If you have been granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in Bulgaria, you have the right to apply for a Travel Document.
How to apply
As soon as you get refugee status or subsidiary protection, you can apply by going to your nearest police station.
You can find the websites and contact details of the regional police departments in Bulgarian language here.
At the police station, you will get an application form. You will need to fill in this form and submit it together with the following documents:
- The decision granting you refugee status or humanitarian protection
- Your registration card that you got from the State Agency for Refugees
- A certificate of address registration that was issued by the municipality
- A receipt showing that you paid the required application fees
After you submit the documents, the responsible official will take a photo of you and will take your fingerprints. The police will cross-check your information with the State Agency for Refugees.
Please note: If you are under 14, your parent or legal guardian has to submit and pick up the application. If you are between 14 and 18, you should submit your application in person with your parent or legal guardian, who needs to give consent by signing the application.
Fees and how long it takes
If you have refugee status, you can collect your Travel Document from the police station in 30 working days for 30 leva, or in 10 working days for 60 leva.
If you have humanitarian protection, you can collect your Travel Document from the police station in 30 working days for 50 leva, or in 10 working days for 100 leva.
You will need to pick up your Travel Document in person. In exceptional cases, another person can do it for you, but only if that person has a notarized power of attorney explicitly authorizing him or her to pick up the document on your behalf.
The Travel Document that people with refugee status and humanitarian protection get is not a national passport and it does not give you the same rights as the Bulgarian red passport. Bulgarian citizens can travel to all EU member states, but for refugees there are special rules.
You may need to get a visa to travel to the country you wish to visit. As countries’ entry and stay requirements regularly change, you should consult the embassy of the destination country before you make travel arrangements.
You can find the contact details of embassies in Bulgaria here.
If your trip involves transiting through another country, you need to check the relevant entry requirements for that country too.
Note that holding a Bulgarian Travel Document does not mean that you have the right to stay or work in another country.
Travel Documents for refugee status holders
If you hold refugee status and have a Travel Document, you have the right to:
- Travel to some EU countries and stay there for up to 3 months without a visa.
- Travel to some EU countries and stay there for up to 3 months with a visa.
- Travel to non-EU countries with a visa.
Keep in mind:
- If you stay in another EU country for up to 3 months, you must go back to Bulgaria for at least 6 months before traveling again.
- If you travel to another EU country and want to stay for more than 3 months, you need to get a residence permit in accordance with the national law of that country.
- If your destination country requires a visa, you can stay in that country only for the period of time that is written on your visa.
- If you have refugee status and travel to your country of origin, you may lose your status in Bulgaria.
Your Travel Document will be valid for no more than 5 years. However, its maximum period of validity cannot exceed the validity indicated on your refugee card. This means that if your refugee card is valid for 3 years, your Travel Document will be valid only for 3 years too.
Travel Documents for humanitarian protection holders
If you hold humanitarian protection, you will most likely need a visa to travel to other countries.
To issue a visa, the embassy may require you to prove that you have sufficient financial means to support yourself.
Your Travel Document will be valid for no more than 3 years. If your card for humanitarian protection is valid for a shorter period, the Travel Document will be valid for the same period too.
How to renew your Travel Document
You need to renew your Travel Document at least 2 weeks before it expires. You will need to go to your nearest police station, file an application for renewal and pay a fee for issuing the document.