Freedom of movement


Country Report: Freedom of movement Last updated: 18/04/24


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There are no limitations on the freedom of movement of the beneficiaries of international protection. There is no difference between the rights of refugees and subsidiary protection holders in this respect.

Beneficiaries are not dispersed according to a distribution scheme. If applied, the integration scheme foreseen under the 2017 Integration Decree would disperse those who opt to be enrolled according to the area of the municipality which provides the integration support and which was chosen by the beneficiary. The 2017 Integration Decree, however, has not been put into operation so far, although for the first time since its adoption Vitosha and Oborishte Districts (Sofia municipality) starting from 2021 provided only 125 status holders integration support,[1] all with integration funding provided under the EU relocation scheme, not by the general national integration mechanism.[2]

Based on the two types of international protection in Bulgaria, refugee status and subsidiary protection (“humanitarian status”), the travel documents issued are also two types: (a) travel document for refugees and (b) travel document of foreigners granted humanitarian status.[3]

The validity of the refugee travel document is up to 5 years, but it cannot have a different validity from the national refugee identity card, which can be valid for up to 5 years. The travel document of individuals granted humanitarian status is up to 3 years and mirrors the validity of the national identity card.

National law does not apply any geographical limitations or areas of permitted travel. However, travel to the country of origin may be considered as a ground for Cessation of the status granted.

Bulgaria also issues two other types of travel documents related to asylum and family reunification. Individuals granted asylum by the President of the Republic are issued travel documents with validity up to 5 years. Family members of refugee or humanitarian status holders granted a family reunification permit who do not have a valid national passport or other replacing documents can be issued a temporary travel document to enter Bulgaria to join the status holder (see Family Reunification: Criteria and Conditions). The law does not envisage any specific duration or validity of these travel documents and in practice their duration is decided ad hoc according to the individual circumstances of each case.

All identity documents in Bulgaria are issued by the Ministry of Interior, Bulgarian Identity Documents Directorate. The usual time limit for issuance is 30 calendar days, but the beneficiary can pay for a speedy delivery within 10 calendar days.

During the period between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2023, the Ministry of Interior issued 12,424 refugee travel documents and 19,399 travel documents for subsidiary protection holders.[4]




[1] SAR statistics, 2021: 83 beneficiaries, 2022& 20 beneficiaries and 2023: 22 beneficiaries

[2] Statistics provided by the Bulgarian Council for Refugees and Migrants on 8 January 2024.

[3] Article 59(1)(5) and (7) Law on Bulgarian Identity Documents.

[4] MOI, Identity Documents Department, reg. No.УРИ 285300-323 from 2 January 2024.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation