Cessation and review of protection status


Country Report: Cessation and review of protection status Last updated: 18/04/24


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According to Article 17(1) LAR, international protection may be ceased if the protection holder:

  • Can no longer refuse to avail him or herself of the protection of his or her country of origin, as the circumstances that had given rise to fears of persecution have ceased to exist and the transformation in said circumstances is substantial enough and of a non-temporary nature;
  • Voluntarily avails him or herself of the protection of his or her country of origin;
  • Voluntarily re-acquires citizenship after having lost it, or acquires new citizenship in another country;
  • Acquires Bulgarian citizenship;
  • Voluntarily settles in the country where he or she was previously persecuted;
  • Has been granted refugee status by the President; or
  • Explicitly declares to no longer wish to enjoy international protection granted in Bulgaria.
  • Is deceased.

Following the decision of the SAR’s Chairperson to initiate a cessation procedure, a caseworker may suggest to cease protection based on available data indicating that one of the above legal grounds applies. The beneficiary of protection is to be notified by a letter with recorded delivery that such a procedure has been initiated, the reasons thereof and the date and place for a mandatory interview in which he or she will have the opportunity to raise any objections against the cessation of the protection status. As of the date of notification, the SAR has 3 months to issue a decision. Such decision can also be taken in the absence of opinion or objections by the protection status holder if they have not been made on his own failure.  When the SAR has not established the grounds for cessation, the initiated procedure must be discontinued.

The cessation can be appealed within 14 days after being notified to the individual before the respective Regional Administrative Court. The appeal can be heard at two court instances where the decision of the second instance, the Supreme Administrative Court, is final. Legal aid can be appointed by the court on a request of the appellant (see section Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance).

Although there is no systematic review of protection status in practice, cessation procedures are initiated by the SAR when the MOI provides information indicating that status holders have either returned to their country of origin, obtained residence or citizenship in a third country, or have not renewed their Bulgarian identification documents for a period exceeding 3 years.

In 2023, a total of 166 cessations were made. The cessations affected individuals from the following countries of origin: [1]

Cessation of refugee status: 2023
Country of origin Number
Syria 51
Cessation of subsidiary protection: 2023
Country of origin Number
Syria 100
Ukraine 14
Morocco 1


In 2020, an amendment to the law introduced an additional clause, which allows cessation or revocation of international protection where the status holders fail to renew their expired Bulgarian identity documents, or to replace them if they have been lost, stolen or destroyed, in a period of 30 days.[2] Despite being contrary to 1951 Refugee Convention, the amendment was aimed at legalising a malpractice applied by the SAR since 2018. This broadened interpretation of the recast Qualification Directive introduces de facto an additional cessation ground in violation of national and EU legislation. The undue cessation of international protection has affected 4,264 status holders in total, respectively – 770 persons in 2018; 2,608 persons in 2019; 886 persons in 2020, 105 in 2021, and 41 in 2022 and 0 in 2023.[3]

The introduction of said additional clause led national courts in some European countries to halt transfers of beneficiaries of protection to Bulgaria. In May 2022, the German Administrative Court of Düsseldorf refused to uphold a transfer of a BIP whose residency card had expired in 2019, considering that, in light of the new law and practices in terms of cessation and withdrawal, it was sufficiently likely that their protection status had been since withdrawn and that they would not be able to have it reinstated without presenting an entirely new application.[4]

In the Netherlands, the District Court of the Hague took several decisions concerning two groups of families potentially affected by the 2020 Bulgarian law on cessation of protection. In the first decisions from July 2022, the Court stated that this new ground was illegal under international law and that the authorities should ascertain Bulgarian practice on the matter and secure procedural safeguards, notably with regard to non-refoulement. The authorities however refused to do so, thus the Court contacted Bulgarian authorities directly. Once it had received the answers from Bulgarian authorities, in its final decisions the court concluded that there was a significant likelihood the families’ statuses would be ceased or withdrawn upon them requesting new identity documents, without their current need for protection being assessed; the families would have to file subsequent applications, which would be subject to an admissibility procedure. This would thus entail risks of refoulement.[5]




[1] SAR, reg. No. №РД05-31 from 15 January 2024.

[2] Article 42(5) LAR, enforced on 20 October 2020.

[3] SAR, reg. No. №РД05-31 from 15 January 2024.

[4] (Germany) Administrative Court of Düsseldorf, 12 L 1073/22.A, 25 May 2022.

[5] District Court of the Hague, NL22.2064 en NL22.2066 T, 8 July 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/42POziX; District Court of the Hague, NL22.2064 en NL22.2066, 26 October 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3nmnxiZ.

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