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Author: FreshOfTheBoat

# 1


The narrative that follows relates the experience of one individual, who applied for residence in mid-March 2013 through the Plovdiv office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Given the nature of bureaucracies, anyone applying at a different time and place is likely to encounter (or to have encountered) different requirements and different procedures.


The office in Plovdiv where you apply for long-term residence is

Областна Дирекция на МВР-Пловдив
[Oblast Directorate of Ministry of Internal Affairs - Plovdiv]

specifically the Миграция [Migration] office.

The Directorate occupies a white, recently constructed building on

бул. Васил Априлов
[bul. Vasil Aprilov].

Although the Migration office is housed in that building, it has its own separate entrance, which is right around the left-hand corner of the building, on ул. Волга [ul. Volga]. Its official address is

ул. Волга 70
[ul. Volga 70].

Migration (Bureau for Foreigners) is open for business

Monday through Friday
from 8:30 to 17:30

but they do take breaks: They shut down for lunch from 12:00 to 13:00, and they also take a brief break both morning and afternoon.

When you go in the front door of Migration, walk straight ahead and as soon as you are able (it's just a few feet), turn to your right. You will then be facing an office with frosted glass doors, above which there is this sign (in Bulgarian only):


To avoid a feeding frenzy, only two applicants and their interpreters are allowed inside the Bureau at a time. (At the bank, which is right next door, the rule is only one.) If there is no one waiting outside the Bureau, walk straight in. If there is a queue or a mob outside, join it.


On your first visit to the Bureau, it will probably be sufficient to take the following:

• your passport
• your interpreter/translator

You may, in fact, not need an interpreter at all; one of the clerks speaks excellent English. But it is purely a matter of chance whether your case is handled by her or by her colleague, who appears not to speak any English.

Three questions were raised on my first visit:

1. Why did I want to live in Bulgaria?
2. How was I planning to support myself while living in Bulgaria?
3. What kind of health insurance did I have?

On the question of finances, the clerk first told me that I had to submit a statement from a Bulgarian bank, showing the amount and source of my income. I responded that I didn't have or need a bank account in Bulgaria; my money was in a bank in California and instantly accessible worldwide with an ATM card. I counter-proposed that I be allowed to submit a copy of my 2013 "Statement of Benefits" from the United States Social Security Administration. (my sole source of income.) The clerk agreed that this - if translated - would be an acceptable substitute.

On the question of health insurance, I happened not to have any, so I was told to go buy some. There are two places on ul. Volga across from the Migration office that sell health insurance for foreigners planning to live in Bulgaria. They will ask you what limits you want on your policy, so be sure to get that information from the clerk before you leave the Bureau. My one-year policy cost me less than 100 euros.

If the Bureau clerk is satisfied with your answers to the three questions above, she will give you a


(hereinafter referred to as "The Application Form") and tell you to return with the following:

• your passport
• your interpreter/translator
• The Application Form (completed, signed and dated)
• copy of your rental or ownership agreement (translated, if not already in Bulgarian)
• evidence of financial resources (translated, if not already in Bulgarian)
• evidence of health insurance (translated, if not already in Bulgarian)
• copy of the data page of your passport
• receipt for 7 leva from the bank in the room next door (Actually, you will have to pay 9 leva; the other 2 leva is a bank charge.)


The form is short - only three sides of A4 - but it has a few quirks:

• Not all the questions are translated into English.

• Some of the questions are baffling. For example, you are asked for your family name and, on a separate line, your surname. (Whoever drafted the form apparently didn't know that the two terms are synonymous in English.) Before you leave the Bureau, find out on which line you should write your last name, on the surname line or on the family name line.

• There are no instructions with the form, but there is, in fact, one iron-clad, non-negotiable requirement: All textual information must be given in Bulgarian or Bulgarian Cyrillic letters. This does not mean you cannot use English for your name and birthplace, but they must also be transcribed into Cyrillic.

• Because there are no instructions, you must find out from the clerk what kind of Cyrillic transcription, sound or spelling, they want of your personal data. For example, if your name happens to be "David", do they want a transcription of the spelling (Давид) or a transcription of the English pronunciation (Дейвид)?

• Even completely irrelevant questions must be answered. If, for example, you have a spouse from whom you are separated and grown-up children who are all perfectly content living right where they are and not in the least bit interested in moving to Bulgaria, that's beside the point: you must still fill in the section about your spouse and children. Likewise the section about your parents, even if they have been dead and buried since the early Thatcher years. However, in that case it appears to be sufficient to write the Bulgarian for "deceased".

• The form asks you how many years of residence you want - but doesn't say how many years you are eligible for. I asked for five. They gave me one.


Take with you

• all of the documents listed above under "FIRST VISIT"
• your passport
• your interpreter/translator

If all your paperwork passes inspection, the clerk will give you a slip of paper with two numbers on it, and tell you, orally, when you can pick up your residence certificate. Guard the slip of paper with your life, and take it with you when you return to get your residence certificate.


This one should be short. Take with you

• the slip of paper with the numbers
• your passport
• your interpreter/translator

Hand the clerk the slip of paper, and she will give you your

Удостоверение за продължително пребиваване
[Certificate for Long-term Residence]

(hereinafter referred to as "The Residence Certificate") and have you sign a statement that you have received it.

Congratulations. You are now "street-legal" in the Republic of Bulgaria and need no longer fear the knock on the door at midnight from sullen apparatchiks in belted trench coats. (Fade up music from "The Third Man".) When they demand to see your "papers", you can nonchalantly flash them


The certificate is a small, white, laminated card, which carries

• your name
• your date of birth
• your gender
• your nationality
• the date of issue of the certificate
• the expiration date of the certificate

What's interesting is the information that's not on the certificate card: It does not carry either of the two numbers that appeared on the mysterious slip of paper that you have been clutching to your bosom since your second visit. Nor does it have your photo or your Bulgarian address. If you want that kind of identity card (they're optional I was told), you have to return to Migration the following week.


This was my experience in Plovdiv in March 2013. If you're reading this in Burgas in 2020 and are about to embark on the residence application process, your experience will almost certainly be different. Rules change, and so do the ways bureaucrats interpret them.
3 April 2013 11:42:30 Reply Quote
# 2
Thanks for responding Richard. I got my residence card last week. The process was pretty simple, and would have been even simpler if the form had come with explanations and instructions. I plan to post a blow-by-blow account of my experience.

I concur with your comments about the Plovdiv winter. They also apply, on cloudy days, to the Plovdiv spring. Is it my imagination or are my toes turning black? I'll give Plovdiv a year, and then maybe head to warmer latitudes.
3 April 2013 11:22:42 Reply Quote
# 3
I have just arrived in Plovdiv (having entered Bulgaria on my UK
passport), and am about to embark on getting what the Bulgarians call a „durable“ residence. I would be interested in hearing from any UK citizen who has gone through that process recently. Here are some questions that I am seeking answers to before I present myself at my local police station:

In what form does the information about my income need to be? My source of income is US Social Security (I emigrated from the UK in 1963). At the end of every year, Social Security sends me a statement of how much they plan to pay me the following year. Would a photocopy of that statement be enough? Would it need to be translated and the translation notarized?

What do the Bulgarians currently consider to be an adequate amount for an expat to live on in Bulgaria?

Is there any form of health insurance that the Bulgarians like expats to have? Is there any that they take a dim view of?

Since I haven't lived in the UK for nigh on fifty years and, in a
sense, don't exist for the NHS, I'm going to have to purchase a health policy from a company. What would be a good company to go to?

Has anybody paid a lawyer to hand-hold them through this process? If so, what did s/he charge and do you think his/her services were worth it?
18 March 2013 14:30:52 Reply Quote