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Could I enter Bulgaria with my British passport if both my Bulgarian passport and my Bulgarian ID card have expired?

  • Any UK national can travel to Bulgaria on a British passport as it's an EU member state – JBithell Jul 8 '16 at 15:12
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    @JBithell: That doesn't necessarily answer the question. For instance, the US has laws that a US citizen must enter the US on a US passport, even if they hold other another citizenship that would also allow them entry. I think the question here is whether Bulgaria might have a similar law. – Nate Eldredge Jul 8 '16 at 15:34
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    @JBithell: Well, it appeared misleading, because if Bulgaria does have such a law then it's not true that "Any UK national can travel to Bulgaria on a British passport"; those who are also Bulgarian citizens would not be allowed to do so. – Nate Eldredge Jul 8 '16 at 15:56
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    Are you asking for an answer strictly about the legality of it, or of the practical likelihood that you would be allowed to cross the border? Given the minimal checks that EU citizens are supposed to be subjected to when crossing EU borders, it's quite possible that when you present a British passport the border guard would not give much thought to whether you are also a Bulgarian national. – phoog Jul 8 '16 at 16:11
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    You should also take into account the very real possibility that you are allowed to enter Bulgaria with an expired Bulgarian passport or ID card; many countries allow this. (Some EU countries even recognize expired travel documents from other EU countries -- I read this in the last couple of days here, but I don't remember which country it was.) – phoog Jul 8 '16 at 16:17
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Bulgaria technically does require a travel document, even Bulgarian ones, to be unexpired. In practice, of course, it's extremely unlikely that they'd actually deny you entry: however, getting on a plane is unlikely to be possible, as airlines have Information about the requirements.

My Suggestion is: use your British passport at check-in. Then, at Bulgarian immigration, Show 1. your British passport and 2. your expired Bulgarian ID Card (or passport)

Because, although British citizens technically cannot be refused entry to Bulgaria other than on security-related grounds, in practice if you have a Bulgarian first or last name, or otherwise appear to be of Bulgarian origin, presenting one of your Bulgarian documents is likely to prevent possible harassment.

I'm partially of Hungarian origin and have a Hungarian surname, but am actually Swedish (and solely a Swedish citizen), and I've been harassed by the Hungarians for only holding a Swedish ID Card. After I turned out to only have basic knowledge of the language, however, they were surprised and let me go

  • Is it required to show the Bulgarian ID card because OP is Bulgarian? Since British citizens can enter Bulgaria too? – Belle-Sophie Jul 9 '16 at 19:17
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    @J.Constantine If he/she has a Bulgarian first or last name, or otherwise appears to be of Bulgarian origin, it's the easiest thing to do to prevent possible harassment. That said, of course, they really cannot deny a British citizen entry other than on security grounds. I'm partially of Hungarian origin and have a Hungarian surname, but am actually Swedish (and solely a Swedish citizen), and I've been harassed by the Hungarians for only showing my Swedish ID Card. After I turned out to only have basic knowledge of the language, however, they were surprised and let me go – Crazydre Jul 9 '16 at 19:27
  • fair enough. I think you should at that to the answer, as it explains a fair bit. – Belle-Sophie Jul 9 '16 at 19:44
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A foreigner may enter the Republic of Bulgaria if he/ she is a holder of a regular foreign travel document or another equivalent document as well as a visa if required.

Source

I would argue that you are a foreigner (though this is contentious), as a British Citizen, and that as you hold a valid travel document - a British Passport, you should be fine to enter the country.

I think it would be best to clarify with the embassy though if you are unsure (you should be able to renew your passport there too) - there's one in London

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    It's quite likely that "foreigner" is defined as person who is not a Bulgarian national. That is how "alien" is defined in US law, anyway, so dual nationals of the US and other countries cannot claim to be aliens. If Bulgarian law is similar (and I imagine nearly all countries follow a similar practice), this answer doesn't help much. – phoog Jul 8 '16 at 16:12
  • By international conventions citizens of a country are never treated as foreigners while in that country. That even goes so far that countries don't give consular help for their own citizens when they are in a country they also hold a nationality of. – neo Jul 8 '16 at 16:12
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    @neo but international conventions don't apply here; only Bulgarian law does. For example, some countries (notably the UK) don't much care if their citizens enter with passports of other countries. Other countries (notably the US) do care, though the consequenses of failing to do so seem to be nothing more than a delay at the border and a stern lecture. – phoog Jul 8 '16 at 16:13
  • @phoog Sure (and I know nothing about Bulgarian law therefore no answer from me). But I can't imagine any country in the world treating their own citizens as foreigners just because they present a foreign passport (well, apart from the cases that would mean they lost their citizenship) – neo Jul 8 '16 at 16:16
  • @neo and apart from the trivial case of giving them a (legally meaningless) stamp in the passport that appears to limit their stay in the country... – phoog Jul 8 '16 at 16:23

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