EU citizens can obtain a resident card for short or long term stay in Bulgaria. Here you find information on what to do and our tips.
Eligible for a Rezident Karta:
Foreign citizens can stay in the Republic of Bulgaria
- on a short-term basis – up to 3 months from the date of entry into the country;
- continuously – with a permit for up to 1 year;
- on a long-term basis – with permitted initial term of 5 years that is renewable upon application;
- permanently – with permitted unlimited term.
To obtain a permanent residence permit, foreigners must submit an application to the Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior. The foreign citizen must have secured accommodation, obligatory health insurance, social insurance and sufficient funds to maintainance without recourse to the social assistance system, in an amount not less than the minimal month salary or the minimum pension under the legislation of the Republic of Bulgaria for the period of residence.
The Rezident Karta is only for identification within Bulgaria, it is not valid for travelling outside Bulgaria.
Why would you get the ID card?
For a longer stay in Bulgaria, officially you are obliged to get a Rezident Karta, but there is no checking if you actually have an ID card while you live and work in Bulgaria. This Rezident Karta helps to speed up some other administrative processes you might go through. For your work you do not need one, for renting an apartment, you do not need one, for opening a bank account you do not need one, if the police stop you, you show your foreign ID. But people that wish to register a vehicle or want to make babies in Bulgaria will want to get one.
Important: First you get a 1-year ID, you can get a second 1-year ID and after that – with the right smile and motivation – you can get a 5-year ID card. This is important, because all registrations linked to your Bulgarian ID expire when your ID card expires! For example your car registration papers.
Social Benefits and Pension: People who live and work for a longer period in Bulgaria, will want to link their ID c ard with their social security number. The advantage is, that if you change employer, your social benefits keep accumulating. This link can be made at the local tax office.Ask you HR how and where to do this.
How does it work?
For the registration process you will need to bring proof of your EU citizenship.
You go to the Immigration Office in your town. For Sofia you go to the Immigration Desk in the center of Sofia. The office opens around 8:00 in the morning, early birds can get a swift process.
In this office you will find many booths, you need either of the first two booths on the left. The booths are marked EU/International citizens. There is sort of a number system, but it does not seem to work: you just wait in line. Do not be surprised if other people just walk in while you are there, this can just happen.
Now strange it may seem, but in this most important immigration desk of the country it is hard to find an English speaking employee. The younger looking dark-haired woman speaks a bit of English.
It is important to know that obtaining the Rezident Karta is a two step process. First you receive a white card with your name and some Cyrillic in black letters, that you could make on your own computer. Now why this first card exists is a mystery, it has no legal value, but you need this first card to obtain the second and real Rezident Karta, the one with picture. However the useless first card is a great card to show to the police: they do not know it.
You are asked to show your documents and work statement.
You need to fill out an application form. You are asked to pay the fee and come back to present the receipt. The payment booth you find to your right when entering the building. You pay the fee plus an extra amount for being able to pay. Cost: around BGN 40.
Your registration process starts and you receive a little paper stating when you can come back to collect the first card. With this first card you can immediately apply for the second card. You go through pretty much the same steps as for the first card.
You will be asked to show again all the papers you brought to get the first card. There is no need to bring a picture, they will take your mugshot on the spot. You fill out the necessary paperwork and again you pay around BGN 40 and again you receive a little paper when you can come back to collect.
Take about two weeks for completing the two stages of the process.
With this Bulgarian ID card you can register for example your vehicle. Beware: when you Bulgarian ID card expires, so will your car registration papers!
Someone to come with you
Now because of the language barrier, it is advised to bring someone with you for translating the papers that need to be filled out. Unfortunately Bulgaria has bot yet adapted the registration procedure to EU standards.