Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ About U.S. Citizen Services

An American Citizen traveling with a blue tourist passport does not need a visa to enter Bulgaria if he/she does not intend to remain in Bulgaria for more than ninety days within six months. If he/she is traveling on a diplomatic/official passport or plans to be in Bulgaria for a longer period of time, a visa must be obtained. You may find more information at:

Passport renewals generally take between 10 and 15 working days to process. Please see our online information regarding passport renewal for information on the application process and to make an appointment.

STEP is a free online enrollment program that allows U.S. citizens to input foreign trip and residence information. Through this enrollment you will receive updates on safety conditions in the country in which you are traveling or living, and the Department of State and the Embassy can use this enrollment to assist you in case of an emergency.

Visit the STEP site at for more information on the program and to enroll.

For information on traveling conditions in Bulgaria visit: The Department of State also posts Country Specific Information for other countries on its website. For recent messages to U.S. citizens in Bulgaria, please visit this page.

The Embassy can make certified copies of documents requested by SSA. This is a no-fee service.  Once you receive guidance from FBU-Athens about your application for SSN or federal benefits, please schedule an appointment for notary services at Please bring original documents. You also need to bring a clear black-and-white photocopy of each document. If you wish to have the photocopy done at the Embassy, the fee is $1 per page.

For additional questions about SSA services, contact FBU-Athens:

Federal Benefits Unit

American Embassy

91 Vasilisis Sophias Avenue

101 60 Athens


Contact Form:


You can apply for Social Security retirement, spouse, Medicare only or disability on the internet at  It is secure, fast and easy.  Once you submit the application online, print the receipt, and wait.  SSA will contact you in about 6-8 weeks to review your claim and to request needed documents, if needed.

The online hours of operation are:

– Weekdays 5 AM – 1 AM Eastern Time (ET)
– Saturday 5 AM – 11 PM ET
– Sunday 8 AM – 11:30 PM ET

You may find more information on applying and receiving federal benefits in Bulgaria.

Cats or dogs need to have a passport (your veterinarian can assist in getting a pet passport) and valid rabies vaccination (administered more than one month – but less than twelve months – from the date of travel). We have a web page containing the specific requirements. Always contact the airline with which you will travel to inquire about their specific requirements for transportation of pets.

U.S. Consular Officers may notarize documents (acknowledge signatures) for use in the U.S., but the Embassy does not legalize documents (apostilles). Notarial services are available by appointment only. For more information and to make an appointment, visit our website.

U.S. Embassies cannot provide criminal background checks since we are not a law enforcement agency and do not have access to law enforcement information.  The agency that houses a central database of criminal information is the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).  You will need to work directly with the FBI to obtain the necessary document.

Additionally, we do not take fingerprints, since this is a law enforcement activity.  However, you may be fingerprinted at a local police station.

We have detailed information on our web site about how to contact the appropriate offices and how to obtain fingerprints.

If you are carrying cash in the amount of 10 000 EUR or more or their equivalent in other currency, you must complete a cash declaration upon entering or leaving the European Union and submit it to a customs officer. For more information, please visit the website of Bulgarian Customs.

For any questions regarding customs requirements for the United States, please see:

A state-issued U.S. driver’s license is valid in Bulgaria only when carried and presented in conjunction with an International Driving Permit. For more information on International Driving Permits and general information on international road safety, please visit:

The U.S. Embassy does not perform or assist with the renewal of U.S. driver’s licenses. You may renew your state-issued U.S. driver’s license before it expires. If you wish to get forms and/or information from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, you may visit to find a link to the local DMV website.

Experience has proven that it is very difficult to apply for a new U.S. driver’s license from overseas. If your license expires, many states require that the applicant appear in person, and pass the road test, eye test and written exam.

Almost all male U.S. citizens aged 18 through 25, regardless of place of residence, must register with the Selective Service.

Dual nationals (American citizens who also hold a second nationality) also must register, regardless of place of residence.

The Embassy does not perform legalization of documents. Bulgaria and the United States are parties to the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, done at The Hague on October 5, 1961, (also called the Hague Legalization Convention). The procedures to be followed in the legalization of documents are as follows:

Documents issued in the U.S.: To be recognized by the Bulgarian authorities, such documents should bear an apostille, attached by the State (not federal) Secretary of State or the Governor’s Office of the particular state where the documents originate.  (You can search for state Secretary of State contact information.) In Bulgaria they must be officially translated by a translation company, and then the translation must be certified by a Bulgarian notary public.

Documents issued in Bulgaria and meant to be used in the U.S.: In order to be recognized by the U.S. authorities, such documents should bear an apostille issued either by the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice (for all documents, originating from the Bulgarian court, from notary public and the prosecution), or by the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (for all other documents – diplomas, birth, marriage and death certificates, bank documents, documents issued by other ministries, etc.) Translations of documents may be done either in the United States or Bulgaria.

Documents issued or notarized by U.S. missions or federal institutions in the U.S. and meant to be used in Bulgaria: Such documents should bear an apostille attached by the Authentication Office in the Department of State, Washington, D.C. In Bulgaria they must be officially translated by a translation company, and then the translation must be certified by a Bulgarian notary public.

If you are a U.S. citizen and wish to marry a Bulgarian citizen in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian authorities require that you make a statement before a U.S. consular officer, swearing that you are legally eligible to marry. This statement is not required if the American citizen holds dual citizenship and is also a Bulgarian citizen.

The statement is prepared by the Consular Section. It includes the full name of the American citizen (please bring your U.S. passport) and the full name, date of birth and current address of the Bulgarian citizen spouse. The fee for notarization of this statement is $50. The fee may be paid by cash in U.S. dollars or in Bulgarian leva or by a credit card. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and Diners. Personal checks are not accepted.

Please schedule an appointment before you come. Once you schedule the appointment, please contact us at to provide the full name of your fiancée, if accompanied by them.

The sworn statement must then be taken to the Consular Section of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be authenticated before you may get married. Address: 2, Alfred Nobel Str. Tel.: 02/948 29 99

For additional information about getting married while abroad, please click here.

All travelers should familiarize themselves with conditions at their destination that could affect their health (high altitude or pollution, types of medical facilities, required immunizations, availability of required pharmaceuticals, etc.).

While some of this information may be found on our website, the key resource for health information is the Travelers’ Health page of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at  The CDC website also provides general guidance on health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect-bite protection.

The CDC also maintains an international travelers’ hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or, by fax, at 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299).

More information can be found at the State Department’s Health site:  What You Need to Know in Advance of Travel

Duplicates of Bulgarian civil status records may be obtained only in person or by another person that is empowered for the purpose with a duly authenticated and translated Power of Attorney. The Embassy may obtain a duplicate of the Bulgarian birth certificate for an American citizen who is in a process of applying for Social Security retirement benefits.

Please visit to learn how to obtain vital records from each state in the U.S.

The Embassy may not provide legal advice. You may find a list of lawyers for your reference on our website.

The Embassy may not provide tax advice. You may find a list of tax professionals and IRS contact information on our website.

Please go to the website of Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a complaint there –  This is a center operated by the FBI and private sector partners to receive and analyze internet crime complaints.  When they can identify perpetrators’ locations and can link them to multiple crimes, they refer cases to U.S. federal, state, and local investigators for potential cases.