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Bulgaria - Immigration, Residency & Documentation
Before you move permanently, you may wish to visit Bulgaria for short periods to assess its suitability, search for property and so on. These short visits (of up to 30 or 90 days, depending on your home country) require a valid passport but no visa for citizens of the following countries:
Up to 30 days:
Andorra, Australia, Canada, Estonia, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, USA, The Vatican
Austria, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden
To move permanently to Bulgaria, you will need a type D long-stay visa, which you must apply for through the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your home country.
For US citizens, the visa is free of charge, though there is a $25 processing fee.
For UK citizens, the visa costs GBP44 (GBP), comprising a GBP30 visa charge plus GBP14 admin fee (non-refundable). Contact the appropriate Bulgarian embassy for the application forms or download them from their website. For the type D visa, you need:
- Two completed application forms for a Short Entry Visa
- Two recent photos
- Originals of documents giving the reasons for your application
- Proof of your means of financial support (savings/employment contract, etc.)
- Proof that you have suitable accommodation arranged
The type D visa is for single entry only, valid up to 6 months - it is issued to people intending to apply for a long-term or permanent residence permit in Bulgaria.
Once you have the D visa, be aware that you cannot leave Bulgaria for 3 months.
Amended March 2007 by Iva:
D type visa is the visa which people get if they want to reside permanently in Bulgaria. All the information is correct. The only thing is that when people get the D-type visa and go to Bulgaria they need to apply for ID card in the regional directorate (police station) and wait to be done within the 3 months. After they have the ID card they will be able to leave the country and come back again without a visa. The ID card is renewable on 6 or 12 month basis.
Amended Sept 2010 by Bill:
One item to add. If you are married to a Bulgarian citizen and are applying for the either the short-term or long-term residence/work permit on the basis of being married, then you do not need to apply for a D-visa. You only need to apply at the appropriate immigration office (48 Maria Louisa Blvd. in Sofia).
The D-visa is ONLY for residence based on work.
Adequate medical insurance is a condition of visa approval and you cannot enter Bulgaria without it. When you arrive, you must have insurance to cover emergency medical expenses, repatriation, transporting mortal remains, funeral and hospitalisation, amounting to at least $5000 and valid for the duration of your planned stay. If you have this already, you should submit a copy of the policy with your visa application. If you are contacted by the embassy to tell you your visa will be granted, you should then organise medical cover and submit a copy of the policy or letter from the insurer so that the visa can be issued.
Having entered Bulgaria on a Long-Stay visa, you must then contact the Ministry of Internal Affairs to apply for a long-term or a permanent residence permit.
Providing you have the means to support yourself, have made social security payments and have accommodation and medical insurance arranged, a permit for up to 1 year may be granted if you:
- Have a work permit to take up full-time employment
- Have a business in Bulgaria with vacancies for at least 10 Bulgarian citizens
- Are starting a full-time course at a Bulgarian educational institution
- Are married to a Bulgarian citizen or to a foreigner who is a permanent resident
- Are the financially secure parents of foreign permanent residents
- Have been admitted for long-term hospital treatment in Bulgaria, with the means to pay for treatment and support yourself
- Are retired, with sufficient means to support yourself
- Have a permit from the Ministry of Labour to be self-employed in Bulgaria
Residence permits for an indefinite length of time may be issued if you:
- Have lived in Bulgaria permanently for 2 years, after marrying a Bulgarian
- Have lived there legally for 5 years
- Are of Bulgarian ethnic origin
- Are the child of a Bulgarian citizen or a foreigner with permanent residence
- Have invested over 250,000 USD in the country (or other contributions to the country, see website for details)
Informing the authorities
According to Bulgarian immigration law, you must inform the relevant authorities (normally the local police station) of your whereabouts, in writing, within 48 hours of arrival in the country, giving address details.
If you are staying in private accommodation, ask your host to register on your behalf (for anyone staying in hotels initially, hotel management will do this automatically).
Those intending to work in Bulgaria must have a work permit (as well as a residence permit). These permits must be obtained before you arrive, you cannot stay in Bulgaria while a work permit is being processed. If you bring dependent family members with you, they do not have the right to work in Bulgaria. This info has been amended below:
Added March 2007 by Iva: People ARE able to go to Bulgaria and work there if they have business visa made in the Consulate in London with invitation which is stamped and signed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. After they get to Bulgaria they will be able to apply for work permit and wait to be done for them while they are there.If their dependant or relative is on the business invitation they will be able to work as the main applicant.
Please note that the information I am giving you is only about UK citizens who applied for their visa at the Consulate in London.
More info can be found at: www.bulgarianvisas.com
For more information, contact the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your home country. The websites for US and UK citizens are:
Added 13/11/05 by Diana - Having been through the visa application process at the Bulgarian embassy and the permit application process in Bulgaria, it is very important that people know that the papers they present to the embassy must be legalised (e.g. birth certificates, financial/pension papers) prior to presentation or the embassy will not accept them. In the UK this is done at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office at Admiralty Arch in London for UK citizens, costs GBP19 per document and requires no appointment to attend as they have a ticket system. Some of the papers such as copies or statements relating to pensions etc will have to be countersigned by a solicitor as a true document before presentation for the apostile (legalisaton document) takes place. This information is not on the Bulgarian Embassy website and I found out by chance when speaking to someone in the British Embassy in Sofia! Otherwise the appointment and the trip to the embassy are a waste of time. They do accept Bulgarian documents relating to property here, company and banks. Hope this saves someone time and trouble.
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