Any foreigner can declare his/her wish to apply for international protection in Bulgaria directly before the staff of the Agency for Refugees. The foreigner can do so by appearing in person at one of the refugee centres where procedures are conducted – Pastrogor, Harmanli or Sofia (Ovcha Kupel neighbourhood).
The foreigner needs to carry on himself/herself an application written in his/her language describing the reasons why he/she has fled the country of origin and is seeking protection in Bulgaria. The application may be written by the applicant himself/herself or by another person, if the applicant is illiterate and is unable to read and write. The application may also be written in Bulgarian but, in this case, it must be signed both by the foreigner seeking protection in Bulgaria and the person who has put down his/her statements.
If the foreigner has identity or other documents that are relevant to his/her story, he/she must also carry them on himself/herself and submit them to the Agency staff.
If the registration cannot take place on the same day, the Agency staff will issue a note indicating the date and time of the registration, where the foreigner must present himself/herself at the same refugee centre for the purpose of registration.
If the foreigner is accommodated at the same refugee centre, he/she must get out of his/her room on the date determined and precisely at the time indicated in order to make an appearance before the centre administration. The foreigner must carry the note on himself/herself.
Upon registration the applicant for protection is subject to a personal search. The personal search is carried out by Agency staff of the same gender: men are searched by male staff, and women by female staff. All the documents that the foreigner has on himself/herself are taken away to be stored in custody at the Agency for Refugees till the completion of the procedure with a final decision.
After the personal search, the applicant has his/her photograph and fingerprints taken. For more information why fingerprints are taken, see “Dublin procedure”.
The applicant is required to manually write his/her names and date of birth, as well as the names of his/her parents and siblings, spouse and children, if any. The incorrect writing of the names may cause problems after a status has been granted, in relation to the issuance of the permanent documents or the issuance of permission for reuniting with family members who reside outside Bulgaria. Declaring false names implies the risk of very serious consequences.
During registration, the applicant is asked questions by the Agency staff with the help of an interpreter. The data provided is recorded in a registration card which is signed by the applicant, the interpreter and the employee.
For more information about the types of documents during the procedure and after receiving a status, see “Documents”.
Afterwards the applicant is referred to the medical doctor at the centre for medical screening and analyses. While awaiting the results from the various laboratory tests, the applicant may be placed under quarantine, if there are signs that he/she may be suffering from a contagious disease.
After all the actions related to registration have been completed, the applicant is accommodated in a refugee centre or hostel. For more information on this issue, see “Accommodation“.