Visas and work permits
Effective from 1 January 2007, EU nationals are not required to obtain visas or work permits to be allowed to enter or work in the country. EU nationals wishing to work or reside in Bulgaria for more than three months should obtain a certificate of residence. This is a relatively straightforward registration procedure (i.e. the certificate is issued within one working day and may be valid for up to five years if a valid contract/assignment letter/financial means and social security coverage is in place for this term).
Non-EU nationals need to obtain a work permit in order to legally work in the country. The procedure is time-consuming, and various documents need to be submitted to the labour authorities. On the basis of the work permit, the expatriate should apply for a long-term visa type D and later for a Bulgarian residence permit, which would allow one to reside and work legally in Bulgaria.
No work permits are required for non-EU nationals who are registered with Bulgarian Commercial Register as managers, board members, procurators, or controllers of Bulgarian companies or are registered with the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as heads of representative offices of foreign entities. Such individuals need a visa D and a residence permit only.
Blue Card Regime
As of 2011, the so-called ‘blue card’ was introduced, which gives working/residing rights in Bulgaria (and residence rights in few EU member states) to non-EU nationals with high qualification and specialisation skills. The main requirements for obtaining a blue card in Bulgaria are:
- Having a diploma proving at least a three-year educational course from a university or another institution of higher education, which is valid and accepted in Bulgaria.
- The local gross salary should be at least 1.5 times higher than the average salary in Bulgaria, as per the statistical data for the previous 12 months before the conclusion of the job contract.
- The Bulgarian employer has to motivate its denial to hire Bulgarian/EU/EEA/Switzerland national before the Bulgarian employment authorities.
As of 23 March 2018, new rules have been adopted in relation to the issuance of the EU Blue Card for certain types of highly skilled non-EU professionals:
- The mandatory 'market test' is abolished for all types of professions.
- The period of the EU Blue card has been extended to four years.