Bulgaria announces new strict visa policy for Schengen visa holders

The government of Bulgaria has announced a change in the country’s entry rules for visitors traveling on a Schengen visa.

In a statement issued by the Bulgarian government, the new decision states that foreign visitors who hold a valid Schengen visa will not be allowed entry into Bulgaria if they have not previously entered a Schengen member country with the visa.

“Holders of a double or multiple entry Schengen visa,” the statement of the Bulgarian embassy reads, “are only entitled to enter the Republic of Bulgaria if the double or multiple entry Schengen visa has been used at least once to enter a Schengen country.”

Officially enforced in April, the new rule requires all travelers who have recently obtained a Schengen visa from any of the issuing countries to enter the issuing country itself or any of the 27 member countries, in order to be permitted to enter Bulgaria.

Confirming this new decision, the Embassy of Bulgaria in the United Kingdom said that eligible travelers will be allowed to stay in Bulgaria for up to 90 days within a six-month period without being required to have a Bulgarian short-stay visa.

A European Union country, Bulgaria has yet to become a Schengen member state. Nonetheless, the country allows all holders of valid Schengen visas to travel visa-free.

The southeastern European nation has however been making continuous efforts to join the Schengen area since 2007.

A statement by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “Joining the Schengen area is a key priority of our country. The Bulgarian government is highly committed to fulfilling one of the key national priorities – Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area.”

In order to lift the Schengen veto and allow Bulgaria to join the Schengen area, The Netherlands has since 2022 demanded that Bulgaria, first of all, meet requirements on corruption and judicial reform. As soon as the country fulfills all the necessary requirements, it will be allowed to join the Schengen Area.

Recently, Bulgaria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikolay Milkov, affirmed that the country should be able to fulfill all the demands set by the Netherlands by October of this year.

While the month of October is the target timeline to fulfill all the requirements, Bulgaria is expected to join the Schengen Area around late 2024.

Umar Ali
As editor in chief, I am always on the road, searching for hidden gems, undiscovered waterfalls, enticing hikes to explore, underrated delis, and more. Crafting compelling content that captures the true essence of each place is my passion. With years of experience in travel journalism, I strive to provide unbiased and factual content based on my real-life experiences. When I'm not out exploring, you can find me delving into local markets and devouring new foods, immersing myself in the cultures and communities that make each destination unique. It might sound like a tough job, but I love it!

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