Dealing with allowed (visa C or visa-free) stay when marrying in Bulgaria

Bulgarian girls are beautiful, but Bulgarian guys seem to be attracting a lot of attention too. During the past 12 months, we receive roughly an equal amount of enquiries by foreign males and females, willing to marry Bulgarians in Bulgaria. And the problem they all face is – how to cope with everything. What documents are required for the marriage to be concluded? How to eventually extend their allowed stay in the country, as the marriage procedures take time? And last but not least, what to do after the marriage? How to apply for visa D and is it possible to do it from Bulgaria? So how can a foreigner marry in Bulgaria and eventually prolong his visa-free (or Schengen visa) allowed stay?

Marrying in Bulgaria as a foreigner

Marrying in Bulgaria, believe it or not, is easy. The foreigner only needs a document, showing his family status. It needs to show that the foreigner is either not married, divorced or widower. These are the only three options that will allow the foreigner to marry Bulgarian citizen in Bulgaria.

To our middle eastern and north African friends – in Bulgaria, only one wife please! And to some of our Western clients – in Bulgaria, the marriage is between a man and a woman – period. No gender mambo jambo, no plants marrying goldfish! A man marries a woman – the old fashioned

The other document, that may be somewhat tricky to obtain, is a statement from the foreigner’s country, stating that the marriage in Bulgaria will be recognised in the particular foreign jurisdiction. This document causes a lot of confusion, so please get in touch with us if you have difficulties. Please note however, that we don’t work for free, although from time to time, we may be providing free services for qualifying clients.

Staying in Bulgaria legally for the marriage and eventually afterwards

After Bulgaria joined Schengen, staying in the country legally is of utmost importance. Overstaying your visa-free 90 days (ie UK, USA citizens) or your Bulgarian/Schengen visa may have devastating consequences. And it is not only the fine that you will be have to pay. According to the Foreigners Law, the foreigner will not be allowed to enter Bulgaria (and the Schengen area) for a period of 5 years after the immigration related violation (ie overstay). Please note that the authorities are very keen to apply this measure very strictly, as the Parliament recently increased the ban from 2 to 5 years.

Prolonging your allowed stay in Bulgaria

So what are your options? Option one is to apply for visa extension or ask for your visa-free allowed stay to be prolonged. This must be done well in advance before your deadline to leave the country. And most importantly, you must have a valid and extraordinary reason if you want to get the extension approved. It is not sufficient to declare that you are marrying and want to spend some time with your spouse. Get in touch with us and we will explain you what your legal rights are. And most importantly, how can you eventually get approved.

Applying for visa D a.s.a.p.

The other option is to keep an eye on your allowed stay in Bulgaria and leave before the deadline. In all cases, after your marriage, you will need to leave in order to apply for your visa D from abroad. Answering to one of the most frequently asked question – no, visa D can not be obtain from within Bulgaria. To get your visa D, you will need to apply for it from the Bulgarian embassy or consulate in your country of permanent residence. In exceptional cases, the visa D can be obtained from another country, eventually much more easily accessible from Bulgaria, ie Greece, Serbia, etc. However, this is only possible after explicit permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And the Ministry is usually notoriously reluctant to give it.

So basically, this is enough for you to know for now. The most important choice you have to make is whether to lose your sleep fighting the Bulgarian bureaucracy or to leave it in the hands of the professionals – The second option is obviously more expensive, but option one usually doesn’t work at all and still leads to option two, at the end.

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