Bulgaria and Romania Join Schengen: Visa-Free Travel by Air and Sea for Residence Permit Holders From April

Ivan Petrov

The EU has agreed with Bulgaria and Romania, and the EU Council has adopted Council Decision dated 30.12.2023 (Council Decision), allowing Bulgaria and Romania to finalize the process of joining Schengen.

From March 31, 2024, Bulgaria, Romania, and the EU – plus Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland – will eliminate ID checks at each other’s internal air and sea borders. This will bring seamless travel and boost tourism and business opportunities within the bloc.

For travelers, the convenience of crossing borders without routine border checks is a substantial improvement in the travel experience and efficiency.

Bulgarian and Romanian visas will now be recognized as Schengen visas. This substantially enhances the value of a Bulgarian and Romanian visas, allowing travelers to access the entire Schengen zone, a region of 27 European countries. 

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The Council Decision also affects aliens with residence permits in Bulgaria and Romania. Various provisions of the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985 (the Convention) will now apply to Bulgaria and Romania.

Under Article 21 of the Convention, residence permit holders in Bulgaria and Romania can now travel visa-free within the Schengen Area for up to three months. This provision applies to aliens with valid Bulgarian or Romanian residence permits and valid travel documents (i.e., passports).

Bulgaria offers an attractive pathway for non-EU nationals to gain permanent residence. With an investment of BGN 1,000,000.00 (~€512,000.00) in approved Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) and Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs), applicants can obtain residence in Bulgaria. 

These investment vehicles must have a net asset value (NAV) of at least BGN 5 million and must primarily focus on investment in Bulgaria. They may be existing products or ones custom-designed for an investor or a small group.

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Ivan Petrov AuthorSubscriber

Having studied, lived, and worked in China for almost 8 years, Ivan has strong intercultural skills and extensive knowledge of China and East Asia. Prior to joining NBLO, Ivan was a lecturer in the Chinese department at the University of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. His personal interests include current affairs and social media. He is fluent in English and has professional knowledge of Mandarin Chinese.