Migration Directorate - Sofia


I have landed in Sofia with my wife, and we went to the Migration Directorate at Maria Luiza Blvd., and it was not a pleasant experience, let me tell you that.

We went there yesterday with all the papers in order (we assume), help and assistance from our landlord and the agency we used to find our apartment, in case of need.

We get inside their office, which is really small and overcrowded. We are greeted by workers that are some of the most unpleasant that I have had to deal with abroad, ever. And it seems that most of them are unable to speak any English at all, and this is at their Migration, which just makes it weird.

We came up to the counter eventually and we handed over my wifes passport and other documents. They had a look at it and simply said "No". We asked them why, and she gave us a quick answer in Bularian, a little rude, and pointed us away from there.

After a while one woman reluctantly explained to us in English. She said something similar to this, "You come too late here. You should come in the first five days of enter Bulgaria. No need to do now, you are free to go.".

Does anyone know what the heck she means by that? No need to do (register) now? Free to go, where? Free to stay in Bulgaria?

We called the agent that offered to help us if we met any issues with the migration, and tried to hand the pone over to the worker so she could explain to him. The worker got furious, pointed us away and refused to take the phone.

I am still quite suprised by the whole experience. I can assure you that I have never experienced anything like this before.

What happens if you don't register your living address at the migration?

Your best option is to go back with someone who can translate for you and get the information for your specific situation. I am not sure what happens when you miss the 5 day registration because I have either had hotels register for me or I registered on my one. I know with EU there are a whole different set of rules for registration so I don't even want to speculate.

To be fair, I would not like it if I was super busy at work and someone came in without knowledge of the language and expected me to talk to a translator over the phone. I haven't experienced anyone in the Plovdiv, Varna, or Gabrovo immigration offices that speaks English well. (And I have been quite often). The women who work there often have to put up with people who do not have their paperwork in order, are angry and rude to them etc. So I don't really blame them for being short... but I have had excellent experiences every time that I went either with a translator or after I could speak Bulgarian and by being extra polite myself.

Thanks for your answer, but I think I must disagree with you.

In my mind and experience, the migration are there to help you, and most of the people they will encounter will be foreigners. Even in China or Thailand they can speak English and are super friendly. Or simply put, doing their job.

If someone comes in and they don't know what to do, most likely the case for most people in any country, the workers should try to help them. I really don't think it seems that strange if we or any of the other lost souls in that office pulling their hair looking helpless would ask the workers for help.

If people met this treatment in the Swedish migration office I would be ashamed.

HI Luobin,

I think you have just learnt your very first lesson about Bulgaria, it isn't like other countries and customer service is very hard to come by if you approach it expecting it to be like anywhere else. If you can speak a little of the language enough to ask for help, sometimes you can get lucky and find someone with a good amount of English, and they will appreciate that you have tried, but if you expect to speak any other language than Bulgarian then you will not be greeted well - as you have unfortunately found.

Kojidae's suggestion to go back with a translator is definitely your best bet.
Please don't be put off though, the Bulgarian people can also be some of the friendliest, but you do have to rethink your expectations of what 'should' be in Bulgaria, as they can be a law unto themselves regardless of what the EU says.  ;)

Hi, thanks for your answer breyambol.

We have been in contact with the Chinese embassy and two consultants that helps foreigners with migration issues in Bulgaria.

This issue seems quite normal unfortunately, and the best suggestion they could give us was to let it go and hopefully not be fined or to go back and try again.

They had a look at our documents and said that the migration should have registered my wife and her sister. Nothing was wrong at all, everything in order, except that they were a little late.

Apart from the migration in Bulgaria I must say that Bulgarians are really friendly. Anywhere else I have been in Sofia the hospitality and service has been good or at least normal.

Love the city so far.

So glad that you have found the friendlier Bulgarians, officials do tend to be, well...official ;)
I wouldn't worry too much about the late registration, as long as you have tried, and the good thing about Bulgaria is that even the biggest of problems can be got around, with the right attitude and help.

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