Bulgarian Immigration Lawyer
Frequently Asked Questions
There are 2 basic types of visas for Bulgaria:
• visa for Bulgaria Type C (tourist visa) – allows you to visit Bulgaria but does not allow you to apply for residency. NOTE: For this type of visa you need to have an invitation from a local host in Bulgaria!
• visa for Bulgaria Type D – allows you to apply for a Bulgarian residency permit. You can find most common legal grounds for this type of visa HERE.
Visa for Bulgaria
Citizens of some countries can enter Bulgaria without visa and stay freely for 90 cumulative days every 6 months starting from first entry. There is 2 basic type of visa for Bulgaria:
1) Bulgarian Visa Type C – short term stay for citizens of countries who are not allowed to enter Bulgaria without a visa. The stay is limited by the visa and they cannot apply for residency after the visa expires.
2) Bulgarian Visa Type D – long term stay. The visa is valid for 180 days and it allows the citizen to apply for residency permit.
Here are some visa tips:
a. Applicant MUST apply at the Bulgarian Consulate in the country of his PERMANENT residency (i.e. in his HOME country).
b. The Bulgarian Visa Type D will be issued by the Bulgarian Consulate in the applicant’s home country within a period of 45 business days after the application is filed.
c. Upon receiving the visa for Bulgaria Type D from the Consulate, the applicant is now free to enter Bulgaria. The visa for Bulgaria Type D will be activated with an immigration entry stamp upon his arrival in Bulgaria.
Note: The visa for Bulgaria Type D is valid for 180 days from the date of issue from the Bulgarian Diplomatic or Consular Mission.
Bulgarian residency permit
The holder of a valid visa for Bulgaria type D can apply for residency permit not later than 14 days before its expiration or 14 days before expiration of the visa for Bulgaria type D.
The residency permit can be:
1. Continuous (renewed each year):
- up to 6 months;
- up to 1 year.
2. Long term – up to 5 years (it is EU residency also)
- after accomplishing 5 years of continuous permit
3. Permanent (not limited in time, but is valid for Bulgaria only, not applicable to EU)
- after accomplishing 5 years of continuous permit
- in other specific cases
Here are some residency tips:
a. In order to receive long term residency status, it is required that a person not to have been absent from Bulgaria more than 30 months total during the 5 year period.
b. In order to maintain long term or permanent residency status, it is required that a person not to be absent from EU more than 12 consecutive months.
c. After 5 years of permanent or long term residency the foreigner is eligible to apply for Bulgarian citizenship. The procedure takes about 2 years.
Overstay in Bulgaria
Citizens of certain countries need a visa for Bulgaria or Schengen visa to enter Bulgaria.
You can see the status of each country here:
Citizens of other countries are allowed to stay in Bulgaria without visa for a limited number of days.
For a longer period every foreigner need to have a visa or residency permit (after expiration of the visa).
If the foreigner stays in the country for more than he is allowed there is a fine of up to 5,000 BGN and he will not be allowed to enter Bulgaria for the next 6 months.
How can they catch you?
1. A routine passport check by a Police officer at the street.
2. Passport control at the border when leave Bulgaria
NOTE: Overstaying might affect your future visa application for every EU country!
Address registration in Bulgaria
Every foreigner (including children) is obliged to register at the local Police department within 3 days after his arrival in Bulgaria.In case he stays at a hotel – the hotel administration is obliged to register him.
In case he stays at a person – the foreigner and the hosting person are obliged to fill out and sign a registration card at the local Police department within 3 days after the arrival in Bulgaria.
The fine can be up to 2,000 Levs per person for both, the foreigner and the hosting person/hotel.
Every Police officer has the right to stop you for a routine check at the street and then you need to present him both, your passport and the address card.
Carrying your ID in Bulgaria
Every foreigner is obliged to carry his passport (or Bulgarian residency permit if have such) with him while stay in Bulgaria.
Every Police office has the right to stop you for a routine check at the street and then you need to present him both, your passport and the address card.
In case you do not have a valid passport he has the right to arrest you for up to 48 hours in order the police to identify you.
NOTE: You need to carry your passport (or Bulgarian residency permit if have such), not a copy of it and not any other type of ID.
Real estate in Bulgaria
Foreigners do not need to have a Bulgarian visa or Bulgarian residency in order to purchase a real estate in Bulgaria.
Real estates in Bulgaria can be buildings and land. Foreigners cannot own land in Bulgaria. If they want to buy land in Bulgaria they can form a Bulgarian legal entity – a company or an NGO in most cases, so it owns the land and the foreigner owns the entity.
- Real estate agencies in Bulgaria are not legally responsible for the deal. If there is a fraud connected with the purchase/lease or the property they do not have any responsibility and you have to defend your rights at the Bulgarian court.
- The general rule is – owner of the land is the owner of the building. When buy a building make sure you are buying the land under it.
- When buying a property make sure there is no mortgage against it or there is no court trials for ownership. The real estate agents are not responsible for this, so better hire an attorney.
- If you buy land with intention of building, make sure it will be allowed for this specific plot. For a number of reasons you will not be allowed to build on certain plots.
- When lease a property, make sure the lessor is authorised to lease it to you.
Car purchase in Bulgaria
Foreigners are allowed to own a car in Bulgaria only if they have a valid residency permit for Bulgaria. They receive special blue license plates from the Traffic police for their vehicles. They are time limited and expire when the validity of residency permit of the owner expires.There are 2 methods of a car purchase in Bulgaria:
1. Via invoice issued by the seller – in case the seller is a trade company.
2. Via Notary deed – in any other case.
After you purchase the vehicle you are obliged:
- to register it at the local Traffic Police department not later than 15 days after the date of purchase;
- to register it at the local Tax office not later than 2 months after the date of purchase.
In order to drive the vehicle:- you need to have a valid driver’s license for Bulgaria- you need to have a valid passport (or Bulgarian residency permit if have such)
- the car needs to have a certificate for annual technical inspection which is good for 1 year. The first inspection is done by the Traffic police when you register the car. Any consecutive inspection can be done at certified inspection shop of your choice. If the car is inspected, you need to have a card certifying this in your car and a silver sticker at the left bottom corner of your windshield.
- The car needs to have the 3rd person limited liability Insurance – it is valid for 1 year from the date of purchase of the Insurance policy and you should have the policy in your car plus a green sticker at the left bottom corner of your windshield. If you drive the car out of Bulgaria you need to purchase an additional insurance, called a Green card.
- If you plan to drive the car out of the city – you need to purchase a Vignette (form any gas station or Post office) and stick it at the right bottom corner of your windshield – it can be valid for 1 week, 1 month or for 1 calendar year according to your choice and need.
- It is recommended to have a full coverage insurance for your car, but you are not required to have it in order to drive the car in Bulgaria.
- You need to have the small car title in order to be authorised to drive the car in Bulgaria.
- In case you are not the owner of the car – you need to have a Notarised power of attorney from the owner for driving the car out of Bulgaria.
- The traffic police officer can only stop you by the means of a Police baton. He lifts it up first and then appoints you the spot where you should stop your vehicle. In case you do not stop they can take your driver’s license for 6 months.
- There are static and mobile cameras all over Bulgaria. They mail the picture to the owner of the vehicle and he has 14 days to report who has been driving the vehicle in case it was not him. If not, the owner is responsible.
- Offering bribe is the same crime as receiving a bribe by an officer – 6 years imprisonment.
- When the Police officer stops you for a violation of a traffic rules he can give you 2 types of documents:
1) Ticket – you are obliged to pay it not later than 14 days at the Local municipality according you address registration;
2) Administrative act – in this case after about 1 month the local traffic police department (according to your address registration) should issue a sanction decree, which will determine the fine and sanction determined by the chief officer. You can appeal it at the local district court not later than 7 days after you receive it. In case you appeal it – it does not come into power until final court decision.The Police officer may arrest you in case there are elements of crime.
With recent changes in the Law the Police has the right to remove your vehicle's license plates at the spot in the following cases:
- driving without a valid driver's license according the Bulgarian Law
- driving when alcohol in your blood exceeds 0,5 ‰
- driving after usage of narcotic substances
- refusal of testing for narcotic substances or alcohol
Not every driver’s license is valid for Bulgaria.
In order to be valid it has to correspond one of the following conditions:
- issued by an EU country;
- issued by a country signed and ratified the Vienna Convention on the road traffic from 1968;
In any other case the driver will be considered illegally driving in Bulgaria with he following consequences:
2. Imprisonment (for being caught for second time)
3. The driver is liable unlimited for damages to 3rd persons and objects
4. The Insurance company may refuse to pay regardless of the fact you have full coverage Insurance Policy. If the driver does not have a valid driver’s license – it makes the policy invalid.
5. Remove the licence plates from the car you are caught driving.
In case you want to have a Bulgarian driver’s license (for a person at least 18 years old) you need to accomplish the following steps:
1. Obtain Bulgarian residency permit.
2. Legalise your High school diploma for Bulgaria;
3. Get a Certificate for validation of your High school diploma from the Bulgarian ministry of Education.
4. Obtain a medical exam.
5. Enrol to a driving course.
6. Pass the course.
7. Pass the written exam.
8. Pass the driving exam.
9. Pass the first aid exam.
10. Obtain a Bulgarian driver’s license.
In case you have a valid driving license, issued issued by a country signed and ratified the Vienna Convention on the road traffic from 1968 then you can switch it to Bulgarian after accomplishing some administrative requirements.
Company formation in Bulgaria
Every foreigner can form a Bulgarian company, regardless of the fact having or not a Bulgarian visa or Bulgarian residency permit.
The most common type of a commercial company is Ltd.
The minimal founding capital is 2 BGN.
The owners can be 1 or more persons.
It has to have an address in Bulgaria.
The registration normally takes 1 week.
There is a 10% flat income tax (paid for the profit only) for every commercial company, regardless of the amount of the profit.
The company is obliged to be VAT registered only if reached gross turnover of 50,000 Leva during 1 calendar year. In other case VAT registration is a matter of choice.
The VAT tax reports are to be filed by the 15 of each month for the previous month.
Annual Tax Returns
Every Bulgarian company is obliged to submit annual tax returns by March 31 for the previous calendar year, even if there is no activity.
Every Bulgarian company is obliged to submit Annual Financial report by June 30 for the previous calendar year, even if there is no activity.