A Comprehensive Guide to Obtaining Single Permit for Residence and Work in Bulgaria

The regulations governing the entry, stay, work, and departure of foreign nationals in Bulgaria hinge on their classification as either nationals of the European Union / European Economic Area / Swiss Confederation (EU/EEA/SC) or as nationals from third countries (individuals from nations not falling within the aforementioned categories).

This article focuses on the revised conditions referring to the issuance of a Single Permit for Residence and Work (SPRW) effective from June 1, 2021. The SPRW is granted by the Ministry of the Interior in accordance with Article 24i of the Law on Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria (LFRB). The Employment Agency provides written opinions on the application, aligning with the requirements outlined in the Law on Labor Migration and Labor Mobility (LLMLM) and the Regulations for the Implementation of the Law on Labor Migration and Labor Mobility (ILLMLM).

The objective of this article is to provide comprehensive information to all concerned parties regarding the conditions, prerequisites, and procedural steps for obtaining a Single Permit for Residence and Work in Bulgaria for third-country nationals.

Gaining Access to Bulgaria’s Labor Market

Access to the labor market in Bulgaria is contingent upon specific criteria. To be granted permission, the total number of third-country nationals holding long-term residence permits and employed by a local employer within the preceding 12 months must not surpass 20 percent of the average number of employed individuals. However, for small and medium-sized enterprises falling under the definition outlined in Article 3, paragraph 1, item 1 of the Law on Small and Medium Enterprises, this limit is extended to 35 percent.

The Minister of Labor and Social Policy retains the authority to grant exceptions to these limits on access to the labor market in individual cases.

The application for a Single Permit for Residence and Work (SPRW) involves several requisite documents. These include proof of insured housing, a justification from the employer detailing the necessity of hiring a third-country national, along with attached job advertisements in local and national media and online platforms. Additionally, documents attesting to the worker’s education, legalized as per the relevant order, are essential.

Furthermore, a reference-declaration signed by the employer, a certificate-declaration indicating the average number of employed Bulgarian citizens in the previous 12 months, and a declaration from the employer affirming compliance with fair work conditions and remuneration are mandatory. The application should also include a copy of a signed fixed-term employment contract, certified by the employer, effective from the date of the issuance of the residence document for the employee, who is a citizen of a third country. Lastly, proof of mandatory medical insurance is a requisite component of the application process.


The application for issuing an SPRW can be submitted to the Migration Directorate or the regional directorates by the employer, a person authorized by the employer, or the foreigner in person if they already have a long-term residence permit, with the application being signed by the employer.

If submitted to the regional directorates, the applicant must simultaneously send the application electronically to the Migration Directorate. Within three days of the electronic submission, the application and all accompanying documents must also be sent in their original form to the Migration Directorate. It’s crucial to note that in case of missing documents or the need for additional submissions, the applicant is notified, and the required information must be provided within 7 days. Failure to meet this deadline results in the termination of the permit issuance procedure.

The Migration Directorate forwards the applicant’s file to the regional directorates of the State Agency National Security and the Employment Agency. The written statements from both entities are issued within 14 and 15 days, respectively.

If positive opinions are received from the Employment Agency and the National Tax Service, the employer is electronically notified within three days of the grounds for granting access to the foreigner’s labor market. If the foreigner is outside Bulgaria, they have 20 days to apply for a visa type D from the message date. Within 14 days of entering Bulgaria with the visa, the foreigner must appear at the Migration Directorate, presenting a copy of the passport with the valid visa and valid mandatory medical insurance. Failure to meet these deadlines results in the termination of the SPRW issuance procedure.

Upon completion of the procedure within the specified timelines, the Migration Directorate issues the permit for long-term residence and work (SPRW). The permit is typically granted for three years, aligning with the term of the employment contract. Employers are obligated to inform the relevant territorial directorate of the Chief Labor Inspectorate within 7 days of the foreigners’ actual commencement of work by filling in special forms according to the model.

A Closer Look at European Directive 2011/98/EU

The term ‘Single Permit for Residence and Work’ (SPRW) is used because it is issued in compliance with a specific European directive, namely Directive 2011/98/EU (Directive 2011/98/EU on a uniform application procedure for third-country nationals for a Single Permit for residence and work on the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for workers from third countries legally residing in a Member State).

It is crucial to note, however, that while the SPRW is granted as a unified permit, it does not give its holder the right to reside and work throughout the EU. Instead, it is valid only for the territory of the Member State that issued it.

Fundamentally, the comprehensive SPRW issuance procedure is expected to conclude within two (2) months from its initiation. In exceptional cases, such as factual and legal complexity, this period can be extended by up to two additional months.

For those seeking assistance in navigating this process, Eurofast team in Bulgaria stands ready to aid in gathering the complete set of necessary documents related to SPRW issuance. Additionally, we offer step-by-step guidance to interested individuals throughout the implementation of the procedure at sofia@eurofast.eu

Natalia Rumyanova
Head of EOR Service
Eurofast Sofia