Bulgaria relaxes visa procedures for Russian, Ukrainian, Belarussian and Moldovan nationals following an order signed by the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov this Friday.
The news comes immediately after Mladenov reported Friday morning that he has a draft ready for facilitating the visa regime for those countries.
Visas for organized tourism from Russia will be issued within 10 days of submission of the application (up to now the term was 10-30 days), according to a press release from the Foreign Ministry. The regime for multiple-entry visas is also going to be relaxed.
The mechanism for accepting and processing visa applications is going to be streamlined in order to be able to accept up to 500 visa requests in the period June 1 – September 15. The numbers of the staff at Bulgarian consulates will be boosted accordingly.
Russia has been demanding that Bulgaria lifts the visa regime, which imposes tough requirements for its citizens willing to visit the country.
The old rules, which include a ban on online applications, an increase in the fees and more complicated procedures, were introduced just before the beginning of the summer season and have been harshly criticized by local tour operators.
According to the Foreign Ministry, the new measures “are going to help satisfy the increasing interest on the part of tourists and tour operators in Bulgarian tourist products”.
Earlier this year, relaxing the visa regime for Russian and Ukrainian citizens was announced as one of the Bulgarian government’s anti-crisis measures intending to boost the Bulgarian economy.