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Living in Bulgaria

Official information for UK nationals moving to or living in Bulgaria, including guidance on residency, healthcare, passports and the Withdrawal Agreement.


Foreign & Commonwealth Office


             What you should do

             Stay up to date

             The Withdrawal Agreement

             Visas and residency

             Applying for Bulgarian citizenship


             Passports and travel

             Driving in Bulgaria

             Working in Bulgaria

             Education and professional qualifications

             Money and tax




                     Births, deaths and getting married

                     Accommodation and buying property



                     Other useful information

                     Returning to the UK

What you should do

·         register as a resident in Bulgaria

·         review the status of your healthcare cover in Bulgaria

·         exchange your UK driving licence for a Bulgarian one

Stay up to date: You should sign up for email alerts on living in Bulgaria; follow British Embassy Sofia on Facebook and Twitter

Attend a citizen outreach meeting

The British Embassy regularly holds events across Bulgaria for UK nationals. Attend one of our citizen outreach meetings to keep up to date on working and living in Bulgaria.

The Withdrawal Agreement

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights. It sets out a transition period which lasts until 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to live, work and study in the EU broadly as you did before 31 January 2020.

If you are resident in Bulgaria at the end of the transition period, you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and your rights will be protected for as long as you remain resident in Bulgaria.

Any rights that are not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be the subject of future negotiations. Read this guidance page for more information.

In the meantime, make sure you are registered as a resident in Bulgaria. We will update this guidance as soon as more information becomes available.

You should also read our guidance on living in Europe.

Visas and residency

See our travel advice for entry requirements for Bulgaria.


If you are resident in Bulgaria before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020 you will be able to stay. If you arrive during the transition period and plan to stay for more than 3 months, you must apply to your nearest police department for residency.

You will need to provide documentation proving that:

·         you have a work contract or are self-employed in Bulgaria, or that you can support yourself through independent means

·         you hold personal health insurance or a UK social security form, such as an S1 form

·         you are enrolled in an educational programme


·         you are an immediate family member joining an EU citizen who fulfils one of the above criteria. If you are an immediate family member joining an EU citizen, you will have to present documentary evidence that you are a family member or live together with the EU citizen (for example a marriage certificate or a birth certificate)

You will also need to show your passport.

Once you have been resident in Bulgaria for 5 years, you can apply to Migration Directorate for a permanent residency certificate.

See the Ministry of Interior’s Migration Directorate website for how to get long-term and permanent residence permits or contact your local migration office or call +359 (2) 982 4808, email:

If there are changes to residency registration processes, we will update this guidance as soon as information is available.

Read the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior’s guidance on residency for UK nationals in Bulgaria.

Read our guidance on moving or retiring abroad.

Applying for Bulgarian citizenship

Once you have held a permanent residence permit in Bulgaria for 5 years, you can apply for Bulgarian citizenship.

If you apply for Bulgarian citizenship after 31 January 2020, you may have to renounce your UK citizenship, based on your personal circumstances (e.g. if you are not married to a Bulgarian citizen).

For your Bulgarian citizenship application, you may need to order a birth, marriage or death certificate from the UK. You may also need a UK criminal records certificate in the UK.

You may also be required to have these and other UK documents officially translated and legalised (apostilled).


If you are living in Bulgaria or move there permanently before 31 December 2020, you’ll have life-long healthcare rights in Bulgaria as you do now, provided you remain resident.

Read our guidance on who can access healthcare in Bulgaria and how to register.

State healthcare: S1

If you live in Bulgaria and receive an exportable UK pension, contribution-based Employment Support Allowance or another exportable benefit, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. You will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 certificate. To apply, call +44 (0)191 218 1999. When you get your form, register with your Regional Health Insurance Fund office before registering with a GP.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are resident in Bulgaria, you must not use your EHIC from the UK to access healthcare in Bulgaria.

When you travel from Bulgaria for a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, you can use an EHIC to access state-provided healthcare in that country. During that short stay:

·         the EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home

·         an EHIC is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance

·         for more information read our travel advice pages and advice on foreign travel insurance

There will be no changes to your healthcare access before 31 December 2020. You can also continue to use your EHIC, as you did before, during this time.

You should also read guidance on:

·         healthcare and studying abroad

·         finding English-speaking doctors in Bulgaria

·         checking if your prescriptions are legal in Bulgaria

Passports and travel

The rules on travel will stay the same until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. During this time you can continue to travel to countries in the Schengen area or elsewhere in the EU with your UK passport.

You can apply for your British passport from Bulgaria.

Check your passport is valid before you book your trip. Your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay.

You’ll need to renew your passport before travelling if you do not have enough time left on your passport.

We will update these pages with details of any changes to the rules as soon as information is available. You should sign up for updates to this guidance.

Driving in Bulgaria

You will be able to use your UK driving licence until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020 or until your licence expires, whichever comes first.

If you are resident in Bulgaria, you should exchange your UK licence for a Bulgarian driving licence. However, you must wait to do so until at least six months after you register for residency.

To exchange your UK driving licence for a local one, contact the traffic police department at your nearest Regional Police Department.

You can still use your Bulgarian licence in the UK for short visits or exchange it for a UK licence without taking a test if you return to live in the UK.

Read the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior’s on how to exchange your licence (in Bulgarian).

Read more about driving licence renewal and exchange and taking a vehicle out of the UK.

Read our guidance on what you need to drive abroad and road travel in Bulgaria.

Working in Bulgaria

Read our guidance on working in an EU country.

Some jobs may require a UK criminal records check, known as a DBS check.

You can get a Bulgarian criminal records certificate from the Judicial Records Register from any Bulgarian Regional Court (Районен съд) or from the Ministry of Justice. You can see details and download application forms at the Ministry of Justice website (in Bulgarian language only).

If you are resident in Bulgaria on or before 31 December 2020, your right to work will not change as long as you remain resident in Bulgaria.

Education and professional qualifications

For information on education, read studying in the European Union.

Professional qualifications

If you have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications, this will remain valid.

If you have not had your professional qualifications recognised, you can submit an application under the current rules until 31 December 2020.

Money and tax

The UK has a double taxation agreement with Bulgaria to ensure you do not pay tax on the same income in both countries. Ask the relevant tax authority your questions about double taxation relief.

Existing double taxation arrangements for UK nationals living in Bulgaria have not changed.

Read guidance about:

In Bulgaria, you should expect to pay personal income tax and home owners’ tax. Additional taxes exist, including a vehicle tax and a fee for rubbish collection. See National Revenue Agency.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Bulgaria.

National Insurance

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.

If you are employed or self-employed in the EU or EEA and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation until the end date on the form.


You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are [moving or retiring abroad](

If you retire in Bulgaria, you can claim your UK State Pension or new State Pension.

If you have not worked in Bulgaria, you should claim your UK State Pension by contacting the International Pension Centre.

If you have worked in several EU countries, see State Pensions abroad.

Life certificates for UK State Pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service you need to respond as soon as possible. Your payments may be suspended if you do not.

Pensions after 31 January 2020

There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming the UK State Pension in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

You can continue to receive your UK State Pension if you live in the EU, EEA or Switzerland and you can still claim your UK State Pension.

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020 you will get your UK State Pension uprated every year for as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions explained in the new State Pension guidance.

If you are living in Bulgaria by 31 December 2020, you will be able to count future social security contributions towards meeting the qualifying conditions for your UK State Pension.

If you work and pay social security contributions in Bulgaria, you will still be able to add your UK social security contributions towards your Bulgarian pension. This will happen even if you claim your pension after 31 December 2020.

Read our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.


You will need to tell the UK government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

You may still be able to claim some UK benefits like child and disability benefits if you live in Bulgaria. You should:

If you are abroad for more than 4 weeks, many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit cannot be paid.

You may be eligible to claim some Bulgarian social security benefits. You can get information about local Bulgarian benefits and pensions from the National Social Security Institute.

You can request proof of the time you’ve worked in the UK from HMRC if you are asked for this.

Benefits after 31 January 2020

There will be no changes before 31 December 2020 to the rules on claiming UK benefits in the EU, EEA or Switzerland as a result of the UK leaving the EU.

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020, you will continue to receive any UK benefits you already receive. This will continue for as long as you live there and meet all other eligibility requirements.

If you work and pay social security contributions in Bulgaria, your UK social security contributions will be taken into account when applying for Bulgaria contributions-based benefits. This will happen even if you claim contributions-based benefits after 31 December 2020.

Read our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.


You cannot vote in local municipal elections in Bulgaria or European Parliament elections.

You may be able to vote in some UK elections. You can:

Births, deaths and getting married

If your child is born in Bulgaria, you will need to register a birth abroad.

If one of your loved ones dies in Bulgaria you can:

Find out how you can get married abroad.

Find out about notarial and documentary services for UK nationals in Bulgaria.

Accommodation and buying property

You can read our guidance on:


Current pet travel rules will stay the same until 31 December 2020.

If you’re travelling with your pet for the first time you must visit your vet to get a pet passport.

Read guidance on bringing your pet to the UK.


As well as the European emergency number 112, Bulgaria also has:

  • 166 for police
  • 160 for fire brigade
  • 150 for first aid

You can also look at emergency numbers in Bulgaria.

If you’re the victim of crime, have been arrested, or are affected by a crisis abroad, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax, access to services and bringing family members.


Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Bulgarian authorities. The FCO will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.



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