Residence Permit in Bulgaria - Guide for 2021

Residence Permit in Bulgaria

Updated on Monday 22nd March 2021

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Residence-Permit-in-BulgariaForeign citizens wanting to stay in Bulgaria for more than three months must apply for a Bulgaria residence permit. The main legislation governing the issuance of residence permits for foreign citizens is the Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria Act. The legislation establishes foreigners may apply for one of the three types of Bulgarian residence permits:
  • extended residence permits: these have a maximum validity period of one year; may be used by investors and other interested parties;
  • long-term EU residence permits: these are issued for an initial period of five years and can then be renewed.
  • permanent residence permits: these are granted after a certain time spent lawfully in the country with a valid permit.
  • residence certificates: available for European citizens who stay for more than three months, on a long-term basis for maximum of five years or permanent ones.
Before applying for a Bulgaria residence permit, foreign citizens must first obtain a long-stay visa.
Our team of immigration lawyers in Bulgaria can help foreign nationals apply for a residence permit and handle all of the procedures associated with this application.

What are the types of Bulgaria residence permits?

Bulgarian residence visas are usually issued depending on the status of the applicant. The National Migration Directorate will issue residence visas for foreign employees, freelancers, and retirees. The long-term or extended residence visa has a variable validity period with a maximum period of one year. The long-term EU residence permit has a validity period of five years and can be renewed.
The last type of residence permit is permanent and is the main step to obtain Bulgarian citizenship. In order to apply for a permanent residence permit in 2021, a foreign citizen must first obtain a Bulgarian extended residence permit.
Bulgaria also has an Investment Promotion Act through which foreign investors may apply for a residence permit. Under the Investment Promotion Act, foreign citizens must register a company with the Bulgarian Commercial Register or invest in real estate in order to obtain a residence permit.
Extended residence permits, those issued for up to one year, may be of interest for some investors in Bulgaria, some employees who will work on a project based in the country or for foreigners who are members of the management board of a Bulgarian company. The permit will be issued based on the ability to prove the position or, in the case of employees, based on a previously issued work permit, issued by the Bulgarian Employment Agency.
Our lawyers in Bulgaria can provide foreign nationals with all of the information regarding Bulgaria residence permit and their rights and obligations when holding this permit. In essence, holders of extended residence permits have the same rights and obligations as Bulgarian citizens, meaning that Bulgarian companies can employ them, receive social security and health care insurance. 
Permanent Bulgaria residence permits are issued in the following cases:
  • to foreign nationals of Bulgarian descent;
  • to foreigners who have been married for more than five years to a foreigner who has been living on the country uninterruptedly for five years;
  • minors of foreign nationals with permanent residence in Bulgaria, who are unmarried;
  • family members of a Bulgarian citizen, when they have been living in the country uninterruptedly for five years.
A special type of Bulgaria residence permit in 2021 is offered to investors in Bulgaria. Examples of accepted investments include the following:
  • an investment of one million Bulgarian Leva or more for the purpose of acquiring shares in listed Bulgarian companies or for the acquisition of other securities or rights;
  • an investment of more than six million Bulgarian Leva in the capital of a Bulgarian company that is not listed on the stock exchange. 
For information about the Investment Promotion Act, you can ask our Bulgarian lawyers.

What are the documents required for obtaining a Bulgarian residence permit in 2021?

The National Migration Directorate will require the following documents of applicants for Bulgarian residence permits:
  • a valid passport,
  • proof of self-sufficiency,
  • an insurance policy,
  • details about the applicant’s marital status and members of the family,
The application must be submitted in Bulgarian. For applicants under the Investment Promotion Act, there are additional requirements among which the amount to be invested in Bulgaria.
The application for the long-term residence certificate is submitted by the European citizen with the Migration Directorate, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, three months prior to the first entry in Bulgaria. For this type of application, a seven-day period is granted should be applicant omit certain required documents. When the applicant fails to make the necessary corrections within this time, the application is rejected.  A European citizen can receive a permanent residence certificate if he has been living in the country for an uninterrupted period of five years.
European citizens can obtain a residence certificate in the following cases:
  • they are self-employed in Bulgaria or employed with a locally registered company;
  • they have sufficient financial means to cover medical insurance and other expenses for themselves and their family members, as applicable, without being a burden to the Bulgarian state.
  • they are admitted to a college or university in Bulgaria or follow professional training, have medical insurance and sufficient financial means so that they are not a burden to the social security system.
Our team of immigration lawyers in Bulgaria can provide European nationals with more information about the Bulgaria residence permits at the level of 2021.
Bulgaria is a country that has a stable economy and offers a strategic location in Europe. Moreover, it is attractive to foreign investors because of the low business costs (low corporate tax regime, low employment costs, and other benefits). These particularities make it attractive for some foreign nationals who wish to work, invest or study in the country.
Since its accession to the European Union, Bulgaria has applied the EU Common Visa Policy. Bulgaria is not a member of the Schengen Area yet, but it is trying to meet all the criteria to become a Schengen Area member. However, citizens of Schengen countries are allowed to enter Bulgaria without any visa. Foreign citizens coming from Schengen countries are allowed to stay in Bulgaria for maximum three months within a six months period visa-free. The decision was enforced at the beginning of 2012.

Types of visas in Bulgaria in 2021

If citizens from EU countries may travel to Bulgaria without a visa in 2021, other foreign citizens are required to apply for one of the available types of visas depending on the purpose and the time of their stay. Bulgaria applies the Council Regulation No. 539/2001 with respect to the countries whose citizens are required to apply for a Bulgarian visa and foreign citizens exempt from these requirements.
There are three types of Bulgarian visas for foreign citizens:
  • the A visa, which is for airport transit,
  • the C visa for short stays,
  • the D visa for long stays.
Visa applications for coming to Bulgaria in 2021 must be submitted three months prior to the intended travel. The applicants may submit the forms themselves or appoint an agent or Bulgarian lawyer to handle the procedure.

Requirements when applying for a Bulgarian visa in 2021

Foreign citizens coming to Bulgaria must keep in mind certain aspects of the visa application procedure for 2021. First of all, they must make sure they have a valid passport with at least two blank pages for visa purposes. The passports must have a minimum validity period of three months and must have been issued within the last 10 years.
Other documents to be submitted with the visa application form are:
  • a photocopy of the passport’s first page,
  • a copy of the last Bulgarian or Schengen visa, if applicable,
  • a passport sized colored photo,
  • a medical insurance,
  • proof of transportation and accommodation,
  • proof of self-sufficiency.
According to the National Statistical Institute, the following data is available on residence permits granted to third-country nationals:
  • Family reasons for the stay: 3,240 permits in 2017 and 3,615 permits in 2017;
  • Permits for education and study: 1,067 in 2016 and 1,267 in 2017;
  • Employment and other remunerated activities: 276 permits in 2016 and 1,822 permits in 2017;
  • Other reasons: 3,359 permits in 2016 and 4,254 permits in 2017.
As far as third-country nationals who are holders of long-term or permanent residence permits, the numbers are as follows: 16,205 for 2016 and 31,587 for 2017.
You can contact our law firm in Bulgaria if you need help in obtaining a Bulgaria residence permit.