Exporting to Bosnia and Herzegovina

Situated at the heart of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, Bosnia and Herzegovina is showing signs of a sustained economic recovery, with increasing affluence creating opportunities for UK exporters. Continued growth is expected to come from public investment in transport infrastructure, exports, use of EU funds, and private investment.

Growing economy

Bosnia and Herzegovina is showing signs of a sustained economic recovery, with 3.6% GDP growth in 2018 (IMF, 2019). Continued growth is expected to come from public investment in transport infrastructure, exports, use of EU funds, and private, mainly local investment, offering excellent opportunities for UK suppliers.

Emerging Europe

Bosnia and Herzegovina is situated at the heart of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region, a market of over 100 million consumers that offers great potential for British businesses. Increasingly affluent consumers and economic growth are creating opportunities, particularly in energy, infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, retail, security and defence, and life sciences.

Ease of doing business

90th

out of 190 countries (World Bank, 2019))

Currency

Bosnian Convertible Mark

Business languages

Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian

You may need a translator

GDP per capita

$5,754

UK is $41,030 (IMF, 2019)

Economic growth

3.6%

(IMF, 2019)

Time zone

GMT +2

Opportunities for exporters

There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Bosnia and Herzegovina have identified particular opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors.

Doing business in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Preparing to export

Establishing a business

Establishing a business in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be time consuming. Your starting point should be a local lawyer, who you should retain and follow up with at each step of the process. New-to-market companies should find a local partner, for example a sales agent, representative or distributor.

Tax

The UK and Yugoslavia signed a Double Taxation Convention which continues to apply in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

VAT

If you’re registered for VAT in the UK, it may be possible to zero-rate the goods you export to Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided certain conditions are met.

VAT in Bosnia and Herzegovina is charged at a fixed rate of 17% for all goods and services. The Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina is responsible for VAT.

Excise tax applies to oil derivatives, tobacco and beverages such as beer, wine and coffee.

Regulations

Bosnia and Herzegovina has its own set of standards known as the BAS Standard but all EU standards are recognised.

The Institute for Standardization (website in Bosnian) is the main body responsible for standards.

Product certification is required in order to make sure that the product has undergone appropriate testing and that it conforms to relevant regulations.

Labelling

Labels must contain the name of the product, the address of the importer and country of origin, net quantity, weight and/or volume of ingredients, manner of storage (transport, use, or maintenance) and relevant consumer warnings. Technically complex products must be accompanied by instructions on usage, manufacturer specifications, a list of authorised maintenance persons or businesses, warranty information, warranty period, and other applicable data.

All information must be translated into the languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina, either affixed to or accompanying the product.

Operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Intellectual property

As a first step, we advise you to speak to an intellectual property lawyer if you think you need patent protection when exporting.

UK exporters should insist on advance payment, or have a confirmed letter of credit when doing business with a new local partner.

The Institute for Intellectual Property of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the main body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights.

The government is strengthening its IP laws in preparation for membership of the EU and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Existing legislation provides a basic level of protection, but civil and criminal enforcement remains weak.

Payment terms

The preferred payment terms in Bosnia and Herzegovina are documentary collections and letters of credit. The safest method is cash in advance, or an irrevocable letter of credit as a minimum.

Business customs

Business customs in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a mix of old socialist-style habits and newly-acquired business practices. However, the business culture is changing as the market is opening up. This change, most obvious in the largest business and industrial centres, has introduced new management, language, IT skills, as well as Western-style business practices. Most of today’s managers are fluent in English and are completely computer-literate.

The exchange of business cards is a common practice. While most business meetings take place in a formal setting, it is not unusual to discuss business over coffee or lunch. Local companies prefer to do business with people they know well. Business friendships are highly valued. Establishing a local presence and employing locals signal a long-term commitment to the market, and such practices are well received.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.