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.
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.
What Are the Bulgaria Visa Requirements?
When submitting a Bulgaria visa application, you must have several required documents, such as:
- Bulgaria visa application form.
- A valid passport, and photocopies of the relevant pages.
- A recent-passport size picture of yourself.
- Travel itinerary/flight ticket.
- Proof of medical insurance.
- Proof of accommodation.
- Proof regarding the purpose of travel.
- Proof of sufficient financial means.
- Certificate of police clearance (if necessary).
- Letter of invitation (if necessary).
The documents have to be legalized (through an Apostille stamp or otherwise).
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:
- 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.
- 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
- Gather the required documents.
- 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.
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: €60
- For children between 6-12 years of age: €35
- 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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