Residence permit

How to become resident in Bulgaria

All foreigners staying in Bulgaria for longer than 30 or 90 days (depending on their nationality) in succession, for any reason, require a residence permit. A residence permit holder’s dependants are normally also granted a permit.

Different types of residence permit are issued according to your status, including:

  • pensioner,
  • employee and
  • freelance professional.

There’s also a permit category for those investing in Bulgaria, but as the minimum investment is US$500,000, it won’t suit everyone!

If you’re a pensioner, you will need to produce evidence that you’re entitled to retirement income and have a bank account in Bulgaria and a Bulgarian address.

To apply for a residence permit, you must first obtain a Type D visa (see our article “Short and long-stay visas”) in your home country and then travel to Bulgaria. Once you arrive in Bulgaria, you should apply for the appropriate residence permit as soon as possible.

The decision takes around seven days and, if you’re successful, your passport will be stamped to show that you’ve been granted a residence permit, so you will be able to leave the country and return when you need to. Note that the requirements for a Type D visa are the same as those for a residence permit – so if you’re successful in obtaining a Type D visa from a Bulgarian embassy or consulate, you should have no trouble obtaining a residence permit in Bulgaria.

Validity and renewal

Residence permits are valid for 12 months and can be renewed towards the end of this period. It’s usually a formality to have a permit renewed, although you will need to have spent at least six months and one day of the 12-month period in Bulgaria. You will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit (valid indefinitely) after five years’ residence in Bulgaria.

The full ‘Law For The Foreigners In The Republic Of Bulgaria’ is available on the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior website (www.mvr.bg/en  – click on ‘Legal Framework’/'Laws and Rules’). Because there are a number of grey areas in Bulgarian immigration law and EU membership will again change the requirements, it’s recommended you talk with a lawyer who is familiar with Bulgarian and EU law about the most appropriate permit to apply for.

This article is an extract from Buying a Home in Bulgaria.
Click here to get a copy now.

Further reading

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