Living Off Grid in Motorhome / Legal help / Turkish Border

I am heading out to Bulgaria mid April to set up my business and get residency.
I am bringing a newly purchased Motorhome that is fully loaded for off-grid / off road living. 

I am looking for places to pitch up that are quiet and safe. I understand that the gypsies can be problematic and this does concern me.
I have looked at campsites - some are in stunning locations in the Mountains and could offer a level of security at a good price. However wild camping really appeals.

If anyone has any suggestions, or advice, please let me know.

The next question is about bringing a vehicle in. Do I need to have owned it for more than 6 months at point of entry?  Will i need to get it registered in BG within a certain space of time? I am struggling to find the information.

Next Question
Can anyone recommend a good lawyer in BG to help with residency and business formation. I have been liaising with one, but he has ignored my last three emails, so I assume he is not interested in my custom.

Is the Border open to come and go into Turkey?

Last Question
How are things there now you have entered another lock down?

Many thanks

Can't answer all your questions but it is my understanding, as a Brit preparing to move to Bulgaria this year, that anything we bring with us must be more than 6 months old to not be classed as new and therefore attract import taxes.

Mmmm. as I thought. I guess it will depend on how they are policing that.  I guess I won't be applying for residence until I have had the vehicle for 6 months or more. I will have to go into Turkey or other non EU countries and wait it out!

Hi and welcome to the Forum.

I will be surprised if any country will allow you to register for residency using a mobile home.

Expat Team

Are you looking to drive around and find your perfect place? or are you just planning on living in the Motorhome for ever?

Do you have to own a place out there to apply for residency? Or can you just rent? 

Do you have to apply from within Bulgaria? or from the Country for are currently living in?

You joker you.

Some feedback or advice would have been better, but thanks for stating the obvious

Initially I am coming to set up a business, which would require a residency that the lawyer was arranging.
Having my home on my back will allow me to find a good place to live without rushing into it.
Have seen some great places on line. I want to be in the mountains, woodland, wildlife and little or no humans.
Bulgaria is so rich in History, old Tartarian buildings and so much more, it is so appealing.
I also want to go to Turkey and explore the underground cities, so geographically, Bulgaria offers a good base for work and play.

AngelHalo wrote:

Initially I am coming to set up a business, which would require a residency that the lawyer was arranging.
Having my home on my back will allow me to find a good place to live without rushing into it.
Have seen some great places on line. I want to be in the mountains, woodland, wildlife and little or no humans.
Bulgaria is so rich in History, old Tartarian buildings and so much more, it is so appealing.
I also want to go to Turkey and explore the underground cities, so geographically, Bulgaria offers a good base for work and play.

Hi again.

I suspect you may have found out why your previous lawyer didn't respond to your e-mails.  If you forget Covid for a moment, I suspect that nobody would have an issue with you going to Bulgaria/Turkey and doing all those touristy things you describe.  It's the residency from a mobile address (be it a business or not), that will cause you issues.

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Hi, AngelHalo!
Are you sure you have all the facts here? It sounds like the lawyer you've been dealing with hasn't been quite above board with you.
I see you are English. Perhaps you're not aware of how different Brexit has made things for Brits seeking to move to Bulgaria after the December 31, 2020 deadline passed? Unfortunately, we can't just go there and get residency any more. Since Brexit, you can stay 90 days without a visa. You can spend that time travelling around to get an idea where you want to settle. But after that, you need to be outside the EU to apply for the longer visa that's your first step to residency.
It all sounds like one of those Catch 22 loops. You say you've been told you need the residency to set up a business there, but the way it works is that you need a job or enough money to live off for at least six months to get residency! The only way around this is to be rich enough to buy a very expensive property or 1/4 million EUR worth of government bonds.
Go to the Bulgarian Embassy website and look at what is needed for a D visa.  IIRC, you need an address, private health insurance cover, and proof you have enough funds to live off for the six month term of the visa. You also need to go for an interview. You may be able to do this from Turkey.
Your best option might be to purchase a cheap property in Bg and use that as a base to gain residency. You can still tour around after that once you have a longer-term visa, but you have an address you can pay municipal tax on and get some utilities bills to show you are serious about wanting to live in Bg.
All that, of course, is before COVID lockdowns complicate everything and might make moving around difficult. Bulgaria is in the middle of a huge third wave of COVID right now, and is in a pretty strict lockdown.
It sucks. I hope you can find a way to make this work, but like me, you may have to reconsider and put your plans on hold. I hope not, but what you want to do is complicated. Especially as a Brit poxt-Brexit, when we've lost our freedom of movement in the EU.

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That would be nice if Bulgaria does have a softer attitude to Britons. I know they stretched the rules considerably for Brits already in Bulgaria. Not so sure about Brits moving now, I haven't seen much suggesting that. But we can hope. It think it could be that Britain needs the Bulgarians more - especially the agricultural workers.

LOL, yes, the government here would love to lock us all up and stop us leaving! But God willing, even Boris is not stupid enough to declare war on Russia! There could be some posturing, Theresa May style, some sabre-rattling about having nuclear weapons, but it shouldn't go further than that. If it does, that is when I will be very grateful to actually be Australian, though I live in Britain!

I think we may be getting off-topic - AngelHalo finding somewhere to park their van and get residency! Though yes, when moving countries, politics can affect us all, regardless of our personal opinions of our elected governments.

Hadn't realised smoking Cannabis and talking utter trash is so widespread in Bulgaria. Looks like I may settle in quite quickly


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Hi, maybe Bankya is a good, beautiful and safe place for the first time. It is in Sofia, touristic part with thermal  springs and clear air. There is no special place for motor homes, but I saw some there. Locals could support you with electricity. And no gypsies bcs Boyko Borisov is living there.
And for the first time you will need lawyer, accountant support, it means you should be in Sofia .
I could help you, if I be there at that time. You could contact me.
About lawyer, I could recommend you Yurii Dynys.

Sorry , made mistake Yudynys , his nickname here

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I have a very good attorney in Plovdiv that I'm happy to recommend (just message me privately). I've used him for multiple transactions including immigration, car registration, and property purchase. He's particularly helpful as he can include an official rental contract to satisfy the immigration requirements for a Bulgarian address. You'll need this if you're planning to just live in your van.

Residence for UK citizens is now more tricky post-Brexit. Basically, you need to get a D Visa first (in nearest Embassy), then apply for residence permit here in BG. And the two easiest ways are to either be retired with a pension, or to set up as an International Trade Representative.

We are (April) in lockdown with bars, restaurants, malls closed. It's for a few weeks. I think negative PCR test will be required to get into Bulgaria and Turkey.

In general, Bulgaria seems pretty safe to me. I think campsites will be no problem at all. And wild camping is probably fine as long as you don't leave your vehicle unattended for a long period.

There are potential "gypsies" issues, but they are not usually hanging around in camping/tourism locations... they tend to be closer to particular towns/villages.

If you've lived in your van indefinitely elsewhere, then I'm sure it's feasible here too. However, my inclination would be that it's a little bit inflexible (as you always have to stay with your van). I'd be inclined to consider finding an inexpensive property somewhere so you have a "home" base, and a place to park your van inside when you want to visit friends/family elsewhere. There are some very inexpensive rural properties, especially if you only need the walled garden, and don't much care the state of the house itself. :-) However, Brexit adds a complication here too as while non-EU can buy apartments in their own name, a house with land has to be purchased with a BG company.

You could use the same BG company to register your mobile home too. Not sure on the exact rules for when you'd need to register it, but, for sure, if you want to live here long-term you will need to register it as a BG vehicle. Again... Brexit doesn't help! Non-EU vehicles are subject to 20% VAT, and 10% duty, so this is going to be a significant chunk of money, I suspect. Plus for UK vehicles you have to swap the headlights too for LHD, unless your fancy mobile pad has some kind of adjustment.

If your motorhome is brand new, then I imagine it doesn't need an MOT for 3 years (not sure if the rules are the same as for cars), in which case you could keep the UK registration, and renew your tax/insurance every year. This would work as long as you keep travelling and spend less than x months (3? 6?) in Bulgaria/Turkey/Greece. If/when you need MOT, going back every year is probably too much of a hassle, and you need to re-register in BG or elsewhere.

Hope this helps. Have fun on your BG Adventure!

Hi there,

April is closing its end, but you might still need the information. So regarding camp sites for your motorhome, I would suggest initially selecting one with electricity, water and security arranged. This would save you some troubles at the first stage, and then buy some land and park there.

There are suitable camping sites near Sofia, near Velingrad, Near Veliko Tarnovo, and all over the seaside. You just have to choose a good location, but you can also switch places, depending on preferences, seasons and needs. Gipsy concentration areas should be avoided, when considering wild camping, though they normally only steal.

As for the vehicle, if you come with it directly, there should be no problem, since you are not selling it here. So you can wait for your six months to expire and then decide. In this case it is better to consult s.o. in the vehicle sales business, or ask directly at the Traffic Police Department (KAT). I don't think any additional registration in Bulgaria is necessary, at least for the first 90 days.

Finding a good lawyer is not a problem, bu in your case lawyers that specialize in residency permits would probably not be interested in registering companies, since this is a lot cheaper and consumes more time. Nothing special actually. So it could be two lawyers or a law firm.

The border with Turkey is open, but you might face a quarantine after entering Bulgaria, which in your case would make no difference, since travelling by a motorhome.

And finally, no lock downs are envisaged for the next month, but actually there have been none so far too.

Hope this helps.

Be careful with Turkey. We are here now, everyone is in shock. They are going to close everything 29.04-19.05. Even tourists cant go out

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What a subject!    I will share with you my experiences and advise that I am not a lawyer and  please accept what I write as personal experience.

I have gone through the residency experience and it is neither as complicated or as costly as I thought.  If you speak Bulgarian that is a plus for you and provides more independence.  I was required to post  an address but it did not have to be owned, so I presume a rental apartment will suffice.  An interesting question is if you can rent or buy a campground space for your permanent address?   To me, it seems possible if you have the right connections.    Yes, two police officers came on behalf of immigration and inspected my flat.   I owned it but there was never a question or disclosure about if I owned or rented.  ,  I am certain that you must have a permanent physicial habitat and not just a post office.  When you obtain your Visa D you will be issued an ID card with that address and it better prove to be valid.  You will be visited!   You will be verified!

Right connections?  That is the tricky part.  What some call corruption is everywhere--I call it a "TIP" to insure proper and timely service.   It works but if you do not have an introduction you could find yourself in jail or worse.   Even trickier is  finding a connected Attorney--your experience is common.  No need to say more on this subject.  Better to make friends in the right circles slowly.   The best guidance is to start slow, visit for 90 days and as a visitor you should be able to bring your vehicle, however the moment you apply for long term residency or receive it, 30 days is when the vehicle will be required to be registered.  This is not a legal opinion.  I  now own a large hotel and have visitors for three months in the season who bring their cars from many EU and non-Eu countries and have no hassle from anyone---as a 90 day visitor. 

Nothing prevents you from bringing your vehicle. My experience after bringing my vehicle to Bg from the US is that it was required to be registered in Bulgaria within 30 days. I am certain that it is because I have Residency.  Liability insurance is mandatory and likely you will need to pay import duties on the vehicle.  You will also need a Techno Test that can take a lot longer than 30 days to receive so there a myriad of "Catch-22's" in navigating the system.  I have one vehicle that had received a Techno Test four months ago however the inspector made a typo on a minor item and now it is taking forever to get it straightened out so it sits in a secured costly storage facility.  So it is really a "Who came first the chicken or the egg " challenge. 

There is a lot of advice on this site--some accurate and some outlandish as everyone speaks from their own experience.   I took it slow  (5 years) and built friendships and proper connections and now thrive in Bulgaria.  I would say the primary craft supplier to hold your cards close to your vest is the Attorney.   The person you should trust least is your attorney.   

There was no Magna Carta in Bulgaria and its laws and rules are a mix of Cossack, Thracian, Ottoman, Russian-Communist and Mafia influence.   When you hear that all of Bulgaria is corrupt, I will tell you that is it is no more corrupt than the US or likely any other country.  In some it is Corporations, Despots or Oligarch,   There is always someone to pay.   After all of that here are the basic rules.

1.  As a foreigner you are considered a babe in the woods, expendable and consumable.  This is the "Wild West!"   There are no clear answers or rules but there is one rule that is true----As a non Bg everyone will defend the BG and not you no matter what the issue is.   The laws and culture favor the Bulgarian in every case meaning you have little or no standing regardless of how correct you are. 
2.  You are viewed as a Automatic Bank Machine--ATM or Bankomat.
3.  Do your homework and verify everything you are told--meaning go slow.
4.  Build friendships slowly and wisely. 

You will make a mistake or two or more and pay your tuition, however you see bright enough to take what you have read and move cautiously. 

It will be interesting to see what feedback this response brings.   

PS:   I am a Biker (over 40 years of HD riding)  and go with a lot of Bikers all over Bulgaria---you can join with your caravan.

Why..whats wrong with brits living in bg
Are any russians going to attack us.
We never started the war..Putin did
And our government is punishing Putin and his band of gangsters ..hoping pressure will allow him to leave Ukraine dont make stupid speeches
Unless its you who are afraid.

Gotta agree steve..makes good reading though..
I have a home in pomorie..will drive over as normal end of june..and stay till september..