Bulgaria Opens Doors to Schengen Visa Holders

Politics » DIPLOMACY | January 25, 2012, Wednesday // 19:10

Holders of Schengen visas will be able to visit and stay in Bulgaria without Bulgarian visas, the Bulgarian Cabinet decided on Wednesday.

The move is supposed to bring about a boost in foreign tourist numbers and foreign direct investment, according to the Bulgarian Cabinet.

Accepting a proposal by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet today decided that until the date of Bulgaria's full accession to the Schengen zone, Bulgaria will unilaterally apply a visa-free system for holders of valid Schengen visas. Thus, Bulgaria will apply the Schengen acquis.

The decision will allow holders of Schengen visas and residence permits to enter and reside in the Republic of Bulgaria for a period of no more than three months in any six-month period from the date of first entry, without needing to have a Bulgarian short-stay visa.

"In practice, this decision will affect the citizens of all countries that currently require visas to enter Bulgaria and the EU, respectively. It means that citizens of China, Turkey, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and many other countries who already have Schengen visas or residence permits need make no further effort to stay in the territory of Bulgaria," said the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry.

It added that holders of such visas mainly are business people with strong economic potential, seeking to make investments, while other potential beneficiaries are tourists wanting to visit Bulgaria's seaside or mountain resorts.

Progressive efforts by the Government to ease the visa system for citizens of third countries visiting Bulgaria for tourism or business have produced concrete results – in 2011, Bulgarian consulates issued 733 623 visas, 18% more than in 2010, the government said.

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Tags: visas, visa, visa-free, visa regime, Foreign Ministry, Schengen Area, Schengen Agreement, Schengen visa holders
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