ETIAS Visa Waiver for Bulgaria

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Bulgaria is a country in Southern Europe and is officially known as the Republic of Bulgaria. It sits on a landmass of 110,994 km2, making it the sixth-largest country in Europe. In the north, it is bordered by Romania; in the west, North Macedonia and Serbia. To the south is Turkey and Greece, and the Black Sea in the east. Bulgaria's major cities are Burgas, Plovdiv, Varna, and Sofia. Sofia is the largest city and the nation's capital.
In February 2022, Bulgaria had an estimated population of about 6.8 million people, making it have a population density of 63 people per square kilometer. Bulgaria is a beautiful place, with black sea resorts, rugged mountains, and a blissful and serene environment. Exquisite cuisine, religion, a mix of cultures, and great architecture are great things to see in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria became a member of the European Union in 2007. However, it has not met the requirements to become a part of the Schengen zone. What does this mean for Bulgaria and its visitors? For Bulgaria, not being a part of the Schengen zone at this moment means that their border is not open to countries eligible for an ETIAS visa waiver. There are 60 countries whose citizens are eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver. These countries' citizens can travel to any of the ETIAS countries in the Schengen zone without having a visa.
For visitors to Bulgaria, depending on their home country or country issuing their passport, they may need to provide a Bulgarian visa before entering the country. Bulgaria does not issue Schengen visas but is in bilateral agreements with the Schengen zone, allowing citizens of member states to enter its borders without a visa. Members of the EU can also enter without a visa.

Bulgaria Visa and Entry Requirements

When entering Bulgaria, citizens who are not visa-exempt must apply for a Bulgarian visa before gaining entrance to Bulgaria. Citizens of the EU, the Schengen zone, Norway, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, and Iceland are visa-exempt and permitted to travel to Bulgaria without a visa. There are three classes of visas for visitors to Bulgaria, and each covers a different permission limit and validity period.
  • Visa A (Airport transit visa): This visa type allows holders to change flights from Bulgaria to another country. They are not allowed to leave the airport and enter Bulgaria.
  • Visa C (Short stay visa): The short visa offered by Bulgaria is appropriate for a short-term visit to Bulgaria, as the name states. It allows its holders to stay in Bulgaria for three months within every six months. It is offered for personal visits, business purposes, and tourism. If you are a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Bulgaria, you can receive a short-stay visa with multiple entries, valid for one year.
  • Visa D (Long-stay visa): This visa type is given to foreign nationals who want to stay in Bulgaria for a long time for education or work. The holder can have multiple entrances into Bulgaria and is usually valid for one year.
Your purpose for a visit to Bulgaria will determine the visa to apply for.

What Documents Are Required when Applying for a Bulgaria Visa?

For those who need a visa to enter Bulgaria, here are the general requirements for visa application. Particular visa types may have other requirements.
  • A Visa application form filled out and signed by the applicant.
  • An international passport belonging to the applicant or other equivalent travel document. The document must have at least two pages blank.
  • A photocopy of previous visas (if applicable) and personal information on your passport
  • A passport-sized photograph with a 35 x 45 mm dimension, with a neutral facial expression, is taken on a light background. Your face must cover 70 - 80% of the photograph, and you must be front-facing. Tinted eyewear and decorative headgear are not allowed.
  • A detailed itinerary that shows your entry and exit dates, along with your flight numbers
  • Travel insurance, with at least €30,000 in it, to cover emergency health expenses or any losses that may arise during your stay in Bulgaria.
  • Proof of accommodation, or hotel reservation, for your time in Bulgaria.
  • A letter spelling out your reason for traveling to Bulgaria
  • Proof of finances to ensure you can cater to your needs in Bulgaria, such as bank statements.
  • If you have a sponsor in Bulgaria, you will have to make it known through a letter to the authorities.

Who Needs a Visa to Enter Bulgaria?

There is a wide variety of individuals who need a visa to enter Bulgaria. Together with Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein, which are called the European Economic Area, citizens of any EU country are permitted to travel to enter Bulgaria without a visa. Citizens of countries that require a visa, but are residents of other countries that do not need a visa, can enter Bulgaria without a visa, provided they stay for less than 90 days in Bulgaria. Citizens of other countries that do not fall into these categories will need a Bulgarian visa to enter Bulgaria.
However, the situation of things will change when Bulgaria fulfills the requirements for becoming a member of the Schengen zone. Becoming a member of the Schengen zone means allowing countries eligible for ETIAS visa waiver to enter without a visa. ETIAS is expected to be in motion by 2023.

Traveling to Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a fun place to visit. It had 444,994 visitors in January and 409,778 visitors in February 2022. Mountains for hiking and skiing, beaches for relaxing and sunbathing are some of the attractions available in Bulgaria. It has historic cities and mouth-watering architecture. It also serves as an important trade route between Asia and Europe. The news about Bulgaria being a dream destination for vacation has gotten out and has increased the number of tourists visiting year on year.

Requirement For Bulgaria to Join The Schengen Zone

Bulgaria is only partly a member of the Schengen zone. For Bulgaria to join the Schengen zone, it has to agree with the Schengen zone on personal data protection, Police cooperation, legislation on border control, infrastructure, and organization. When Bulgaria meets all these requirements, it needs a unanimous vote from all the countries in the EU before it can become a member of the Schengen zone. When they do this, then they can fully enjoy the benefits of the Schengen zone.