electronic signature certificate, or that a company with a non-resident statutory representative as director can appoint Serbian resident director.
Please notice that the deadline for submission of the electronically signed Annual Financial Reports for Statistical Purposes is 28 February 2015.