Once you are served the decision granting you refugee or humanitarian status, you have 14 days to find a residence and undergo a mandatory civil registration at the relevant municipal office.
How to do that:
- Find a place of residence at which address the owner agrees for you and your family to register. It is recommended that you sign a rental contract before you register at an address (see section III. Accommodation).
- Inform the State Agency for Refugees (SAR) about the address of the residence found: it will issue you a letter to the municipality where the address is located.
- Register in the relevant municipality with the following documents:
- Decision for granting refugee or humanitarian status, or asylum;
- Letter by the SAR to the mayor of the municipality;
- Registration Card of the SAR (the blue card);
- Application for permanent address and current address (to be filled on the spot);
- A list with all family members – parents, spouse, children, brothers and sisters (to be written in advance on a white piece of paper);
- Rental contract with the owner of the property, if available;
- Copy of the notary deed of the property;
- Declaration for consent by the owner of the property (to be written on the spot);
- A document for payment of administrative fee which varies depending on the municipality.
NB: The owner of the property needs to be present during the registration to sign the consent. In exceptional cases, a declaration with notarized signature of the owner could be submitted instead.
Administrative fees: 8,50 leva per person (regular order) in Sofia Municipality (total for the registration at a permanent and current address and at the population register). This fee may vary across municipalities.
NB: Try to find a social worker or mediator who speaks Bulgarian language for the registration, as the documents to be filled in on the spot are in Bulgarian.
- The municipality would register you upon submission of the documents and generally in up to 7 days a Uniform Civil Number (Personal Identification Number) will be generated. This period of time depends on the municipality and the type of registration service you choose, if any. Once the registration is completed, you need to go to the municipality and take a document with the finalized certificate for civil registration in the population register in accordance with the permanent address.
Issuance of Identity Documents
Documents for refugee status holders:
- Card of a refugee (valid for 5 years);
- Document for travelling abroad of a refugee (valid for 5 years).
Documents for humanitarian status holders:
- Card of a humanitarian status holder (valid for 3 years);
- Document for travelling abroad of a refugee status holder (valid for 3 years).
Documents for individuals granted asylum:
- Card of an individual granted asylum (valid for 5 years);
- Document for travelling abroad of an individual granted asylum (valid for 5 years).
Bulgarian identity documents for refugee and humanitarian status holders are issued upon application by the Migration Directorate in Sofia (48 “Maria Luiza” Blvd.) or by the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior outside Sofia.
The application is personal and the following documents are necessary:
- Application form for the issuance of an identification document – a printout is received on the spot and the information should be verified very carefully before submission;
- Decision for granting refugee or humanitarian status, or asylum;
- Certificate for civil registration in the population register in accordance with the permanent address;
- Passport from the country of origin (if available);
- Document for payment of the state fee.
- Upon submission of the documents biometric data (photograph and fingerprints) will be taken mandatorily;
- The documents are issued within 30 calendar days. An express order is possible for 10 days, but the fees are double. The issued documents are to be received in person, and by exception, by an authorized person after the submission of an authorized power of attorney.
State fees for regular orders are as follows:
Issuance of an identity card of refugee and humanitarian status holders: 30 leva
Issuance of an identity card of an individual granted asylum: 40 leva
Issuance of a travel document of refugee and humanitarian status holders: 50 leva
Issuance of a travel document of an individual granted asylum: 55 leva
NB: Identity cards are issued to persons who are 14 years old or above. Travel documents are issued also to persons who are below 14 years.
NB: The application for the issuance of identity documents to underage individuals or persons placed under injunction is submitted in person and in the presence of a parent or an authorized representative from the municipality.
NB: The loss, theft or destruction of a Bulgarian identity document should be reported within three days in the closest police station. Administrative fees may apply in case of omission to report.
NB: In case of a change in the permanent address an application for a new identity card needs to be submitted with 30 days. Administrative fees may apply in case of omission to reapply.
Refugee and humanitarian status holders and individuals granted asylum cannot travel outside Bulgaria with identity cards, but need travel documents.
Refugee status holders and individuals granted asylum have the right to travel without any further restrictions within the EU countries. However, as Bulgaria is not part of the Schengen Zone, transit and receiving countries may have additional requirements to authorize the travel. These may be proof of financial means, proof of accommodation, return tickets, etc. Similarly to Bulgarian citizens, refugees have the right to remain in EU countries for up to three months. Longer periods require special permission on the part of local immigration authorities on the basis of employment, education or others.
Humanitarian status holders need to check in advance with the relevant embassy of the country they would like to travel to what the requirements are for entry. In most cases, EU countries require humanitarian status holders to apply for visas.
It is advisable that both refugee and humanitarian status holders and individuals granted asylum check in advance with the relevant embassy of the country they would like to travel to what the requirements for entry and stay are, including the requirement for the term of validity of the travel document, medical and/or other insurance needed, required financial means, etc.
In case you do not possess a driving license from your country of origin, you need to attend a driving course. For the common type of driving license – type B (authorizing to drive a car), the course continues for one to three months depending on the intensity, and includes theoretical and practical trainings. The course prices vary between 350 and 650 leva, depending on the service provider.
Upon the completion of the course, the applicant takes an official state-organized exam in theory and in practice. The exam could be held in either Bulgarian, or English.
The necessary documents for signing up for the exam:
- Copy of an ID card;
- A certificate issued by the Ministry of Education and Science which recognizes a school diploma from the country of origin for minimum 10th grade;
- A medical certificate by the General Practitioner for motor vehicle driving license, type B;
- One or two photos (passport format);
- A certificate for the completion of a one-day course in first-aid training, held by the Bulgarian Red Cross.
The certificate from the Ministry of Education and Science is issued by its Regional Educational Administration within one month after the submission of the following documents:
- Application form;
- Original diploma from the country of origin;
- Certificate for paid state fee.
The documents need to be translated into Bulgarian, but no official legalization procedure is required for refugees and humanitarian status holders.
In case you do possess a valid driving license from your country of origin, you have the right to use it for one year after receiving refugee or humanitarian status. It is recommended that you have a legalized translation of your driving license. After this period of time, you need to sign up for the same state-organized exam in theory and in practice. See the necessary documents above.
The driving license is issued by the Traffic Police Unit of Sofia Directorate of Interior and by the regional Police units of the Ministry of Interior.
- Birth Certificate
A birth certificate of a child whose parents have received international protection in Bulgaria is issued by the municipality of the permanent residence of the parents upon official information provided by the Bulgarian medical institution where the child was born. This service is free of charge and is mandatory for every child born on Bulgarian territory.
- Marriage Certificate
You can get married in Bulgaria if you are 18 years old and older. For people aged 16 and 17, a special permission by the Regional Court is required. In order to get married, you need to submit documents in the municipality of permanent residence at least 30 days prior to the ceremony. You will have to prepare medical certificates for marriage issued by your General Practitioner. For Sofia the documents are submitted in the Sofia Home for Joyful Rituals, located at 2A Krakra Str. Some fees may apply depending on the required civil marriage service.
Both partners who are foreign citizens need to certify family status prior to the marriage through a notary-certified declaration.
The ceremony is a civil one and takes place in the municipality or in special ritual halls. Six such halls exist in Sofia. A marriage certificate is issued on the basis of the civil marriage and serves to certify your marital status. Religious marriages do not result in a legal marital status change in Bulgaria.
- Criminal Record Certificate
You might be requested to get a criminal record certificate when signing a labour contract or registering a company.
The document is issued by the Criminal Records Bureau at the respective District Court in accordance with the address registration of the claimant. In Sofia criminal record certificates for refugees are issued by the ‘Registers’ directorate of the Ministry of Justice, which is located at 5 ‘Aksakov’ Str. It is open to clients every working day from 9-11h and from 14-16h. Necessary documents for the issuing of the certificate are:
- Application (to be filled on the spot);
- ID card;
- Birth certificate;
- Paid administrative fee of 5 leva.
In case you do not have a birth certificate, State Agency for Refugees (SAR) can issue a substitute document. You need to submit to SAR a request in writing for the issuance of a substitute of a birth certificate.
Upon the submission of all relevant documents the criminal record certificate is issued straight on the spot or in up to three working days.
You may apply for an electronic Criminal Record Certificate in case you have not been convicted in the past at a specialized website of the Ministry of Justice here: https://cs.mjs.bg/. For the electronic application you need a Qualified Electronic Signature.
- Substitute Documents
The SAR can issue certificates which are substitutes for the official documents issued by or through entities in your country of origin, which are necessary for the issuance of Bulgarian documents and fulfilment of rights. These can be certificates replacing birth and marriage certificates.
The Agency does not issue documents replacing educational and professional diplomas.