Taking a spot as one of the oldest countries in all of Europe, Bulgaria has a lot to show for it. Rich culture, fascinating historical sites Black Sea Coastlines, a peaceful and serene environment are just part of many things this Balkan country has to offer.
People worldwide are drawn to this beautiful nation for reasons ranging from tourism, work, study, and even to start up a business. This article will take you through the procedures involved in applying for a Bulgaria visa if you need one to visit the country.
Do you need one?
Due to certain diplomatic agreements between Bulgaria and other nations of the world, citizens of certain countries are granted entry into Bulgaria without applying for a visa; just a valid passport is enough. In contrast, other nations need to provide the regular national travel document accompanied by a Bulgaria visa.
On the 31st of January 2012, the Bulgarian government enforced a visa-free policy for all Schengen member nations. They gave individuals holding valid Schengen visas the right to visit the Bulgarian territory for up to 90 days within six months without applying for a Bulgaria visa.
A similar policy was also implemented for individuals granted residency and holding valid visas from Romania, Croatia, and Cyprus, giving them access to live and move freely in Bulgaria for up to 3 months within 180 days.
The following links lead to documents with comprehensive lists of the following:
Scanning through those lists, you will have an idea if you need to apply for a visa or not. If you need to apply for one, keep reading. We’ll take you through the easy steps and requirements for a successful application.
Commonly Issued Types
Three types of visas are issued to intending Bulgaria visitors for transit, short-stay, or long-stay purposes. They are as follows:
- Visa A
- Visa C
- Visa D
This type represents an Airport Transit Visa. Holders of this travel permit can make a brief stop at the international transit area of a Bulgarian airport. This is done to change flights or transit landing to continue journeying to a third country.
The number of entries permitted could be single, double, or, in some exceptional cases, multiple. From the issued date, it is valid for up to 90 days.
This travel permit prohibits visitors are from leaving the airport’s international transit area. This travel document does not grant foreigners rights into the Bulgarian territory.
Foreigners seeking to live and roam freely in Bulgaria for a short period are granted this travel permit. However, the purpose of short-stay varies. The reason for the visit may be for transit or for a planned stay (which includes tourism, business, sporting events, and so on).
Unlike the airport transit visa, the short-stay transit visa offers foreigners entry into Bulgarian territory for an overall duration of 90 days within 6 months as they transit through Bulgaria to another country.
Individuals who do not require this permit:
- Citizens of Schengen member nations, those with valid Schengen visas, and persons granted residency in the Schengen territory
- Romanian and Cypriot citizens with valid passports; individuals with long-validity, short-validity, or residency permits in either nation
- Persons with residency permits in Lichtenstein.
For planned short-stay:
Persons with intentions of staying in Bulgaria for tourism, business, work, or any other legitimate reason requiring them to remain in the country are issued this visa. For a total duration of 3-months within a period of any 180days, a single, double or multiple-entry permit may be printed.
Multiple entry visas can have a validity period of 12-months or five years in some exceptional cases. 1-year multiple entries require that you have previously acquired a short-stay visa, while 5-year multiple entries you acquired a 1-year entry visa for two preceding years.
The type D visa allows individuals to own temporary or permanent residence in Bulgaria. Requirements for this visa are strict and demands a personal interview of applicants.
Overview of Common Documents Required for Official Use
The following papers are required:
1. National Passport
This travel permit must be valid for at least three months after your departure date, containing a minimum of two blank pages; issued within ten years. Applications must include a photocopy of the first page of this document.
2. Previous Visas
Individuals with Bulgarian, Schengen visas, U.S. or U.K. visas must include photocopies of these papers.
3. Passport-sized photographs
The image affixed must be taken in bright-coloured background of size 35mm × 45mm. With face taking up to 70-80% of the entire photo. The eyes must be visible. Note the use of sunglasses or images which show total unprofessionalism are disallowed.
4. Medical Insurance
Insurance coverage for entire European Union member states of the minimum amount of €30,000 is required. This is to cover for all unforeseen medical emergencies that may come up during the period of visit.
5. Proof of Financial Sustenance
Individuals with intentions of entry into Bulgarian territory for long or short terms must have finances available to take care of their essential needs during their stay in the country.
6. Requirements for Under-aged Children
A Child/Children traveling alone is required to submit a copy of their birth certificates. The parents or a parent trustee must sign a power of attorney stating that the child/children can travel without being accompanied by them; an original and photocopy is required.
For details of more specific documents for type A and type C visas, please check the following documents:
All applications are to be submitted in person or via an authorized agent at most three months before the date of departure.
For individuals not up to legal age, a trustee or birth givers are required to make submissions.
Follow the link below to get a copy of a form for applying:
Where to submit?
Contact the diplomatic missions in your country for submissions or information on outsourcing centers.
The table below gives the amount charged for various travel permits:
|Children between 6-12yrs
|Up to 6 months
|Up to 1 year
Note: fees are liable to change. Please contact the diplomatic missions in your country of residence or their official websites for more updates.
Covid-19 Guidelines for Travels to Bulgaria
The covid-19 pandemic has made governments all over the globe to place strict restrictions on travel. However, due to the tireless effort put in by the government and support from citizens, the number of Covid-19 cases has reduced drastically.
At the moment, Bulgaria is fully open to its citizens. However, visits to foreigners for business, tourism, and other related activities are yet fully honest.
For countries permitted to enter the country, citizens must present a Negative PCR test result from an accredited laboratory issued not more than 72 hours before the intended travel date.
Follow the link for more detailed information on travel restrictions and requirements for travels to Bulgaria.
Some Questions Frequently Asked
With a Bulgaria visa, can I visit other EU nations?
The answer is No. Bulgaria is yet to have rights expressed by Schengen member nations. However, EU nations such as Romania, Croatia, and Cyprus can be visited with a valid Bulgaria visa.
Can EU nationals visit Bulgaria visa-free?
Yes. Although Bulgaria is yet to be part of Schengen member states, it has implemented Schengen travel policies that grant the European Union visa-free entry to Bulgarian territory for up to 90 days.
Are personal interviews mandatory?
The answer is Yes and No. Yes, because some visa applications such as the long-term visa require applicants to avail him/her self for an interview. No, because for the purpose such as transit or the other stay term reasons of visit, the consulate or embassy may not require a consultation to approve a visa request.
What is the average processing time?
Generally, it can take up to 10-15 days to process an application. However, the duration is susceptible to change as the consulate or embassy handling the application may face some situations that could lead to an application taking a long time or a shorter one.
What is the validity of the visa?
Depending on the type of visa you are going for, you can have up to 3 months stay within six months or get up to 6 months within one year.
Is Bulgaria a Schengen member nation?
At the moment, Bulgaria is not officially part of the Schengen region. The Bulgarian government is working actively to put the required infrastructure and other relevant structures to be accepted entirely as an official Schengen member nation.