The Bulgarian government has announced that Schengen visa holders will no longer be subject to the same entry requirements as before.
All foreigners who hold a valid Schengen visa but have not used it to access a Schengen member state prior to Bulgaria will be denied entry into the country, per a new policy that went into effect at the end of April.
The Bulgarian embassy’s statement reads, “Holders of a double or multiple entry Schengen visa are only entitled to enter the Republic of Bulgaria if the double or multiple entry Schengen visa has been used at least once to enter a Schengen country.”
This means that all individuals who have recently obtained a Schengen visa from one of the 27 issuing countries will be required to enter one of the 27 member states or the originating country before being permitted to enter Bulgaria.
Confirming Bulgaria’s decision to no longer allow entry to those who have not used their visa to enter a Schengen country, the Bulgarian Embassy in the United Kingdom stated that eligible visitors could stay in Bulgaria for up to 90 days within a six-month period without a Bulgarian short-stay visa.
Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, but it has not yet joined Schengen. All holders of legitimate Schengen visas, however, are exempt from the visa requirement.
Since 2007, Bulgaria has implemented the Common Visa Policy of the European Union, and the country is striving to join the world’s largest borderless area.
According to a statement released by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Joining the Schengen area is a key priority of our country. The Bulgarian government is highly committed to fulfilling one of the key national priorities – Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area.”
Recent statements by Bulgaria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikolay Milkov, indicate that his nation may be able to satisfy the Netherlands’ requirements by October of this year.
Last year, in order to remove the Schengen veto, the Netherlands demanded that Bulgaria fulfil requirements regarding anti-corruption and judicial reform. This implies that the country will be able to enter the Schengen Area shortly after meeting all requirements.
Even though the month of October remains somewhat of a target date for fulfilling all requirements, Bulgaria intends to join Schengen no later than the end of 2024.