In Bulgaria the state borders are guarded by the Border Police.

Photo: http://www.mvr.bg/Za_MVR/uniforms.html
Photo: http://www.mvr.bg/Za_MVR/uniforms.html

Border police officers wear green police uniforms with the insignia in Bulgarian: “Гранична Полиция” and in English: “Border Police”.

Border police officers guard the border check points for legal entry into the country at land or by air (the international airports). The border police also guard the border outside the official entry points – at land (green border), water (sea or river border), and air (air border).

Where a foreigner enters Bulgaria legally, he/she has the right to lodge his/her application for protection either before the Border Policy authority at the border or, later on, by appearing in person before the staff of the Agency for Refugees at one of its refugee centres (camps).  Where, however, the foreigner enters illegally, he/she is obliged to immediately declare his/her application before the first state authority whose staff he/she encounters. If the foreigner has illegally entered the territory and has not been apprehended and detained by border police officers, he/she is obliged to immediately look for such officers and let them know who he/she is in order to state his/her wish to seek international protection in Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria any entry of a foreigner into the national territory without documents, a visa and not via the official border crossing points is illegal and is sanctioned as a crime. Where the foreigner is a person seeking protection, however, the law exempts him/her from liability and prosecution. This is why it is crucial for such a foreigner to declare, immediately after crossing the border, that he/she seeks protection before the first state officer – in most cases, a border police officer – whom he/she encounters.

The border police conduct an interview with the foreigner seeking protection with the help of an interpreter and record all the statements in a written form. The records are read out by the interpreter and are signed by the foreigner, the interpreter, and the interviewing police officer. Where the foreigner has not stated his/her wish to apply during the interview, he/she still has the possibility to do so later on before the court.

If a foreigner has declared his/her application for protection before the border police officers at the Bulgarian-Turkish border, he/she will be transferred to the Distribution centre in the town of Elhovo. The foreigner will stay in the Elhovo centre for 5 up to 10 days. During his/her stay there staff of the Agency for Refugees will interview him/her, will take fingerprints from both his/her hands, and will determine the refugee centre (camp) where he/she will be transferred for the purpose of the procedure for examining and deciding on his/her application.

If, however, the foreigner is not seeking protection due to which he/she has not declared an application for international protection before the border police officers, he/she will be detained by the border police officers for 24 hours pending the decision on whether he/she will be brought before the court for illegal crossing of the border. In such cases, after the 24 hours expire or after the hearing before the court, the foreigner will be transferred as an illegal immigrant to the detention and deportation centre with the Immigration Police Migration Directorate.