Rules with Regard to Expiring Validity of Identity Documents and Residence Permits

The Measures and Actions during the State of Emergency Declared with a Decision of the National Assembly from 13 March 2020 Act, promulgated in State Gazette issue 28 from 24.03.2020, introduces rules which shall apply in case of expiring validity of ID documens of Bulgarian citizens and residence permits of foreigners.

The transitional and concluding provisions of the law provide for amendments to the Bulgarian Personal Documents Act, extending the period of validity of identity cards and driving licenses, which expire between 13 March 2020 and 31 October 2020, by 6 months. This extension is valid only for the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria.

Amendments have also been introduced to the Law on Foreigners in the Republic of Bulgaria – for foreigners with a long-term residence permits it is provided that they can apply for an extension of their stay up to 14 days after the state of emergency is lifted, irrespective of when their authorized residence expires. If the permit has expired while the foreigner is outside Bulgaria, then he will be allowed to return to Bulgaria without a visa.

Absence from the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria for the period of the state of emergency shall not be considered when calculating the periods of absence from the country in the assessment of the rights of foreigners who have a permanent or long-term residence permit.

These measures are also related to the 6-month extension of the period of validity of the residence documents for foreigners and EU citizens, when that period expires between 13 March 2020 and 31 October 2020, which has been provided for in the Bulgarian Personal Documents Act

The envisaged regulation raises a number of questions – for example, whether the periods of residence of seasonal workers, highly qualified employees with EU Blue Cards, etc. are also being extended, as they are usually treated as long-term residence foreigners, but are governed by separate provisions of the law. There is also no provision for extending the duration of permanent or long-term use permits for cases where this period expires, for example, in June 2020 and therefore renewal documents must be submitted in March or April 2020.