When a third-country national is actually (de facto) cohabiting with an EU citizen, this person is entitled to a number of rights. These rights are derived from the rights of the EU citizen. Probably the most important right is the right to free movement.

The de facto relationship (cohabitation), according to the Bulgarian legislation

The Bulgarian legislation does not have a complete legal definition for the term “de facto cohabitation“. However, similar definitions exist in different laws and to different degrees. For example, in the provision of §1, item 10 of the Additional Provisions of the Law on the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria, “actual extramarital cohabitation” is present when persons live in one household and cohabit on a marital basis. Next, in §1, item 2 of the Additional Provisions of the Social Assistance Act, the legislator has given a legal definition of the term “cohabitants” – living together in a dwelling with or without kinship, registered at one address. According to the rules of §1, para 2 of the Additional Provisions of the Regulations for implementation of the Law on Social Assistance and §1 of the Additional Provisions of Ordinance №RD-07-5 of 16 May 2008, the law shares the terms “cohabiting” and “family principles“.

§1, item 1, from the Additional Provisions of the Law on the Entry, Residence and Departure of the Republic of Bulgaria of Citizens of the European Union and Members of Their Families is also shedding some light. In its provision a person who has actual cohabitation with a citizen of the European Union is equated to a family member of a citizen of the European Union.

What is actual cohabitation according to our analysis and to that of to the law?

In view of the legal provisions containing unclear definition of the term “de facto cohabitation“, it can be interpreted as the cohabitation of persons who have personal relations as spouses – mutual respect, common family care and understanding, to live together, to take joint care of the family – through mutual understanding and joint efforts and in accordance with their capabilities, property and income to ensure the well-being of the family and to take care of the upbringing, education, and the support of the children.

De facto cohabitation between EU citizen and a citizen of non-EU country

Pursuant to the Law on the Entry, Residence and Departure of the Republic of Bulgaria of the Citizens of the European Union and the Members of Their Families, the right to enter, reside and leave the Republic of Bulgaria under this law has the person with whom the citizen of the European Union has a factual proven cohabitation. The same law stipulates that a family member of a citizen of the European Union “is also a person with whom the citizen of the European Union has married or has a de facto cohabitation, proven by an official document issued by another Member State of the European Union, or other documents certifying the circumstances regarding their actual cohabitation, with the exception of a written statement by the person. In our opinion, the proven de facto cohabitation is precisely a relation that is certified (proven) by an official document or other documents. Such may be, for example, a real estate lease agreement. , documents proving the existence of a common bank account, etc.

The actual (de facto) coexistence must be proven

In any case however, the actual cohabitation must be proven as such. In case you do not have enough evidence of your actual cohabitation, even if you believe your relation should qualify as such, this will lead to inability to exercise the rights under the law for entry, residence and departure of the citizens of the European Union and their family members, the right to enter, reside and leave the Republic of Bulgaria. Namely the right to enter and reside in the Republic of Bulgaria of a third-country (non-EU) national who is in actual cohabitation with an EU citizen.

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