1.1 Has any guidance been issued on how UK nationals can obtain settled residence status and permission to work from 1 January 2021 and what proof of residence is needed for current residents to maintain their status?
In July 2020, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted legislative amendments to the Bulgarian European Union Citizens and Members of Their Families Entry and Residence in and Departure from the Republic of Bulgaria Act (the Bulgarian EEA Act) aiming at regulating the status of the UK nationals after 31 December 2020.
The amendments apply to the following categories of UK nationals:
- UK nationals who entered and reside legally as of 1 February 2020 or possess a residence certificate;
- UK nationals who entered and reside legally during the transition period;
- family members of UK nationals under the first two bullets who became family members during or after the transition period; and
- UK nationals who are family members of Bulgarian nationals.
If the UK nationals listed above wish to reside in Bulgaria for more than three months, they must apply for a residence permit within three months of their arrival and in any case not later than the end of the transition period. Only family members who became family members after the transition period may apply for a residence permit within three months as of their entry into Bulgaria.
UK nationals who already possess residence certificates in Bulgaria with term of validity longer than one year after the transition period, shall file an application for replacement of their residence certificate with a residence permit within 1 year after the transition period. The term of validity of the residence permit will be the same as the term of validity of the replaced residence certificate.
UK nationals who already possess residence certificates in Bulgaria which expire during the transition period or within one year after the transition period must apply for a residence permit if they wish to continue residing in Bulgaria.
All residence permits listed above will be issued in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 1030/2002 of 13 June 2002 laying down a uniform format for residence permits for third-country nationals.
2. BUSINESS TRAVEL
2.1 Do UK employees need a business visa from 1 January 2021?
Regulation (EU) 2019/592 of 10 April 2019 exempts UK citizens from the requirement for a visa for crossing Member States' external borders. It applies from the day the UK is no longer subject to EU law. UK citizens can enter and stay in the Member States' area for a maximum of 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.
The exemption applies from 1 January 2021.
2.2 What documents are needed on arrival for business travel from 1 January 2021?
Passport issued within the previous ten years which will remain valid at least three months after the intended date of departure from Bulgaria.
3. EMPLOYMENT AND RESIDENCE
3.1 Do UK nationals need permission to work and stay in Bulgaria from 1 January 2021?
Yes, unless they can rely on an exemption such as:
- managers/directors of Bulgarian entities officially registered with the Bulgarian Commercial Register;
- attending business meetings:
- family members of an EU national (subject to other work-related formalities;)
- holders of a permanent Bulgarian residence permit.
3.2 If permission to work is needed after 1 January 2021, do any quotas apply to the employment of third-country nationals?
General case: the number of foreign employees employed by a Bulgarian entity may not exceed 20% of the average number of employees (Bulgarian and EU nationals) in the Bulgarian entity for the past 12 months.
Small and medium-sized enterprises: the number of foreign employees employed by the Bulgarian entity may not exceed 35% of the average number of employees (Bulgarian and EU nationals) in the Bulgarian entity for the past 12 months.
3.3 If permission to work is needed from 1 January 2021, what categories of permission are commonly granted?
Types of work and residence permits:
- Single work and residence permit: this require labour market test; the quota requirements described in 3.2 above apply.
- EU Blue Card.
- Inter-company transfer work and residence permit.
- Work permit and residence for seconded employees.
3.4 If permission to work or stay is needed from 1 January 2021, how long does the procedure take?
The procedures usually take five to six months and include the following steps:
- obtaining a work authorisation;
- obtaining a long-term visa;
- obtaining a residence authorisation.
3.5 If permission to work and stay is needed from 1 January 2021, what Government fees are payable?
Depending on the type of the work and residence permit the official fees may vary between EUR 400-800.
4. FRONTIER WORKERS
4.1 What formalities apply to UK frontier workers working in Bulgaria but living in another country from 1 January 2021?
No special rules have been adopted for frontier workers, meaning that frontier workers may not continue to work in Bulgaria after 1 January 2021.
5. PERMANENT RESIDENCE
5.1 From what date are third-country nationals entitled to apply for permanent residence?
Five years of legal stay in Bulgaria.
6. SECURING RESIDENCE AND WORK STATUS
6.1 What steps could UK nationals take currently to secure their residence and work status?
UK nationals can apply for a residence permit, if they fall under the categories listed in 1, above.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.