There’s a lot to see in Bulgaria, starting from one of its historical sites (which are in abundance) to lounging in one of its well-known beaches. But if you’re planning a trip to one of these sunny, golden beaches, or the beautiful capital, Sofia, then you may need to apply for a Bulgaria visa.

This article is a guide to the application process, requirements, and some frequently asked questions regarding Bulgarian visas.

Who Needs a Bulgaria Visa?

Nationals of several countries can enter Bulgaria for short-term stays without a visa, including Schengen countries, the USA, Australia, and Canada.

All foreign nationals that are not visa-exempt must apply for a visa for Bulgaria to be allowed into the country. However, all children under the age of six (even those from visa-required countries) are exempt from holding a visa when entering Bulgaria.

You need a visa for Bulgaria if you are from one of the following countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • The People’s Republic of (PRC) China
  • Comoros
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Congo-Brazzaville
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Cuba
  • Democratic Republic of Korea
  • Djibouti
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Maldives
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Myanmar
  • Namibia
  • Republic of Nauru
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Surinam
  • Swaziland
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

What Countries are Exempt from Bulgaria Visas?

The following countries are exempt from holding a visa when traveling to Bulgaria for a period of less than 90 days.

  • Albania*
  • Andorra
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina*
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • China, Hong Kong
  • China, Macao
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia*
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxemburg
  • Macedonia*
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Moldova*
  • Monaco
  • Montenegro*
  • Netherland
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Norway
  • Palau
  • Panamas
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Republic of Korea
  • Romania
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Serbia*
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • Ukraine*
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • The United States of America
  • Vanuatu
  • Vatican City State
  • Venezuela

*Bulgaria visa-exemption only applies to holders of biometric passports.

Additionally: Since Bulgaria is part of the European Union, all other EU member countries along with Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland are also exempt from Bulgaria long-term visas (over 90 days) as well as from Bulgaria work permit requirements due to the EU Right of Free Movement.

How to Travel to Bulgaria if You Don’t Need a Visa?

If you do not need a visa for Bulgaria, you can travel there with just your passport, which must be valid for at least another six months and have a minimum of two blank pages.

The immigration officers at border control will then give the necessary stamps on the blank pages, allowing you to enter and remain in the country.

What Are the Types of Bulgarian Visas?

Bulgaria visas, much like Schengen visas, are divided into three main categories:

Bulgaria Airport Transit Visa (Visa A)

The Bulgaria Transit Visa, as the name suggests allows the holder to transit in a Bulgarian airport on their way to another destination. The visa does not allow the holder to leave the airport and actually enter the country of Bulgaria.

The Bulgaria airport transit visa is issued for a single or double entry. On special occasions, it may be issued for multiple entries for validity of three months.

Bulgaria Short-Stay Visa (Visa C)

Bulgaria Short-Stay Visa (Visa C) is issued for tourism, business, and personal visit purposes for stays of up to 90 days within a six-month period. This type of visa is usually issued for a single-entry.

You may receive a multiple-entry short-stay Bulgarian visa, valid for up to one year, if:

  • You are travelling for business purposes.
  • You are a family member of a Bulgarian/EU/EEA citizen
  • You are a family member of a Bulgarian permanent resident

Additionally, you can also receive a Bulgaria short-stay visa for transit purposes if you are transiting through the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria on your way to another country. If you have a short-stay Bulgaria visa for the purpose of transit, you may only stay in Bulgaria for two days. It is usually issued for a single or double entry, and valid for 12 months. In certain occasions, you may be able to receive a multiple entry short-stay visa for transit, at the discretion of the Bulgarian embassy or consulate.

Bulgaria Long-Stay Visa (Visa D)

Bulgaria Long-Stay Visa (Visa D) is for those foreign nationals who want to stay in Bulgaria long-term or permanently, such as for work or study purposes.

It is usually issued for a duration of up to one year, and you have to obtain a residence permit upon your arrival to the country of Bulgaria. It allows the holder multiple entries into the country.

Bulgaria Visa Requirements

When submitting a Bulgaria visa application, you must have several required documents, such as:

  • Bulgaria visa application form, completed in typed letters and signed.
  • Your passport/travel document, which must have at least two blank pages in order to affix the visa.
  • Photocopies of the personal information page on your passport as well as any previous visas
    • Photocopies of any other permission to stay in a foreign country (visa, residence permit), even if it’s not affixed to your passport (if applicable)
  • A recent passport-size picture of yourself, in line with Bulgaria visa picture requirements:
    • Dimensions: 3,5 cm х 4,5 cm
    • Recent
    • Professionally taken
    • Set against a light-colored background
    • You must be facing forward, with a neutral facial expression
    • Your face must cover 70-80% of the picture
    • You may not wear tinted eyeglasses or decorative headgear
  • Travel itinerary/flight ticket.
  • Proof of travel insurance of at least €30,000 for the duration of your stay covering any repatriation or medical emergency expenses.
  • Hotel reservation, or proof of another form of accommodation.
  • Proof regarding the purpose of travel.
  • Proof of sufficient financial means to support yourself during your stay, such as bank statements. You must have a minimum of €50 per day, but no less than €500 – or the equivalent of that in your country’s currency.
    • You may also submit proof you’ve pre-paid accommodation or that someone in Bulgaria will undertake the cost of sustaining you there, such as a person or company/institution.
  • Certificate of police clearance (if necessary).

The documents have to be legalized (through an Apostille stamp or otherwise).

See a more detailed list of Bulgaria visa requirements here.

Additional Requirements for Bulgaria Tourist Visa

The additional required documents for a regular Bulgaria tourist visa include:

Additional documents required for a:

  • Bulgaria Medical Treatment Visa
    • A discharge declaration by the hospital in your country
    • A certificate from the Bulgarian medical institution receiving you along with a treatment plan
  • Cultural exchange: A letter of invitation from the Ministry of Culture or from the mayor of the municipality receiving you.
  • Bulgaria Sports Visa: A letter of invitation, issued from the Bulgaria Ministry of Youth and Sport or from the relevant athletic club.

Bulgaria short-stay visas (also referred to as C Visas or tourist visas) are issued mainly for tourism, business, recreational, medical purposes or for a private stay.

However, Bulgaria also issues a type of C Visa for transit purposes, issued for foreigners travelling through the territory of Bulgaria (ie. entering through the border with one country and exiting through the border with another country).

Additional Documents Required for a Bulgaria Transit C Visa

The additional documents you must submit when applying for a Type C transit visa for Bulgaria are:

  • Photocopies of any other permission to stay in a country, even if not affixed to the passport (if applicable).
  • If you are driving a car, you need an additional €200, or their equivalent in your country’s currency.

Bulgaria Visa Requirements for Airport Transit Visas

When applying for a Bulgaria airport transit visa, you need the following additional documents:

  • Photocopies of any other permission to stay in a country, even if not affixed to the passport (if applicable)
  • Flight booking for onward travel along with the original and a photocopy of the flight ticket.

Bulgaria Student Visa Requirements

In addition to the requirements mentioned above, when applying for a Bulgaria student visa, you must also have the following documents:

  • Certificate of Acceptance issued by Ministry of Education Bulgaria (original).
  • Original copies of your academic transcripts/certificates.
  • Travel insurance from your country of residence.
  • Proof of private health insurance in Bulgaria.
  • Proof of payment of the educational institution’s tuition fee.
  • Police clearance or previous convictions certificate from your country of residence.
  • Proof of financial means for a student: You must prove you have access to at least €4000 or the equivalent, either in your own bank account or that of your parents.

Bulgaria Work Visa Requirements

If you want to apply for a Bulgaria work visa, your Bulgarian employer must first obtain a work permit for you. Your employer has to request a work permit to the Bulgarian Employment Agency by submitting the following documents:

  • A work permit application form.
  • Proof of private health insurance in Bulgaria.
  • Travel insurance from your country of residence.
  • Police clearance or previous convictions certificate from your country of residence.
  • A letter explaining the reason for the request.
  • The employment contract.
  • Copy of your passport/travel document which is valid for at least 7 more months.
  • Three passport-size pictures of you.
  • A certified copy of your employer’s registration document or ID code.
  • Documents related to your educational background, skills and qualifications, previous work experience, etc.
  • A report regarding the number of employees your employer has had under employment contracts for the preceding 12 months.
  • Any additional documents which are related to your job.

Bulgaria Family Reunification Visa Requirements

You may apply to bring your non-EU family members in Bulgaria if:

  • You are a Bulgarian citizen
  • EU national
  • Holder of a Bulgaria long-term residence permit

You may bring your spouse or partner (with whom you have been cohabitating) and any children under the age of 18.

In addition to the requirements listen above under long-stay visas, Bulgaria visa requirements for a family reunification visa include:

  • Marriage certificate.
  • Proof you have lied together for no less than one year (if not married).
  • Travel insurance from your country of residence.
  • Birth certificates or adoption papers, as applicable.
  • Proof of private health insurance in Bulgaria.
  • Police clearance or previous convictions certificate from your country of residence.
  • Any other documents proving family relationship or custody over child/ren.

Bulgaria Visa Requirements for Minors

If a minor is traveling to Bulgaria on their own or accompanied by someone other than their parent/legal guardian, they must present:

  • A copy of their birth certificate.
  • A power of attorney notary, which is certified by both parents/legal guardians (or the one who has custody, if the child does not have both parents), stating that they agree that the child travels unaccompanied. Include both the original and a photocopy.

The Bulgarian embassy or consulate may request additional documents as they see fit. Always check in with the Bulgarian embassy/consulate before applying.

You should submit these documents at the Bulgarian representation in your countries, such as an embassy or consulate. You must do so in person.

However, Bulgaria also allows foreigners to submit visa applications via an authorized visa application agency.

How to Apply for a Bulgarian Visa?

To obtain a Bulgaria visa, you have to apply in person no earlier than 3 months in advance at a Bulgarian consulate or embassy. The Bulgaria visa application process is as follows:

  1. Contact a Bulgarian embassy or consulate (the one in your country or nearest to you) to inquire about application times, requirements, and appointments. They may also have information on their website, so make sure to check that.
  2. Download, complete, and sign the Bulgaria Visa Application Form.
    • You must complete the application form in tyes letters.
    • Your name should be in Latin letter, as stated on your passport
    • You must complete the rest of the application form in English or Bulgarian
  3. Gather the required documents.
  4. Submit the application form and required documents in person at a Bulgaria consulate or embassy.
    • Application for children or people who are unable to submit their own application have to be submitted by a legal representative or someone authorized to apply on their behalf.

Please note:

You may have to go back to submit your biometric information.

Do I Have to Attend a Bulgaria Visa Interview?

The Bulgarian embassy or consulate through which you are applying may ask you to enter a visa interview, at their discretion.

If you are applying for a long-stay visa, you have to enter a Bulgaria visa interview, without exception.

Additionally, Bulgarian consulates and embassies also accept applications submitted through an authorized visa application agency. Check to see if there is one in your country.

How Long Does it Take to Process a Bulgaria Visa?

A Bulgarian visa is processed in about 10-15 working days. However, the times may change depending on the specific circumstances and the Bulgarian embassy or consulate.

How Long is a Bulgaria Visa Valid For?

A Bulgaria visa’s validity depends on the type of visa you are applying for.

A Bulgaria short-stay visa is valid for up to 90 days within a six-month period. If you are transiting through the Bulgarian territory, your short-stay visa for transit purposes is valid for a maximum of 2 days on each entry.

A Bulgaria long-stay visa may be valid for up to six months or one year, depending on your purpose of travel.

What Are the Bulgaria Visa Fees?

The Bulgaria visa fees are:

  • For a short-stay or an airport transit Bulgaria visa:
    • For adults: €80
    • For children between 6-12 years of age: €40
  • For a long-stay Bulgaria visa:
    • For stays of up to six months: €100
    • For stays of up to one year: €200

Do I Need a Visa for Studying or Working in Bulgaria?

Yes, you do. Any foreign national who wants to live in Bulgaria long-term, such as for studying or working, needs to obtain authorization to live in Bulgaria long-term (ie. a Bulgarian residence permit.) Everyone needs a residence permit for Bulgaria, even EU nationals. However, non-EU nationals also have to apply for a long-stay visa prior to travelling. Residence permit applications are submitted after the foreigner is in Bulgaria.

There are three types of residence permits for Bulgaria:

  • Extended residence permit, which is issued to non-EU nationals for a duration of up to one year.
  • Long-term EU residence permit, also known as a residence certificate, issue to EU nationals for a period of five years
  • Permanent residence permit, which is issued to European nationals who have lived in Bulgaria for at least five years. This type of permit gives the holder the same rights as a Bulgarian citizen, excluding the right to vote or be involved in politics.

Is Bulgaria Part of the Schengen Area?

No, Bulgaria is not an official member of the Schengen area yet. However, it is working towards obtaining membership into the visa-free regime of the Schengen zone.

As such, for the time being, Bulgaria only issues national visas.

Can You Travel to a Schengen Country With a Bulgaria Visa?

No, since Bulgaria has not been admitted into the Schengen zone, you cannot use the Bulgarian visa to travel to any Schengen country. You may only enter and stay in Bulgaria with a Bulgarian visa.

On the other hand, you can enter Bulgaria if you have a valid Schengen visa, or a visa for Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, which are also contenders for Schengen admission.

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