Guidance

Living in Bulgaria

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.

See moving or retiring abroad.

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: migration@mvr.bg.

Once you’ve been resident in Bulgaria for 5 years, you can apply for Bulgarian citizenship.

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.

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

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

See working in another EU country.

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).

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.

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.

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 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

See driving abroad and road travel in Bulgaria.

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. UK driving licences seized by the Bulgarian authorities are returned to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in the UK.

Voting

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

If you’re 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.

Emergencies

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

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 20 March 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated March 2018
  2. Updated in March 2018.
  3. Updated January 2018
  4. The article now contains further detailed information on living in Bulgaria and reflects developments in light of the EU referendum.
  5. Information added on changes to EHIC rules and health cover for early retirees.
  6. First published.