Retiring in Bulgaria (Getting Your Visa and Residence Permit)

Moving to Bulgaria for retirement? Our comprehensive article covers all of the documentation you'll need to obtain your visa for Bulgaria!

Retirement in Bulgaria

Moving to Bulgaria for Retirement: From Visa to Residence Permit

Many people dream of moving to Bulgaria after they retire. However, moving abroad is a huge step, and there are many legalities to consider, especially when it comes down to completing your migration application.

Step 1: Applying for Your Bulgarian Retirement Visa

For EU Pensioners

During the first 3 months of your stay in Bulgaria, you are not required to apply for a residence document that confirms your entitlement to remain in the country. Therefore, no visa is needed.

After this period, however, you are obligated to register your residence with the relevant authority (often the local police station). After filing the right paperwork, you will be issued a registration certificate.

For Non-EU Pensioners

A visa type D is required, allowing retirees to settle in Bulgaria. It is issued for six (6) months and is an essential requirement for all eligible applicants to be considered for a residence permit (See below in Step 2).

The average processing time for visa D is between 1-2 months and the application must be carried out in-person at the consulate / embassy office. First, check your eligibility and collect all the relevant paperwork.

Necessary Documents for Obtaining Visa Type D

The standard set of documents needed to obtain this type of visa are as follows

  1. A completed visa application form
  2. Two (2) identical photos - the standard passport size is required (45 mm x 35 mm).
  3. A current valid passport - you will need an entire blank page for your visa.
  4. Retirement Certificate - this should be issued by the competent authorities of your country of residence*.
  5. Evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself while in Bulgaria. This should be provided in the form of a bank statement (equal to at least 6 monthly Bulgarian pensions)**.
  6. Proof of private health insurance - must be issued by a Bulgarian insurance company to cover the costs of healthcare, hospitalization, and bodily repatriation**.
  7. Proof of accommodation / Lease agreement, otherwise referred to as a rental contract in Bulgaria***.
  8. Criminal background check - be sure to include details of any immigration, criminal or civil offenses you might have committed*.
  9. Proof of paid visa fee

If you are unsure as to whether your forms are in order, please contact our immigration law firm for further assistance.

Step 2: Applying for a Residence Permit

You applied for and received a retirement visa – what do you do next?

The second step in relocating to Bulgaria is applying for a residence permit. Since it may take up to two (2) weeks for a residence permit application to be processed, it is generally advised to apply for it at least three (3) weeks before your visa expiration date. Requirements to apply for a bulgarian residence permit:

  • A complete extended residence permit application form
  • A current valid passport (your passport should be valid for your entire stay in Bulgaria)
  • A bank statement/evidence of personal savings. This shows that you are able to support yourself while in Bulgaria. A minimum amount of at least twelve (12) Bulgarian minimum monthly pensions is required
  • Proof of accommodation/lease agreement. Also known as a rental contract in Bulgaria, the same documents from Step 1 can be reused again.
  • Health insurance - this must cover all expenses for urgent medical help and emergency hospital treatment for the period authorized by the residence permit (for at least 12 months). No new health insurance is required if the policy in Step 1 can be extended for a further 6-month period
  • Criminal background check - the criminal background check that was used for visa D can be reused again (if still valid) **.
  • Paid residence permit fee for processing documents via the Migration office
  • Financial statement - this should include the sum of the state pension received for the past three (3) months.

Step 3: Renewing a Residence Permit

For non-EU citizens, a residence permit usually lasts for one (1) year and up to five (5) years for EU citizens. If your residence permit is about to expire, the renewal process is important.

All paperwork must be submitted no later than two (2) weeks before your residence permit expires:

  1. A completed residence permit renewal application form
  2. Bulgarian Residence Certificate (a plastic card the size of a credit card with a personal identification number).
  3. A current valid passport (your passport should be valid for your entire stay in Bulgaria).
  4. A bank statement/evidence of personal savings. This should serve as evidence of having enough personal savings to support yourself while in Bulgaria. A minimum amount of at least twelve (12) Bulgarian minimum monthly pensions is required.
  5. A residence certificate - known as a “lichna karta”, this card (issued in Step 2) is printed with a personal identification number).
  6. Health insurance - your policy must all expenses for urgent medical help and emergency hospital treatment for at least 12 months.
  7. Proof of accommodation - the same documents used in Step 1 can be reused again ***.
  8. Paid residence permit renewal fee paid to the Migration office.
  9. Financial statement of pension (this should clearly state the state pension received for the past three (3) months).

Contact a Bulgarian Immigration Law Expert Today!

If you require assistance with the Bulgarian immigration process, contact me today! I look forward to helping you build your life in Bulgaria.


* This document also must be fixed with an apostille, translated into Bulgarian and notarized **** before it is accepted for use in the Bulgarian jurisdiction
** exceptions may apply
*** it is recommended to submit a notarized copy so that the originals can be kept with you and used for each subsequent renewal.
**** Document legalization is a process in which documents are presented to a notary public and signed in their presence