How to move to Bulgaria for the UK citizens

Getting a residency permit as a student, self-employed, or worker if you are from the United Kingdom

In collaboration with EuroBrits Bulgaria, edited by Gabriella Permaul

On 31 January 2020, the UK left the European Union (EU). This means that UK nationals are no longer EU citizens. The situation, and the rights, of UK nationals living in Bulgaria, has changed. On that date – 31 January 2020 – what is called a “transition period” started which will last until 31 December 2020.

In July 2020, a new law was passed by the Bulgarian Parliament making the Withdrawal Agreement part of Bulgarian law. This new law did not alter UK nationals’ existing obligation to register their residence but it created a new document specifically for those UK nationals who move to Bulgaria before 31 December 2020. All UK nationals who move to Bulgaria before the end of 2020 should obtain a long-term residence permit of a national of the United Kingdom, Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Razreshenie za prodalgitelno prebivavane na grazhdanin na Obedinenoto kralstvo, Velikobritania I Severna Irlandia – Разрешение за продължително пребиваване на гражданин на Обединеното кралство Великобритания и Северна Ирландия (Обединеното кралство).

Information on how to obtain this new permit can be found here: 

Entry and residence in the Republic of Bulgaria after Brexit and Living in Bulgaria.

Carol Dodsley, creator of Facebook community Living in Bulgaria, shares her experience about getting a residency permit in Mezdra

Everything is basically the same as it has always been. The one thing that varies is what each office asks for as proof of income/finances for those who are self-funded. It could be a bank card, a bank statement, or a notarised declaration. 

If the card does not expire until after December 2021 some offices only ask to see the passport and current card, which they then exchange and give the same expiry date. Other offices are asking people to do the full renewal process with copies and originals of all required documents and giving longer expiry dates. Two index fingerprints required. For permanent residency permits - only passport, current card (and in some offices notary act/notarised rental agreement) are needed.

That is the same whether asking now for permanent status or renewing or exchanging a permanent residence card. It is important for people to understand if they are not living here full-time/permanently, only want to be able to come each year for long periods or are only here for several years, then they should specifically tell the immigration office they do not want a permanent residence permit (because that affects their status in their home country).

Dania Al-Tamimi, a student at Medical University Sofia, shares her experience of getting a student permit in Sofia

There are two cards that they should give you. One temporary card which costs approximately 10 BGN, and a final card which is approximately 20 BGN or approximately 40 BGN depending on whether you want your card sooner or later (within a couple of days or in a month). This application form that you can get at the Immigration Office will require the following documents:

1a) Proof of address - a copy of the full rental agreement (every page) 

1b) Letter of Declaration from your landlord (notarised)

2. Letter from University confirming enrolment at University (Dean's Office - they should provide this within 1-2 days)

3. Bulgarian bank card photocopied

4. Photocopy of the British passport 

5. Photocopy of EHIC card (European Health Insurance card)

You will be given the FORM for you to fill out and LETTER OF DECLARATION FORM for your landlord to fill out.

Locations: Police station - 48 Boulevard Maria Luisa, Sofia 1202

Photocopy shop - few doors from the police station (cheapest) she speaks mainly in Bulgarian but she will know what you want once you show her your things - this costs only a few BGN too.

James More, a resident in Gabrovo, talks about his experience with the residency permit renewal

We managed to get our long-term residency cards renewed without too much trouble.

On our first visit we went with a guy that helps people doing their papers, he comes well recommended within the "Ex-pat" community.

The papers we were told to bring were:

  1. Passports (and a copy of).
  2. Original residency cards and the white cardboard one;
  3. A verified bank statement showing that we each had 2000 lv. At the bank, we were told to ask for them in order to give to our accountants otherwise some banks charge up to 40 BGN each;
  4. Health insurance. We have joined the Bulgaria health system and we were told we needed a minimum of 6 months cover;
  5. Rental contract or house ownership documents.

All these documents were checked and we then had to fill in a form with our personal details in Bulgarian. This is why it is advisable to take a translator.

We then paid the fee, fast track 36 BGN (1 week), normal 18 BGN (up to 1 month) and were given a receipt and told to return in a week's time.

On our return, everything was checked, again, and we then had our photos taken along with fingerprints of our index fingers.

We were then sent away again to return in a couple of days to collect our new cards and return our old cards along with the white one.

Our new cards are valid up to the time our British passport expires in 5 years time.

The whole process went very smoothly, but could not have been done by ourselves which is why I advise anyone doing it to go with a translator that knows the system.

Our experience is based on the Gabrovo municipality and I know it varies for different areas.

Please note that the personal experiences we share in this article doesn’t guarantee that the Immigration office in your municipality will follow the procedure the same way. Please contact your local immigration office for the latest information and updated procedure requirements.

EuroBrits Bulgaria

The AIRE Centre is being supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office as part of the UK National Support Fund to provide assistance to UK nationals and their family members in Bulgaria who have difficulty in obtaining residence permits on their own. 

Through the EuroBrits Bulgaria project, the AIRE Centre’s lawyers offer free confidential personalised assistance with the application process. You can contact them at [email protected], call them on +359 2906 0713 or visit their website for further information.

Please keep this service in mind for any UK nationals and their family members you may know who are struggling with this process.

The AIRE Centre wants to ensure that all UK nationals in Bulgaria are able to continue enjoying life in Bulgaria without worrying about whether they hold the correct permit or whether their residence status is secure.

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