Written by: Olivera Tolimir

There are many reasons to ask for Serbian citizenship. People of Serbian origin who were born and raised abroad sometimes ask for it out of patriotism. Some people marry a Serb, move to Serbia, and then decide to apply for the papers. Those who come to Serbia for work often fall in love with the country and decide to stay forever.

But what do all these situations have in common?

All these people have to meet certain criteria to get Serbian citizenship. One of the main conditions (as in most other countries) is to speak Serbian.

Have you ever wondered if you can get a Serbian passport without knowing a word of Serbian? The answer is – yes! The only problem? You have to be an international star!

If say, a Hollywood star shows tremendous love for Serbia, Serbian politicians can’t wait to award them with citizenship! It doesn’t matter if they can’t speak Serbian or have any Serbian roots.

We won’t discuss if this move from our politicians makes any sense. We also won’t mention that a Hollywood star doesn’t benefit much from a Serbian passport. Instead, let’s have fun and see a list of the most unexpected people with Serbian citizenship!

Serbian passport and dinars at the table.
(Is having money and being famous enough for being granted citizenship?)
Is having money and being famous enough for being granted citizenship?

Steven Seagal

Steven Seagal and 5 More Famous People with a Serbian Citizenship (Who Don't Even Speak Serbian!) | Belgrade Language School |
Steven Seagal
Creator: Newspix | Credit: Newspix via Getty Images
Copyright: 2019 Newspix | Photo by Brett Costello

As he’s the one we mentioned in the title, let’s start with Steven Seagal. The Aikido master got Serbian citizenship in 2016. During the same visit, he performed with his blues band, taught a class to Serbian special forces, and declared he’d like to open an Aikido school in Serbia.

As much as we’re informed, he’s yet to fulfill his promise about opening such a school in Serbia.

Like most stars from the list, Seagal doesn’t speak Serbian. But he claims to feel Serbia is his homeland.

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes
Ralph Fiennes
Creator: Theo Wargo 
Copyright: 2022 Getty Images

Serbia’s culture ministry granted Serbian citizenship to the British actor and director in 2017. Ralph Fiennes never applied for citizenship. It’s an honorary citizenship for all the projects he previously had in Serbia.

Fiennes filmed the movie Coriolan in Serbia in 2011, as well as The White Crow. The White Crow is a biographical drama about the life and career of ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev.

Johnny Depp

Johhny Depp
Johhny Depp
Creator: Srdjan Stevanovic | Credit: Getty Images
Copyright: 2021 Getty Images

Johnny Depp is another Hollywood actor with Serbian citizenship. He got it two months before the trial between him and his ex-wife Amber Heard started.

Depp was granted Serbian citizenship for similar reasons as our favorite Harry Potter villain. Serbian politicians made this decision based on his work in Serbia.

Namely, Johnny Depp was granted the honor for his role as an animated puffin in the Serbian series Puffins Impossible. Depp joked he was scared when receiving praise and documents from the Serbian president. 

We’re unsure why he was afraid, but we’re also not sure if a role in a series is a good enough reason to get a country’s citizenship. Oh, well.

John Challis

John Challis
John Challis
©Tim Scrivener Photographer 07850 303986
Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Copyright: Credit: Tim Scrivener / Alamy Stock Photo

Only Fools and Horses is one of the most popular TV shows for older generations in Serbia. It’s widely loved, and even some millennials still use the catchphrases from the show.

Considering all that, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the famous Boyce was adored in our country!

Challis reciprocated the love. He used to write nice things about Serbia on social media and came to Belgrade to film a documentary. After his death, Belgrade’s mayor announced that a street in Belgrade would carry his name.

John Challis was granted Serbian citizenship shortly before the end of his life. He also applied for a passport.

While he also didn’t speak Serbian or felt like a Serb, we can say John Challis certainly deserved the honor. He’ll always be remembered and cherished among the Serbian people.

Adriana Lima

Adriana Lima
Adriana Lima
Creator: Marc Piasecki | Credit: Getty Images
Copyright: 2021 Getty Images

The model Adriana Lima is famous in Serbia for being married (and divorced) to Serbian basketball player Marko Jaric. She was often referred to as srpska snajka (a Serbian daughter-in-law).

Contrary to all previous stars, she was supposed to get Serbian citizenship for the usual reasons. By the usual, we mean – she was married to a Serbian citizen. And she actually knew how to speak Serbian, at least a bit.

But before the process was finished, Lima and Jaric divorced. So, unfortunately, she never really got the Serbian passport.

Arnaud Gouillon

Maybe you haven’t heard about Arnaud Gouillon. Or maybe you have. He doesn’t belong to the previous group for two reasons.

First, he’s an engineer, not a famous actor or model. So, the main reason for getting Serbian citizenship isn’t that he was famous, and then did something related to Serbia. He became famous in Serbia for showing love for our country at every step.

Gouillon is of French origin. He was born and raised in France, growing up hearing about the Serbian-French friendship during the two world wars.

At the age of nineteen, he founded the humanitarian organization Solidarity for Kosovo. The organization’s main goal was to help Serbs and other minorities living in enclaves in Kosovo and Metohija.

He renovated more than thirty schools, helped hundreds of children travel to the seaside for the first time, and helped with the work of a few hospitals. Three years ago, he started working as an Acting Director of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the region.

The second thing that separates him from the stars with Serbian citizenship – he can actively speak Serbian.

However, in the last few years, there have been some accusations about his agenda being anti-immigrant. We chose to mention him nevertheless for being an example of a foreigner falling in love with Serbia, and deserving citizenship for working on its issues. He’s also married to a Serbian.

Serbian Citizenship: Should You Speak Serbian or Simpy Declare Love for the Country?

Who do you think deserved Serbian citizenship the most? Should knowing to speak Serbian be necessary for the passport? Is being famous and declaring love for a foreign country enough for being granted citizenship?

If you aren’t famous but want to get Serbian citizenship, the only way is to learn to speak Serbian! Choose one of our great teachers and book your first individual lesson!