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International Travel

English

Country Information

Bulgaria

Country Information

Bulgaria
Republic of Bulgaria
Last Updated: October 4, 2017
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Embassy Messages

Sofia

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Three months beyond tentative departure date. We recommend a minimum of six months validity after entry date.  

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page per stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No for stays under 90 days.

VACCINATIONS:

None.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

10,000 Euros or equivalent.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

10,000 Euros or equivalent.

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Sofia

16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria

Telephone: +(359) (2) 937-5100

Emergency After-HoursTelephone: +(359) (2) 937-5101

Fax: +(359) (2) 937-5209

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Bulgaria for information on U.S. - Bulgaria relations. 

 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

A valid U.S. passport is required for U.S. citizens. Your U.S. passport must be valid for at least three (3) months from the expected date of departure from Bulgaria. U.S. citizens may stay in Bulgaria for a total of 90 days within any six-month period without a Bulgarian visa. This law is strictly enforced. Travelers who have been in the country for 90 days and then leave will not be able to re-enter Bulgaria before the six-month period expires. Please plan and apply for your visa early.

  • Visit the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Bulgarian Embassy website for the most current visa information.
  • Carry your U.S. passport at all times or a Bulgarian residence permit, known in Bulgaria as lichna karta.
  • U.S. passport cards are recognized as proof of citizenship and identity but are not sufficient for international air travel to and from Bulgaria.
  • Visitors are required to maintain medical insurance for the duration of stay in Bulgaria. You may be required to present proof of medical insurance at the port of entry. Medical evacuation insurance is recommended.

Traveling with Children Under 18 Years OldRegulations apply to Bulgarian minors, Bulgarian-U.S. dual citizen minors, and U.S. citizen minors when one or both parents are Bulgarian.

  • If a Bulgarian or dual U.S. citizen-Bulgarian child is traveling out of Bulgaria with only one or no parent, the absent parent(s) must sign a declaration authorizing temporary custody for travel purposes. The declaration must be certified by a Bulgarian notary public. See more information on Bulgaria’s Border Police website.  While not required, some travelers have been asked to produce a child’s birth certificate.
  • If the declaration is signed in the U.S., it must be certified by a U.S. notary public and the court in the jurisdiction where the notary is licensed, have an apostille, and be translated into Bulgarian by a licensed translation company.
  • If you fail to present the properly notarized and/or apostilled declaration, Bulgarian authorities will not allow you to depart the country with the child. The U.S. Embassy is unable to intervene in such circumstances.  

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Bulgaria.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites. 

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Safety and Security

Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue to plot possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. 

When traveling or living in Bulgaria, you should:

  • Be aware of the local security situation and take appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.
  • Monitor media and local information sources, and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Address specific safety concerns to Bulgarian law enforcement authorities.
  • Avoid demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of large gatherings. Even events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.

Crime: ATM skimming, credit card fraud, and traffic incidents remain the most common threats to U.S. citizens in Bulgaria. The majority of incidents involving U.S. citizens are monetary in nature, though incidents of racism, ethnic slurs, and harassment of African-Americans and religious minorities have occurred. Report crimes to the police by dialing 112.

  • Pick-pocketing and purse snatching are frequent occurrences, especially in crowded markets, on shopping streets, and aboard the busy tram and bus lines. Con artists operate on public transportation and in bus and train stations.
  • Use caution at ATMs. Be wary of people who approach you at an ATM and offer assistance. Do not give your PIN to anyone under any circumstances.
  • Travelers should be suspicious of "instant friends" and should also ask persons claiming to be government officials to provide identification.
  • Police stations should provide translators for anyone who needs to report a crime, but will often require the victim to return at a later time or bring his/her own translator.
  • Pay special attention to the drink prices at high-end bars and nightclubs. Travelers have been charged exorbitant prices, especially for champagne and hard alcohol. Bills have been as high as several thousand dollars for drinks, and in some establishments, the management used force to secure payment.
  • Use taxis with meters and clearly marked rates displayed on a sticker on the passenger side of the windshield. Taxi drivers are known to overcharge unwary travelers particularly at Sofia Airport, the Central Train Station, and at Black Sea resort areas. The airport has a clearly marked exit within the arrival terminal that leads travelers to metered taxis at a fair rate and a booth to assist with obtaining taxi services. Inquire about the fare before entering a taxi and always account for all luggage, packages, and hand-carried items before paying and releasing a taxi.
  • Automobile theft and break-ins are common in residential areas or in parks. Four-wheel-drive vehicles and late-model European sedans are the most popular targets.
  • Burglary is a common crime. If you plan to reside in Bulgaria on a long-term basis, take measures to protect your home and consider installing window grilles, steel doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to the local police and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (359) (2) 937-5101.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency telephone line in Bulgaria is 112 for police, fire, or ambulance services.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bulgaria are severe; convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.
  • Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and, if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
  • Bulgarian law enforcement authorities may take you in for questioning if you take pictures of certain buildings.

Special Circumstances: Bulgaria is still largely a cash economy.

  • You may exchange money at local banks or exchange bureaus. Be wary of people on streets who offer higher rates of exchange, they are usually con artists who intend to swindle unsuspecting travelers.
  • Damaged or worn U.S. dollar bank notes are often rejected at banks or exchange bureaus.
  • Most shops, hotels, and restaurants do not accept travelers’ checks or credit cards. Local banks such as Unicredit, Bulbank, Bulgarian Postbank, and United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) can cash travelers’ checks.

Corruption remains an important concern of the Bulgarian government. You may refer complaints of public corruption by e-mail to the Ministry of Justice at anticorruption@justice.government.bg or by phone to +359 2 987 0697. All grievances must be submitted in the Bulgarian language.

If you plan to import an automobile to Bulgaria, be aware that customs duties on personal vehicles can be high. All documents must be originals or certified copies and contain an apostille. See more information on the Bulgarian Customs Agency website

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Bulgaria. LGBTI individuals are stigmatized by society in Bulgaria and societal discrimination against LGBTI individuals is widespread. LGBTI individuals engaging in public displays of affection may attract unwelcome attention or harassment.  

While there is no legal barrier to organize an LGBTI event, pride event participants were attacked in the past. Some pride parades were also postponed on police request due to concerns that they could not effectively protect those participating in a LGBTI event.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Local law requires improved access to buildings for persons with disabilities and new public projects take this requirement into account; however, this law is rarely enforced in older buildings.

Bulgarian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, and access to health care. Societal discrimination persists against persons with disabilities.

Commuting in Bulgaria is nearly impossible for disabled individuals. Buses, trams, and trolleys are generally old, extremely crowded, and lack accommodation for disabled travelers. Even in newer public vehicles access is extremely limited and disabled travelers rely on fellow passengers to help them on and off the vehicle.

  • The Sofia metro is the most accessible system for disabled individuals, but its reach is limited.
  • Disabled travelers should consider traveling with a friend or family member who can assist them in navigating the transportation systems in Bulgaria.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Visitors are required to maintain medical insurance for the duration of their stay in Bulgaria. You may be required to show proof of medical insurance at the port of entry.

Bulgarian medical personnel are knowledgeable, however most hospitals and clinics are not equipped with appropriate medical supplies and are not maintained to Western standards.  

  • Basic medical supplies, over-the-counter and prescription medications are widely available, but highly specialized medication and/or treatment regimens may not be.
  • Not every hospital/clinic is equipped for pediatric care. If you are in need of emergency services for an infant/child, please call ahead to ensure those services are available.
  • Response times for an ambulance can take up to an hour or longer. Taxi or a personal vehicle is a faster option.  
  • Hospitalization and or medical evacuation may cost thousands of dollars. Since Bulgaria is a cash-based economy, make sure you have access to cash to cover a medical emergency. Most hospitals expect immediate cash payment for service rendered.

You can find a list of hospitals and physicians in Bulgaria on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with Bulgaria’s Customs Agency to ensure the medication is legal. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Tuberculosis continues to be a health concern in Bulgaria.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: The Bulgarian road system is largely underdeveloped.

  • Roads are in poor repair and full of potholes.
  • Rockslides and landslides are common on mountainous roads.
  • Livestock and animal-drawn carts are common on roads, especially during agricultural seasons.
  • In winter, roads are icy and potholes proliferate.
  • Some roads lack pavement markings and lights.
  • Motorists often drive with dim or missing headlights.

Traffic Laws: Driving in Bulgaria is dangerous. Aggressive driving habits, lack of safe infrastructure, and a mixture of late model and old model cars on the country’s highways contribute to a high fatality rate in road accidents.

  • Avoid confrontations with aggressive local drivers.Drivers are known to speed, swerve into oncoming traffic or go the wrong way on divided highways.
  • Traffic lights late at night blink yellow in all directions, leaving the right-of-way unclear and contributing to frequent accidents.
  • Heavy truck traffic creates numerous hazards along the two-lane routes from the Greek border at Kulata going to Sofia, and from the Turkish border at Kapitan Andreevo to Plovdiv. Expect long delays at border crossings.
  • A U.S. state driver's license is only valid in Bulgaria when used in conjunction with an International Driving Permit.
  • If pulled over by a police officer, be aware that under Bulgarian law the police officers may not collect fines on the spot, but may confiscate your driver’s license depending on the offense.
  • Right turns on red lights are not permitted.
  • Keep your headlights on at all times no matter the time of day or weather.
  • At unregulated crossings, the driver on the right has the legal right-of-way, but this rule is frequently ignored.
  • The use of seat belts is mandatory in Bulgaria for all passengers.
  • Drivers may be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood level as low as 0.05 percent. The penalties for drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death range from a US $25 fine to life imprisonment.
  • Check out Bulgaria’s Ministry of Interior’s road rules guide.

Public Transportation: Sofia’s metro system and the extensive bus network are reliable modes of transportation. Taxi cabs are also plentiful but are known to overcharge passengers. Do insist on use of the meter when using a taxi cab.

For specific information concerning Bulgarian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please visit the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visit the European Commission site for latest information on speed limits, traffic fines and regulations.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bulgaria’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Bulgaria’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Bulgaria should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https:homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal select “broadcast warnings”.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Sofia

16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria

Telephone: +(359) (2) 937-5100

Emergency After-HoursTelephone: +(359) (2) 937-5101

Fax: +(359) (2) 937-5209

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General Information

Bulgaria and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since January 1, 2005.

For information concerning travel to Bulgaria, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Bulgaria.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Bulgaria.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax:  202-485-6221
Website

The Bulgarian Central Authority (BCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice, Legal Child Support Department.  The BCA reviews Hague applications for completion, initiates location efforts for missing children, and if appropriate, approaches taking parties about whether or not abduction situations may be resolved voluntarily.  The BCA can be reached at:

The Ministry of Justice
Legal Child Support Department
Central Authority of the Republic of Bulgaria
1, Slavyanska Street
1040 SOFIA
Telephone: +359 (2) 923 7302 
Fax: +359 (2) 987 1557

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Bulgaria, the USCA encourages a parent or legal guardian to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the BCA.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the BCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.  It is extremely important that each document written in English be translated into Bulgarian prior to court proceedings commencing.  The BCA can assist with translations, although the case processing may occur more expeditiously if applicant parents provide translations.  Please note, however, that certified translations are not necessary. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Bulgarian central authorities.  Fees for privately retained attorneys are the responsibility of the applicant parent.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in Bulgaria.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Bulgaria.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Legal representation is required in a Hague Abduction Convention case in Bulgaria. It is not mandatory for a parent or legal guardian to retain a private attorney, however, as the BCA will appoint a lawyer from the Ministry of Justice to present the applicant parent’s Hague case to the specialized Hague court in Bulgaria (the City Court of Sofia). This service is free of charge. Parents or legal guardians may hire a private attorney to assist them with their case and to advise them as to the best course of action for their individual circumstances. A privately hired attorney should contact the BCA as soon as possible after the BCA receives the Hague application. The Ministry of Justice lawyer will continue to participate in advancing the Hague petition in court even if an applicant parent retains private legal representation.

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

While Bulgaria does not offer a formal, structured mediation program, the Ministry of Justice maintains a list of mediation providers (in Bulgarian only).  The average fee for a mediation procedure, regardless of how many sessions are necessary, is about $500.  Costs are typically divided equally between the parties.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

WARNING:  Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention.  Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Bulgaria before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter.”  See the “How to Adopt” section for more information.

Bulgaria is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).  Therefore, all adoptions between Bulgaria and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Act of 2000 (IAA), and the IAA implementing regulations.

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Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Bulgaria is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention.  Therefore to adopt from Bulgaria, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. government.  The U.S. government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Bulgaria also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS:  There are no residency requirements to complete an intercountry adoption in Bulgaria.  However, prospective adoptive parents are expected to spend five days with their adoptive child before the orphanage director will release the child.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS:  Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than their adoptive children.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS:  Under Bulgarian law, prospective adoptive parents can be a heterosexual married couple or a single person.  Here the law does not specifiy orientation.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Children are listed on the registry for domestic adoption if they are officially relinquished or abandoned by the parents.  If no Bulgarian family adopts a child from the domestic registry within six months of listing, the child is entered into the registry for international adoptions, maintained by the Ministry of Justice.  Biological parents may reinstate their custody even after they have officially relinquished or abandoned their child and the child has been entered into the registry for domestic or international adoptions.  However, this happens very rarely and only after careful review by the Bulgarian social services.

Because Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Bulgaria must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Bulgaria have determined that placement of the child within Bulgaria has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Bulgarian requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States. 

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How to Adopt

WARNING: Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Bulgaria before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter.” Read on for more information.

Bulgaria’s Adoption Authority 
Department of International Legal Child Protection and Intercountry Adoptions
Ministry of Justice

The Process
Because Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Bulgaria must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600A with Bulgaria before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.

1. Choose an Accredited ASP
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
5. Adopt the Child in Bulgaria
6. Bring your Child Home

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
  2. The recommended first step in adopting a child from Bulgaria is to select an accredited ASP in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services in Convention adoptions between the United States and Bulgaria. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

    The U.S. ASP must work with a Bulgarian adoption agency that has been accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. The U.S. ASP may not work directly with the Ministry of Justice. For a complete list of Bulgarian adoption agencies accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, please visit the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

  3. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    After you choose an accredited ASP, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements

    Once the U.S. government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, you or your adoption agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Bulgaria’s law. 

    After completing the U.S. pre-adoption requirements through USCIS, the U.S. ASP works with a Bulgarian adoption agency that has been licensed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. While the two agencies work together as partners, with a signed agreement,under 22 CFR 96.46, the Bulgarian ASP would be considered a foreign supervised provider. The U.S. accredited or approved ASP has certain responsibilities of oversight over the conduct of the Bulgarian ASP, even though the Bulgarian ASP is also accredited by the Bulgarian Central Authority. All required documents must be filed at the Ministry of Justice by the Bulgarian ASP. If the prospective parent(s) application is accepted, their names are placed on a registry.

  4. Be Matched with a Child

    If both the United States and Bulgaria determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice may provide you with a referral for a child in accordance with the criteria you have specified in your home study. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. 

    Due to the priority given to children with special needs, the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice processes referrals of prospective adoptive parents willing to adopt a child with special needs before other referrals. A child with special needs is defined as a child with significant health issues or a child over seven years of age. 

    The Adoption Council within the Ministry of Justice reviews the registries of prospective parents and available children, including all relevant documentation, and proposes a match. The MOJ provides the adoptive parents through their Bulgarian accredited agency photographs of the child and information about the child, including his/her medical conditionIf the family declines to adopt the child, the agency must inform the Council within two months of the referral, and the Council will suggest a match with a different child. There is no limitation as to the number of times prospective adoptive parents may decline a proposed match.


  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States: 

    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800).  USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant. 

    After provisional approval of Form I-800, an electronic visa application form (DS-260) must be submitted. The visa application may be filled out and submitted by you or your U.S. or Bulgarian ASP. You, or someone acting on your behalf, will then visit the consular section of the U.S. Embassy to pay the visa fee and submit a photograph of the child.  A consular officer will review the child’s information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. 

    WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Bulgarian Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Bulgaria where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Bulgarian Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

    Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Bulgaria before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

    Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.


  6. Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody) of a Child in Bulgaria:  

    Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Bulgaria, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Bulgaria. 

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Bulgaria generally includes the following:

    • Role of Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Justice is the Central Authority for Hague adoptions in Bulgaria. It is responsible for the accreditation of Bulgarian ASPs.  It also maintains a registry of children available for inter-country adoption and matches children to prospective adoptive parents. Once the prospective adoptive parent(s) accept the match of a child and the child is referred to the family by the Council, the case is forwarded to the Minister of Justice for final approval. When the Minister approves the parents’ application, the Ministry of Justice transfers the paperwork directly to Sofia CityCourt.
    • Role of the Court: After the parents have met and spent five days with the child with whom they are matched, the Ministry of Justice approves their application and sends the case to the Sofia City Court. The Court sets a date for a hearing and reviews the documentation related to the adoption process, including the Ministry of Justice’s referral. The Court may postpone the hearing date if it requires additional documents. After hearing the case, the Court decides whether to grant a final adoption decree to the adoptive parents. Once the court issues a full adoption decree, the adoptive parent’s Bulgarian representatives obtain a new birth certificate and passport for the child.
    • Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. ASP prepares the home-study and assists the adoptive parents in filing the I-800A. The U.S. ASP works with a Bulgarian ASP who registers the adoptive parents with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and serves as liaison to the Bulgarian Central Authority. It should be noted that under U.S. accreditation standards, the Bulgarian ASP must be a supervised provider. The Bulgarian ASP might also file a visa application with the American Embassy in Sofia.
    • Time Frame: If there is a special needs child available for intercountry adoption, it normally takes several months to complete the adoption process in Bulgaria. There are very few young and healthy children on the waiting list. Hence adoptive parents who wish to adopt a younger child with no medical issues may wait many months or even years until the Ministry of Justice matches them with a child.
    • Adoption Application: The application is a letter prepared by the accredited adoption agency. It is deposited at the Ministry of Justice by the parents’ Bulgarian legal representative.
    • Adoption Fees: The U.S. Embassy in Sofia is aware of the following Bulgarian fees for adoption. These fees are subject to change. All fees are given in Bulgarian currency and in Euros as the Bulgarian currency is linked to the Euro.
      • Application fee at the MOJ:  100 leva (€ 50.00 EUR) 
      • Court fee: 25 leva (€ 12,50 EUR)
      • Minister’s approval for adoption – 50 leva (€ 25.00 EUR) 
      • Transcript of the Court Decree:  the fee varies according to the number of pages. The first page costs 2 leva (€ 1 EUR) and each following page costs 1 lev (€ 0,50 EUR)
      • Passport fee for child under 14: 10 leva (€ 5.00 EUR) for a regular service for up to 30 days; 20 leva (€ 10.00 EUR) for an expedited service – up to 3 days; 50 leva (€ 25.00 EUR) for an emergency service – up to 8 hours
      • Passport fee for child over 14: 40 leva (€ 20.00 EUR) for a regular service for up to 30 days; 80 leva (€ 40.00 EUR) for an expedited service – up to 3 days; 200 leva (€ 100.00 EUR) for an emergency service – up to 8 hours
      • Birth Certificate fee: 5 leva (€ 2,50.00 EUR) for a regular service – up to 7 days; 7,50 leva (€ 3,75.00 EUR) for an expedited service – up to 3 days; 10 leva (€ 5.00 EUR) for an emergency service – up to 2 days. The legalization of the document costs 5 leva (€ 2,50.00 EUR)

    In addition to the above, U.S. adoption agencies charge fees for the services they provide.

    The Department of State discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of “buying” a baby, may be contrary to the Convention and U.S. law, and put all future adoptions in Bulgaria at risk. If you think such a fee has been asked or demanded, please inform the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your U.S. ASP will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.   
    • Documents Required:
      •  
        • Application, including personal data, family history, financial information. The application is a letter prepared by the accredited adoption agency.
        • A document certifying that the adoptive parent(s) has/have not been deprived of custody rights. 
        • An FBI fingerprint clearance shows whether there were prior arrests or criminal convictions which would render them ineligible to adopt a child in Bulgaria.
        • Home Study
        • Medical Certificate (signed by a general practitioner)
        • A court certificate of the adoptive parent
        • Approval by the USCIS (I-171H)
        • Receipt for the application fee of 100 leva (€ 50.00 EUR) 
        • All documents submitted should be originals. They must be translated and apostilled.
      NOTE:  Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents
  7. Bring Your Child Home

    Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

    Birth Certificate
    You will firstneed to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

    Note: The process of obtaining a birth certificate and passport takes 3 - 4 weeks. The parents are not required to do anything in order to apply for these two documents. Their accredited adoption agency authorizes an attorney to represent them at court and deposit documents at various Government entities.

    Bulgarian Passport
    Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Bulgaria.

    After the new birth certificate has been issued, the representative has to apply for a passport of the child. The process of obtaining a birth certificate and a passport takes 3-4 weeks.

    U.S. Immigrant Visa 
    After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy in Sofia for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child. 

    The visa interview may be scheduled by the adoptive parents or by their Bulgarian representative over the telephone as soon as the child obtains a Bulgarian passport. They must first make sure that their fingerprint clearances have not expired. The visa interview may be scheduled a few days before the intended interview date.  

    Interviews can be scheduled by calling (359-2) 937-5444 each working day from to 09:00 to 12:00. This is the direct line to the Immigrant Visa Unit. In case of emergency or if the line is busy, adoptive parents may reach the Immigrant Visa Unit through the Embassy's switchboard: (359-2) 937-5100. The Embassy conducts immigrant visa interviews Monday through Thursday from 13:00 to 15:30 hours. 

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: Pursuant to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children who enter the U.S. on an IR-3 or IH-3 immigrant visa generally acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry to the United States for the purpose of lawful permanent residence. 

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: Pursuant to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children who enter the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 immigrant visa generally acquire U.S. citizenship automatically when a court in the United States issues the final adoption decree. 

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his or her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. 


Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport 
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports. Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for Bulgaria, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department webpage is a good place to start. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.  

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Bulgaria, registration assists the U.S. embassy or consulate in reaching you. Registration is free and can be done online.

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After Adoption

What does Bulgaria require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

Bulgaria requires adoptive parents to submit post adoption reports. The Ministry of Justice requires four post-placement reports – one every six months after the adoption for the first two years.

We strongly urge you to comply with all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Bulgaria’s history of positive experiences with U.S. parents.


What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria
16 Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408
Bulgaria
Tel: (359 2) 937-5100
Fax: (359 (2) 937-5122
Email:  iv_sofia@state.gov
Internet:  https://bg.usembassy.gov/

Bulgarian Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
Slavyanska Street # 1
Sofia 1040
Bulgaria
Tel:  (359 2) 923-7303 (Bulgarian only)
Internet:  http://www.justice.government.bg  (in Bulgarian only)

Embassy of Bulgaria
Embassy of Bulgaria  
1621 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: 202-387-0174 (main), 202-387-7969 (consular section)
Fax: 202-234-7973
Email:  office@Bulgaria-Embassy.orgConsulate@Bulgaria-Embassy.org
Internet:  bulgaria-embassy.org/  

*Bulgaria also has consulates in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AskCI@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@DHS.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 10 None Multiple 60 Months
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

  • Available.
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name: Удостоверение за раждане (Udostoverenie za razhdane)
  • Issuing Authority: the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature, the color and the format may vary.
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Registration Criteria: The parents register the birth of their child with their IDs
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: Duplicates of birth certificates are issued according to the same procedures.
  • Comments:  Bulgaria is signatory to the Vienna convention of 1976. In addition to the regular birth certificates, Bulgarian civil authorities issue birth certificates in three languages: Bulgarian, French and English. The form is two-sided and bares the seal of the Civil Registry Office.

Death/Burial

  • Available
  • Fees:  5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name:  Препис-извлечение от акт за смърт (Prepis-izlvlechenie ot akt za smurt)
  • Issuing Authority: the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Registration Criteria: The death is registered on the basis of a notification of death issued by a medical doctor
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: Yes
  • Comments:  Bulgaria is signatory to the Vienna convention of 1976. In addition to the regular death certificates, Bulgarian civil authorities issue death certificates in three languages: Bulgarian, French and English. The form is two-sided and bares the seal of the Civil Registry Office.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificate

 

  • Available
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name:  Удостоверение за сключен граждански брак(Udostoverenie za sklyuchen grazhdanski brak)
  • Issuing Authority:  the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Registration Criteria: The marriage certificate is registered by the local municipality. If the marriage was contracted abroad, to register the marriage in Bulgaria, the original marriage certificate has to be legalized and translated in Bulgarian language.
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: Duplicates of marriage certificates are issued according to the same procedures.
  • Alternate Documents:
  • Exceptions:
  • Comments:  Bulgaria is signatory to the Vienna convention of 1976. In addition to the regular marriage certificates, Bulgarian civil authorities issue marriage certificates in three languages: Bulgarian, French and English. The form is two-sided and bares the seal of the Civil Registry Office.

 

Divorce

 

  • Available
  • Fees: 5 BG leva application fee, 2 BG leva for the first page and 1 lev for each additional page.
  • Document Name: Решение (Reshenie)
  • Issuing Authority:  a regional court
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Round seal of the court, signature of the regional judge and the jury
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: regional judge
  • Registration Criteria: The court decision (for divorce) is issued, registered and archived by the regional court
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for a paid fee
  • Certified Copies Available: Yes. The certified copy bares an additional seal which says TRUE COPY and is signed by the court secretary.
  • Alternate Documents: If the Court Decision is archived, the court may issue a certificate that shows the decision’s entry number and date, as well as the names of the parties of the divorce.

 

Adoption Certificates

Unavailable.

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Identity Card
  • Available
  • Fees: the fees may vary  from no fee to 90 BG leva according to the age of the person applying and the type of service
  • Document Name:  Лична карта (Lichna karta)
  • Issuing Authority: local office of the Ministry of Interior
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: small plastic card, pink, bares the seal of the Republic of Bulgaria, machine readable zone on the back
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A
  • Registration Criteria: all Bulgarian citizen over the age of fourteen must obtain an ID card
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance; 2. Birth certificate; 3. Previous ID card (if any); 4. Receipt for the paid fee
  • Certified Copies Available: No
  • Alternate Documents: No
  • Exceptions: No

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

  • Unavailable
  • Comments:  Court records are requested as a substitute.

 

Court Records

  • Available for Bulgarian citizens or foreigners who are legal permanent residents in Bulgaria in possession of either a Bulgarian Unified Civil Number (EGN) or a Foreigner Personal Number   (LNCH)
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for 2 copies
  • Document Name: Свидетелство за съдимост (Svidetelstvo za sudimost)
  • Issuing Authority:  a regional court
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of a regional court, signatures of the court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Birth certificate, 4. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Comments: The court certificate is valid for 6 months. It shows only the convictions that are not purged. It does not show arrests, charges or purged records. If the document shows that the person has been convicted, the actual court record may be requested.

 

Prison Records

  • Available
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for 2 copies
  • Document Name: Свидетелство за съдимост (Svidetelstvo za sudimost)
  • Issuing Authority:  a regional court
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of a regional court, signatures of the court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Birth certificate, 4. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Comments: The court certificate is valid for 6 months. It shows only the convictions that are not purged. It does not show arrests, charges or purged records. If the document shows that the person has been convicted, the actual court record may be requested.

 

Military Records

Unavailable.

Passports & Other Travel Documents
  • Types Available: regular, diplomatic, official and seaman’s passport
  • Fees: the fees may vary from 10 BG leva to 200 BG leva according to the applicant’s age and the type of service
  • Document Name:  Паспорт (Passport)
  • Issuing Government Authority: local office of the Ministry of Interior
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The Regular Passport has a maroon cover and is issued by the Ministry of Interior. The Diplomatic Passport has a dark blue cover and is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Official Passport has a green cover and is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Seaman passport has a light blue cover and is issued by the Ministry of Transport. All four passports have gold lettering on the front that says “Republic of Bulgaria” and the type of passport in both Cyrillic and Latin alphabet.
  • Registration Criteria: any Bulgarian citizen may apply and obtain a regular passport
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance; 2. Birth certificate; 3.Previous passport (if any); 4. Receipt for the paid fee
  • Comments: Bulgarian passports are issued for 5 years

Other Records

Marriage Status Certificate

 

  • Available for Bulgarian citizens or foreigners who are in possession of a Bulgarian Unified Civil Number (EGN).
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name: Удостоверение за семейно положение, съпруг и деца  (Udostoverenie za semeyno polozhenie, suprug I detsa)
  • Issuing Authority: the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: No.
  • Alternate Documents: Marital Status certificate – short version which does not show any information about the spouse and the children
  • Comments: This document is requested from all applicants over the age of 18 regardless of their marital status (single, married, divorced or widowed).

 

 

Visa Issuing Posts

Sofia, Bulgaria (Embassy)

U.S. Embassy Sofia
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20521-5740

Post Contact Information

Address: 16, Kozyak St., 1408 Sofia, Bulgaria

Phone Number: +359-2-5100

 

 

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Bulgaria.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 387-7969 (202) 387-0174 (202) 299-0273 (202) 483-1386 (202) 234-7973

Chicago, IL (312) 867-1904 (312) 867-1905 (312) 867-1906

Los Angeles, CA (310) 478-6700 (310) 478-6277

New York, NY (212) 935-4646 (212) 319-5955

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Sofia
16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria
Telephone
+(359) (2) 937-5100
Emergency
+(359) (2) 937-5101
Fax
+(359) (2) 937-5209
Bulgaria Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

Bulgaria
Republic of Bulgaria
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Embassy Messages

Sofia

 

Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Three months beyond tentative departure date. We recommend a minimum of six months validity after entry date.  

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

One page per stamp.

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No for stays under 90 days.

VACCINATIONS:

None.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

10,000 Euros or equivalent.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

10,000 Euros or equivalent.

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Sofia

16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria

Telephone: +(359) (2) 937-5100

Emergency After-HoursTelephone: +(359) (2) 937-5101

Fax: +(359) (2) 937-5209

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Bulgaria for information on U.S. - Bulgaria relations. 

 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

A valid U.S. passport is required for U.S. citizens. Your U.S. passport must be valid for at least three (3) months from the expected date of departure from Bulgaria. U.S. citizens may stay in Bulgaria for a total of 90 days within any six-month period without a Bulgarian visa. This law is strictly enforced. Travelers who have been in the country for 90 days and then leave will not be able to re-enter Bulgaria before the six-month period expires. Please plan and apply for your visa early.

  • Visit the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Bulgarian Embassy website for the most current visa information.
  • Carry your U.S. passport at all times or a Bulgarian residence permit, known in Bulgaria as lichna karta.
  • U.S. passport cards are recognized as proof of citizenship and identity but are not sufficient for international air travel to and from Bulgaria.
  • Visitors are required to maintain medical insurance for the duration of stay in Bulgaria. You may be required to present proof of medical insurance at the port of entry. Medical evacuation insurance is recommended.

Traveling with Children Under 18 Years OldRegulations apply to Bulgarian minors, Bulgarian-U.S. dual citizen minors, and U.S. citizen minors when one or both parents are Bulgarian.

  • If a Bulgarian or dual U.S. citizen-Bulgarian child is traveling out of Bulgaria with only one or no parent, the absent parent(s) must sign a declaration authorizing temporary custody for travel purposes. The declaration must be certified by a Bulgarian notary public. See more information on Bulgaria’s Border Police website.  While not required, some travelers have been asked to produce a child’s birth certificate.
  • If the declaration is signed in the U.S., it must be certified by a U.S. notary public and the court in the jurisdiction where the notary is licensed, have an apostille, and be translated into Bulgarian by a licensed translation company.
  • If you fail to present the properly notarized and/or apostilled declaration, Bulgarian authorities will not allow you to depart the country with the child. The U.S. Embassy is unable to intervene in such circumstances.  

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Bulgaria.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites. 

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Safety and Security

Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue to plot possible attacks in Europe. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. 

When traveling or living in Bulgaria, you should:

  • Be aware of the local security situation and take appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.
  • Monitor media and local information sources, and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Address specific safety concerns to Bulgarian law enforcement authorities.
  • Avoid demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of large gatherings. Even events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational.

Crime: ATM skimming, credit card fraud, and traffic incidents remain the most common threats to U.S. citizens in Bulgaria. The majority of incidents involving U.S. citizens are monetary in nature, though incidents of racism, ethnic slurs, and harassment of African-Americans and religious minorities have occurred. Report crimes to the police by dialing 112.

  • Pick-pocketing and purse snatching are frequent occurrences, especially in crowded markets, on shopping streets, and aboard the busy tram and bus lines. Con artists operate on public transportation and in bus and train stations.
  • Use caution at ATMs. Be wary of people who approach you at an ATM and offer assistance. Do not give your PIN to anyone under any circumstances.
  • Travelers should be suspicious of "instant friends" and should also ask persons claiming to be government officials to provide identification.
  • Police stations should provide translators for anyone who needs to report a crime, but will often require the victim to return at a later time or bring his/her own translator.
  • Pay special attention to the drink prices at high-end bars and nightclubs. Travelers have been charged exorbitant prices, especially for champagne and hard alcohol. Bills have been as high as several thousand dollars for drinks, and in some establishments, the management used force to secure payment.
  • Use taxis with meters and clearly marked rates displayed on a sticker on the passenger side of the windshield. Taxi drivers are known to overcharge unwary travelers particularly at Sofia Airport, the Central Train Station, and at Black Sea resort areas. The airport has a clearly marked exit within the arrival terminal that leads travelers to metered taxis at a fair rate and a booth to assist with obtaining taxi services. Inquire about the fare before entering a taxi and always account for all luggage, packages, and hand-carried items before paying and releasing a taxi.
  • Automobile theft and break-ins are common in residential areas or in parks. Four-wheel-drive vehicles and late-model European sedans are the most popular targets.
  • Burglary is a common crime. If you plan to reside in Bulgaria on a long-term basis, take measures to protect your home and consider installing window grilles, steel doors with well-functioning locks, and an alarm system.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime:

Report crimes to the local police and contact the U.S. Embassy at + (359) (2) 937-5101.

Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

The local equivalent to the “911” emergency telephone line in Bulgaria is 112 for police, fire, or ambulance services.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

  • Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Bulgaria are severe; convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
  • Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail.
  • Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and, if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
  • Bulgarian law enforcement authorities may take you in for questioning if you take pictures of certain buildings.

Special Circumstances: Bulgaria is still largely a cash economy.

  • You may exchange money at local banks or exchange bureaus. Be wary of people on streets who offer higher rates of exchange, they are usually con artists who intend to swindle unsuspecting travelers.
  • Damaged or worn U.S. dollar bank notes are often rejected at banks or exchange bureaus.
  • Most shops, hotels, and restaurants do not accept travelers’ checks or credit cards. Local banks such as Unicredit, Bulbank, Bulgarian Postbank, and United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) can cash travelers’ checks.

Corruption remains an important concern of the Bulgarian government. You may refer complaints of public corruption by e-mail to the Ministry of Justice at anticorruption@justice.government.bg or by phone to +359 2 987 0697. All grievances must be submitted in the Bulgarian language.

If you plan to import an automobile to Bulgaria, be aware that customs duties on personal vehicles can be high. All documents must be originals or certified copies and contain an apostille. See more information on the Bulgarian Customs Agency website

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Bulgaria. LGBTI individuals are stigmatized by society in Bulgaria and societal discrimination against LGBTI individuals is widespread. LGBTI individuals engaging in public displays of affection may attract unwelcome attention or harassment.  

While there is no legal barrier to organize an LGBTI event, pride event participants were attacked in the past. Some pride parades were also postponed on police request due to concerns that they could not effectively protect those participating in a LGBTI event.  

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Local law requires improved access to buildings for persons with disabilities and new public projects take this requirement into account; however, this law is rarely enforced in older buildings.

Bulgarian law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, and access to health care. Societal discrimination persists against persons with disabilities.

Commuting in Bulgaria is nearly impossible for disabled individuals. Buses, trams, and trolleys are generally old, extremely crowded, and lack accommodation for disabled travelers. Even in newer public vehicles access is extremely limited and disabled travelers rely on fellow passengers to help them on and off the vehicle.

  • The Sofia metro is the most accessible system for disabled individuals, but its reach is limited.
  • Disabled travelers should consider traveling with a friend or family member who can assist them in navigating the transportation systems in Bulgaria.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

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Health

We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

Visitors are required to maintain medical insurance for the duration of their stay in Bulgaria. You may be required to show proof of medical insurance at the port of entry.

Bulgarian medical personnel are knowledgeable, however most hospitals and clinics are not equipped with appropriate medical supplies and are not maintained to Western standards.  

  • Basic medical supplies, over-the-counter and prescription medications are widely available, but highly specialized medication and/or treatment regimens may not be.
  • Not every hospital/clinic is equipped for pediatric care. If you are in need of emergency services for an infant/child, please call ahead to ensure those services are available.
  • Response times for an ambulance can take up to an hour or longer. Taxi or a personal vehicle is a faster option.  
  • Hospitalization and or medical evacuation may cost thousands of dollars. Since Bulgaria is a cash-based economy, make sure you have access to cash to cover a medical emergency. Most hospitals expect immediate cash payment for service rendered.

You can find a list of hospitals and physicians in Bulgaria on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with Bulgaria’s Customs Agency to ensure the medication is legal. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

Tuberculosis continues to be a health concern in Bulgaria.

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: The Bulgarian road system is largely underdeveloped.

  • Roads are in poor repair and full of potholes.
  • Rockslides and landslides are common on mountainous roads.
  • Livestock and animal-drawn carts are common on roads, especially during agricultural seasons.
  • In winter, roads are icy and potholes proliferate.
  • Some roads lack pavement markings and lights.
  • Motorists often drive with dim or missing headlights.

Traffic Laws: Driving in Bulgaria is dangerous. Aggressive driving habits, lack of safe infrastructure, and a mixture of late model and old model cars on the country’s highways contribute to a high fatality rate in road accidents.

  • Avoid confrontations with aggressive local drivers.Drivers are known to speed, swerve into oncoming traffic or go the wrong way on divided highways.
  • Traffic lights late at night blink yellow in all directions, leaving the right-of-way unclear and contributing to frequent accidents.
  • Heavy truck traffic creates numerous hazards along the two-lane routes from the Greek border at Kulata going to Sofia, and from the Turkish border at Kapitan Andreevo to Plovdiv. Expect long delays at border crossings.
  • A U.S. state driver's license is only valid in Bulgaria when used in conjunction with an International Driving Permit.
  • If pulled over by a police officer, be aware that under Bulgarian law the police officers may not collect fines on the spot, but may confiscate your driver’s license depending on the offense.
  • Right turns on red lights are not permitted.
  • Keep your headlights on at all times no matter the time of day or weather.
  • At unregulated crossings, the driver on the right has the legal right-of-way, but this rule is frequently ignored.
  • The use of seat belts is mandatory in Bulgaria for all passengers.
  • Drivers may be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood level as low as 0.05 percent. The penalties for drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death range from a US $25 fine to life imprisonment.
  • Check out Bulgaria’s Ministry of Interior’s road rules guide.

Public Transportation: Sofia’s metro system and the extensive bus network are reliable modes of transportation. Taxi cabs are also plentiful but are known to overcharge passengers. Do insist on use of the meter when using a taxi cab.

For specific information concerning Bulgarian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, please visit the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Visit the European Commission site for latest information on speed limits, traffic fines and regulations.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Bulgaria’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Bulgaria’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Bulgaria should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https:homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal select “broadcast warnings”.

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Sofia

16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria

Telephone: +(359) (2) 937-5100

Emergency After-HoursTelephone: +(359) (2) 937-5101

Fax: +(359) (2) 937-5209

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General Information

Bulgaria and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since January 1, 2005.

For information concerning travel to Bulgaria, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Bulgaria.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Bulgaria.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Fax:  202-485-6221
Website

The Bulgarian Central Authority (BCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice, Legal Child Support Department.  The BCA reviews Hague applications for completion, initiates location efforts for missing children, and if appropriate, approaches taking parties about whether or not abduction situations may be resolved voluntarily.  The BCA can be reached at:

The Ministry of Justice
Legal Child Support Department
Central Authority of the Republic of Bulgaria
1, Slavyanska Street
1040 SOFIA
Telephone: +359 (2) 923 7302 
Fax: +359 (2) 987 1557

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Bulgaria, the USCA encourages a parent or legal guardian to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the BCA.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the BCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.  It is extremely important that each document written in English be translated into Bulgarian prior to court proceedings commencing.  The BCA can assist with translations, although the case processing may occur more expeditiously if applicant parents provide translations.  Please note, however, that certified translations are not necessary. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Bulgarian central authorities.  Fees for privately retained attorneys are the responsibility of the applicant parent.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in Bulgaria.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Bulgaria.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Legal representation is required in a Hague Abduction Convention case in Bulgaria. It is not mandatory for a parent or legal guardian to retain a private attorney, however, as the BCA will appoint a lawyer from the Ministry of Justice to present the applicant parent’s Hague case to the specialized Hague court in Bulgaria (the City Court of Sofia). This service is free of charge. Parents or legal guardians may hire a private attorney to assist them with their case and to advise them as to the best course of action for their individual circumstances. A privately hired attorney should contact the BCA as soon as possible after the BCA receives the Hague application. The Ministry of Justice lawyer will continue to participate in advancing the Hague petition in court even if an applicant parent retains private legal representation.

The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list.  Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

While Bulgaria does not offer a formal, structured mediation program, the Ministry of Justice maintains a list of mediation providers (in Bulgarian only).  The average fee for a mediation procedure, regardless of how many sessions are necessary, is about $500.  Costs are typically divided equally between the parties.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

WARNING:  Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention.  Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Bulgaria before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter.”  See the “How to Adopt” section for more information.

Bulgaria is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention).  Therefore, all adoptions between Bulgaria and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Act of 2000 (IAA), and the IAA implementing regulations.

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Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and Bulgaria is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention.  Therefore to adopt from Bulgaria, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. government.  The U.S. government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Bulgaria also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS:  There are no residency requirements to complete an intercountry adoption in Bulgaria.  However, prospective adoptive parents are expected to spend five days with their adoptive child before the orphanage director will release the child.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS:  Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than their adoptive children.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS:  Under Bulgarian law, prospective adoptive parents can be a heterosexual married couple or a single person.  Here the law does not specifiy orientation.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Children are listed on the registry for domestic adoption if they are officially relinquished or abandoned by the parents.  If no Bulgarian family adopts a child from the domestic registry within six months of listing, the child is entered into the registry for international adoptions, maintained by the Ministry of Justice.  Biological parents may reinstate their custody even after they have officially relinquished or abandoned their child and the child has been entered into the registry for domestic or international adoptions.  However, this happens very rarely and only after careful review by the Bulgarian social services.

Because Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Bulgaria must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Bulgaria have determined that placement of the child within Bulgaria has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Bulgarian requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States. 

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How to Adopt

WARNING: Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Bulgaria before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter.” Read on for more information.

Bulgaria’s Adoption Authority 
Department of International Legal Child Protection and Intercountry Adoptions
Ministry of Justice

The Process
Because Bulgaria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Bulgaria must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.

NOTE: If you filed your I-600A with Bulgaria before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.

1. Choose an Accredited ASP
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
5. Adopt the Child in Bulgaria
6. Bring your Child Home

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
  2. The recommended first step in adopting a child from Bulgaria is to select an accredited ASP in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services in Convention adoptions between the United States and Bulgaria. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

    The U.S. ASP must work with a Bulgarian adoption agency that has been accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. The U.S. ASP may not work directly with the Ministry of Justice. For a complete list of Bulgarian adoption agencies accredited by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice, please visit the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

  3. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    After you choose an accredited ASP, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements

    Once the U.S. government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, you or your adoption agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Bulgaria’s law. 

    After completing the U.S. pre-adoption requirements through USCIS, the U.S. ASP works with a Bulgarian adoption agency that has been licensed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice. While the two agencies work together as partners, with a signed agreement,under 22 CFR 96.46, the Bulgarian ASP would be considered a foreign supervised provider. The U.S. accredited or approved ASP has certain responsibilities of oversight over the conduct of the Bulgarian ASP, even though the Bulgarian ASP is also accredited by the Bulgarian Central Authority. All required documents must be filed at the Ministry of Justice by the Bulgarian ASP. If the prospective parent(s) application is accepted, their names are placed on a registry.

  4. Be Matched with a Child

    If both the United States and Bulgaria determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice may provide you with a referral for a child in accordance with the criteria you have specified in your home study. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. 

    Due to the priority given to children with special needs, the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice processes referrals of prospective adoptive parents willing to adopt a child with special needs before other referrals. A child with special needs is defined as a child with significant health issues or a child over seven years of age. 

    The Adoption Council within the Ministry of Justice reviews the registries of prospective parents and available children, including all relevant documentation, and proposes a match. The MOJ provides the adoptive parents through their Bulgarian accredited agency photographs of the child and information about the child, including his/her medical conditionIf the family declines to adopt the child, the agency must inform the Council within two months of the referral, and the Council will suggest a match with a different child. There is no limitation as to the number of times prospective adoptive parents may decline a proposed match.


  5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States: 

    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800).  USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant. 

    After provisional approval of Form I-800, an electronic visa application form (DS-260) must be submitted. The visa application may be filled out and submitted by you or your U.S. or Bulgarian ASP. You, or someone acting on your behalf, will then visit the consular section of the U.S. Embassy to pay the visa fee and submit a photograph of the child.  A consular officer will review the child’s information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. 

    WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Bulgarian Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Bulgaria where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Bulgarian Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

    Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Bulgaria before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

    Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.


  6. Adopt (or Gain Legal Custody) of a Child in Bulgaria:  

    Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Bulgaria, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Bulgaria. 

    The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Bulgaria generally includes the following:

    • Role of Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Justice is the Central Authority for Hague adoptions in Bulgaria. It is responsible for the accreditation of Bulgarian ASPs.  It also maintains a registry of children available for inter-country adoption and matches children to prospective adoptive parents. Once the prospective adoptive parent(s) accept the match of a child and the child is referred to the family by the Council, the case is forwarded to the Minister of Justice for final approval. When the Minister approves the parents’ application, the Ministry of Justice transfers the paperwork directly to Sofia CityCourt.
    • Role of the Court: After the parents have met and spent five days with the child with whom they are matched, the Ministry of Justice approves their application and sends the case to the Sofia City Court. The Court sets a date for a hearing and reviews the documentation related to the adoption process, including the Ministry of Justice’s referral. The Court may postpone the hearing date if it requires additional documents. After hearing the case, the Court decides whether to grant a final adoption decree to the adoptive parents. Once the court issues a full adoption decree, the adoptive parent’s Bulgarian representatives obtain a new birth certificate and passport for the child.
    • Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. ASP prepares the home-study and assists the adoptive parents in filing the I-800A. The U.S. ASP works with a Bulgarian ASP who registers the adoptive parents with the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice and serves as liaison to the Bulgarian Central Authority. It should be noted that under U.S. accreditation standards, the Bulgarian ASP must be a supervised provider. The Bulgarian ASP might also file a visa application with the American Embassy in Sofia.
    • Time Frame: If there is a special needs child available for intercountry adoption, it normally takes several months to complete the adoption process in Bulgaria. There are very few young and healthy children on the waiting list. Hence adoptive parents who wish to adopt a younger child with no medical issues may wait many months or even years until the Ministry of Justice matches them with a child.
    • Adoption Application: The application is a letter prepared by the accredited adoption agency. It is deposited at the Ministry of Justice by the parents’ Bulgarian legal representative.
    • Adoption Fees: The U.S. Embassy in Sofia is aware of the following Bulgarian fees for adoption. These fees are subject to change. All fees are given in Bulgarian currency and in Euros as the Bulgarian currency is linked to the Euro.
      • Application fee at the MOJ:  100 leva (€ 50.00 EUR) 
      • Court fee: 25 leva (€ 12,50 EUR)
      • Minister’s approval for adoption – 50 leva (€ 25.00 EUR) 
      • Transcript of the Court Decree:  the fee varies according to the number of pages. The first page costs 2 leva (€ 1 EUR) and each following page costs 1 lev (€ 0,50 EUR)
      • Passport fee for child under 14: 10 leva (€ 5.00 EUR) for a regular service for up to 30 days; 20 leva (€ 10.00 EUR) for an expedited service – up to 3 days; 50 leva (€ 25.00 EUR) for an emergency service – up to 8 hours
      • Passport fee for child over 14: 40 leva (€ 20.00 EUR) for a regular service for up to 30 days; 80 leva (€ 40.00 EUR) for an expedited service – up to 3 days; 200 leva (€ 100.00 EUR) for an emergency service – up to 8 hours
      • Birth Certificate fee: 5 leva (€ 2,50.00 EUR) for a regular service – up to 7 days; 7,50 leva (€ 3,75.00 EUR) for an expedited service – up to 3 days; 10 leva (€ 5.00 EUR) for an emergency service – up to 2 days. The legalization of the document costs 5 leva (€ 2,50.00 EUR)

    In addition to the above, U.S. adoption agencies charge fees for the services they provide.

    The Department of State discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of “buying” a baby, may be contrary to the Convention and U.S. law, and put all future adoptions in Bulgaria at risk. If you think such a fee has been asked or demanded, please inform the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your U.S. ASP will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.   
    • Documents Required:
      •  
        • Application, including personal data, family history, financial information. The application is a letter prepared by the accredited adoption agency.
        • A document certifying that the adoptive parent(s) has/have not been deprived of custody rights. 
        • An FBI fingerprint clearance shows whether there were prior arrests or criminal convictions which would render them ineligible to adopt a child in Bulgaria.
        • Home Study
        • Medical Certificate (signed by a general practitioner)
        • A court certificate of the adoptive parent
        • Approval by the USCIS (I-171H)
        • Receipt for the application fee of 100 leva (€ 50.00 EUR) 
        • All documents submitted should be originals. They must be translated and apostilled.
      NOTE:  Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents
  7. Bring Your Child Home

    Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

    Birth Certificate
    You will firstneed to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

    Note: The process of obtaining a birth certificate and passport takes 3 - 4 weeks. The parents are not required to do anything in order to apply for these two documents. Their accredited adoption agency authorizes an attorney to represent them at court and deposit documents at various Government entities.

    Bulgarian Passport
    Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Bulgaria.

    After the new birth certificate has been issued, the representative has to apply for a passport of the child. The process of obtaining a birth certificate and a passport takes 3-4 weeks.

    U.S. Immigrant Visa 
    After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for a U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy in Sofia for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child. 

    The visa interview may be scheduled by the adoptive parents or by their Bulgarian representative over the telephone as soon as the child obtains a Bulgarian passport. They must first make sure that their fingerprint clearances have not expired. The visa interview may be scheduled a few days before the intended interview date.  

    Interviews can be scheduled by calling (359-2) 937-5444 each working day from to 09:00 to 12:00. This is the direct line to the Immigrant Visa Unit. In case of emergency or if the line is busy, adoptive parents may reach the Immigrant Visa Unit through the Embassy's switchboard: (359-2) 937-5100. The Embassy conducts immigrant visa interviews Monday through Thursday from 13:00 to 15:30 hours. 

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: Pursuant to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children who enter the U.S. on an IR-3 or IH-3 immigrant visa generally acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry to the United States for the purpose of lawful permanent residence. 

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: Pursuant to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children who enter the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 immigrant visa generally acquire U.S. citizenship automatically when a court in the United States issues the final adoption decree. 

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his or her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. 


Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport 
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports. Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for Bulgaria, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department webpage is a good place to start. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.  

Staying in Touch on Your Trip

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Bulgaria, registration assists the U.S. embassy or consulate in reaching you. Registration is free and can be done online.

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After Adoption

What does Bulgaria require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

Bulgaria requires adoptive parents to submit post adoption reports. The Ministry of Justice requires four post-placement reports – one every six months after the adoption for the first two years.

We strongly urge you to comply with all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Bulgaria’s history of positive experiences with U.S. parents.


What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria
16 Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408
Bulgaria
Tel: (359 2) 937-5100
Fax: (359 (2) 937-5122
Email:  iv_sofia@state.gov
Internet:  https://bg.usembassy.gov/

Bulgarian Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
Slavyanska Street # 1
Sofia 1040
Bulgaria
Tel:  (359 2) 923-7303 (Bulgarian only)
Internet:  http://www.justice.government.bg  (in Bulgarian only)

Embassy of Bulgaria
Embassy of Bulgaria  
1621 22nd Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: 202-387-0174 (main), 202-387-7969 (consular section)
Fax: 202-234-7973
Email:  office@Bulgaria-Embassy.orgConsulate@Bulgaria-Embassy.org
Internet:  bulgaria-embassy.org/  

*Bulgaria also has consulates in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  AskCI@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@DHS.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
 
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 10 None Multiple 60 Months
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth

  • Available.
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name: Удостоверение за раждане (Udostoverenie za razhdane)
  • Issuing Authority: the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature, the color and the format may vary.
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Registration Criteria: The parents register the birth of their child with their IDs
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: Duplicates of birth certificates are issued according to the same procedures.
  • Comments:  Bulgaria is signatory to the Vienna convention of 1976. In addition to the regular birth certificates, Bulgarian civil authorities issue birth certificates in three languages: Bulgarian, French and English. The form is two-sided and bares the seal of the Civil Registry Office.

Death/Burial

  • Available
  • Fees:  5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name:  Препис-извлечение от акт за смърт (Prepis-izlvlechenie ot akt za smurt)
  • Issuing Authority: the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Registration Criteria: The death is registered on the basis of a notification of death issued by a medical doctor
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: Yes
  • Comments:  Bulgaria is signatory to the Vienna convention of 1976. In addition to the regular death certificates, Bulgarian civil authorities issue death certificates in three languages: Bulgarian, French and English. The form is two-sided and bares the seal of the Civil Registry Office.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificate

 

  • Available
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name:  Удостоверение за сключен граждански брак(Udostoverenie za sklyuchen grazhdanski brak)
  • Issuing Authority:  the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Registration Criteria: The marriage certificate is registered by the local municipality. If the marriage was contracted abroad, to register the marriage in Bulgaria, the original marriage certificate has to be legalized and translated in Bulgarian language.
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: Duplicates of marriage certificates are issued according to the same procedures.
  • Alternate Documents:
  • Exceptions:
  • Comments:  Bulgaria is signatory to the Vienna convention of 1976. In addition to the regular marriage certificates, Bulgarian civil authorities issue marriage certificates in three languages: Bulgarian, French and English. The form is two-sided and bares the seal of the Civil Registry Office.

 

Divorce

 

  • Available
  • Fees: 5 BG leva application fee, 2 BG leva for the first page and 1 lev for each additional page.
  • Document Name: Решение (Reshenie)
  • Issuing Authority:  a regional court
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Round seal of the court, signature of the regional judge and the jury
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: regional judge
  • Registration Criteria: The court decision (for divorce) is issued, registered and archived by the regional court
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for a paid fee
  • Certified Copies Available: Yes. The certified copy bares an additional seal which says TRUE COPY and is signed by the court secretary.
  • Alternate Documents: If the Court Decision is archived, the court may issue a certificate that shows the decision’s entry number and date, as well as the names of the parties of the divorce.

 

Adoption Certificates

Unavailable.

ALL /
ALL /
Identity Card
  • Available
  • Fees: the fees may vary  from no fee to 90 BG leva according to the age of the person applying and the type of service
  • Document Name:  Лична карта (Lichna karta)
  • Issuing Authority: local office of the Ministry of Interior
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: small plastic card, pink, bares the seal of the Republic of Bulgaria, machine readable zone on the back
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: N/A
  • Registration Criteria: all Bulgarian citizen over the age of fourteen must obtain an ID card
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance; 2. Birth certificate; 3. Previous ID card (if any); 4. Receipt for the paid fee
  • Certified Copies Available: No
  • Alternate Documents: No
  • Exceptions: No

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

  • Unavailable
  • Comments:  Court records are requested as a substitute.

 

Court Records

  • Available for Bulgarian citizens or foreigners who are legal permanent residents in Bulgaria in possession of either a Bulgarian Unified Civil Number (EGN) or a Foreigner Personal Number   (LNCH)
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for 2 copies
  • Document Name: Свидетелство за съдимост (Svidetelstvo za sudimost)
  • Issuing Authority:  a regional court
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of a regional court, signatures of the court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Birth certificate, 4. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Comments: The court certificate is valid for 6 months. It shows only the convictions that are not purged. It does not show arrests, charges or purged records. If the document shows that the person has been convicted, the actual court record may be requested.

 

Prison Records

  • Available
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for 2 copies
  • Document Name: Свидетелство за съдимост (Svidetelstvo za sudimost)
  • Issuing Authority:  a regional court
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of a regional court, signatures of the court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: court records office clerk and the chairman
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Birth certificate, 4. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Comments: The court certificate is valid for 6 months. It shows only the convictions that are not purged. It does not show arrests, charges or purged records. If the document shows that the person has been convicted, the actual court record may be requested.

 

Military Records

Unavailable.

Passports & Other Travel Documents
  • Types Available: regular, diplomatic, official and seaman’s passport
  • Fees: the fees may vary from 10 BG leva to 200 BG leva according to the applicant’s age and the type of service
  • Document Name:  Паспорт (Passport)
  • Issuing Government Authority: local office of the Ministry of Interior
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The Regular Passport has a maroon cover and is issued by the Ministry of Interior. The Diplomatic Passport has a dark blue cover and is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Official Passport has a green cover and is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Seaman passport has a light blue cover and is issued by the Ministry of Transport. All four passports have gold lettering on the front that says “Republic of Bulgaria” and the type of passport in both Cyrillic and Latin alphabet.
  • Registration Criteria: any Bulgarian citizen may apply and obtain a regular passport
  • Procedure for Obtaining: 1. Request for issuance; 2. Birth certificate; 3.Previous passport (if any); 4. Receipt for the paid fee
  • Comments: Bulgarian passports are issued for 5 years

Other Records

Marriage Status Certificate

 

  • Available for Bulgarian citizens or foreigners who are in possession of a Bulgarian Unified Civil Number (EGN).
  • Fees: 5 BG leva for a regular service (7 days); 7,50 BG leva for an expedited service (3 days); 10 leva for an express service (1 day)
  • Document Name: Удостоверение за семейно положение, съпруг и деца  (Udostoverenie za semeyno polozhenie, suprug I detsa)
  • Issuing Authority: the local municipality
  • Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: round seal of the municipality, the clerk’s signature
  • Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Civil Registry Office clerk
  • Procedure for Obtaining:  1. Request for issuance, 2. ID (or a power-of-attorney), 3. Receipt for the paid fee.
  • Certified Copies Available: No.
  • Alternate Documents: Marital Status certificate – short version which does not show any information about the spouse and the children
  • Comments: This document is requested from all applicants over the age of 18 regardless of their marital status (single, married, divorced or widowed).

 

 

Visa Issuing Posts

Sofia, Bulgaria (Embassy)

U.S. Embassy Sofia
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20521-5740

Post Contact Information

Address: 16, Kozyak St., 1408 Sofia, Bulgaria

Phone Number: +359-2-5100

 

 

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of Bulgaria.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 387-7969 (202) 387-0174 (202) 299-0273 (202) 483-1386 (202) 234-7973

Chicago, IL (312) 867-1904 (312) 867-1905 (312) 867-1906

Los Angeles, CA (310) 478-6700 (310) 478-6277

New York, NY (212) 935-4646 (212) 319-5955

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Sofia
16, Kozyak Street
Sofia 1408, Bulgaria
Telephone
+(359) (2) 937-5100
Emergency
+(359) (2) 937-5101
Fax
+(359) (2) 937-5209
Bulgaria Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.