How to legalize your documents? What is “apostille” and do you need one?
In order to officially use (and to be recognized by Bulgarian official institutions) a foreign legal documents in Bulgaria, they must be first legalized. The legalization procedure shall be arranged in a way, depending on one of the following 3 options:
1) The respective foreign state (the issuer of the foreign documents) is a party to the Hague Convention.
If this is the case, then the documents shall have an apostille from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the respective foreign country. Please scroll down or click here for a list of countries who have signed the Hague convention. Documents with apostille need to be translated subsequently in Bulgarian either by a consular or diplomatic official in the country where the document is issued or by a translation agency authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. The translation of the documents shall be certified by “Legalization and Certifications” Sector of the “Administrative Service of Bulgarian and foreign citizens” Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. In case the applicant prefers, we can arrange the translation in Bulgaria, according to the above procedure, for a standard nominal fee.
2) Between Bulgaria and the foreign state (the issuer of the documents) exist a Legal Aid Agreement.
For states with which Bulgaria has bilateral legal aid agreements with provisions for exempting the documents from legalization with apostille, documents issued by the foreign state must bear the stamp of the respective authorized institution as per the bilateral agreement. These documents will additionally require a translation which shall be certified in the same way as the documents with apostille. Please scroll down or click here for a list of countries have bilateral legal aid agreements with Bulgaria.
3) The respective foreign state does not fall in any of the first two groups.
If that is the case, then the documents need to be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the issuing state (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the foreign country – issuer of the documents). Consequently, the stamp of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the foreign state shall be certified/legalized by the Bulgarian diplomatic or consular mission in that state. The documents will additionally require a translation which shall be certified in the same way as the documents with apostille.
N.B. In extreme cases, where due to political instability or another verifiable reason, the applicant is unable to obtain certification from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his own country (the issuing state of the document), it may be possible for us to arrange the legalization in Bulgaria. Please note that this service will be applied only in extraordinary cases and there is no guarantee that the legalization process can be successfully administered in all cases. Fees apply.
Signatory states to the Hague convention abolishing the requirement of legalization for foreign public documents:
(requires apostille as per p.1 above)
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
China (only Hong Kong and Macao)
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The United States of America
Trinidad and Tobago
List of countries with which Bulgaria has signed bilateral legal assistance treaties (Legal Aid Agreements) providing for exemption of documents from legalization:
(as per p.2 above)
People’s Democratic Republic of Korea
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia
The Russian Federation
Syrian Arab Republic
Serbia (as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Croatia)
Czech republic (as well as Slovakia)