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 should do

  • register as a resident in Bulgaria

EU Exit updates

Visas and residency

See our travel advice for entry requirements for Bulgaria.

Read our guidance on moving or retiring abroad.

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 that:

  • you have a work contract or are self-employed in Bulgaria, or that you can support yourself through independent means
  • you hold personal health insurance or a UK social security form, such as an S1 form
  • you are enrolled in an educational programme

or

  • you are an immediate family member joining an EU citizen who fulfils one of the above criteria. If you are an immediate family member joining an EU citizen , you will have to present documentary evidence that you are a family member or live together with the EU citizen (for example a marriage certificate or a birth certificate)

You will also need 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 residency 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.

Residency after the UK leaves the EU

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.

There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Bulgaria while the UK remains in the EU.

In a deal scenario and in the event of changes to residency rules or registration processes after the UK leaves the EU, we will update this page as soon as information is available.

In a no deal scenario, the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior have published guidance on residency and the proposed re-registration scheme for UK nationals lawfully residing in Bulgaria by exit date.

Passports and travel

Read our travel advice for Bulgaria and sign up for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

You can apply for your British passport from Bulgaria. If you cannot get a passport in time for your trip, you may need to get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an ´emergency passport´).

Passports and travel after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, new travel rules will apply. You should have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).

If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

You should check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip. You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK nationals will not need visas for short stays elsewhere in the EU. You will be able to stay up to 90 days in another EU country, within a 180 day period. You should retain evidence of travel (e.g. train and plane tickets), in case these are requested by national authorities. If you hold a residence permit from an EU Member State, you will be able to transit through other EU Member States to reach your country of residence. The Bulgarian Ministry of Interior have published guidance on traveling to Bulgaria after the UK leaves the EU- your passport should be valid for at least 3 months after the date of your departure. We will update this guidance as more information becomes available.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, nothing will change until the end of 2020. In this time you can continue to travel freely in the Schengen area with your UK passport. What happens after 2020 will form the next part of negotiations.

Applying for Bulgarian citizenship

Once you have been a permanent 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 UK criminal records certificate in the UK.

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

Applying for Bulgarian citizenship after the UK leaves the EU

After EU Exit, UK nationals applying for Bulgarian citizenship will have to renounce their UK citizenship, in both a deal and no deal scenario.

Healthcare

You can read our travel advice for Bulgaria.

The NHS has more information about healthcare for UK nationals living in and visiting Bulgaria.

You can find English-speaking doctors in Bulgaria.

You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Bulgaria.

If you are a long-term or permanent resident, you should register with the Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) through your regional office.

If you live in Bulgaria and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate. To apply, call +44 (0)191 218 1999. When you get your form, register with your Regional Health Insurance Fund office before registering with a GP.

If you are resident in Bulgaria, you should not be using a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from the UK to access healthcare in Bulgaria.

  • you may use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland
  • the EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home
  • an EHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance
  • for more information you can read our travel advice pages and advice on foreign travel insurance

You can read the NHS guidance on healthcare and studying abroad.

Healthcare after the UK leaves the EU

If you plan to visit Bulgaria after the UK leaves the EU, you should continue to buy travel insurance for the health treatment you may need, as you would for a non-EU country. If you have a UK-issued EHIC, it will still be valid until the day the UK leaves the EU.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, your current rights on access to healthcare in Bulgaria will remain the same until 31 December 2020, as long as you remain a resident in Bulgaria.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your access to healthcare may change. If you are a permanent or temporary resident you should review the status of your healthcare cover.

The UK has proposed maintaining current healthcare cooperation with Bulgaria for S1 form holders until the end of December 2020. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, and there is no arrangement with Bulgaria to continue reciprocal healthcare, those receiving coverage through the S1 form will not be covered.

Your EHIC may not be valid in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The UK has offered to maintain the EHIC scheme, however this is reliant on Bulgaria continuing to accept UK EHICs.

If you plan to stay in Bulgaria long-term, make sure to register with the Bulgarian authorities. Your residency status will make you eligible for access to Bulgarian national healthcare. UK nationals will be able to return to UK for treatment.

You should read the NHS guidance on healthcare for UK nationals in Bulgaria and how it may change after UK leaves the EU.

Working in Bulgaria

Read our guidance on working in another EU country.

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

You can get a Bulgarian criminal records certificate from the Judicial Records Register from 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).

Working in Bulgaria after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves with a deal, your right to work will not change until the end of implementation period.

If you’re planning to start a business, provide a service, or do a job in a regulated profession after the UK leaves the EU, you should read our further guidance.

Money and tax

You can read our guidance ontax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

The UK has a double-taxation agreement with Bulgaria to ensure people do not pay tax on the same income in both countries.

You can read our guidance about paying income tax in Bulgaria.

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.

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

Money and tax after the UK leaves the EU

The UK’s exit from the EU will not change existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Bulgaria. You should direct individual taxpayer questions about double taxation relief to the relevant tax authority.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, it may become more expensive to use your bank card, or other financial service from a UK-based firm in the EU. Read more about using a bank card, insurance or other financial service in the EU.

Pensions

You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad. See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

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.

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.

Pensions after the UK leaves the EU

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. Read our guidance on benefits and pensions in a no deal scenario.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in Bulgaria, you will still be able to add your UK social security contributions towards your Bulgarian pension. This will happen even if you claim your pension after the end of the implementation period.

The UK government will uprate your UK state pension for the fiscal year 2019/2020 in any scenario.

Benefits

You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Bulgaria. Read our guidance on 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.

If you are abroad for more than 4 weeks, many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid.

You may be eligible to claim some Bulgarian social security benefits. You can get information about local Bulgarian benefits and pensions from the National Social Security Institute.

You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC if you are asked for this.

Benefits after the UK leaves the EU

The UK government will continue to pay child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible people living in the EU after the UK leaves the EU.

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal and you work and pay social security contributions in Bulgaria, your UK social security contributions will be taken into account when applying for Bulgaria contributions-based benefits. This will happen even if you claim contributions-based benefits after the end of the implementation period.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, you can read our guidance on benefits and pensions in a no deal scenario.

Driving in Bulgaria

Read our guidance on what you need to drive abroad and road travel in Bulgaria.

Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in Bulgaria should exchange their UK licences for a Bulgarian driving licence six months after first registering with Bulgarian authorities.

To exchange your UK driving licence for a local one, contact the traffic police department at your nearest Regional Police Department.

You can still use your Bulgarian licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test if you return to live in the UK.

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

Driving after the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same during the implementation period. Please read our guidance on driving in the EU after the UK leaves the EU.

In a no deal scenario, the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior has published guidance on driving in Bulgaria after exit date.

Voting

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

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

Voting after the UK leaves the EU

Once the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals in Bulgaria will no longer be eligible to vote in local and European Parliament elections.

Births, deaths and getting married

If your child is born in Bulgaria, you will need to register a birth abroad.

If someone dies in Bulgaria you can:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

Find out about notarial and documentary services for UK nationals in Bulgaria.

Accommodation and buying property

You can read our guidance on:

Pets

While the UK is still a Member State you’ll be able to travel with your pet to the EU under the current pet travel rules using your current EU pet passport. If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you’ll have to visit your vet to get a pet passport.

When the UK leaves the EU, you will still be able to travel to and from the UK with a cat, dog or ferret but the rules will change. You can read our guidance on pet travel to Europe after the UK leaves the EU.

Read guidance on returning your cat, dog or ferret to the UK. For moving pet horses and other equines read guidance on export horses and ponies: special rules.

Emergencies

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

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

You can also look at emergency numbers in Bulgaria.

If you’re the victim of crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis abroad, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

You should read our guidance on:

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 15 April 2019 + show all updates
  1. EU Exit updates: new information added to the following sections: "Passports and travel after the UK leaves the EU"; "Pensions after the UK leaves the EU" and "Returning to the UK"
  2. EU Exit update: Updated information in visas and residency, working, passports and travel, driving, healthcare and voting.
  3. Updated "Applying for Bulgarian citizenship" section: permanent residence required for 5 years in order to apply.
  4. We have updated the contact details you need to apply for an S1 form.
  5. EU Exit update: updated information in the visas and residency section
  6. EU Exit update: updated information on access to healthcare
  7. EU Exit update: updated information on pensions and driving
  8. EU Exit update: Added further information to residency, healthcare and driving sections, including links to external websites.
  9. Information about citizens outreach meetings added.
  10. 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
  11. Updated March 2018
  12. Updated in March 2018.
  13. Updated January 2018
  14. The article now contains further detailed information on living in Bulgaria and reflects developments in light of the EU referendum.
  15. Information added on changes to EHIC rules and health cover for early retirees.
  16. First published.