LGBT+ people in Bulgaria face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT+ residents. Like most countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Bulgaria holds socially conservative attitudes when it comes to homosexuality. Nonetheless, if you decide to relocate to Bulgaria, you will be entitled to essential support under the temporary protection for Ukrainians, such as the right to work, social assistance, education, and health care. Be aware that the state will cover the mandatory health insurance for 90 days from the date of the temporary protection decision. After then, you must pay for it on your own.
According to the EU Temporary Protection Directive, Bulgaria has granted temporary protection to those displaced from Ukraine due to the country's crisis.
Temporary protection is granted upon verbal request to the Border Police, the State Agency for Refugees, or other bodies of the Ministry of Interior (migration, police), to people who meet the conditions stated above. The procedure takes 5 to 15 minutes and temporary protection is provided immediately. After receipt of the Registration Card, you are entitled to the following rights in Bulgaria, without any need to obtain other registrations or permits. These rights apply for the duration of the temporary protection:
- right to stay on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria;
- right to work and vocational training;
- appropriate accommodation or means of accommodation if necessary;
- social assistance;
- medical care in emergencies;
- education for students and the right to access kindergarten for children under 6 years of age;
- right to return freely to the country of origin.
If you wish, you can apply for social services through the Social Assistance Directorate. The Directorate will provide you with complete information on which types of social services are appropriate for you, and the terms and conditions for their use.
At the Social Assistance Directorate (of your municipality) you must submit an application-declaration for an assessment of your right to assistance with:
- one-time social assistance of up to BGN 375;
- one-time social assistance for issuing an ID card;
- monthly social assistance (if you are entitled to monthly social assistance, you must work 4 hours of community service for a period of 14 days each month);
- targeted heating aid (submission period from 1 July to 31 October).
If you have temporary protection status, you can apply for one-time assistance.
The aid amounts to BGN 375 (192 EUR) and is granted to a family (consisting of one or more members).
As reference, you must provide the Registration Card of a foreigner with temporary protection, your personal document from your country of origin (e.g. passport), and your Address Card (issued to you by the Migration Directorate at the Regional Office of the Ministry of Interior or by the hotel where you reside). An application form is filled in with details about you and your family members. Within 27 days after submitting the application, you will be notified about whether or not you have been granted the one-off assistance.
You can receive the granted assistance in the post office nearest where you live, or in a personal Bulgarian bank account.
Ukrainian citizens with temporary protection in Bulgaria have equal rights to health care as Bulgarian citizens.
Health insurance for Ukrainian citizens over 18 years old (for women under 63 and men under 65) will be covered by the state for a period of 90 days from the date of temporary protection, or from April 26, if temporary protection was issued before that date. After that, health insurance must be paid for by the individuals with temporary protection themselves. Exceptions are children under 18 and seniors – over 63 for women and over 65 for men. The amount of mandatory health insurance contributions for those who are not registered as self-insured is BGN 28.40 (EUR 14,5) per month.
If you require urgent medical care, please dial the international emergency phone number 112.
On this page you will find hospitals and doctors offering free medical care for everyone fleeing from the war in Ukraine.
Depending on your status and future plans you have a few options when searching for accommodation. The Bulgarian government provides free accommodations in hotels throughout the country with meals included. Please note: from 1 August 2022, accommodation in hotels in Bulgaria is only available with an additional charge.
Alternatively, Ukrainians can settle in camps and recreation centres reopened by the Bulgarian authorities. The living conditions there are less comfortable than in hotels.
The other temporary option is to live in a property provided by one of many volunteers (NOT VERIFIED). This option is also free. The paid alternatives are mid and long-term rents.
EL*C has created a lesbian hosting network of individuals who have made their flats and spare rooms available to Ukrainian refugees. Please notice that EL*C can provide you with a temporary solution (up to a few months). Contact the relocation team at: +48 571 944 400 and email@example.com.
The country’s regional education departments accept applications from Ukrainians seeking or receiving international or temporary protection who want to enrol their children in kindergarten or school. Depending on the child's age, the grade completed so far, the location, and the parents' preference, refugee children and students are directed to a specific educational institution. The aim is to complete this preparatory work as soon as possible so that refugees can receive education and training as soon as they obtain official legal status in Bulgaria.
Pre-school education: you can enrol in a nursery only when the child begins to walk (from 1.5–2 years). Kindergarten is open to children from the age of 3. There are public and private nurseries and kindergartens. Payment for a private kindergarten is about 500 BGN (255 EUR) per month. In state kindergartens, the payment is about 50 BGN (25,5 EUR) per month.
Muzeiko is offering free day care and family time services for children of displaced persons from Ukraine currently located in Sofia:
- day care service from Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, for children in the following age groups: 4 – 6; 7 – 9; 10 – 12. This includes a daily programme and meals.
- Half-day care service from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm for children aged: 4 – 6; 7 – 9; 10 – 12. This includes a daily programme and meals.
- Family time for displaced families from Ukraine (children and parents together) to view Muzeiko’s exhibits from Wednesday to Sunday between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm.
Parents will need to present a Temporary Protection card and a Personal Foreigner Number (LNCh), which is included in the parent's registration card (from the age of 14 - registration card of the child), in order for Ukrainian children to be accepted in a kindergarten or school. The application can be submitted in person to the regional department of education or via e-mail. The education department will refer the child to a specific kindergarten/school. Your child needs to undergo a medical examination and be issued a medical card. After the interview, the child is assigned to a preschool group delivering compulsory preschool education, or to a specific school grade (or they are provided with a certificate of completion of a certain grade from a Ukrainian school).
The procedure for recognising documents on previous education is as follows:
- up to grade 6, documents are provided to the principal of the school;
- documents for grade 7 and up and diplomas are submitted to the education department (you need to pay a fee for this).
Higher education in Bulgaria is paid, there is no information on waivers or scholarships for Ukrainian students in the country.
DZ and the Romanian State Railway Passenger Operator /CFR CALATORI/ offer free direct rail transportation to Ukrainian citizens on the territory of both countries as part of the "HELP UKRAINE" campaign. Thus, you can travel by train to both countries using one ticket, and you do not need to purchase a new ticket when crossing the border.
Public transport in Bulgaria is paid, although inexpensive.
Ukrainians and their family members who have received temporary protection in Bulgaria have the right to work in the country without a special permit. You can register as jobseekers with the Labour Office at your permanent or current address. You will be asked to fill in the application-declaration form, and present all the documents related to your profession, education, etc. You will further be entitled to:
- Advice on the Bulgarian labour market and the specifics of job search;
- Services on career guidance, vocational education;
- Finding suitable offers for you, bringing you together with your employer.
Consultations and all possible assistance in employment are available in Bulgarian, Russian and English on the hotline of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy at 0800 88 001.
You can also search for vacancies on your own, for which we advise you to use the following useful contacts:
Bulgarian labour exchanges:
LGBT people in Bulgaria face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex marriage is banned in Bulgaria, as the Bulgarian Constitution defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Nevertheless, Bulgaria recognises same-sex marriages made overseas.
Same-sex couples are banned from adopting in Bulgaria. However, single individuals can adopt, regardless of their sexual orientation, though requests from single men are rarely accepted. Lesbian couples do not have access to IVF and artificial insemination, as it is only available to married opposite-sex couples. Nevertheless, since 2004, single lesbian women have had access to IVF.
In Bulgaria, a person's legal gender cannot be changed in any official document unless they undergo sex reassignment surgery. Only after undergoing sex reassignment surgery, a person's passport, driver's license, personal identity document, birth certificate, and uniform civil number can be changed to reflect their new sex. Furthermore, one cannot have sex reassignment surgery unless they have gone to court and received a favourable court judgement. Other prerequisites include being at least 18 years old and having been sterilised. Furthermore, such procedures are not supported by the state and might be expensive.
Bilitis is a resource centre supporting lesbian and bisexual women in their social, professional, cultural and domestic lives. Based in Sofia, the group aims to create support groups throughout the country.
Other organisations helping Ukrainians:
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee's programme for the legal protection of refugees and migrants running form the war in Ukraine has opened a hotline for legal assistance.
Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 18:00: 00359 8888 19 745 (hotline)
Bulgarian Red Cross helps with translators and chaperones, crisis accommodation assistance, psychosocial and medical support. They provide humanitarian aid, assistance in finding a job, as well as Bulgarian language courses and educational support.
- Blvd "James Bourchier" 76, 1407 g.k. Lozenets, Sofia
- (+359-2) 816 4814
Council of Refugee Women in Bulgaria provides information on the legislative framework and existing support, helps with translators and chaperones, crisis accommodation assistance, psychosocial support and humanitarian aid.
It is allowed to enter Bulgaria with pets, regardless of whether they have identification, a chip, passports or vaccination certificates. The relevant Bulgarian authorities have adopted a simplified procedure for these cases. For more information on this issue – see: https://www.bfsa.bg or write to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.