Bulgaria is not a popular destination for most Filipino passport holders. Unlike Netherlands, Norway, France, and Brussels, only a few know what’s in store in this Southeast European country so who would think of getting one? Even myself, I didn’t expect that I’ll go through the hassle of applying for a Bulgarian visa until I received an invitation from my boyfriend’s family in Haskovo, a city in the southern part of Bulgaria.
What is a Bulgarian visa?
It is a travel document that passport-holders of certain countries need to obtain in order to enter Bulgaria for a certain period of time. It is NOT a Schengen visa which gives the holder a freedom to travel within the Schengen zone. Just like other visas, a Bulgarian visa can be (1.) Short-term (Type C), (2.) Long-term (Type D), and (3.) Airport transfer (Type A).
For the sake of those who do not know it yet, here’s a brief description of the following visa types:
Short-term (Type C) visa: For stays not exceeding 90 days within a 6-month period. (eg: Tourism, Private Visit)
Long-term (Type D) visa: For stays that are 6 to 12 months long. (eg: Education, long-term business trip)
Airport Transfer (Type A) visa: For transiting Bulgaria towards your final destination. Not everyone needs this so be sure to check your case if you need one.
For this article, I will be talking about how I applied for a Type C Bulgarian visa. I know this visa is not really a hype in the Philippines because when I looked for blogs online, I almost didn’t find anything in the search results. So for my fellow Filipinos who need to obtain a Type C Bulgarian visa, here’s a piece of all the struggles I went through to get one. Hopefully, through this post you’ll be able to get enough information to get started with your application.
Note: Even though there are travel agencies that offer Bulgarian visa assistance, I did all these on my own since I couldn’t afford the agency fees. HAHA. #pulubi
Where to apply for a Bulgarian visa in the Philippines?
Probably the first question that you have in mind. I couldn’t find a definite answer on the internet when I was still preparing for the application but good thing I asked the Bulgarian Consulate in the Philippines for some clarifications. The assistant Bulgarian Consulate, Ms. Agnes Arro, answered my inquiries and here are what I learned from her:
- Filipinos applying for Type C visa for tourism should apply to the Bulgarian Embassy in Vietnam.
- Only those who are going to apply for Type C visa for work can apply through the Consulate in Manila.
Shocked by this news, I immediately emailed the embassy in Vietnam and was relieved by what I learned:
- Schengen visa holders can apply for Type C tourist visa through the Bulgarian Consulate in Manila.
- Personal appearance is still required.
- A cover letter must be provided since the application will still be sent to the Embassy of Bulgaria in Vietnam.
And since I already have a Schengen visa from the trip last February, I don’t have to go to the embassy in Vietnam. Upon my application, I sent the consulate in Manila a copy of the email stating that I can apply through them.
Location of the Consulate of Bulgaria:
Consulate of Republic of Bulgaria
Unit 706 Midland Mansion Condo
839 Pasay Road Legaspi Village Makati City
Tel # 894-5128 / 894-5127 TeleFax 894-5127
Look for Agnes Arro
When I went there, I was hesitant at first because what I saw was an old building. I thought I was in the wrong location because TBH, it was not what I expected. The elevator scared the hell out of me too because it was already very rusty and it was not stable. I just prayed that the cables will not snap and lead me to death. Luckily, it didn’t! HAHA!
For those who are applying directly to the embassy in Vietnam, here is some information that you might need:
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Hanoi
Address: №5 Nui Truc str., Van Phuc Hanoi, P.O. Box 10
Tel.: +84 24 3845 2908
Fax: +84 24 3846 0856
+84 123 940 9129
Official hours of the Consular Office:
Mon – Fri, 9 am – 12 pm
I was really impressed with the prompt responses that I got from the Embassy in Hanoi. To be honest, they even replied faster than the consulate that we have in Manila.
How to apply for a Bulgarian visa?
Here are the requirements that I submitted for my (Private visit) visa application:
- Valid passport (should expire at least 3 months after the intended date of departure from Bulgaria, must have at least 2 blank pages, and has been issued within the last 10 years)
- Visa Application Form
- Passport size photo – must follow the guidelines
- Invitation from Bulgarian Host – the original copy must be submitted and should be notarized by the Bulgarian authorities.
- Medical insurance of not less than 30,000 EUR – the insurance should be valid in Bulgaria. In my case, I only bought the insurance from the Consulate of Bulgaria in Manila. You can also apply without the insurance but you have to get one once the visa is already approved. You will then receive your visa after you submitted a copy of your insurance policy.
- Proof of financial capacity – this should be EUR 50 per day of stay in Bulgaria. I submitted my bank statement for the last 3 months, credit card statements, ITR, and payslip for the last 3 months.
- Declaration by host person for accommodation and financial support during the visit – Even though I provided my bank statement and proof of financial capacity, I still submitted a letter signed by my host (my boyfriend’s grandma) which states that she will shoulder the accommodation and the extra expenses during my stay in Bulgaria.
- Copy of flight booking – what I did was very risky because my plane ticket was already paid even without the visa yet. So I prepared my documents carefully to make sure I wouldn’t miss anything and decrease my chance of getting approved. Don’t follow what I did though. You can ask for a travel agency to reserve the flight for a certain fee and pay it once the visa is approved.
- Proof of rootedness – this is one of the most important documents in every visa application. You have to convince the officers that you are not planning to stay illegally in their country. I submitted a Certificate of Employment and Leave of Absence signed by my employer.
- Cover letter – since I applied through the Consulate in Manila, they required me to make a cover letter which explains my intention of traveling to Bulgaria and my relationship with the inviting person.
- Other supporting documents – I also submitted a copy of my host’s ID, my boyfriend’s passport, and some pictures as proof that we knew each other personally. IMO, I think it is better to show them more proofs than to miss something. The goal is to really convince the officers that you are not planning to be an illegal immigrant so give them proofs that can shut down their speculations. There’s also a risk of submitting a lot of documents. So be sure that all your documents support each other. Always
double checktriple check if there are any documents that do not coincide.
Aside from the requirements, here are the important things that you should know too:
- Visa fee – Visa fee is EUR 60. In my case, I had to pay the visa fee directly to the Embassy in Vietnam via wire transfer (outward remittance). I was instructed to go to the nearest BPI branch which was the one in Greenbelt 3. I paid the EUR 60 along with the bank charges so I paid ₱6432.45 in total.
- Courier fee – The consulate need to send my passport to Vietnam and back to the Philippines. I was also surprised that I had to shoulder the expenses. I wanted to complain but I decided to just let it go since I badly need the passport (to visit my boyfriend).
- Insurance fee – I don’t have an insurance for this trip so I got one from Pacific Cross Philippines through the Consulate in Manila. The fee depends on your itinerary. I got mine (CEB-HKG-IST-SOF and vice versa) for ₱2,876.00.
- Processing fee – The Consulate of Bulgaria in Manila asked for a processing fee of ₱500.00.
- (for seaman’s book, it costs $70).
How much did I spend?
Excluding the plane ticket from Cebu to Manila (vv) and other expenses going to and from the consulate in Manila, here’s a breakdown of my expenses:
So there you have it, folks! I hope this gives you some ideas how to apply and what to expect when applying for a Bulgarian Type C visa through the Consulate of the Republic of Bulgaria in Manila. I got my visa after 10 business days. If you have enough time to spare in Vietnam, you can apply for the visa there and let me know how did your application go. If you think I missed something, feel free to comment them down below too.