To counteract the COVID-19 pandemic, on 13 March 2020 the Bulgarian parliament declared a state of emergency in the country. Currently the state of emergency is prolonged until 13 May 2020.

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.

 

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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, you can submit your application to renew it within 14 days after the end of the state of emergency.

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 14 days after the state of emergency is lifted. Within these 14 days you can submit an application to renew your permit.

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 October 2020, its validity is automatically extended with 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 October 2020. 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.

 

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 October 2020, its validity is automatically extended with 6 months.  During this extension period, your driver’s license is valid to drive a motor vehicle only on the territory of Bulgaria.

You can also renew your license even before the 6-month-period of extension expires.

 

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.

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