American citizens are advised that the Agency for Restitution of the Republic of Serbia accepted claims related to property confiscated by communist authorities after World War II from March 2012 to March 2014. The deadline for filing restitution claims has now passed. American citizens who had property confiscated, or are descendants of individuals who had property confiscated, and who have not filed claims should contact an attorney for advice.
An English translation of the Law on Property Restitution and Compensation (PDF 132 KB) is available at the Serbian ministry of Finance website.
The law allows for the return of properties to former owners or their descendants either in-kind (i.e. return of the property) or, in cases where in-kind return is not possible, financial restitution. Financial restitution will take the form of bonds, up to a maximum of 500,000 euros (approximately $650,000) to any individual claimant, with terms ranging from 10 to 15 years depending on the age of the claimant. While the law states a preference for in-kind restitution, claimants should note that in-kind restitution will only be possible in circumstances where the property is still owned by the Government of Serbia. Properties that have been sold, are owned by privatized companies, diplomatic or cultural facilities, and properties in a number of other categories will generally not be returned in-kind.
In order to submit a claim, a form Zahtev za vraćanje oduzete imovine odnosno obeštećenje (PDF 141KB), which also includes a list of required documentation, must be filled out.
For those who need translation assistance, please check the list of official translators.
The law requires extensive documentation related to the property claimed, the circumstances related to its confiscation, and the rehabilitation of individuals from whom properties have been confiscated. As such, the Embassy strongly suggests that potential claimants consider employing the services of a local attorney who can assist in obtaining required documentation and provide guidance on the process. The Embassy cannot provide legal advice, serve as a legal representative or obtain property documentation on claimants’ behalf. Please check the list of lawyers if you need legal assistance.
In addition to the firms on the attorney list, the following law firms have specifically indicated a willingness to handle restitution cases on behalf of American Citizens:
- BDK Advokati (BDK)
Dobracina 38, 11000 Belgrade
Tel: +381 11 3284 212, +381 69 651-143
- Karanovic & Nikolic
Resavska 23, 11000 Belgrade
Tel: +381 11 3094-200, +381 11 3094-248, +381 63 1132-645
U.S. citizens may be asked to file documentation from the U.S. government confirming that compensation was or was not received by the claimant’s family pursuant to the 1948 or 1964 U.S.-Yugoslav Claims Settlement Agreement. The Foreign Claims Settlement Commission at the U.S. Department of Justice can provide this documentation. Requestors should send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Attention: Restitution in Serbia.” Requests should include as much specific information as possible to enable the Commission to determine definitively whether or not it has in its files a previously paid compensation claim pertaining to a specific person, family, or address. This would include the names and surnames of relatives who might have filed claims and addresses and descriptions of the properties involved in their current restitution claims.