How temporary residents may become EU long-term residents or permanent residents in Bulgaria

23rd August 2021

Expat Assistance, For private clients, Citizenship and Immigration

The Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria Act (“the Act”) provides for various ways for non-EU nationals to become temporary residents.

The options include:

  • becoming a trade representative of a company registered abroad;
  • becoming a shareholder in a Bulgarian company, in which 10 jobs for Bulgarian citizens have been created;
  • receiving a pension in your home country and relocating to Bulgaria;
  • investing EUR 310,000;
  • being of Bulgarian origin.

Temporary residence is in most cases granted for up to a year and can be renewed annually provided that the qualifying criteria continue to be met.

After 5 years of long-term residence, however, residents may be in a position to benefit from one of two routes:

  1. EU long-term residence
  2. Permanent residence in Bulgaria

EU long-term residence is available to an individual, who:

  • has lived in Bulgaria for more than five years
  • has not been absent for a total period of more than ten months within the five years
  • For whom a single period of absence has not lasted more than six months

Benefits

This entitlement is regulated at the EU level and gives the following entitlements:

  • non-EU nationals who have lived in an EU country for at least five years acquire a permanent and secure residence status in the state in which they have resided;
  • grants these non-EU nationals rights that are similar to those enjoyed by EU citizens, in terms of work, education, social security, access to goods and services;
  • makes it possible for these non-EU nationals to move to other EU countries to work and study.

Qualifying criteria for domestic permanent residence:

  • 5-year continuous residence in Bulgaria;
  • A period of absence of no more than 30 months within the 5-year period.

Benefits

The option allows for people who wish to reside permanently in Bulgaria:

  • to obtain a Permanent Residence status, which will then allow them to work in Bulgaria without a work permit;
  • to apply for Bulgarian citizenship five years after acquiring permanent residence provided that they can demonstrate command of the Bulgarian language and are willing to renounce their current citizenship (Exceptions may apply; those renouncing are free to re-acquire it after if eligible under the original citizenship’s rules).

Procedure

Temporary residents ought to apply at the accredited Migration Department based on their address, however instead of the 2-week processing time typically required for the renewal of temporary residence, to benefit from the options mentioned above applicants need to file 2 months before the expiry date of their residence card. 

A number of documents ought to be presented but generally applicants should be prepared to evidence that they are a person of independent means and they have medical insurance valid on the territory of Bulgaria.

Family members, including spouses, children under the age of 18 and in certain cases dependents may benefit from the status of the Permanent resident/EU long-term resident.

To help you find the best solution for your immigration status, please contact us at [email protected] or via the contact form.