How to immigrate to Bulgaria as a freelancer

digital nomad work permit Bulgaria

Can you obtain visa D and long-term residence permit if you want to work as freelancer in Bulgaria? Many digital nomads are aware of the ultra-low tax rate in Bulgaria and the competitive cost of living in the country. All this, combined with the beautiful Bulgarian scenery and soft climate, make the country one of the most desired destinations in the EU.

But is it easy to obtain visa D and residence permit if you are from a non-EU country?

Start-up visa (from 2022)

Recently, the parliament passed a new bill, allowing entrepreneurs to obtain start-up visa. The conditions of its issuance are already clear and we will be soon writing more about this unique option. For the time being however, we will discuss further the so-called freelance visa (AKA visa for self-employed).

Visa for freelancers in Bulgaria

The legal opportunity to obtain freelancer visa D has been exploited since long by the digital nomads. The truth is however, that many of them have failed, as most of them have underestimated the legal complexities.. Let’s first see what the laws state.

A long-term residence permit can be obtained by foreigners who hold visa D and wish to carry out freelance activities with permission from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy in accordance with Art. 24a and in accordance with the Law on Labor Migration and Labor Mobility;

Art. 24, par. 1, p. 15 of the Foreigners Law

And then art. 24a stipulates that:

A long-term residence permit or a long-term residence visa can be obtained by foreigners who want to carry out a self-employed activity and meet the conditions for obtaining a permit to carry out a self-employed activity within the meaning of the Labor Migration and Labor Mobility Law.

Art. 24a, par. 1 of the Foreigners Law
The Labor Migration and Labor Mobility Law

The conditions for the issuance of the permit for self employed activities are foreseen in Chapter VIII of the Labor Migration and Labor Mobility Law. The executive director of the Employment Agency is issuing this permit. This is done after the applicant submits a detailed activity plan for the duration of the permit. On the basis of this plan, the Ministry of the Interior issues a long-term residence permit or a visa for long-term residence, according to Art. 24a of the Foreigners Law. The permit is issued with validity of up to one year.

Knowledge of Bulgarian language (B1) is a must

The whole procedure is quite cumbersome and there are many documents that the candidate has to submit. These are namely:

  • Brief description of the type, character and goals of the freelance activity;
  • Detailed plan of the activity for the period for which a permit to carry out a freelance activity is requested;
  • Documents certifying the existence of professional experience of at least two years in the activity, dully legalized;
  • Document for proficiency in the Bulgarian language at minimum B1 level from the Common European Language Framework of the Council of Europe;
  • Document establishing the availability of financial means to carry out the freelance activity in accordance with the presented plan;
  • Other documents, when necessary for the particular application.

In general it is quite difficult to obtain freelancer visa in Bulgaria. But it’s definitely worth the hassle. You should, among other things, be able to demonstrate certain knowledge of Bulgarian. Even if this is not the case for you yet, we are able to assist you with express language courses, so you can meet the legal requirements. Please contact us for further assistance.

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