Bulgaria Digital Nomad Visa & Remote Work


➡ 2024 UPDATE

Bulgaria does not officially offer a digital nomad visa; however, the Freelancer Visa to work remotely from Bulgaria is a perfect option. Non-EU citizens cannot legally work as digital nomads on a tourist visa or during a visa-free stay without proper authorization, typically a work permit linked to a Bulgarian company.

Steps to Work as a Freelancer in Bulgaria:

  • Freelance Permit: Obtainable from the Bulgarian Employment Agency, provided you have a detailed plan for your freelance activities and their economic impact on Bulgaria.
  • Type D Visa: Needed after securing the freelance permit, applied for at a Bulgarian embassy or consulate.
  • Residence Permit: Must be obtained from the Migration Directorate upon entry into Bulgaria.

Requirements for a Freelance Permit:

  • A detailed plan for the freelance activity.
  • Academic qualifications.
  • B1 Bulgarian language proficiency.
  • At least two years of experience in the relevant field.
  • Sufficient financial means to support the activity.

The process to secure a freelance permit typically takes about a month, and the permit is valid for one year with the possibility of renewing it for up to three additional years.

Nomad Visa Bulgaria 2024

As the appeal of Bulgaria as a destination for digital nomads continues to grow, many are curious about the possibilities of obtaining a digital nomad visa. Although Bulgaria does not officially offer a digital nomad visa, there are viable alternatives that allow you to work remotely while enjoying the country’s diverse locales, from the dynamic capital of Sofia to the charming seaside town of Varna.

For those seeking a long-term stay, the closest alternative to a digital nomad visa is obtaining a freelance permit followed by a Type D visa. This process begins with securing a freelance permit from the Employment Agency, the national authority responsible for employment matters in Bulgaria. Applicants must demonstrate a B1 level proficiency in Bulgarian, provide a detailed work plan including potential clients in Bulgaria, and outline the expected economic impact of their activities.

Upon approval of the freelance permit, the next step is to apply for a Type D visa at a Bulgarian embassy or consulate. This visa allows an initial stay of up to one year with the possibility of extension, and requires documentation including a filled visa application, passport, passport-sized photos, and supporting documents for a long-stay visa.

Key Requirements for a Type D Visa:

  • Proof of Health Insurance: Valid health coverage for the duration of the stay.
  • Proof of Accommodation: Evidence of housing arrangements in Bulgaria.
  • Proof of Financial Means: Evidence of financial stability, typically at least the minimum monthly wage or pension as stipulated by Bulgarian law.

Once in Bulgaria, visa holders must apply for a residential permit, akin to a local ID card, which is issued by the local authorities and allows for extended residence.

Short-Term Stay Options:

For those preferring shorter visits, Bulgaria offers tourist visas and benefits from visa agreements within the Schengen area. Holders of a Schengen visa can stay in Bulgaria for 90 days within any 180-day period. Additionally, nationals from countries exempt from Bulgarian visa requirements enjoy similar entry privileges. It’s noteworthy that Bulgaria is poised to join the Schengen area, potentially by the end of 2023, which could further ease travel for EU residents.

Special Considerations for EU and American Residents:

  • EU Residents: Can visit Bulgaria for up to three months twice a year without a visa, and can easily obtain a residential permit for longer stays.
  • American Residents: Must obtain a Type D visa for stays longer than 90 days.

Applying for a Type D Visa:

  • Eligibility: Open to individuals over 18 years of age.
  • Duration: The visa may be granted for six months or one year, based on the work type.
  • Extension: Possible extension of the visa is available.
  • Entries: The visa typically allows for multiple entries.
  • Application Location: Must be applied for in the country of permanent residence.
  • Processing Time: The visa application decision can take up to 35 business days.

Who Can Apply for the Digital Nomad Visa for Bulgaria

To apply for a digital nomad-like visa (Type D visa) in Bulgaria, applicants must be over 18 and have at least two years of experience in their field. This visa caters predominantly to freelancers in the IT sector or other remote jobs.

Key points based on nationality:

  • U.S. Citizens: Can stay visa-free for up to 90 days every six months. For longer stays, they need to apply for a Type D visa, which allows for an extended stay and multiple renewals.
  • EU Citizens: Enjoy freedom of movement in Bulgaria and need only register for a Bulgarian residential permit if staying beyond 90 days. No work permit is required for remote work as long as it complies with local laws.
  • U.S. Green Card Holders: Follow visa requirements based on their passport country. They may also apply for a Type D visa if needed.
  • Citizens of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand: Can visit Bulgaria without a visa for short stays. For longer stays, a Type D visa is necessary.
  • Residents of Other Countries: Should check Bulgaria’s visa requirements based on their nationality and apply for a Type D visa for extended stays.

For all potential applicants, it’s advisable to consult the latest information from the Bulgarian embassy or local migration office to ensure compliance with current regulations.

Requirements for Digital Nomads in Bulgaria

While Bulgaria does not offer a specific digital nomad visa, freelancers and remote workers can still navigate the system effectively with proper planning. Understanding the requirements and preparing the necessary documentation in advance can streamline the process considerably.

Tax Requirements for Digital Nomads in Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s tax regime is notably attractive due to its flat tax rate of 10% applicable to both individuals and companies, making it a popular choice among digital nomads. Here are the essential documents and steps needed to comply with Bulgarian tax laws:

  • Identification: Provide a valid passport or another identification document.
  • Tax Identification Number (TIN): Obtain a TIN from the Bulgarian National Revenue Agency.
  • Income Documentation: Prepare and submit documents showing income earned in Bulgaria.
  • Expense Records: Keep detailed records of any business-related expenses.
  • Residency Documentation: If considered a tax resident, you’ll need to prove your residency status.
  • Tax Forms: Complete and submit tax forms such as the annual personal income tax return.
  • Social Security: Document any social security contributions if applicable.

It’s advisable to consult a tax advisor who is familiar with Bulgarian tax laws to ensure all obligations are met efficiently.

Banking Requirements in Bulgaria

For digital nomads planning a longer stay, opening a local bank account is essential:

  • Documentation Required: Passport, proof of residency, and address.
  • Financial Proof: Present documents verifying your financial standing, like bank statements or asset documentation.

Proof of Financial Self-Sufficiency

To apply for residency as a digital nomad, demonstrating financial independence is crucial:

  • Evidence of Funds: This can include bank statements, an employment contract, proof of investments, or income from freelancing.
  • Accommodation Contract: A rental agreement proving your address in Bulgaria, necessary for the residency permit application.

Health Insurance Requirement

Full health insurance coverage is mandatory for digital nomads in Bulgaria:

  • Coverage Requirements: Insurance should cover all emergencies and hospital care within the EU, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 EUR.

Clean Criminal Record

A clean criminal record is a prerequisite for applying:

  • Procedure: Obtain a criminal record check from local police or, for US citizens, an FBI background check might be necessary.

Visa and Residency Permit

While there’s no minimum stay requirement for the Type D visa, it’s important to adhere to its conditions:

  • Visa Validity: Respect the length of your stay as permitted by your visa.
  • Entry Requirements: Pay attention to the initial entry date into Bulgaria.
  • Visa Type: This is a multiple-entry visa, allowing you to leave and re-enter Bulgaria as needed during its validity.

By preparing these documents and understanding the requirements, digital nomads can effectively manage their stay in Bulgaria, enjoying the benefits of its strategic location and favorable tax regime.

Applying for a Digital Nomad Visa in Bulgaria

While Bulgaria does not have a designated digital nomad visa, the pathway for freelancers involves securing a freelance permit, followed by a Type D visa, and ultimately obtaining a residence permit. Below is a detailed step-by-step guide to navigating this process.

Step 1: Apply for a Freelance Permit

Start by devising a detailed plan that outlines your intended freelance activities in Bulgaria. This plan, along with proof of your qualifications and experience (a minimum of two years in your field), must be submitted to the Bulgarian Employment Agency. You will also need to demonstrate proficiency in Bulgarian (B1 level) and financial stability to support your stay. Note that this permit needs annual renewal.

Step 2: Gather Necessary Documents for Visa Application

Prepare the following documents for your Type D visa application:

  • Visa Application Form
  • Valid Passport and copies of pages with personal details and previous visas
  • Recent Passport-Size Photo
  • Proof of Purpose for your trip
  • Valid Medical Insurance covering repatriation, urgent medical care, and emergency hospital treatment in the EU (minimum coverage of 30,000 EUR)
  • Proof of Financial Means
  • Proof of Accommodation
  • Background Check (Clean Criminal Record)

Step 3: Submit Your Visa Application

Submit your prepared documents to the Bulgarian embassy or consulate. Check the embassy’s website for operational hours and appointment scheduling.

Step 4: Visa Application Processing

Processing can take from several weeks to a few months, during which your background and the provided information will be verified.

Step 5: Visa Approval and Collection

Once approved, you may be required to visit the embassy or consulate again, possibly to provide biometric data.

Step 6: Enter Bulgaria

Travel to Bulgaria within the specified timeframe allowed by your visa.

Step 7: Register Your Arrival

Within five days of entering Bulgaria, register at the local Migration Office or police station, providing all requested documents.

Step 8: Secure Long-Term Accommodation

Find and secure accommodation suitable for long-term stay, as this will be necessary for your residence permit application.

Step 9: Prepare for Residence Permit Application

Gather necessary documents, including your passport, visa, registration certificate, proof of accommodation, financial means, and health insurance.

Step 10: Apply for Residence Permit

Submit your application at the local Migration Office, complete with all required documents and applicable fees.

Step 11: Attend Biometric Appointment

If required, attend a scheduled appointment to provide your fingerprints and photograph.

Step 12: Residence Permit Processing

The processing time for your residence permit can vary, usually taking several weeks to months.

Step 13: Collect Your Residence Permit

Once approved, collect your residence permit from the designated office. This document will serve as proof of your legal residence in Bulgaria.

Additional Information and Costs

  • Timeline: Application times can vary; check with the Bulgarian embassy for specifics. Typically, the embassy decision takes up to 35 business days.
  • Costs: The application fee is generally $118 USD for six months or $236 USD for one year. Additional costs may include legal and administrative fees, translation and notarization services, and health insurance.

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