Getting married in Bulgaria

Requirements

If you want to marry a foreigner or a Bulgarian citizen, you need to meet these requirements:

  • You must be single. In Bulgaria, you can be married to only one person at a time.
  • You must not have a mental illness that has led the state to take away any of your legal rights.
  • You must be at least 18 years old. (In some exceptional cases, 16-year-olds can get the regional court's permission to marry.)
  • You must be marrying someone of the opposite sex. Same-sex marriages are not legally recognized in Bulgaria.
  • You must give your explicit consent to marry. In Bulgaria, no one can force you to get married. It must be your choice.

You can get married in Bulgaria even if you do not have refugee status or humanitarian protection.

However, if you have applied for asylum in Bulgaria and been rejected, you cannot get married.

Documents

  • Identity documents
    This could be a Bulgarian ID card or a valid national passport. Note that your asylum registration card is not an identity document, but you might be asked to present it together with your national passport. These documents must be originals, not copies.

  • A declaration that there are no obstacles for you to get married
    You can get this document from the office where you plan to get married. Do this before your wedding day.

  • A declaration that you are aware of the illnesses of your partner (if there are any)
    You can get this document from the office where you will get married. Do this before your wedding day.

  • A medical certificate
    You get this at the standard pre-marital medical checkup that a couple must have before getting married. You can do this test at any clinic in Bulgaria.

  • A final divorce decision if you or your partner have previously been married, or, if either of you has been widowed, a death certificate for the deceased spouse

  • A document verifying your marital status
    You can get this document from the embassy of your country of origin. The document must have been issued within the last 6 months. It also has to be translated into Bulgarian and certified. If you have refugee or humanitarian status in Bulgaria, you can certify your marital status with a notarized declaration.

  • A certificate that your national law recognizes this marriage
    Authorities may also ask you to present a report that there are no obstacles for you to marry under your national law. In Bulgaria, you can get this document from the embassy of your country of origin. This certificate has to be translated into Bulgarian and certified. If there are obstacles to your marriage under your national law, you will not be able to get married legally.

Procedure

If you have met all these conditions and have all the necessary documents, you need to visit a civil status officer and schedule a public ceremony. You can find these officers in every municipality. You can freely choose the municipality where you want to be married, but if you are an asylum-seeker, you shouldn’t leave the zone that is written on your registration card. Otherwise, you could be detained.

Bring your identity documents (and your registration card) with you as the civil status officer will check your name, age, citizenship, and the validity of the documents you submit.

Also, bring 2 witnesses. They can be Bulgarians or foreign nationals.

If there are no obstacles, you can get married. You will need to sign a document that enters you into civil matrimony. Your partner, 2 witnesses and the officer will also sign the document.

Residence permit

Marrying a Bulgarian citizen will not guarantee that you will get a residence permit in Bulgaria. With fake marriage, you risk being blackmailed for money by your “fake spouse” or other people involved.

To get a residence permit based on marriage, you first need to get a long-stay visa D — no matter if your spouse-to-be is Bulgarian or a foreign national. Once you have the long-stay visa D, then you can apply for a residence permit based on marriage.

Here's what to do:

  1. Submit an application for long-term visa D
    Normally, foreigners have to apply for this visa at the Bulgarian embassy in their own country. You can do it in Bulgaria if leaving Bulgaria would seriously threaten your life or health, or if your staying in Bulgaria is in the best interest of your family and/or a child.
    To apply without leaving Bulgaria, submit an application for a long-term visa D to the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Sofia.

  2. Apply for a residence permit before the Bulgarian immigration authorities
    If you hold a long-term visa D AND you are a family member of a Bulgarian citizen, you can obtain a permit for continuous residence for a renewable term of up to 1 year. By law, family members are the spouses who live together in one household. If you don’t intend to live together with your spouse in Bulgaria, you are not eligible for a residence permit.

  3. Security check
    The police together with the State Agency for National Security will verify that you do not present a threat to the national security, as well as that your marriage is legitimate and is not arranged only to get a residence permit.

  4. Interview
    Both you and your partner will have an interview with the authorities before they decide on your residence permit. If they refuse it, you can submit an appeal in court within 14 days of receiving the notification of the refusal.

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