Social welfare


Country Report: Social welfare Last updated: 18/04/24


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Beneficiaries of international protection have access to all types of social assistance envisaged by the law.[1] The law foresees the same conditions for nationals, recognised refugees or subsidiary protection holders.

In practice, however, some types of the social assistance cannot be enjoyed by beneficiaries of international protection without additional special arrangements (e.g. interpretation, social mediation), which are not envisaged or secured to them by law or institutionally.

The Agency for Social Assistance (Агенция за социално подпомагане, ASA) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is the authority responsible for the provision of all types of social assistance available nationally.[2] The ASA has territorial units in every district and municipality in Bulgaria.

The provision of social welfare is not tied to a requirement to reside in a specific place or region. However, social assistance can be requested only from the ASA territorial unit where the beneficiary has his or her registered residence and formal address registration.

In practice, the residence requirement creates great obstacle for beneficiaries who had their domicile registered in the location of the reception centre where they were accommodated during the status determination in order to speed up issue of identity documents, until this was no longer allowed by the SAR (see Civil Registration). If beneficiaries opt to move and settle in another location, they must not only re-register their new permanent domicile – and on that basis re-issue their identity documents – but they still will not be able to immediately access social assistance services or available support, as many are also conditioned on residence in the respective municipality for certain period of time.

In addition, the overwhelming red tape and other formalities related to the submission of social assistance applications are difficult to overcome even for nationals and almost impossible for beneficiaries of international protection, unless supported by tailored mediation or assistance. Such kind of assistance, however, is provided entirely by NGOs of grassroots support groups and is therefore not always available.

Since 2018, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee has been litigating against the unlawful refusal of child care support to the beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. In 2022 the ASA applied same approach toward the child support to the beneficiaries of temporary protection. Despite the unanimous jurisprudence of the national courts proclaiming the practice unlawful and discriminatory[3] in more than 160 positive court decisions[4] ever since, the Agency for Social Assistance continued to maintain it until the date of this report.




[1] Article 2(1) Law on Social Assistance.

[2] Article 5 Law on Social Assistance.

[3] First decision №6608 from 13 November 2018, Administrative Court Sofia-City, 61st chamber, case №5349/2018.

[4] Bulgarian Helsinki Committee – 2018: 1 court decision, 2019: 13 court decisions, 2020:23 court decisions, 2021: 20 court decisions, 2022: 22 court decisions, 2023: 72 court decision / Foundation Access to Rights – 2023: 11 court decisions.

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