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Confusion Reigns over Bulgaria Residence for EU Citizens

Date: 30.09.2009

EU citizens are up in arms over confusion regarding their Bulgarian identity documents that have caused problems with residency and every day life.

After a investigation into the problems encountered with the Bulgarian certificate for long-term residence it has become clear that Bulgarian authorities are utterly confused over when and how EU citizens can use their identity cards and when they are allowed to apply for permanent residence.

EU citizens who contacted described the situation as "like apartheid" and urged the new center-right GERB government to take urgent action. They also described how they had been laughed at by Bulgarian banks, local government officials and police when they produced their "child-like" long-term residence certificates.

Before Bulgaria joined the EU, foreign citizens who had applied for a Bulgarian visa were rewarded with a card that had the same format as the lichna karta - including an LNCh identity number and a photo. However since 2007 when Brussels welcomed Bulgaria with open arms into the EU family, EU citizens have been met with confusion, annoyance and sometimes anger by the Bulgarian authorities after being issued with new long-term residence cards that do not include either an identity number or photo.

The Interior Ministry concluded that it is aware of the issue and stated that a bill is currently being discussed in the parliament to solve the problems.

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