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Moving to Sofia?

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Edmund Taylor

Living in Bulgaria, from the USA

"What makes InterNations really special is its great member base. All truly global minded people willing to support you."

Annabelle Molenaar

Living in Bulgaria, from the Netherlands

"At my first Sofia Get-Together I already met other Dutch women to chat with. InterNations makes the expat life so much easier."

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Sofia at a Glance

Moving to Sofia

Moving to Sofia will raise various questions for you. How to deal with the local authorities? Is a visa needed to live in Sofia? How best deal with the cold winters? Our guide gives all the answers to your questions about moving to Sofia, from administrative matters to the local climate.

About the City

Sofia is the capital and largest city in Bulgaria, with over 1.2 million inhabitants in 2014; this large population also makes Sofia the 15th largest city in the European Union.

It is situated at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain in western Bulgaria at the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. The majority of its large population (nearly 97%) is made up of ethnic Bulgarians; Roma (1.6%) and Turkish (0.6%) citizens are the two largest foreign-born groups.

There is also a growing population of expatriates that have moved to Sofia, drawn by the city's comparatively low unemployment rate and strong economy.

Visas for Bulgaria

Bulgaria has been a full member of the European Union since 2007, so EU nationals moving to Sofia will not need a visa to enter the country or stay there for less than a period of three months.

However, as an EU national wishing to stay for longer than three months you must register with the Migration Directorate of the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and apply for a residency certificate. Once you have lived in Sofia uninterrupted for a period of five years you may apply for permanent residency of Bulgaria.

Non-EU nationals moving to Bulgaria may in some cases need a visa to enter the country, although this depends on your nationality — you can check with your local embassy or consulate for clarification.

However, all non-EU nationals will need to apply for a long-term residence permit, issued for one year, before moving to Sofia. You can do so via your embassy or consulate.

Be advised that as an expat moving to Sofia without EU citizenship, you will need to provide evidence that you have at least fifty euros per day to support yourself until you can demonstrate evidence of employment. You may also be required to put money down as a deposit, which will then be returned to you.

The Climate in Sofia

Moving to Sofia means adjusting to a humid continental climate, where the average annual temperature is around 10.6°C. Like the rest of Bulgaria, Sofia has noticeably different seasons, with cold, snowy winters and warm, sunny summers.

However, because Sofia is at a higher altitude than the rest of the country, its summers are generally slightly cooler than elsewhere in Bulgaria. In the summer, expatriates living in Sofia can expect very little rainfall and temperatures of around 24.8°C.

The winter, however, is very cold, with temperatures dropping to −15°C. Snow is not uncommon, and the city has sixty days each year with snow cover, mainly in December and January.

InterNations Expat Magazine