Updated on 10 July 2023

If you have at least a high school diploma, you can have access to higher education in Bulgaria. In this article, we will briefly give information on general admission requirements and requirements for visas and residence permits for non-Bulgarians.

Where can I obtain higher education in Bulgaria?

You can obtain higher education in Bulgaria in:

  • Universities;
  • Specialised higher schools;
  • Private colleges.

The National Centre for Information and Documentation (NACID) maintains а register of all higher education institutions in Bulgaria, available here in English and Bulgarian.

Most programs are available in Bulgarian and in English.

Necessary documents

If you are a foreign national who is already residing in Bulgaria with a permanent residence permit or have a refuge or humanitarian status or you are a European Union (EU) or non-EU citizen, or a person with Bulgarian origin living abroad who wants to apply in a Bulgarian university/college, you need the following documents:

  1. An application form and a list of the higher schools and courses you wish to enrol in

You can find the application form in the section Students/International student of the webpages of your chosen universities. Here are links where you can find the sample application forms for some universities in Bulgaria:

  1. Original or notarized copy of completed secondary education diploma and diploma supplement specifying the period of attendance and the grades.

If you graduated non-Bulgarian secondary school, you need to submit a Certificate for acknowledged secondary education. The Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science issues this document. The certificate contains the grades in the different subjects recalculated according to the Bulgarian grade system.

  1. A legalized document issued by a competent authority of the country where you obtained your secondary education certifying your right to continue your studies at university.
  2. Legalized academic transcript – in case you are applying for a partial study period.
  3. A legalized copy of your Bachelor's or Master's degree – if you are applying for a Мaster's/PhD programme.
  4. Bulgarian language proficiency document issued by a Bulgarian higher education institution – in case you will study in Bulgarian and will not undergo specialized language training
  5. Copies of all your language certificates.

If you are applying for programs taught in English and your native language is not English, you must present proof of English language proficiency. Most universities require a B2 level.

  1. A copy of your citizenship documents – if you have dual citizenship, one of which is Bulgarian
  2. Document proving your Bulgarian origin (e.g. birth certificate) in case you have Bulgarian origin.
  3. Тwo passport size photos
  4. Additional documents that the university may require.

All documents must either have an Apostille stamp or a validation for their signature by a Bulgarian diplomatic authority (legalized) and must be accompanied by an official translation and a verification of the translator’s signature by a notary.

If you are a Ukrainian citizen, also check this article:

Legalization of documents and validation of qualifications for Ukrainian nationals

Important! If you are a beneficiary of international protection (have refugee or humanitarian status), you do not need to legalise your documents or certify them via apostille.

Application procedure

The application procedure for a Bulgarian higher education institution is different depending on whether:

  1. You have Bulgarian origin or you are a citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia– the conditions and procedures are regulated in acts of the Council of Ministers. You can apply via the online platform of the Ministry of Education.

If you have Bulgarian origin then you would not need to apply for visa type D in order to enter Bulgaria and will not pay higher fees as other international students.

  1. You are a national of a country outside of the European Union – you must follow the regulations and procedures of the higher education institution where you want to study.

Every university has its own rules and requirements.

  1. If you are:
  • a citizen of an EU/EEA Member State
  • granted permanent residence permit in Bulgaria,
  • a refugee or humanitarian status in Bulgaria

You can apply for a Bulgarian higher education institution under the terms and conditions valid for Bulgarian citizens. This means that you would not need to apply for type D visa and your tuition fees will be lowеr than the ones foreseen for non-EU citizens (see below section Tuition fees). If you are granted a permanent residence permit in Bulgaria or have refugee or humanitarian status then you also do not need to apply for an additional residence permit.

  1. You want to apply under intergovernmental agreements on educational, scientific and cultural exchange – if you are eligible to apply under this regime, you can send the necessary documents to the Bulgarian Ministry of Education through the competent institutions in your country. The conditions and procedures are laid down in the intergovernmental agreements;

Some universities may require you to write an essay or pass entrance exams for admission to a certain program. For more information, check the admission requirements for your desired university and program.

Some universities accept the submission of documents to be online and some require this to happen in person or through an authorised representative (for example a lawyer).

After you apply, the university will send your documents to the Ministry of Education in order to receive a special document which is needed for Visa D application. The Ministry will return the documents with an answer for acceptance or refusal in a month. The admission office for foreign students will contact you to inform you about the results.

If you are admitted to a higher education program in Bulgarian language, you have the obligation to undergo a specialised Bulgarian language training in order to be enrolled in the program you have chosen. Its duration is at least 9 months and at the end you have to take a written and an oral exam before an examination panel. Bear in mind that the training is paid (e.g. the fee at Sofia university is € 3,500). If you are fluent in Bulgarian, you can take the Bulgarian language exam without undergoing language training.

Tuition fees

Higher education in Bulgaria is not free of charge and you will have to pay tuition fees.

Keep in mind that if you are non-EU national (e.g. Ukrainian nationals who do not have Bulgarian origin), your tuition fees will be higher than the fees that Bulgarian and EU students pay. It will be around €3,000 per year or even higher depending on the field of studies and the university.


For specific information on tuition fees, admission procedures, and scholarship opportunities at the universities of your choice, we recommend you to visit their official websites or contact the university administration.

Issuance of a type D visa

In case you are a non-EU national, living abroad who is admitted to university in Bulgaria, you will need to apply for a long-term residence visa known as a type D visa.  

You can apply for visa D at the Bulgarian diplomatic or consular mission in your home country with the following documents:

  1. Visa application form. You will find samples in  Bulgarian, English, Turkish, French and Russian  here.
  2. A valid foreign travel document (e.g. passport) containing at least two blank pages and issued within the previous 10 years. Make sure to also make a copy of it.
  3. А statement from your Bulgarian high education institution which certifies your enrollment;
  4. Photograph scanned or taken at the time of application;
  5. Your 10 fingerprints;
  6. Proof of paid visa fee - 100 EUR.
  7. Valid medical insurance for traveling abroad covering the period of the intended stay with a minimum cover of 30 000 EUR;
  8. Proof of financial means of subsistence (e.g. bank statement) and housing (e.g. rent contract).

If you have Bulgarian origin, are living abroad, and have been enrolled in a Bulgarian university as a full-time student, you do not need a visa type D.  You need to submit a document proving your Bulgarian origin and apply directly for a residence permit.

Issuance of a continuous residence permit

Once you are accepted as a full-time student at a Bulgarian university and you are issued visa D (if it is needed), the next step upon your arrival in Bulgaria will be to apply for a continuous residence permit.

This permit will be valid for up to 1 year and can be renewed if you continue your studies. Every year you will be requested to provide proof from your university that you are enrolled for the next semester and you have paid your tuition fees.

The application for residence permit is submitted at the Migration Directorate or to a Migration Department/Sector/Group at the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior, together with the following documents:

  1. a copy of your valid passport providing the pages with the photo, the personal data, the visa D and the stamp indicating the last entry into the country;
  2. evidence of secured housing  (e.g rent contract);
  3. a compulsory medical insurance, valid in Bulgaria for 1 year.
  4. evidence of means of subsistence  amounting to at least the minimum monthly salary for the period of your stay in Bulgaria. In 2023 the minimum monthly salary is 780 BGN.
  5. a criminal record certificate issued by your home country in the last 3 months.  The criminal record certificate is requested only when you apply for the first time.
  6. a certificate of admission to study in Bulgaria issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, and a certificate issued by your university, proving that you will study there during the respective year;
  7. proof of a paid tuition fee at the university.
  8. proof of paid state fee to be issued continuous residence permit - 100 BGN. You can pay the fee on spot with a debit card on your name or in cash.

Are there any benefits for university students in Bulgaria?

Your university ID gets you discounts on transportation, tickets to cultural events and museums, and services.

You may also have the option to live in a university dormitory (if available) where the cost of living is cheaper.

You also have the right to work for up to 20 hours per week during the school year, and during the official holidays of your higher education institution.

What happens after you complete your studies?

After you complete your studies as a full-time student, you have the opportunity to remain in Bulgaria for a period of 9 months. To do that you need to:

  • register as a jobseeker at your local Labour Bureau of the Employment Agency within 7 working days of completing your studies (after you pass your final exam/defend your dissertation etc.);
  • submit an application to extend your residence permit at least 30 days before your current residence permit expires;
  • Present a document from your university certifying the completion of your studies;

You need to submit the application and the certificate at the Migration Directorate or at a Migration Department/Sector/Group at the Regional Directorates of the Ministry of Interior. Your permit will be issued within 30 days of the application submission.

If you need legal aid, you can contact the Foundation for Access to Rights via our Request Assistance form.