Official information British people moving to and living in Bulgaria need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.
EU Exit: what you need to know
There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Bulgaria while the UK remains in the EU.
While the government continues to negotiate EU Exit, you should:
Before you go
See our travel advice for Bulgaria and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.
Visas and residency
See entry requirements for Bulgaria in our travel advice.
If you intend to stay in Bulgaria for longer than 3 months, you will need to apply for a long-term residence permit from the Migration Directorate of the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior.
After five years of consecutive residence you can apply for a permanent residence permit.
See the Ministry of Interior’s Migration Directorate website for how to get long-term and permanent residence permits or contact your local migration office or call +359 (2) 982 4808, email: email@example.com.
Once you’ve been resident in Bulgaria for 5 years, you can apply for Bulgarian citizenship.
See our travel advice for Bulgaria.
The NHS has information about healthcare for British people living in and visiting Bulgaria.
You need a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get emergency medical treatment during temporary stays in EU countries. You also need comprehensive travel insurance to cover anything not covered by your EHIC.
If you are planning to reside in Bulgaria on a long-term basis you must register with the National Health Insurance Fund and then choose a GP and a dentist. This will entitle you to the basic public healthcare package available for Bulgarian nationals. There are a number of private health insurance funds which offer various healthcare plans based on an annual fee. These plans can top up the services available under the basic public healthcare package depending on your individual circumstances and needs.
S1 form – healthcare paid for by the UK
You may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK if you live in Bulgaria and get an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit.
You need to apply for a S1 form – contact the Department for Work and Pensions’ International Pensions Centre.
Working in Bulgaria
General information on living and working conditions and relocating to Bulgaria: please follow the links to Bulgarian institutions provided for further specific advice.
Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check).
We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Bulgaria.
Britain has a double taxation agreement with Bulgaria to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.
In Bulgaria you should expect to pay personal income tax and home owners’ tax. Additional taxes exist, including a vehicle tax and a fee for rubbish collection. See National Revenue Agency.
You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.
If you haven’t worked in Bulgaria, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.
If you’ve worked in several EU countries, see state pensions abroad.
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.
Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.
Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.
You may be eligible to claim some Bulgarian social security benefits – see Bulgarian social security benefits.
Information about local Bulgarian benefits and pensions is available from the National Social Security Institute.
Driving in Bulgaria
If you are resident in Bulgaria and you wish to exchange your UK driving license for a local one, please contact the traffic police department of your nearest Regional Police Department. UK driving licences seized by the Bulgarian authorities are returned to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK.
If you’re resident in Bulgaria, you can vote in local municipal and European Parliamentary Elections.
See travelling with pets.
As well as the European emergency number 112, Bulgaria also has:
- 166 – police
- 160 – fire brigade
- 150 – first aid
If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.
Accommodation and buying property
Other useful information
- English-speaking lawyers in Bulgaria
- Translators and interpreters in Bulgaria
- Notarial and documentary services guide for Bulgaria
Returning to the UK
To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.
Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Bulgarian authorities. The FCO will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.