Guidance

Living in Bulgaria

Official information British people moving to and living in Bulgaria need to know, including EU Exit guidance, residency, healthcare and driving.

EU Exit: what you need to know

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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.

The rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. You can check a passport for travel to Europe.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See our travel advice for entry requirements for Bulgaria.

If you are staying more than 3 months, you must apply to your nearest police department for residency.

You will need to provide documentation proving the following:

  • you have a work contract of are self-employed in Bulgaria
  • you have sufficient economic resources as well as personal health insurance or a UK social security form, such as an S1 form for pensioners
  • you are an immediate family member joining a EU citizen who fulfils one of the above

You will also be required to show your passport.

You must check with Migration Directorate of the Ministry of Interior or with your nearest police department what further documentation you may need to apply for residency.

Once you have been resident in Bulgaria for 5 years, you can apply to Migration Directorate for a permanent resident certificate.

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: migration@mvr.bg.

The UK and EU have agreed the full legal text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in principle. The agreement on citizens’ rights will allow UK nationals to stay in their Member State of residence after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

In the event of changes to residency rules or registration processes after 29 March 2019, we will update this page as soon as information is available.

Applying for Bulgarian citizenship

Once you have been officially resident in Bulgaria for 5 years, you can apply for Bulgarian citizenship.

For your Bulgarian citizenship application, you may need to order a birth, marriage or death certificate from the UK. You may also need a police certificate from the ACRO Criminal Records Office in the UK.

You may also be required to have these and other UK documents officially translated and legalised (apostilled).

Healthcare

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 staying more than 3 months, you need to register with the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) through your regional office.

You can register with the NHIF for free if:

  • you have a work contract (or are self-employed) in Bulgaria or if you are an immediate family member of someone who does
  • you are an immediate family member of a Bulgaria citizen
  • you have been officially resident in Bulgaria for 5 years or more
  • you hold a UK social security form such as an S1 for pensioners (see below)

If you cannot register for free, you can pay an annual fee to receive state healthcare – you should contact your Regional Health Insurance Fund office.

You can find English-speaking doctors in Bulgaria. You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Bulgaria.

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.

When you get your S1 form, register with your Regional Health Insurance Fund office before registering with a GP.

Working in Bulgaria

See working in another EU country.

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check (known as a DBS check).

A Bulgarian criminal records certificate from the Judicial Records Register can be issued by any Bulgarian Regional Court (Районен съд) or from the Ministry of Justice. You can see details and download application forms at the Ministry of Justice website (in Bulgarian language only).

Tax

See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Bulgaria.

See information about paying income 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.

Pensions

See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

The UK Government will continue to pay state pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals in the EU after the UK’s exit from the EU. Find guidance on benefits and pensions in a no deal scenario.

If you have not worked in Bulgaria, you should claim your UK state pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you have 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 do not.

Benefits

See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

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 cannot be paid if you are 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

See driving abroad and road travel in Bulgaria.

Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in an EU country should exchange their UK licences for a driving licence from the EU country you are living in before 29 March 2019. For more information see driving abroad.

See driving licence renewal and exchange and taking a vehicle out of the UK.

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 for the required documentation.

Voting

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you will need to register as an overseas voter.

If you are resident in Bulgaria, you can vote in local municipal and European Parliamentary Elections.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

Deaths

See what to do after someone dies.

See also:

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).

Pets

See travelling with pets.

UK nationals will still be able to travel to and from the UK with a pet (cat, dog or ferret) when the UK leaves the EU, but the rules will change. See pet travel to Europe after Brexit for more information.

Emergencies

As well as the European emergency number 112, Bulgaria also has:

  • 166 – police
  • 160 – fire brigade
  • 150 – first aid

See Bulgaria – emergency numbers.

If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

See buying property in Bulgaria.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

See bringing your pet to the UK.

Disclaimer

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.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 18 January 2019 + show all updates
  1. EU Exit update: updated information on pensions and driving
  2. EU Exit update: Added further information to residency, healthcare and driving sections, including links to external websites.
  3. Information about citizens outreach meetings added.
  4. EU Exit update: New information in residency and visa section on draft withdrawal agreement in principle between the UK and EU. Plus information on travelling with pets in Europe in pet section
  5. Updated March 2018
  6. Updated in March 2018.
  7. Updated January 2018
  8. The article now contains further detailed information on living in Bulgaria and reflects developments in light of the EU referendum.
  9. Information added on changes to EHIC rules and health cover for early retirees.
  10. First published.