Living in Bulgaria for EU citizens – legal regime
December 8, 2015
With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union, new opportunities for development opened up for Bulgarian nationals: to travel, work, study or live in each member- state, and develop their own business.
At the same time, these opportunities have also been provided to all EU nationals wishing to establish themselves in our country. The Bulgarian legislator has established a substantially lighter regime for entry, residence and departure in comparison with the regime that applies to the third-country nationals, and which is in accordance with the European policy in this field.
Currently, the topic on the establishment of EU citizens in the territory of Bulgaria is particularly topical given the growing “influx” of European nationals to our country. According to data from the National Statistical Institute, EU immigrants in Bulgaria are 1442 only for 2014. One of the main reasons for this is the favorable investment climate in Bulgaria contributed by the simplified tax regime (one of the most favourable in the EU), the low-price level of business processes, as well as low prices of real estate. Not without significance is the fact that Bulgaria has signed agreements for the avoidance of double taxation with more than 60 countries.
The periods for which an EU citizen may reside in the territory of Bulgaria are of three types:
- short term – for a period of up to three months – with a valid identity card or a valid passport;
- long-term – for up to 5 years – if a long-term residence certificate is issued;
- permanent – the so-called permanent residence – if a permanent residence certificate is issued;
An EU citizen must follow the procedure for the issue of a long-term residence certificate during the period of his/her initial residence, provided that he/she intends to stay permanently. Such procedure is relatively quick and simple, but the following conditions must be met:
I. Conditions for the issue of a permanent residence certificate
To acquire long-term resident status in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, an EU citizen must meet any of the following conditions:
1. to be a worker or a self-employed person in the Republic of Bulgaria;
2. to have health insurance and the necessary financial means to cover the costs of his/her residence and those of his/her family members, without being a burden on the social assistance system
3. to be enrolled to study at an educational establishment, including vocational training, and to meet the conditions referred to in item 2 above.
II. Necessary documents
The presence of any of the conditions referred to in item I shall be attested by an application form and written evidence enclosed thereto. The whole set of documents shall be deposited with the Migration Directorate – Ministry of Interior, Sofia Directorate of the Ministry of Interior or the regional directorates of the Ministry of Interior within three months from the date of entry of the EU citizen in the Republic of Bulgaria.
In the event that the EU citizen will work in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, the application should be accompanied by:
- a valid identity card or a valid passport /original and copy/ – the original shall be provided by the employee for reference only;
- documents certifying that the person works or is a self-employed person in the country (an employment contract, a letter from an association, union, etc.);
- document certifying payment of the respective state fee.
The conclusion of an employment contract with a citizen of the EU is a procedure that is considerably simpler, in comparison with the employment of foreigners from third countries, since it does not require prior permission by the Employment Agency. Therefore, presentation of any document by the Employment Agency in relation to filing an application for the issue of a permanent residence certificate is not required.
It is useful to be considered that the prior registration of an employment contract in the National Revenue Agency is not a prerequisite for filing an application. However, it is advisable to adhere to the three-day period under Article 63, Paragraph 3 of the Labour Code /LC/ for the registration of the contract in the National Revenue Agency, in order to subsequently avoid further complications when fulfilling this obligation of the employer.
If an EU citizen will not work in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, but has health insurance and the necessary financial means, in addition to a valid national identity document, he/she shall also enclose to the application the respective health insurance policy and a proof of sufficient financial means.
In the event that the applicant is enrolled to study at an educational establishment, including for vocational training, in addition to a health insurance policy and a proof of sufficient financial means, his/her application shall be accompanied by a declaration in which he/she states the existence of such grounds /Declaration under Article 8, §1, item 3 of the Law on Entry into, Residence in and Departure from the Republic of Bulgaria for EU Nationals and Members of their Families /LERDRBEUNMF/.
Although it is not specified in the LERDRBEUNMF, the competent officials require to be submitted evidence along with the application that the EU citizen will reside at a given address in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria /rental contract, notary deed, owner’s consent statement/. Such address shall be indicated in the permanent residence certificate and constitute sufficient grounds for the entry of the EU citizen in the population registers.
Like any administrative service, fees shall be payable /under Tariff No. 4 for Fees Collected by the Ministry of Interior under the State Fees Act/ with regard to the issue of permanent residence certificate as well. In this case, the respective fee is in the amount of BGN 7.00. If the EU citizen states that he/she wishes his/her residence permit to be issued in the form of a plastic card, the same should pay another BGN 18.00 that applies to normal order or BGN 36.00 for quick order /within 3 working days/.
The application and the accompanying documents thereto may be submitted in person by the EU citizen or by a proxy having a power of attorney certified by a notary, who must, however, present the original national identity document of the applicant on the day of submission of the application.
The application shall be reviewed by the competent officials within 24 hours, but the practice shows that the certificate is issued on the next working day following the day of filing. The EU citizen should appear in person before the officials not earlier than such day to obtain the permanent residence certificate, confirm in writing the accuracy of the submitted information, and in view of collecting his/her biometrical data as well.
When the certificate/card is issued, it shall be personally received by the EU citizen or by his/her proxy after the expiry of the time limit for the issue. No power of attorney is required for receipt of the card, if on the day of collection of biometrics the applicant appeared with an accompanying person and he/she explicitly specified that his/her accompanying person would receive the card.
The certificate shall be issued for a period up to 5 years. In the event that a shorter period is permitted, after its expiry the EU citizen may extend its period, provided that he/she submits to the Migration Directorate – Ministry of Interior, Sofia Directorate of the Ministry of Interior or the regional directorates of the Ministry of Interior sufficient evidence that conditions in relation thereto are met.
Applicable regulatory framework: Law on Entry into, Residence in and Departure from the Republic of Bulgaria for EU Nationals and Members of their Families /LERDRBEUNMF/; Bulgarian Identity Documents Act /BIDA/; Regulations on the Issuance of Bulgarian Identity Documents; Tariff No. 4 for Fees Collected by the Ministry of Interior under the State Fees Act; Labour Code /LC/.