Do you need a work permit to work in Bulgaria? What are the conditions to be met to be eligible for a resident permit? Find the answers in this article.
If you intend to work and settle in Bulgaria, it is best to inquire on related conditions and procedures beforehand with the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your home countries. Nationals of some countries may have to request for a work permit and a resident permit while other can be exempt from this requirement.
Foreigners coming from countries outside the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland are authorized to work in Bulgaria only if they hold a work permit. This permit has to be issued by the Bulgarian National Employment Agency and has to be requested by the employer. Note that work permits are only issued to foreign nationals whereby their recruitment is justified.
Indeed, Bulgaria is very selective regarding immigration. Therefore, it promotes the employment of Bulgarian citizens unless the required expertise is not available within the company and locally. The work permit is hence issued to auto-entrepreneurs and foreign employees being transferred to Bulgaria by their company.
The work permit is valid for one year and allows you to work for a single company as it is your employer's responsibility to apply for it. This condition is clearly mentioned on the application form. As regards managers and other officials, they are eligible to a renewal for three more years.
The European Union, European Economic Area and Switzerland nationals do not require a work permit to be authorized to work in Bulgaria. It does not apply for foreigners having obtained the permanent resident status or asylum in the country either.
As regards the resident permit, it is compulsory for all foreign nationals, regardless of their nationality. It must be requested within 90 days following their arrival in Bulgaria. There are two types of residence permits: the long-stay permit and the permanent resident permit. The long stay permit is valid for a five years period for European nationals and for a single year for non-European nationals. The permanent resident visa, for its part, has an unlimited validity period.
The application for the long stay permit has to be made at the Sofia Immigration Office or at the nearest Police Immigration Department to your place of residence in Bulgaria. The permanent residence permit, on the other hand, will be issued by the Immigration Office and representative institutions.
Regardless of the type of permit being requested, you are required to open a bank account in Bulgaria. The bank will then issue a conformation letter which you have to produce to the Immigration Department. Fees apply.
Long stay resident permit
To apply for the long stay resident permit, European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Sweden nationals have to produce the following documents to the Sofia Immigration Office or to the nearest Police Immigration Office to their place or residence:
- a duly filled and signed application form containing their personal information as well as those of their parents or children if any, their nationality and the purpose of their stay in the country
- a valid passport (note that the permit's validity will be equal to that of the passport)
- proof of address (a deed title or lease document)
- an employment contract for employees or company registration certificate for entrepreneurs
- a health insurance certificate issued in their home country and translated into Bulgarian
- proof of sufficient funds to support themselves throughout their stay in the country if they are unemployed.
Note that you will have to pay a resident tax on calling at the Immigration Office. The resident permit should be delivered on the same day. In the case of any missing document, you are allowed to submit these within a week.
As for nationals of other countries than those mentioned above, the application has to be addressed to the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in their home country.
In the case of foreign nationals whose home countries have an agreement with Bulgaria in terms of visa exemption, they can apply for the long stay resident permit within 90 days following their arrival into the country. Documents to be produced are the following:
- a passport and copies of the first pages indicating the holders' personal information, visas obtained and the stamp issued during their last visit at the Bulgarian Immigration Department
- proof of financial means to support themselves throughout their stay in Bulgaria (latest bank statements may be required to as to prove that their income is at least equal to the Bulgarian minimum wage)
- proof of accommodation and other facilities during their stay in the country
- a compulsory social or commercial insurance covering them for the duration of their stay in Bulgaria.
European nationals have to pay a resident tax on filling the application form. A temporary resident permit is then issued. Thereafter, the long stay resident card will be issued within three months.
Good to know:
The long stay resident permit is only issued for the following:
- foreign nationals holding a work permit
- foreign nationals involved in commercial activities in Bulgaria
- foreign nationals married to a Bulgarian citizen
- representatives of a foreign company registered with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- foreign investors whose activities are related to the Foreign Investment Act
- retirees receiving a pension support themselves in Bulgaria
- foreign nationals moving to Bulgaria for medical reasons
- foreign nationals who are related to D visa holders in Bulgaria
- full-time foreign students in an accredited institution
- Bulgarian citizens’ children or grand-children.
The permanent resident permit is issued by the Ministry of Interior. Once you have resided in the country for five continuous years, you can request for a permanent resident permit which will have an unlimited validity period. You will then enjoy the same rights as Bulgarian citizens, except the right to vote.
The permanent resident permit has to be requested within 60 days following the long stay resident permit's expiry date. The permanent resident permit should be issued within two months as from the application date. The Ministry of Internal Affairs will inform you regarding documents to be produced.