For those who want to live and work in Bulgaria there is a lot of red tape that must first be navigated. Immigrating to Bulgaria, obtaining residence or a work permit requires mainly patience and a good level of understanding of all the procedures involved.
This article covers the basics and should point you in the right direction to begin immigration or visa proceedings.
To travel to Bulgaria for a holiday or a brief sojourn around some hot property projects for example you don’t necessarily have to have any particular visa type...it basically depends on the country you herald from and the validity of your passport. Again, depending on your home country you can remain for either 30 or 90 days in a six month period.
If you’re from Australia or New Zealand, Canada or America, The UK or Ireland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland, The Vatican or Andorra you can travel to Bulgaria and remain for up to 30 days in any one six month period. You must have a passport valid for the duration of your intended stay
If you’re from Austria or Germany, France or Belgium, Greece or Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway or Sweden, Spain, Italy or Portugal, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Latvia or Chile you can visit Bulgaria for up to 90 days in any one six month period if you have a passport that’s valid for the entire duration of your visit. If you come from any other country you should apply to the Bulgarian consulate or embassy in your country or nearest to your country.
Staying in Bulgaria
If you want to stay on in Bulgaria past your visitor visa duration then the first step is to apply for a long stay visa known as ‘type D’ from the Bulgarian embassy in your originating country. The cost of this varies depending on where you come from with example costs USD25 for US citizens and GBP44 for UK citizens. You can either download the forms you need to fill in or ask the embassy to post them to you. You must complete the form and send it off together with two photographs, a reason for your application, proof that you can support yourself financially and that you have accommodation when you arrive in Bulgaria. When you get your type D back this will allow you to travel to Bulgaria and remain for up to six months; once you arrive you can’t actually leave for three months, and this is the first stepping stone for anyone thinking of immigrating to Bulgaria or getting more permanent residence status.
With your type D visa safely in hand you can now apply to the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs for residency. You can either apply for temporary residence for up to one year or permanent residence. For the former you have to have proof that you can financially support yourself, you must be making regular contributions to the social security system and have both a place to live and complete and private medical insurance.
You may then be given permission to remain in Bulgaria for up to one year if you have both a work permit and a guaranteed full time contract or you have a company in Bulgaria that employs at least ten local people. Alternatively this permission can be granted if you’re about to start studying in the country or are married either to a citizen of the country or another foreigner who has permanent residence already, alternatively if you’re the parents of such a person and you are independently financially secure you may be granted permission. If you’re a retired person and financially secure you can be granted a one year residency permit, if you have to have hospital treatment in Bulgaria and can afford to pay for it or if you’re coming to be self employed and the Ministry of Labour have granted you permission.
Getting permanent residency in Bulgaria is another story altogether! You may be granted permission to remain in the country indefinitely if you’re married to a Bulgarian and have already lived in the country for two years. Alternatively if you’ve been applying year in year out for your one year residency and this has been going on now for five years then you can apply to remain full time. If you’re originally of Bulgarian descent or a child of a Bulgarian or foreign citizen who already has permanent residence then you may be granted an indefinite stay. Of course, if you simply have about a quarter of a million US dollars to invest in Bulgaria then your application will probably be viewed very favourably!
If you want to work for a living in Bulgaria you have to have a work permit in addition to your type D visa or residence permit and this cannot be granted if you’re in Bulgaria, you have to get it before you go to the country, and again, you can get it from the Bulgarian embassy in your originating country.