Immigration to Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a country located in southeastern Europe. The Republic of Bulgaria has a population of 7 364 570. According to official statistics, the main ethnic group in Bulgaria is Bulgarians, then Turks and Romani. The country is a unitary parliamentary republic and the official language is Bulgarian. Bulgaria’s nominal GDP per capita is approximately USD 14,312 and the currency is the lev (BGN).

A temporary residence permit in Bulgaria can be obtained for a period of six months to one year and can be extended for up to five years. After a period of five years, holders are eligible for permanent residence. The Bulgarian Citizenship Act states that non-EU nationals who have held a permanent residence permit for five years can apply for Bulgarian citizenship and a Bulgarian passport. Applications for citizenship and the relevant documentation must be submitted to the Ministry of Justice. The time required for registering a ‘trade representative office’ in Bulgaria, including preparation time for the requisite set of D-visa application documents, is approximately 15 working days. There are three types of residence permit — temporary, permanent and extended.

Immigration services

All applications for immigration documents, residence permits, visas or other documents must be submitted at your nearest Bulgarian embassy or the general consulate of Bulgaria. You can search for your closest consulates at

Immigration service providers

A residence permit or visa allowing you to stay in Bulgaria may be granted, for example, for working purposes, if you are living with someone (like a family member), for travelling or study or for research purposes.

Here are three email address of companies which offer immigration services in Bulgaria:

  • E-mail:
  • E-mail:
  • E-mail:

Lawful immigration

There are many possible routes to acquiring a residence permit. Non-nationals residing in Bulgaria have certain rights and obligations under the Bulgarian Constitution and must accept Bulgarian laws and residence rules. European Union citizens don’t need a visa to stay in Bulgaria and third-country nationals can transit through Bulgaria without requiring a visa under the terms and conditions set by European Union legislation. Non-nationals wishing to obtain a continuous residence permit, permanent residence permit or work permit are subject to another set of rules and requirements.

Immigration law

Bulgarian law on immigration was significantly amended by the Republic of Bulgaria Act, which has some important implications for non-nationals. The Bulgarian Ministry of Interior Affairs is authorised to sign agreements and is entitled to collect and process visa applications. Bulgarian embassies are also authorised to process residence permits or visas. Lawful immigration is important in Bulgaria because of changes in the law. Until 2011, there were only two types of residence permit: long term and permanent. In that year, a third permit type was added: the extended permit, which is the extent of both permits previously mentioned.

Immigration statistics

From 1878, immigration to Bulgaria began in full force. The first wave of immigrants was from Central and Eastern Europe and created the modern Bulgarian state. Later immigrants included Armenian refugees, Russians and foreign students of various ethnicities. The country's accession to the European Union in 2007 has not led to an increased immigration flow, but the number of refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, Armenia and other countries has steadily risen. The last decade saw a growth in the number of private businesses created by citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Middle Eastern countries.

Largest cities by population

Bulgaria’s most populated city is Sofia. Other major cities include Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and Ruse. More information about the population of Bulgaria can be found at:

The five most populated cities in Bulgaria in 2019 are:

# City Population
1 Sofia 1 152 556
2 Plovdiv 340 494
3 Varna 312 770
4 Burgas 195 966
5 Ruse 156 238

Migration in and out of the Schengen area

Bulgaria is one of candidate members for the Schengen area. Schengen Agreement member countries have an identity and other document controls at the borders of external countries, and all member countries make checks to ensure travellers have a Schengen visa issued by one of the Schengen states.

Types of visa in Bulgaria

A visa for travelling to Bulgaria can be granted for various reasons, like going to visit relatives or friends, opening a limited company, tourism and others. The cost of applying for a visa is approximately EUR 150 and the Bulgarian embassy processes a D-visa application within 30 working days. The types of visa available are:

D-visa A D-visa is granted for the registration of a trade office of a foreign company in Bulgaria or a Bulgarian limited company, or to those who have invested at least EUR 312 000 in real estate property. Different types of D-visas cover the needs of those coming to the country to work, set up a business, marry a Bulgarian citizen or as a company representative, pensioner or family member. Applicants for a Bulgarian Type-D visa must attend an interview at their closest Bulgarian embassy or general consulate and have a professional consultation.
Student visa This visa is issued to foreign students enrolled in full-time education. Enrolment in full-time university studies is required.
C-visa A C-visa allows non-nationals to travel to Bulgaria for up to 90 days, for one of three purposes: business, personal and tourism. The first two categories require either a business invitation or a personal invitation letter. Requirements include a certificate from your employer authorising business travel, an invitation letter, a bank statement and/or a Memorandum and Articles of Association in a certified copy of an original. Visas for business and personal purposes require either a business invitation or a personal invitation letter.

Residence permit

Non-nationals who are interested in obtaining a Bulgarian residence permit must apply for a long-term D-visa at a Bulgarian embassy or general consulate. To establish a foreign company in Bulgaria, applicants need to set up a trade representative office. During the process of registering a trade representative office in Bulgaria, you may apply for a long-term D-visa and Bulgarian residence permit. If you are granted a temporary residence permit, you will be given a Bulgarian ID card that allows multiple entries and stays in Bulgaria; all holders of a residence permit can legally stay in Romania, Croatia and Cyprus for 90 days out of any 180-day period visa-free. If you hold a temporary residence permit for five years, you may apply for a Bulgarian permanent residence permit.

There are several permitted grounds for a Bulgarian residence application:

  1. registration of a foreign company’s representative office in Bulgaria;
  2. incorporation of a Bulgarian LLC hiring at least ten local employees for at least six months;
  3. investment in real estate property worth at least EUR 312,000;
  4. retirement, for non-EU citizens who have sufficient subsistence funds and accommodation to support their residence in Bulgaria;
  5. family reunification in Bulgaria;
  6. Bulgarian residence for EU nationals.

We highly recommend obtaining residence by incorporating a foreign company’s representative office in Bulgaria.

Immigration documents

To read more about the various immigration, residency and citizenship documents in Bulgaria, please refer to the immigration documents section.


The Neolithic Karanovo culture was an ancient society that lived in what is now Bulgaria. The country was founded in 681, and Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe, as its history has been shaped by its location near Europe’s frontier with Asia.

For more information and a free consultation about opportunities to live in Bulgaria, contact us: