BIG License for BIG Projects

The Serbian Law on Planning and Construction (“LPC”) foresees a list of premises which are subject to the issuance of a construction permit by the Ministry of Construction, Traffic and Infrastructure (the “Ministry”) (or, as the case may be, by the competent authority of the Autonomy Province of Vojvodina). This pertains to complex, mostly infrastructural premises and projects, including: facilities for oil and gas processing, nuclear facilities, thermal power plants with min. 10 MW capacity, water supply and sewerage facilities, waste treatment facilities, stadiums, etc.

Any company which intends to participate in the preparation of technical documentation and/or construction of the premises needs to obtain one or more of so-called “big licenses“. There are two types of these licenses: i) for the preparation of technical documentation and ii) for the construction of premises. Having obtained only one type of these licenses does not entitle the company to perform both activities. The procedures for obtaining these licenses are separate, but very similar.

However, there are many variations of the Big License (for both types), which depend on the type of the project intended to be developed.

License for the Preparation of Technical Documentation

Pursuant to the LPC, technical documentation for premises – subject to the Big Permit, may be prepared by the legal entity which: i) is registered before the Serbian Business Register Agency (“BRA”), ii) is licensed for the preparation of technical documentation for the respective type of facilities (the Big License), iii) has employees with a license for a responsible designer and who have “proper professional results” in the preparation of technical documentation for this type of facilities.

The Ministry forms a committee for determining whether the conditions for the preparation of technical documentation are met and decides on the fulfillment of the conditions on the basis of the committee proposal.

Technical documentation may also be prepared by a person who is a foreign citizen, provided that there is reciprocity with that other country and that other conditions are met, which is a rather rare situation in practice.

License for Construction Works

Construction of premises – subject to the Big Permit, may be performed by the legal entity which is: i) registered before the BRA, ii) licensed for execution of construction works for the respective type of facilities, iii) has employees with a license for responsible contractor and who have “proper professional results” in construction works for this type of facilities.

The Ministry forms the committee for determining fulfillment of conditions and decides on their fulfillment, on the basis of the committee proposal.

A responsible contractor is a person which has the necessary professional and academic credentials for governing the construction process and the performance of works.

The Engineering Chamber of Serbia (Inženjerska komora Srbije) is competent for the issuance of the professional licenses for a responsible urban planner, designer and/or contractor. The Chamber keeps the record of active and registered engineers and their professional track.

Engineering Licenses

This is by far the most important precondition and for different types of the Big License there is a specific requirement for engineers holding appropriate type of engineering licenses. Usually, two employed engineers are required, but this may vary, depending on the license.

There are a number of different engineering licenses and one engineer may hold several different engineering licenses. The licensed engineers (which are required for obtaining the license) need to be employed by the company in the full time status.

In addition, the Ministry prefers this to be employment for an indefinite term; the rules stipulate that licensed engineers may be employed for definite term, in case they are engaged for a specific project, and the term of completion for this project is defined. However, in practice, this may be an issue in the procedure of obtaining the Big Licenses, so it is advisable for licensed engineers to be employed by the company on the full time basis and for indefinite term.

The engineers should also fulfill certain personal criteria, related to past references and prescribed under applicable laws.

Procedural concerns

Separate application needs to be prepared for each of the Big Licenses. The official deadline for issuing the Big License is 30 days as of submission of full application documentation, in accordance with the Law on General Administrative Procedure; however, this deadline is often breached in practice, due to the complexity of the underlying documentation. Also, it is not uncommon for the Ministry to ask for clarification and additional documents in the decision making process. Thus, the procedure for obtaining the Big License(s) may last up to several months.

The application costs are slightly different depending on type of the “big license”, but it may amount up to RSD 250,000 (approx. EUR 2,100), in case of multiple licenses.

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