To enter Bulgaria, foreign citizens must have a valid travel document issued in their country of citizenship. Foreigners with a Bulgarian Long-term or Permanent Residence Permit are obligated to carry the permit certificate or card as well. Foreigners failing to present these identification documents to the controlling authorities are fined.
Residency in Bulgaria for European and Non-European Citizens
Bulgaria is a member of the European Union. All foreign citizens (EU and non-EU) staying in Bulgaria for longer than 90 days must apply for a residency permit at the National Migration Directorate in Sofia or at the immigration department at their local Police Station. The National Migration Directorate and its local immigration departments in the local Police offices is the authority in charge of issuing, cancelling or extending resident permits in Bulgaria.
Nationals from all EU member states, the USA and Canada and some other countries do not need a visa for a short stay in Bulgaria that does not exceed 90 days. A visa is not required for non-EU citizens who have a residency card issued by an EU member state.
All foreign nationals, EU and non-EU, must apply for a residence permit if they wish to stay in Bulgaria for a period longer than 90 days.
There are two types of residence permit issued to foreigners moving to Bulgaria:
Long-Term Residence Permit: Issued for one year to non-EU citizens and for five years to EU citizens
Permanent Residence Permit: Issued for an indefinite period of time by the National Migration Directorate and its local branches. Applications for Permanent Residence can only be submitted in Bulgaria
Before applying for a residency permit, it is necessary to open a bank account and get a letter from the bank stating that the applicant has an active bank account. There is a small fee for this letter.
Long-Term Resident Permit
EU citizens and nationals of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland:
Applications for a long-term residence permit must be made within 90 days of arrival in Bulgaria at the National Migration Directorate in Sofia or the immigration department of the local Police station of the place of residence.
The following documents are required:
Passport (if the passport expires before the end of the five year period, the residence permit will only be valid until that date)
Property title deeds or rental contract as proof of address
Company registration document or work contract (if applicable)
Proof of health insurance from the former EU country of residence translated into Bulgarian
Proof of financial means if without employment
The application form is in Bulgarian and some English but must be completed in Bulgarian. The following information is required on the form:
Parents’ full names and dates of birth if they are still alive
Children’s full names and dates of birth
Nationality (and any other nationality also held)
Date and place of birth
Number of the person’s national identification document (passport)
Date of issue
Date of expiry
Conditions for residence in Bulgaria (for example, home owner, employment, long-term visa, type D)
A residency tax must be paid at the bank in the immigration office.
The long term residence certificate is issued on the same day. If there are any documents missing, an applicant has seven days in which to find and present documents.
Non-EU family members of EU citizens must apply for a residence permit within 90 days of arrival in Bulgaria. They will also need to provide proof that they are a family member of a European Union citizen. A temporary residence certificate is issued and the long term residence card is issued within three months.
Applications for a long-stay visa must be submitted to Bulgaria’s consular representatives abroad.
A visa is not required for citizens of countries that have concluded a treaty on visa-free entry clearance. Within 90 days of arrival, an application for long-term residence must be submitted to the National Migration Directorate (Дирекция Миграция) or the local Police Department of the place of residence.
A long term residence permit may be issued to non-EU citizens for one of the following reasons:
Foreigners with a work permit
Foreigners involved in commercial activities
Foreigners married to a Bulgarian citizen
To company representatives of a foreign commercial company registered with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
To foreign investors who carry out activities under the Foreign Investment Act
To pensioners who receive a pension with sufficient funds to cover their living costs in Bulgaria
To foreigners in Bulgaria for medical treatment
To family members of a foreigner with a D-type visa
To students in full-time education in licenced establishments
Citizens of Bulgarian descents
Permanent residence permit
Permanent residence permits are issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior.
After five years uninterrupted residency in Bulgaria, an application can be made for permanent residence. This entitles the person to the same rights as a Bulgarian citizen, except the right to vote.
Foreign nationals who have been married to a Bulgarian citizen or to a foreigner with permanent residence in Bulgaria for five years may also apply for permanent residence.
Applications for a Permanent Residence Permit must be done not later than 60 days prior to the expiry of the duration of the Long-Term Residence Permit. The permit is issued within two months after submission of the documents.