Legalization of documents for use in Bulgaria9 July 2021
Expat Assistance, Private Clients
In order for official documents issued abroad to be used in Bulgaria, they may need to go through a legalization process.
The type of legalization depends on whether:
- A bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (“MLAA”) is in place between Bulgaria and the document issuing state; OR
- the issuing state is a member of The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents (“The Hague Convention”), OR
- the issuing state does not fall into either of the first two groups.
Please note further that within the European Union, certain documents are exempt from the requirement for legalization – other than under the bilateral treaty exemption described below. We do not cover these in this note.
Documents entirely exempt from legalization
Bulgaria has a network of some 20 bilateral MLAAs exempting official and private documents from any certifications and/or legalizations. These states range from former Soviet Union countries, including the Russian Federation and the Ukraine to countries like France and Austria.
For an up-to-date list of countries, please contact us via the contact form on the right.
Documents that must be certified with an Apostille
Documents issued by the authorities of a foreign state that is a party to the Hague Convention must be certified by an apostille issued by the authorities designated by it. Once a document issued by such a state is legalized with an apostille, it is not subject to further legalization or certification.
Parties to the Hague Convention:
Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Albania, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Barbados, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei, Bulgaria, Vanuatu, UK, Venezuela, Germany, Grenada, Georgia Greece, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Israel, India, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Cape Verde, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions (China), Colombia, Korea, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Macedonia, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Namibia, Niue, New Zealand, Norway, Cook Islands, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation , El Salvador, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Swaziland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kids and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Suriname, United States, Serbia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turga Ukraine, Hungary, Fiji, Finland, France, Netherlands, Honduras, Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Switzerland, Sweden, South Africa, Japan
Countries join the Hague Convention on a regular basis; watch this space.
We often assist clients with the issuance of apostilles from different countries.
Documents requiring double legalization
Documents issued by a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention and with which the Republic of Bulgaria does not have a valid MLAA are subject to legalization in accordance with the Rules on Legalization, Certification and Translation of Documents and Other Documents.
These documents and other papers abroad are legalized by the Bulgarian diplomatic and consular missions once they have been certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country in which the missions are located. Foreign documents legalized by the diplomatic or consular missions of the Republic of Bulgaria do not need additional certification and are valid in Bulgaria.
In Bulgaria, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs legalizes documents and other documents originating from another country after they are certified by the diplomatic or consular mission of that country in Bulgaria or by a diplomatic or consular mission represented by another one in Bulgaria.
If Bulgaria is not represented in the issuing country, then documents need to be sent to the accredited consulate for that jurisdiction. Those vary and we will be happy to advise you.
Legalizations of documents and other papers originating from a country with which Bulgaria has no diplomatic relations is performed by the diplomatic or consular missions of Bulgaria in a third country where it is represented and of the country from which the document originates. In these cases, the document is legalized only if it is certified by the foreign representation of the country from which the document originates and by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the third country in which the foreign and Bulgarian representation is located.