Overstaying of your visa or your visa-free term

In the good old days, read before Bulgaria joined Schengen, foreigners who were overstaying their visa or visa-free term in Bulgaria, were usually fined with 500 BGN. Many times, especially if the foreigner was not intending to return, these fines were never paid. Well, these days are over now. The Schengen accession of Bulgaria brought new opportunities, but also new responsibilities for the country. And logically, already in 2023, the Bulgarian parliament changed the Foreigner’s Law by increasing the ban for overstaying to a five years:

A foreigner shall be refused a visa or entry into the country if there is evidence that he has violated the border, passport, visa, currency or customs regime of Bulgaria in the last 5 years.

Art. 10, par. 1, p. 10 of the Bulgaria’s Foreigner’s Law

The message is clear. Overstaying in Bulgaria or in the EU/Schengen will no longer be excused with a fine only. The messages that we get from the authorities is that from 31.03.2024, any overstay will result in a 5-year ban to enter Bulgaria. This ban will of course be applied in all other Schengen member states, as there are no border controls (by air) between Bulgaria and the rest of the Schengen area. A penalty will be still applied on top, but its significance is minor, compared to the entry ban.

Overstay in the EU will result in an entry ban in Bulgaria too

As mentioned above, Bulgaria, as Schengen member state, is now applying severe measures against those who overstay. But now it is also banning the foreigners who overstay in other EU countries as well. Please take a note of the following new legislative text in the Foreigner’s Law:

Visa or entry into the country is refused to a foreigner who has already resided on the territory of the European Union for 90 days within the last 180 days as a holder of a Schengen visa, as established by a check in the Entry-Exit System.

Art. 10, par. 1, p. 18a of the Bulgaria’s Foreigner’s Law

Epilogue

All in all, the picture is clear. Overstaying of your visa or visa-free term in Bulgaria will result in a 5-year ban to enter any EU country. Cruel? For sure. So be sure to count your days precisely and if you have any doubts, please do contact us or the authorities for assistance.

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