I am married to Bulgarian woman/man or I am planning to get married soon. What are my options in order to obtain residence permit in Bulgaria?

Is our marriage legal if concluded outside of Bulgaria? What is the procedure for obtaining legal residence and is my residence permit guaranteed as a spouse of Bulgarian citizen?

The marriage is usually one of the happiest moments in life. It is often associated with love, honeymoon, travel around the world, exotic places and romantic resorts, just to name a few. When your spouse is citizen of another country though, there are often some formalities that need to be followed. And if you have chosen your future country of residence to be Bulgaria, you should carefully take into account the following particularities:

EU citizen marrying Bulgarian national

If you are citizen of an EU country and you have married Bulgarian national, the procedure is quite straightforward and simple. We will therefore not waste our readers’ time to explain the administrative formalities. A worth mentioning is the situation of British nationals married to Bulgarian citizens after (and if) the Brexit becomes reality. We will dedicate additional article about this phenomenon, its legal consequences and the administrative hurdles that will need to be addressed.

Non-EU citizens to marry Bulgarian

The much more complicated scenario is when the marriage is between a Bulgarian national and a citizen of non-EU country. There are more and more marriages between Bulgarians and nationals of USA, Canada, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordan, Syria, Libya, South Africa, Russia, Ukraine, China, Malaysia, Turkey, etc. When the couple has decided to live in Bulgaria, the non-Bulgarian partner has to go through the process of, first, obtaining his Bulgarian immigration visa type “D” and then applying for his annual residence permit. It is often the case, when the residence in Bulgaria is chosen not only because of the country’s beautiful countryside and golden beaches, but also because of the fact that certain term of legal residence in Bulgaria provides the opportunity to apply for full citizenship and Bulgarian (EU) passport. This allows visa free travel to most countries worldwide alongside with free movement and working within the European Union.

The Bulgarian law

According Art.15 of the “Law for the Foreigners of Republic of Bulgaria”, a long term visa with a validity of up to 6 months and allowed stay of up to 180 days can be granted to foreigners who intend to stay long term or permanently in Bulgaria. This visa is to be applied for and received from the Bulgarian Embassy in the country of residence of the foreigner. This process, although quite bureaucratic, is only the first hurdle into achieving the final goal – the EU residency. You will be required to present “certificate for good conduct”, official marriage certificate, legalized as appropriate as well as other documents and declarations. We always recommend using legal support at this stage as failure to meet the requirements of the Bulgarian diplomatic mission in your country of residence may result in very serious consequences, preventing you to obtain legal residence. This visa is to be received from the Bulgarian embassy in your country of residence.

The second step

The second step is applying and receiving the residence permit itself from the Bulgarian immigration authorities. According to Art.24, par.1, p.18 of the “Law for the Foreigners of Republic of Bulgaria”, a permit for long term residence can be obtained by foreigners, holders of visa (as explained above) who are family members of Bulgarian citizen as per Art.2, par.6. It is worth mentioning that as “family members” are considered the spouses who are living together in one household. In other words, if you don’t intend to live together with your spouse in Bulgaria, you are not eligible for residence permit. You will have to present a lot of paperwork, such as, your marriage certificate, police record for lack of criminal convictions, declarations, etc. The most important part of the process is that the immigration authorities, together with the police and the “State Agency for National Security” will carry out a thorough check (including an interview with the spouses) in order to verify that:

1) You do not present any thread to the national security. You have to understand, that bearing in mind the current situation in EU (and elsewhere), these checks will be done with utmost scrutiny and there will be a policy of zero tolerance. Even minor convictions or “irregularities” in the past history of the applicant, or any documentary discrepancies, will be deemed as serious breach and the application can be refused.

2) That the marriage is real and is not made with the sole purpose to provide the possibility to the foreigner to obtain residence permit. Art.26, par.3 from the “Law for the Foreigners of Republic of Bulgaria” clearly stipulates this. Moreover in the same Article, par.4, p.1 states that the spouses must be living together and if not, the residence permit can be refused. There are also many other reasons when the permission for residency will not be granted or can be even withdrawn. Please be advised that the spouses will be simultaneously interviewed and their statements compared. Even the slightest doubt of the immigration officer about their honesty can result in immediate refusal and consequential deportation. Therefore we strongly advise all of you, who are facing application for legal residency trough marriage, to consult immigration lawyer before applying yourself.

Attention! Fake marriages!

The statistics show that in recent years, especially after Bulgaria joined the EU and its citizens enjoy the visa free travel as EU members, the amount of fake marriages has skyrocketed. Please be advised, that unless you can prove your marriage to be legitimate, you are not only risking refusal and deportation, but are also subject to criminal convictions, including jail terms. We urge you to employ a licensed Bulgarian lawyer in order to prevent any such possibilities!

29 Comments

  1. Hello,

    Is it possible to obtain a 5 year long term residency if my wife is bulgarian and i am non EU citizen ? Thank you .

    1. Author

      Hello Max,
      It is possible, yes. You will have to renew your residency card though.
      For further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
      Regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

  2. Taking residence permit is a long process, and you have to renew it yearly, and its take up to three weeks for renew !

  3. good day my name is Amos olashile oluwaseun I have a fiance in Bulgaria she want to send me invitation letter to come and meet her in Bulgaria and as we all know invitation letter is valid for 90 days my question is this will it possible for us to get married during the 90days and obtain the long term residency / stay to be living with her as a family please I need your advice

    1. Author

      Hello,
      90 days are more than enough to get married in Bulgaria with your fiance. It is important however to bring with you all the necessary documents, such as certificate that you are not married elsewhere, etc. Please also note that under normal circumstances, you will need to travel back to your home country (after getting married) in order to obtain visa D.
      For any further information you might need, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
      Best regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

      1. I and my wife to be met online and has been communicating for over a year. Technology has really helped us so much as we spend hours on video chat everyday. We know each other family very well but has not yet met in person. My visa was denied last year , an opportunity to meet her in person and her family, she was adviced that we should get married and we decided to get married. My question is, given that we have not met in person, will it be a problem in denying me visa? We have registered at the marriage registry and she has an interview with the immigration.

        1. Author

          Hello,
          We assume that you didn’t get married yet, right? And you haven’t met in person yet, right?
          Where, at what marriage agency have you registered in that case? And what is your future wife doing at the immigration at this point?
          Regards,
          Posolstvo.eu

      2. hello
        i just want to know without marriage how i can take marriage certificate ?

        1. Author

          Hello,
          Without marriage you can even make children, but unfortunately you can not get marriage certificate. 🙂 Good luck and please, STAY LEGAL!

  4. Hello,
    I wanted to ask how much time does it take to obtain the 5 year visa for me as a non-EU citizen after I marry my bulgarian girlfriend?
    Thank you!
    Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. Author

      Hello,
      There is no such as 5-year visa. You are maybe referring to “permanent residency” status. Such will be obtained after 5 years of marriage or in case you have a child, this period may be shortened to 3 years. Please note also that there are also certain other conditions that need to be met in order to obtain permanent residency.
      Best regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

      1. Thank you for your answer!
        So the permanent residency is obtained after 3-5 years, but till then am I supposed to renew my Visa D every 6-12 months?
        Me and my girlfriend want to live and work in London together so can I renew my permit from there without coming to Bulgaria? (Please exclude the Brexit rules at the moment in your answer)

        1. Author

          Your visa D will be cancelled once you get your your first residency permit (in form of credit card photo ID). You will indeed need to renew this permit every 6-12 months.
          You can not renew it from London without some special arrangements.
          Regards,
          Posolstvo.eu

  5. Hi sir I’m non eu and my wife from Bulgaria we married in uk last 2 and half year
    Now we want to go in Bulgaria is there I need again take five year or same visa change in Bulgarian visa system

    1. Author

      Hello,
      Your question is not very clear. Have you already applied for Bulgarian visa type D?
      Regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

  6. Hello,
    I am looking for some advice and I hope I have come to the right place.
    I am a non-EU citizen and my boyfriend is a Bulgarian resident. We have been together for 18 months now – both making the (lonnng) trip to and from Australia during that time. We intend to marry and I have decided to make the move and make Bulgaria my home, however, I am unsure if the marriage alone would allow me to remain there.
    Do I need a separate visa prior to/during this period?
    I am not seeking permanent residency as such, just at least 1-2 years with my love before we intend to return to Australia.

    Any information you can provide would be much appreciated.
    Thank you.

    1. Author

      Hello,
      Marriage with legal resident of Bulgaria is ground for obtaining residency permit for yourself. You will need separate visa type D and there are number of other formalities that will need to be observed as well.
      If you need any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
      Best regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

  7. Dear sir or madam

    I am karunarathna from Sri Lankan I am now working Cyprus i have marry with Bulgaria wife I like to know after 3 years I can apply Bulgarian citizenship or I have to live in bulgaria 3 years please let me know because I have to plan my life next 3 years thank you so much

    Best regards
    Karunarathna

    1. Author

      Hello Karunarathna,
      Marriage by itself will not lead automatically to Bulgarian citizenship. You have to first apply for long-term residency. After that there are other requirements that need to be met too. If you are serious about following all legal procedures and obtain Bulgarian citizenship, please contact our lawyers accordingly.
      Best regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

  8. I am harpreet from India but I came in Hungary as a work permit now I have Hungary Visa and I married with Bulgaria girl ..can u tell me how many years I will get Visa after marry ..I want to apply Visa in Germany

    1. Author

      Hello,
      If you are married to Bulgarian citizen, you are entitled to immediately apply for visa D. Consequently you can obtain Bulgarian long-term residency permit. Once you are legal resident in Bulgaria, you can arrange your residency rights in Germany accordingly.
      If you need any assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
      Regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

  9. Hello Sir,
    I am Haque. I am from Bangladesh. I got married a Bulgarian woman in cyprus on 2017. Now i am living in germany with her. I was make my marriage registration on Bulgaria on 2017. But i need passport or id card from Bulgaria so what i have to do now? I have to stay in bulgaria or i can apply from here? Please if you answer me i will be happy.

    1. Author

      Hello,
      You have to apply for visa D from our embassy in Germany first. Once received, you will need to travel to Bulgaria and obtain residency permit, which will allow you to travel and work in Bulgaria without any restrictions. Please note that the procedure is quite comprehensive and you should proceed with extreme legal compliance in mind. Please also read our other relevant article. Also be advised that Cyprus is known as hub for “marriages” and this may raise a red flag when applying for residence permit in Bulgaria.
      Regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

  10. Hi Sir,
    Thanks For reply. And sorry for disturb you again. I have Germany visa until 2022 with that visa i can move any EU country. So why should i have to take again D visa for Bulgaria? And if i don’t need and i go Bulgaria i can apply for ID-Card? And where i have to go and apply for ID-Card? please let me know. Thanks for your Support. Hope get reply soon. Thanks again for your support.

    1. Author

      Hello,
      Although you have valid German visa, you still need to obtain Bulgarian immigration visa D. Even if you were from a country, with which Bulgaria has visa-free regime (ie Canada), you would still need visa D. This is the law (art.24 and art.15 from the Law for the Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria), although it may sound strange to you. If you go to Bulgaria without visa D, you can not apply for ID card.
      Regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

      P.S. Please be sure to proceed with extreme legal compliance in mind, as marriages that are concluded in Cyprus are often being viewed as to hold higher risk for the system. Please read (in Bulgarian) https://posolstvo.eu/bg/blog/trafik-na-hora-s-cel-brak/

  11. My question is, icame aclose a certain lady from Bulgaria and she loved me very much, am non European citizen, she needs to invite me to her country, is it possible to get residency in Bulgaria if she marries me,

    1. Author

      Hello Allan,
      Yes, it will be possible. Please be prepared that the process may be not as straightforward and easy as you may be hoping for. If you need assistance, please let us know.
      Best regards,
      Posolstvo.eu

  12. Hello,
    I’m a Non-EU Citizien and i’m living in Bulgaria at least 2 year and a half. I had residence permit untill february 2020 with ground of business.
    I would like to ask , if i get married now with Bulgarian girl for how long i can get the Residence permit again?
    6-12 months the same or it can be more longer?
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Author

      If you marry Bulgarian citizen now and want to apply for new residency permit, you will need to re-apply for visa D and re-enter Bulgaria. Your residency permit will be then issued for the same 6-12 months period.

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