Rivermate | Bosnia and Herzegovina flag

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Freelancing and Independent Contracting

Understand the distinctions and regulations for freelancers in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Difference employees and contractors

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), there are distinct legal implications for employees and independent contractors. The key factors that determine whether someone is considered an employee or an independent contractor in BiH include control, integration, and benefits.


Employers have significant control over employees' work schedules, methods, and tools. In contrast, contractors have greater autonomy in how they perform their tasks.


Employees are an integral part of the company's operations, while contractors provide specific services without being directly integrated into the company structure.


Employers typically provide benefits like paid leave, health insurance, and social security contributions for employees. Contractors, however, are generally responsible for their own benefits.

BiH labor law, specifically the Law on Labor Relations, governs employment relationships. Independent contractors, on the other hand, operate under service contracts governed by BiH civil law, with the Law on Obligations providing the legal framework.

Key Distinctions

There are several key legal distinctions between employees and independent contractors in BiH:

Social Security and Insurance

Employers are responsible for deducting and paying social security and health insurance contributions for their employees. Contractors are generally responsible for their own contributions.


Both employees and contractors pay income tax. However, employers withhold income tax from employee salaries, while contractors are responsible for filing their own tax returns.


Termination procedures differ for employees and contractors. BiH labor law dictates specific reasons and procedures for employee dismissal, while termination of service contracts is governed by the specific terms of the agreement.


Employees are generally entitled to benefits like paid leave and Christmas bonuses, which are not mandated for contractors.

Independent contracting

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), independent contracting is often referred to as "service provision". This flexible work arrangement is beneficial for both businesses and skilled individuals. However, to navigate this path successfully, it's crucial to understand contract structures, negotiation practices, and the industries where independent contracting is prevalent.

Contract Structures

Service contracts are the foundation of independent contracting in BiH. These contracts should clearly outline the scope of work, which includes a detailed description of the services to be provided, deliverables, and timelines. They should also specify the compensation, which could be a fixed price, hourly rate, or performance-based. The duration of the contract and the terms for termination by either party should also be clearly stated. It's advisable to consult with a lawyer specializing in BiH contract law to ensure the agreement adheres to legal requirements.

Negotiation Practices

Negotiating a service contract in BiH involves open communication and clear expectations. Key points to consider include researching the standard rates for similar services in BiH to establish a fair baseline for negotiation. Clear payment terms, including timelines and methods of payment, should be negotiated. A process for handling any modifications to the scope of work and their impact on fees should be outlined. A mechanism for resolving any disagreements that may arise during the contract should also be established. A well-negotiated contract protects both the business and the contractor.

Common Industries for Independent Contracting

Several industries in BiH commonly utilize independent contractors. The Information Technology (IT) sector is growing in BiH, with businesses seeking independent contractors for web development, software engineering, and IT support. The creative industries also offer opportunities for designers, writers, translators, and other creative professionals as independent contractors. Businesses may engage independent consultants for specialized expertise in areas like marketing, finance, or human resources. The rise of online platforms has further facilitated independent contracting across various industries in BiH.

Intellectual property rights

Freelancing and independent contracting in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) offer a wealth of opportunities, but the ownership of intellectual property (IP) created during such work requires careful consideration. Understanding the key points of IP rights is crucial for freelancers and contractors.

Default Ownership

BiH adheres to the "author first" principle for copyright ownership. This means the freelancer, as the creator of the original work, is the default owner of the copyright unless otherwise agreed upon in a contract. This applies to various creative outputs, including written works (articles, code, reports), artistic works (designs, photographs, illustrations), and software.

Contractual Override

The "author first" principle can be overridden by a well-drafted service contract. Businesses can negotiate to acquire ownership or specific usage rights to the IP created by the freelancer. This is crucial for situations where the work product is integral to the company's operations or future endeavors.

The contract should clearly outline the ownership of IP, which includes who owns the copyright and other relevant intellectual property rights (e.g., trademarks, patents) associated with the work. It should also specify the license grant, which is the extent to which the business can use the freelancer's work (e.g., exclusive or non-exclusive license). Lastly, it should detail any additional compensation for assigning ownership or granting usage rights.

Importance of Clear Agreements

Freelancers should avoid ambiguous contracts that leave IP ownership unspecified. A clear agreement protects them from losing control over their creations and ensures fair compensation for surrendering ownership rights. Consulting with a lawyer specializing in IP law is highly recommended for both freelancers and businesses to navigate these complexities effectively.

By understanding these considerations, freelancers and independent contractors in BiH can safeguard their intellectual property rights and ensure a successful working relationship with clients.

Tax and insurance

Freelancing in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) comes with specific tax responsibilities and considerations for social security.

Tax Obligations

Freelancers in BiH are responsible for paying several taxes:

  • Personal Income Tax: A flat rate of 10% applies to all income earned. Freelancers are responsible for filing tax returns and paying taxes owed by the end of the year.

  • Value Added Tax (VAT): VAT registration is mandatory for freelancers with a gross annual income exceeding 50,000 BAM (approximately EUR 25,000). VAT registered freelancers must collect and pay VAT on their services following established regulations.

Exceptions to VAT registration may apply depending on the specific services offered. Consulting a tax professional is recommended for clarification.

Social Security Options

Freelancers are responsible for managing their own social security coverage in BiH.

Here are the key options:

  • Voluntary Social Security Contributions: Freelancers can voluntarily contribute to the social security system for pension and disability insurance (17%) and health insurance (12.5%). These contributions can be made through authorized banks and ensure social security benefits upon retirement or disability.

  • Professional Associations: Some professional associations in BiH offer social security coverage options for their members. Membership fees may encompass contributions towards pension and health insurance.

While not mandatory, social security contributions are highly recommended for freelancers to secure social safety nets in BiH.

Insurance Options

Beyond social security, freelancers may consider additional insurance options for peace of mind:

  • Health Insurance Supplement: Voluntary health insurance supplements can provide broader healthcare coverage beyond the basic benefits offered by social security.

  • Professional Liability Insurance: This type of insurance protects freelancers from financial losses arising from negligence or errors made while performing their services.

Consulting with a tax advisor and insurance professional can help freelancers determine the most suitable options for their specific circumstances and income level.

Rivermate | A 3d rendering of earth

Hire your employees globally with confidence

We're here to help you on your global hiring journey.