Residence permits during the state of emergency and the emergency epidemic situation

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Last update: 08 July 2021

Renewal of residence permits of foreign and EU nationals and driving licenses issued by Bulgaria in the context of the COVID-19 state of emergency and emergency epidemic situation

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from 13 March 2020 to 13 May 2020 the Bulgarian parliament declared a state of emergency in the country. After May 13, 2020 the state of emergency was replaced by an emergency epidemic situation that continues to this day.

This article looks at the related changes regarding the renewal of residence permits of foreign and EU nationals and driving licenses issued by Bulgaria, which expire during the period of the state of emergency and the emergency epidemic situation.

If you are not an EU citizen and you hold a ‘continuous’ residence permit

In case your ‘continuous’ residence permit (which may be valid for up to 1 year) expires during the state of emergency or within 9 months after that, you can submit an application for extension within 9 months after the state of emergency is lifted.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, you may find yourself outside Bulgaria, unable to re-enter it. If your Bulgarian ‘continuous’ residence permit expires while you are outside the country, you can still enter Bulgaria without a visa. Do this not later than 9 months after the state of emergency is lifted. 

The period, during which Bulgaria is in a state of emergency, does not count as an interruption to your legal stay and you can still apply for a ‘long-term’ or ‘permanent’ residence permit, if you meet the rest of the requirements to do so.

If you are an EU citizen/ EEA or Swiss national or a family member and you have a ‘continuous’ residence permit

If your ‘continuous’ residence permit (which may be valid for up to 5 years) expires in the period between 13 March 2020 and 31 January 2021, its validity is automatically extended by 6 months. For the duration of this extension, your Bulgarian residence card is considered valid only on the territory of Bulgaria and serves only as a proof that you have the right to reside in Bulgaria.

You can submit an application and have your residence permit renewed even before the expiration of the extended 6-month-period.

If you have a ‘long-term’ or ‘permanent’ residence permit

The same rules apply both for third country nationals and EU citizens/ EEA and Swiss nationals who are holders of either long-term or permanent residence permits, and whose permits expire in the period between 13 March 2020 and 31 January 2021. They have the validity of their residence cards automatically extended with 6 more months.

You can submit an application and have your residence permit renewed even before the expiration of the extended 6-month-period.

In normal circumstances, if a third country national is absent from the territory of the Member States of the European Union for 12 consecutive months, his/her long-term or permanent residence permit is withdrawn. However, there is an exception to this rule regarding absence during the period of the declared state of emergency.

If you are a person who has entered Bulgaria under the conditions of visa-free regime for short-term residence or you are a person who has entered the country with a short-stay visa (visa type C)

During the declared state of emergency or epidemic emergency situation, the services for administrative control of foreigners may extend your stay for 3 months. You have the right to apply for an extension of the permitted period of residence by 3 months for humanitarian reasons or due to extraordinary circumstances.

The application for extension of the permitted period of residence is submitted to the services for administrative control of foreigners at your place of residence.

Driver’s license

If you have a driver’s license issued by the Bulgarian authorities and it expires in the period between 13 March 2020 and 31 December 2020, its validity is automatically extended with 7 months.  During this extension period, your driver’s license is valid to drive a motor vehicle.

You can also renew your license even before the 7-month-period of extension expires.

Third-country nationals and EU nationals/EEA or Swiss national or national of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and want to leave Bulgaria

During a declared state of emergency, respectively the emergency epidemic situation, if you have entered Bulgaria in accordance with the law, you can leave the country through the border checkpoints within the extended period of your ID card or passport and provided that you are provided with transit to the country of your final destination.

The country that issued your ID card or passport must have notified Bulgaria that their validity has been extended.

Disclaimer:

This article aims to provide main information, but shall not be considered exhaustive and does not replace the need to consult a lawyer or another specialist in the field. If you need an individual legal consultation, you can book one by writing to our head lawyer via WhatsApp at +359 888 401 489.