Alexander Dobrinov - speaker
by Alexander Dobrinov

What qualifies as “pension” under the terms of the Bulgarian Foreigners Law

The Bulgarian Foreigners Law foresees that foreign pensioners have the right to obtain Bulgarian residence permit. But what qualifies as “pension” seems to be quite unclear. The legal practice is insufficient and there is no clear consensus even among the professionals in the field.

Things become even more complicated as the Bulgarian law refers to the term pension as per the legislation of foreign countries.

What is the Foreigners Law saying?

The legal texts of the Bulgarian Foreigners Law don’t specify the term “pension”. The law only stipulates that a foreigner with a pension may obtain long-term residence permit.

A long-term residence permit can be obtained by foreigners who hold visa D and have received the right to a pension according to the legislation of Bulgaria, their country of origin or another country and have sufficient means of subsistence in the country;

Art. 24 (1), p. 10 of the Foreigners Law

The rules for the implementation of the Foreigners Law

There is one additional legal act to the Foreigners Law that is specifying how the law should be implemented. These are the rules for the implementation of the law.

To obtain the right of long-term residence on the basis of Art. 24 (1), p. 10 of the Foreigners Law, the foreigner applies the documents under Art. 14, para. 1 and a document issued by the competent authorities of the respective country certifying that he has received the right to a pension;

Art. 23, p.1 of the Rules for the implementation of the Foreigners Law

Neither the Law nor the Rules specify what pension is. Therefore we must dig deeper into the legislation in order to determine the meaning of the term.

Necessity to open Bulgarian bank account

Worth mentioning is the requirement that the pension is received in a bank account in Bulgaria. The Rules for the implementation of the Foreigners Law require:

a document issued by a bank in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria certifying that there is an available account on which the relevant transfers from the pension will be received

Art. 23, p.2 of the Rules for the implementation of the Foreigners Law

Since 2018-19, the banks in Bulgaria are extremely reluctant to open bank account for foreigners. Therefore the potential candidates should best use the services or professionals in the field, who may eventually be able to help them with bank introduction support.

Pension by the Bulgarian legislation

According to the Bulgarian National Social Security Institute, the term pension can be described as follows:

A pension is a periodic cash payment that is acquired in the presence of prerequisites determined by the law, which are different depending on its type.

The Social Insurance Code is the main normative act that regulates public relations related to the pension insurance of individuals. Under its provisions, both employment and non-employment pensions are granted.

Employment pensions are:

  • Pension for length of service and age;
  • Disability pension due to general illness;
  • Pension for disability due to occupational accident and occupational disease;
  • Inheritance pension.

Non-employment pensions are:

  • War Disability Pension;
  • Civil Disability Pension;
  • Social pension for old age;
  • Social disability pension;
  • Special Merit Pension;
  • Personal pension.

conclusion by

So what types of “pensions” qualify to obtain Bulgarian residence permit?

With all being said and written above, we can conclude the following:

  1. The pension must be in cash (monetary), transferred to bank account in Bulgaria;
  2. The payments must be periodic, however as no period is specified, the term becomes open to interpretation;
  3. There is no requirement for the pension to be only from employment. All types of non-employment pensions should qualify for the purposes of obtaining residence permit;
  4. The pension must qualify as such by the laws of the respective country. As this is virtually impossible to be verified by the Bulgarian authorities, the Bulgarian legal interpretation of the term “pension” is likely to be applied in most cases;
  5. The pension needs to be confirmed by the “competent authorities of the respective country”. This suggests that the pension should be a state pension, although this is not strictly specified in the law;
  6. The pension can be from any country, no matter whether the country is the country of which the applicant is citizen of;
  7. The amount of the pension is of no importance for as far as the applicant has sufficient funds to support himself while in Bulgaria.

Obtaining residence permit as pensioner is not an easy task. Legally, the authorities in Bulgaria should verify that the pension qualifies as such in the country where it has been granted. This is possible only in theory. Therefore most of the applications will be aligned with the Bulgarian meaning of “pension’, which is also quite subjective.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for any assistance you might require if you want to retire legally in Bulgaria.

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