Bulgaria

The legal and policy framework in Bulgaria has some positive aspects and some significant gaps. Bulgaria is state party to most relevant international and regional instruments, including three of the core statelessness conventions. However, its definition of a stateless person is narrower than the 1954 Convention definition. There is limited data on the stateless population in the country, but the Government has included a new ‘stateless’ category in the 2021 census.
Bulgaria introduced a statelessness determination procedure (SDP) in 2017 with some positive elements, including appeal rights and some limited procedural rights.

However, there is a high standard of proof in statelessness cases and the burden of proof lies with the applicant. Access to free legal aid and the right to an interview are limited in practice due to language and other barriers. There is no lawful stay requirement to access the procedure, but there is no automatic legal admission nor support entitlement for applicants, so there is a risk of detention while their claims are considered. Since 2021, a person issued with a removal order for irregular stay will automatically be refused statelessness status. The determination of statelessness does not guarantee protection status, but there is the possibility for a recognised stateless person to apply for a residence permit and access some minimal rights (although this excludes the right to access the labour market and to have health insurance).

Stateless people are at risk of arbitrary detention, due to gaps in the legal framework and lack of a referral mechanism from detention to the SDP. Procedural safeguards, including legal aid and remedies as well as provision of information to detainees, are set in law, but rarely implemented in practice. Positively, there are safeguards in nationality law to prevent statelessness including in the case of children born in Bulgaria who would otherwise be stateless and foundlings. However, there is a potential risk of statelessness during the adoption process for a foreign child adopted by Bulgarian nationals. Risks have also been identified for children born to Bulgarians abroad where births have not been registered or birth certificates are not recognised by the Bulgarian authorities, particularly in the case of Roma and same-sex parents. Deprivation of nationality is clearly prohibited by law where it would result in statelessness, but there are no remedies if the law is applied incorrectly.

Poslední změna: 
Úno 2023
Odborníci na danou zemi: 

Dodatečné zdroje

HODNOTÍCÍ KLÍČ

++POZITIVNÍ
+ PONĚKUD POZITIVNÍ
+-POZITIVNÍ A NEGATIVNÍ
- PONĚKUD NEGATIVNÍ
--NEGATIVNÍ

DOPLŇUJÍCÍ INFORMACE

-NORMY A OSVĚDČENÉ POSTUPY

 

Mezinárodní a regionální úmluvy

Assesses whether countries are State party to the relevant international and regional instruments, including whether reservations have an impact on statelessness, and whether instruments are incorporated into domestic law. The four core statelessness treaties (1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons; 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; European Convention on Nationality; Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to State Succession) carry more weight than other relevant human rights instruments in the assessment.

Bulgaria is state party to three of the core statelessness conventions: 1954 Convention, 1961 Convention, and the European Convention on Nationality. It retains important reservations to both the 1954 Convention and the European Convention on Nationality, although the Bulgarian Government withdrew its reservation to Article 31 of the 1954 Convention in 2020 following a pledge to do so at UNHCR’s High Level Segment on Statelessness in 2019. Bulgaria is party to most other relevant instruments except for the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

  • Bulgaria is state party to the 1954 Convention, and it has direct effect. However, it retains reservations that have an impact on the rights of stateless people in the country.
  • Bulgaria withdrew its reservation to Article 31 of the Convention in 2020 and has pledged to consider withdrawing other reservations.
  • Bulgaria is state party to the 1961 Convention with no reservations, and it has direct effect.
  • Bulgaria is state party to the European Convention on Nationality, but it retains reservations impacting on the rights of stateless people.
  • Bulgaria is not State Party to the Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in Relation to the State Succession.
  • Bulgaria is state party to all other relevant international treaties with no reservations, except for the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families.

Údaje o obyvatelstvu bez státní příslušnosti

Examines the availability and sources of disaggregated population data on statelessness. Provides recent figures and assesses reliability of measures countries have in place to count stateless persons, including in the census, population registries, and migration databases. Notes whether statelessness has been mapped in the country and whether there are sufficient measures in place to count stateless persons in detention.

Bulgarian national statistics do not currently report data on stateless people as a separate category, though the Government has included a new ‘stateless’ category in the 2021 census, and there is currently a category of ‘third country nationals, stateless persons & unknown citizenship’. Separate government departments collect and hold some data on asylum applicants, acquisition of nationality, and lawful residents, which may be acquired through freedom of information requests. However, statelessness has never been comprehensively mapped in Bulgaria, there is no qualitative or quantitative analysis, and official figures are unreliable as, in practice, country of origin and nationality are often conflated by officials. Some data on the number of stateless people in immigration detention is collected and held by the Government, but this is not published.

  • The Bulgarian Government included a ‘stateless’ category in its census for the first time in 2021. According to the 2021 census, there are 539 persons registered as stateless, and the citizenship of 764 persons is recorded as ‘not shown’.
  • There is no quantitative or qualitative analysis of statelessness and no disaggregation of statelessness data by sex and age. Statelessness has not been comprehensively mapped in Bulgaria.
  • Some additional data on stateless people and people with unknown nationality is collected and held by the Ministry of the Interior, the State Agency for Refugees and the Ministry of Justice, but this is not routinely published.
  • Through freedom of information requests it is possible to acquire data from the Migration Directorate on the number of lawful residents who are recorded as stateless or of unknown nationality; from the State Agency for Refugees, data on stateless asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection; and from the Ministry of Justice, data on the number of stateless people who have acquired Bulgarian nationality.
  • According to the State Agency for Refugees,  in 2022 (until 31 August 2022), 55 stateless people sought asylum in Bulgaria. Refugee status was granted to 4 stateless people; subsidiary protection to 27 stateless people; and 11 stateless people were refused international protection.
  • UNHCR's Global Trends report indicates that by the end of 2021, there were 82 stateless persons in Bulgaria recorded as falling within UNHCR's statelessness mandate and 1,120 stateless persons in Bulgaria total, including forcibly displaced stateless persons. The number of stateless people is likely underreported, as those without legal residence are not recorded in the statistics, and the authorities may attribute a nationality based on country of origin without any investigation of actual nationality or statelessness.
  • Under its partnership agreement with UNHCR, Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR) provided free legal aid to approximately 48 stateless people in 2020.
  • The Ministry of Interior holds data on the number of stateless people in immigration detention but does not publish this. The reliability of this data is questionable as there are inconsistencies and people may be attributed a nationality on entering detention based on country of origin or historical or cultural links.
  • Upon request, the Ministry of the Interior stated two people with "unknown nationality" in were detained in 2020, and one person until 22 March 2021. It is unclear whether the term “unknown nationality” in this context specifically means “stateless”. Separate data relating to stateless Palestinians indicates that seven stateless Palestinians were detained in 2019, and five in 2020.
  • There is no data on the number of stateless people released from immigration detention.

Určení a status osoby bez státní příslušnosti

Identifies whether countries have a definition of a stateless person in national law that aligns with the 1954 Convention, and whether they have a dedicated statelessness determination procedure (SDP) leading to a dedicated stateless status. If an SDP is not place, it assesses whether there are other procedures in which statelessness can be identified or other routes through which stateless people could regularise their stay or access their rights. Countries are subdivided in three groups to enable comparison between those with an SDP leading to protection, those with other procedures, and those with a statelessness status but no clear mechanism to access protection. The existing procedures and rights granted to stateless persons are examined and assessed against international norms and good practice. Assesses whether stateless people fleeing war have access to temporary protection.

The definition of a stateless person and exclusion provisions in Bulgarian law mean that the interpretation of who is stateless in Bulgaria is narrower than the 1954 Convention. Bulgaria has a dedicated statelessness determination procedure, but the granting of residence and rights to people recognised as stateless under the procedure is subject to further conditions. Positively, there is no time limit for access to the procedure, no fee, there is a right to an interview and an appeal, free legal aid is provided by NGOs, and there is cooperation between asylum and SDP decision-makers. However, an application can only be made in writing in Bulgarian, the burden of proof lies with the applicant and the standard of proof is higher than in asylum procedures. Decisions are given in writing with reasons within six months, although in practice there have been cases of 'silent rejections' whereby no acknowledgement or extension is communicated within the timeframe. There is no protection during the SDP so applicants have no access to basic services and may be detained during the procedure. Stateless people in detention are, in practice, prevented from applying to the SDP. A recognised stateless person may apply for a renewable one-year residence permit subject to certain conditions and some minimal rights (although this excludes the right to access the labour market and to have health insurance).

  • The Law on Foreign Nationals has a definition of a stateless person. However, the wording 'in accordance with its legislation' is narrower than the definition in the 1954 Convention (‘under the operation of its law’.
  • De-facto exclusion provisions in the Law on Foreign Nationals are not in line with the Convention as they require lawful residence, although a cumulative condition was added to the law in 2019 to limit the de-facto exclusion of people who are considered stateless.
  • On 26 February 2021, negative amendments in the Law on Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria were adopted that introduce additional grounds for refusal in the SDP. The new law, in force as of 15 March 2021, provides that statelessness status will be refused to people who have held an identity document of another country that has not been renewed or who have been issued a removal order for staying irregularly in Bulgaria. Refusal grounds also include lack of means of subsistence and compulsory insurance, or having been convicted of a crime punishable by at least one year. These amendments constitute a major step backwards in the protection of stateless people in Bulgaria.
  • UNHCR provides regular training to staff responsible for examining SDP applications, and statelessness is included in general training provided by UNHCR to employees of the Border Police and the Directorate of Migration.
  • The National Institute of Justice reports that its training for judges, court clerks and experts on refugee law and the implementation of the Law on Foreign Nationals in the Republic of Bulgaria includes the topic of statelessness.
  • The National Training Centre for Lawyers does not provide training on statelessness, although FAR delivers statelessness training for lawyers in Bulgaria on an ad hoc basis.
  • Bulgaria has a dedicated statelessness determination procedure established in law.
  • The competent authority is explicitly the Director of the Migration Directorate at the Ministry of Interior. Applications may also be submitted regionally before the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior.
  • The law states that the Government should inform applicants to the statelessness determination procedure about their rights and obligations during the procedure, and applicants must sign a protocol to this effect. However, the information provided does not explain the application process.
  • Applications must be submitted in writing, in Bulgarian (or, if in another language, translated into Bulgarian by a certified translator), on a specific form. A government official cannot initiate an application ex officio.
  • There is no fee for the application and no lawful stay requirement or time limit to access the procedure. In July 2021, the regulations were amended to state that if the applicant cannot provide a birth certificate or proof of residence in Bulgaria, they can indicate the reasons for this to the Migration Directorate.
  • There is an obligation in law on the authorities to consider the application.
  • However, access to the procedure continues to be hindered in practice because applicants face a risk of detention. In practice, the authorities in immigration detention centres also predominantly refuse to accept applications to the SDP from detained stateless people and to forward the application to the competent authorities.
  • There is cooperation between agencies that may have contact with stateless people, but there is no referral mechanism in place. If an applicant to the SDP applies for asylum, the law provides for the SDP to be suspended until a final decision on the asylum application is made. Following legal amendments in 2021, this rule applies automatically, even where it may be possible to determine statelessness without contacting the authorities of a country in which the applicant fears persecution.
  • Cases have been reported of the Migration Directorate discontinuing the SDP if the applicant cannot present documents within an unreasonably short timeframe (usually three days).
  • The law requires the applicant 'to prove or justify his position as a stateless person', meaning that the burden of proof lies with the applicant, though it could be argued that the competent authority is obliged to clarify relevant facts before issuing a decision.
  • The standard of proof for the SDP ('prove or substantiate') is higher than in the asylum procedure, where there is a provision recognising that lack of evidence cannot be grounds for refusal of protection.
  • There are protective measures in place for minors, but not for other groups.
  • The Government considers the legal framework (Law and Implementing Rules) to constitute guidance for decision makers. There is no additional policy guidance in place.
  • Free legal aid is provided by NGOs and for certain aspects of the process by the Government, but access is hindered in practice due to language barriers, lack of awareness, and cumbersome procedures. Foundation for Access to Rights (FAR) provides free legal aid to applicants for statelessness status under a partnership agreement with UNHCR.
  • Applicants have the right to an interview and are informed in writing of the date, time and place of interview.
  • The Migration Directorate states that interpreters are provided to SDP applicants free of charge under the Law on the Ministry of Interior, but in practice, it is unclear whether this is done consistently.
  • Access to UNHCR is guaranteed during the procedure: UNHCR may access the applicant's file and attend interviews.
  • There is no evidence of the Government undertaking quality assurance audits.
  • There is no formal referral mechanism between the asylum procedure and the SDP, but if an SDP applicant applies for asylum, the procedures are linked in law. The SDP is suspended automatically if an applicant claims asylum, even where statelessness could be determined without contacting the authorities of a country in which the applicant fears persecution.
  • The Code on Administrative Procedure requires that decisions are given in writing with reasons. There is a time limit of six months set in law, with a possible extension of two further months in complex cases.
  • In practice, positive decisions have been made within this timeframe in some cases, but in other cases, no decision has been made within the timeframe and the applicant has not been informed of an extension, constituting 'silent rejection' under Administrative Procedure Rules.
  • There is no automatic legal admission for SDP applicants while their claim is being processed.
  • If applicants have no other right to legal residence, they have no right to work nor support.
  • If the applicant has no other right to legal residence, they may be detained for up to 18 months for the purpose of removal or for up to 30 days for the purpose of identification.
  • Amendments to the Law on Foreign Nationals in 2021 introduced additional grounds for refusal in the SDP, including lack of means of subsistence, lack of compulsory insurance during the procedure, and lack of financial means to return. The new law also provides that statelessness status will be refused to people who have been issued a removal order for staying irregularly.
  • The applicant has the right to lodge an appeal before the court within 14 days of the notification of a refusal, and then to appeal a first-instance court decision to the supreme court.
  • There is a fee for the appeal that can be waived if the applicant has no financial means; however, the fee significantly increased in 2019 from 5 BGN (3 EUR) to 70 BGN (36 EUR) to appeal a court judgement and 30 BGN (15 EUR) to appeal a court ruling.
  • Legal aid for appealing a negative decision is envisaged in the law and NGOs provide legal assistance.
  • There is some evidence of errors in decision-making in Palestinian cases, which the Migration Directorate automatically reject on grounds that the Bulgarian Government recognises the State of Palestine, and therefore treats Palestinians as having a nationality. Palestinian cases are not examined thoroughly on an individual basis, and enquiries are not made to clarify applicants’ nationality status.
  • Recognition of statelessness status does not lead to automatic legal residence. The possibility of applying for a one-year renewable residence permit was introduced in law in 2019. However, to apply for the permit, in addition to being recognised under the SDP as a stateless person, an individual must also meet general requirements for residence, including paying a fee of 500 BGN (250 EUR) and providing proof of subsistence, accommodation and medical insurance.
  • If granted, the residence permit protects the stateless person from detention, but it does not grant access to other rights including the right to work or healthcare. After five years of continuous residence, the individual may apply for permanent residence.
  • Under separate provisions, there is a legal possibility for regularisation for a limited group of people if they were born in Bulgaria or entered prior to December 1998, have stayed since that date, and are from a former Soviet Republic that does not recognise their nationality.
  • A stateless person recognised under the SDP who already has long-term or permanent residence may be issued a renewable travel document for a minimum of three months and maximum of two years.
  • There are no family reunion provisions specific to people recognised as stateless, but stateless people holding a residence permit will be entitled to family reunion rights consistent with that permit.
  • Statelessness status may be withdrawn if there is written evidence that it was acquired under false pretences.
  • No rights to education derive from statelessness status, although all children under 16 years old in Bulgaria have a right to education. However, if they do not have a residence permit, they are unable to acquire any school diploma or certification.
  • Stateless people are not permitted to vote in national or local elections, nor stand for election, nor join political parties in Bulgaria. Voting rights are reserved to Bulgarian nationals over 18.
  • The Bulgarian government offers temporary protection to everyone fleeing the hostilities in Ukraine, including stateless people, who entered the territory of Bulgaria from 24 February 2022. Initially this decision stated that stateless people needed to request temporary protection no later than 31 March 2022.
  • On 30 March 2022, this decision was amended so that people with foreign nationality and stateless people who left Ukraine because of the war and entered Bulgaria by 15 April 2022 would be granted temporary protection, even if they had not requested it. This amendment was subsequently found unlawful by the Supreme Administrative Court, because it established a restrictive time limit.
  • On 1 February 2023, the Bulgarian government extended the term of temporary protection until 4 March 2024, although the wording of the government’s decision makes it unclear whether temporary protection is granted again without the express will and registration of the person concerned.
  • There is a risk of detention for some refugees from Ukraine, including undocumented stateless people, who cannot provide any proof that they resided in Ukraine.

Zajištění

Analyses law, policy and practice relating to immigration detention generally, but focusing on protections in place to prevent the arbitrary detention of stateless people during removal and deportation procedures. Subthemes examine areas such as the identification of statelessness and assessment of whether there is a reasonable prospect of removal, procedural safeguards such as time limits, judicial oversight, and effective remedies, as well as the rights granted to stateless people upon release from detention and protection against re-detention.

There are limited safeguards against the arbitrary detention of stateless people in Bulgaria, as there are gaps in the legal framework, and detainees usually are not referred to the SDP, even where there are indicators of statelessness. The law provides that detention should be a last resort, but in practice people with irregular residence status are almost automatically subject to removal and detention orders upon identification. Although alternatives to detention are established in law, they are not considered in practice prior to detention. Some procedural safeguards exist in law, but these are often not implemented in practice. The law provides that detainees must be informed in writing of the reasons for detention, but in practice this is given only in Bulgarian, and interpreters are rarely present, so there is a lack of awareness about legal aid and available remedies. People released from detention are not routinely issued with documentation and have no access to other rights. Provisions in bilateral return agreements explicitly allow for stateless people to be returned, but practice is unclear.

  • Powers for immigration detention are provided for in law. Since the introduction in 2016 of short-term detention (up to 30 days) for the purposes of identification, the purposes of detention go beyond the ECHR (Article 5(1)(f)).
  • Alternatives to detention are established in law and consist of weekly reporting, a financial guarantee, or surrender of a valid passport or travel document. Alternatives can be applied together or separately but are not subject to a proportionality test nor time limit. In practice, NGOs report that only the ‘weekly reporting’ measure is applied, if any alternative is applied at all. The law provides that detention should be a last resort, but in practice people who are identified as having irregular residence status are usually subject to removal and detention orders and detained pending removal.
  • Amendments to the Law on Foreign Nationals passed in 2021 introduce a requirement to indicate the country of removal in a removal order, but they also give the authorities the power to change the country of removal without procedural safeguards.
  • There is a time limit for detention for the purpose of removal of 18 months. If a person remains in detention for the maximum period without being removed from the country, they are automatically released from detention.
  • There is a significant risk that stateless people who have no residence permit may be detained. The General Directorate of Border Police has confirmed that a detention order may be issued to a stateless person, 'after taking relevant circumstances into consideration'.
  • Vulnerability assessments should be carried out prior to detention, but statelessness is not considered to be a factor increasing vulnerability, and often other vulnerabilities which are recognised in law are ignored in practice. There are cases of stateless people who have been detained for several months, including elderly or minors.
  • Access to the SDP from detention is generally not possible without legal assistance and intervention by UNHCR.
  • Bulgaria has some procedural safeguards against arbitrary detention in place in law, but there are gaps in implementation and practice.
  • A maximum time limit on detention for removal purposes is set in law at 18 months or 30 calendar days for 'short-term detention'.
  • The law provides that detainees must be informed in writing of the reasons for detention, but in practice this is given only in Bulgarian and interpreters are rarely present, so there is often a lack of awareness about available remedies. Detainees are provided with contact information for organisations providing legal assistance, and UNHCR has produced a video with information about how to apply for asylum to be shown in detention centres. The law states that the grounds for detention should be reviewed every month by the Migration Directorate, but in practice this rarely happens, and the burden of proof is often inappropriately shifted onto the detainee to produce evidence of why they should be released.
  • The law provides for a right of appeal against the detention order within 14 days, but the timeframe starts from the date of detention rather than the date the detainee receives the detention order, requiring them to enter detention prior to being able to appeal.
  • A right to free legal aid is provided for in law, but there are many practical obstacles, including lack of awareness, challenges finding a legal representative, cumbersome procedures for accessing legal aid, and language barriers.
  • There is no guidance in law governing the process of redocumentation and ascertaining nationality.
  • In theory, detainees have access to the SDP, but there is no referral mechanism, and detention authorities do not refer detainees to the SDP unless UNHCR intervenes.
  • In cases where it is established that there is no longer a reasonable prospect to remove a detainee for legal or technical reasons, under the law, they must be released immediately. In practice, however, often the immigration authorities do not release detainees immediately, unless there is a court decision that obliges them to do so. Some detainees stay in detention for a long period (sometimes up until the 18 months maximum) even though they cannot be removed.
  • The state does not issue identity documents nor legal status to people released from detention, so they have no protection from re-detention, and no access to social security, housing, education or healthcare.
  • Cumulative time spent in detention counts towards the time limit of 18 months. However, FAR provided legal advice to a stateless person who had been detained for a prolonged period of time in 2006-7 and was re-detained in 2020.
  • Since 2019, there is a regularisation option for unaccompanied minors who have been refused asylum or never submitted an asylum application and cannot be returned, allowing them to receive a ‘continuous’ residence permit until they turn 18. They may then receive a further ‘continuous’ residence permit on humanitarian grounds.
  • There are provisions in bilateral return agreements that explicitly allow for stateless people to be returned, though it is not clear whether this has happened in practice. The Migration Directorate identified one case in a freedom of information request, but the person had residence status in the EU country to which they were being returned.

Prevence a omezení

Assesses the adequacy of safeguards in nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness, including facilitated routes to naturalisation for stateless people, and protections for otherwise stateless children born on the territory or to nationals abroad, foundlings and adopted children. Examines law, policy, and practice on birth registration, including access to late birth registration, and reduction measures taken by States to prevent and reduce in situ statelessness. Analyses provisions on deprivation of nationality and whether there are safeguards related to renunciation and deprivation of nationality to prevent statelessness from occurring.

Bulgaria has relatively strong legal safeguards in its nationality law to prevent childhood statelessness. Children born on the territory acquire Bulgarian nationality if they would otherwise be stateless (automatically in theory, but by registration in practice). Children born to Bulgarian parents abroad and foundlings also acquire nationality automatically. However, there are reported cases of barriers to acquisition of nationality for children born to Roma, and children born abroad to same-sex parents, due to missing birth certificates or refusal to recognise parenthood. In the case of adoption of a foreign child by Bulgarian nationals, there is a potential risk of statelessness as the child must apply for nationality before the age of 18. Birth registration takes place within seven days of birth and late registration is possible in law and practice, although a court procedure is required if more than a year has passed since birth. Cases of health services reporting undocumented migrants to the immigration authorities may constitute a barrier to civil registration in practice for some high-risk groups. Deprivation of nationality is provided for in law but is not permitted if it results in statelessness. However, there are no remedies against arbitrary deprivation of nationality.

  • The Law on Bulgarian Nationality provides that stateless people are entitled to apply for naturalisation after holding long-term or permanent residence for three years, which is reduced from the standard five years. There are no other exemptions based on statelessness – an income and language test are required.
  • Children who are not Bulgarian, but have at least one parent who becomes a Bulgarian national, may acquire Bulgarian nationality and are exempted from language or income requirements for naturalisation.
  • A criminal conviction for 'a premeditated crime of a general nature' may be an obstacle to acquiring Bulgarian nationality unless the applicant is rehabilitated.
  • There is a fee to apply for naturalisation: 100 BGN (50 EUR) for adults and 10 BGN (5 EUR) for children and students up to the age of 26.
  • According to the law, every person born on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria who does not acquire another nationality by descent, is a Bulgarian national by birth.
  • The provision is automatic in law, and there are no conditions relating to the status of the parents or residency. In practice, however, parents must file an application with the relevant municipal authorities requesting to establish the child's Bulgarian nationality. The municipal authorities then forward the application to the Ministry of Justice, which should check within one month whether the child would be stateless if not recognised as a Bulgarian national.
  • There are fees associated with making such an application, which poses barriers for some applicants, especially those who do not have bank accounts or are unable to prove their identity to the bank.
  • It may be necessary to prove that the child cannot acquire another nationality, and jurisprudence has established that a notarised statement from the parents is not sufficient evidence.
  • There is no obligation on the authorities to examine whether the child can acquire a nationality at birth if no application is made, and cases have been reported of failure to identify children who may be stateless because the mother cannot confer her nationality due to gender-discriminatory laws. The authorities do not provide parents information about their child's nationality.
  • In most cases, birth registration authorities automatically register the child with the same nationality as the mother without assessing whether the child has acquired that nationality, which may hide a risk of statelessness.
  • Foundlings acquire Bulgarian nationality automatically by law.
  • Bulgarian nationality can only be withdrawn if acquired through naturalisation and not by birth as in the case of foundlings.
  • There is no provision in law relating to an age limit for foundlings.
  • Adoption does not automatically change the nationality of a child under Bulgarian law.
  • A foreign child can apply for Bulgarian nationality up to the age of 14 with the consent of the adoptive parents in the case of full adoption and will be exempted from the general requirements for naturalisation. The child can apply themselves if aged 14-18 years.
  • There is a risk of statelessness in the procedure if the child loses their former nationality on adoption. This can be problematic if the child is not promptly naturalised as Bulgarian.
  • A child is Bulgarian at birth if one of their parents is Bulgarian. There are no further conditions on acquisition of nationality by descent.
  • However, cases have been reported of children of Bulgarian Roma and same-sex parents born abroad being at risk of statelessness. For example, in 2020 it was brought to the attention of FAR that some Roma children born abroad to Bulgarian nationals and brought back to Bulgaria as babies have issues proving their Bulgarian nationality because their birth was never registered in the population registry of Bulgaria, nor in the country of birth. In addition in 2021, the CJEU found that the Bulgarian authorities’ refusal to issue a passport or identity documents to a child of same-sex parents was unlawful. The child was born in Spain to a Bulgarian mother and a British mother. The Spanish authorities had issued a birth certificate recording both mothers, but the Bulgarian authorities refused to issue a Bulgarian birth certificate that recognised the parenthood of both mothers, even though this left the child at risk of statelessness.
  • According to the law, a birth certificate must be issued by the authorities to all children within seven days of the birth, recording the names, dates of birth, personal identification number and nationality of the parents. In practice, if parents do not have a personal identification number, birth registration still takes place and the certificate is issued without the personal ID number.
  • There is no legal requirement on health authorities to report undocumented migrants to migration officials, but there are cases of this happening in practice, which can constitute a barrier to civil registration.
  • Late birth registration is provided for in law and possible in practice after the seven-day deadline, but if more than a year has passed since birth, the certificate can only be issued following a court ruling.
  • The child's nationality is recorded on the birth certificate, but there is no obligation for authorities to examine whether the child has actually acquired the nationality of the country that is recorded in the birth certificate. In most cases, the authorities automatically register the child with the same nationality as the mother. Some municipal authorities have adopted a practice of asking the parents to declare the nationality of the child and requiring a notarised declaration signed by both parents. However, this is not based on law and practice is inconsistent.
  • There is a legal framework under the Code on Civil Procedure for determining the child's nationality and enabling parents to correct errors in the birth certificate after it has been issued, but there is limited practice so far.
  • There are reports of discriminatory practices against children born abroad to Bulgarian Roma parents and same-sex parents. In a 2021 case, the European Court of Justice found that the Bulgarian authorities’ refusal to issue identity documents to a child born abroad to same-sex parents was unlawful.
  • The Government does not have any programmes in place to promote birth registration. However, the Government has taken steps to improve law, policy and practice to protect stateless people and prevent and reduce statelessness in recent years, including introducing a provision providing a route to regularisation for long-term residents of Bulgaria who were formerly citizens of the USSR; introducing a statelessness determination procedure in 2018 and improvements to this in 2019; pledging to address remaining gaps at the UNHCR High Level Segment on Statelessness in October 2019; and withdrawing its reservation to Article 31 of the 1954 Convention in 2020.
  • Cases have been reported of Romani people in Bulgaria who are unable to renew their ID documents because they cannot meet the requirement to provide a registered address. This puts them at risk of statelessness, as, although by law they are Bulgarian nationals, they are unable to prove their nationality and consequently unable to access basic rights such as healthcare, social security, and access to the labour market. It also impacts on their ability to register the births of their children, potentially passing on the risk of statelessness to their children.
  • By law, deprivation of nationality is permitted in certain specified circumstances, but not if it would result in statelessness. The President is the competent authority to decide on deprivation of nationality and revocation of naturalisation. There are no remedies against Presidential decrees, so if the safeguard against statelessness is not observed there is no way to challenge this.
  • Deprivation of nationality provisions are applied in practice, including for reasons related with national security. For example, 103 cases of revocation of naturalisation were issued between 2012 and 2017, and 26 were issued between 2019 and 2021. There is no publicly available information about whether these persons were left stateless.
  • There are safeguards to prevent statelessness arising through voluntary loss or renunciation of nationality, although these are insufficient. There are conditions that must be met if a Bulgarian renounces (or is deprived of) their nationality and then requests for it to be restored. People who cannot meet these conditions could be rendered stateless.
  • Deprivation of nationality generally does not have derivative effects on the family. However, if naturalisation is revoked because the person provided false or incorrect information or concealed relevant facts in their application, this can result in the revocation of nationality of their spouse and children if they also acquired Bulgarian nationality on this basis.

Zdroje

Library of resources, legal instruments, publications and training materials on statelessness, specifically relevant to this country. More regional and international materials, as well as resources from other countries, are available on the Resources library. Domestic case law can be consulted in the Statelessness Case Law Database (with summaries available in English).

Please note that we are in the process of adding new resources, so check back soon.

Latest news on Bulgaria

Image for the WEBINAR: 2024 State of Play Assessment on Statelessness in Europe

WEBINAR: 2024 State of Play Assessment on Statelessness in Europe

In conversation with experts working in different countries, we presented our annual state of play assessment of key trends on statelessness in...
22 Bře 2024 / Albania / Austria / Belgium / Bosnia-Herzegovina / Bulgaria / Council of Europe / Croatia / Cyprus / Czechia / Detention / European Union / France / Georgia / Germany / Global / Greece / Hungary / International and Regional Instruments / Ireland / Italy / Kosovo / Latvia / Malta / Moldova / Montenegro / Netherlands / North Macedonia / Norway / Poland / Portugal / Prevention and reduction / Romania / Serbia / Slovenia / Spain / Statelessness determination and status / Statelessness population data / Sweden / Switzerland / Türkiye / Ukraine / United Kingdom

WEBINAR: 2023 State of Play Assessment on Statelessness in Europe

Join us for the online launch of our annual StatelessnessINDEX state of play assessment and hear about key trends from several experts working on the...
23 Bře 2023 / Albania / Austria / Belgium / Bulgaria / Council of Europe / Croatia / Cyprus / Czechia / European Union / France / Germany / Global / Greece / Hungary / International and Regional Instruments / Ireland / Italy / Latvia / Malta / Moldova / Montenegro / Netherlands / North Macedonia / Norway / Poland / Portugal / Romania / Serbia / Slovenia / Spain / Sweden / Switzerland / Ukraine / United Kingdom
SDP briefing

New Index Thematic Briefing: Statelessness determination and Protection in Europe

This briefing summarises how countries perform on stateless determination procedures.
15 Zář 2021 / Albania / Austria / Belgium / Bulgaria / Croatia / Cyprus / Czechia / France / Germany / Greece / Hungary / Ireland / Italy / Latvia / Malta / Moldova / Netherlands / North Macedonia / Norway / Poland / Portugal / Serbia / Slovenia / Spain / Statelessness determination and status / Switzerland / Ukraine / United Kingdom

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