For short stays of up to 90 days, nationals of a number of countries including the US, the UK and Australia are eligible for a visa on arrival. Those who don’t fall under this category will need to apply for a C visa ahead of time at a consulate or embassy in their home country.
Visa applications must be made before the trip to Bulgaria. Applicants should submit the relevant forms and documents no earlier than three months before the intended departure date.
Stays of longer than 90 days require a D visa. Applicants will be interviewed in person and will have to show proof of medical insurance, accommodation and access to sufficient funds during their stay.
It isn’t possible to change from a C visa to a D visa while in Bulgaria – the D visa application must be made from an embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of permanent residence. Long-stay visas allow the holder to reside in Bulgaria for up to 180 days within the next six months.
Non-EU expats wanting to take up employment in Bulgaria will need a work permit. To apply for one, they must already have a job offer as the Bulgarian employer takes care of the application process for the most part. Generally, work permits are only issued to expats with specialised skills.
For EU nationals, the process is much easier – if wanting to work in Bulgaria, they simply need to register at the Employment Office in their area.
A long-stay residence permit allows the holder to live in Bulgaria for one year. These are granted to expats who meet very specific requirements, including those that have already secured a work permit, are starting a business that will employ a certain number of locals, or are married to a Bulgarian citizen.
The long-term residence permit can be renewed annually. After five continuous years of residence, expats can apply for permanent residency status.