Immigration Office in Sofia: Fines for Absolutely Nothing

Written by on September 21, 2016 in Bulgaria, Sofia - 6 Comments
This Lichna Karta was discarded today. Still, the Sofia Immigration Office wants me to pay a fine - for absolutely nothing.
This Lichna Karta was discarded today. Still, the Sofia Immigration Office wants the user to pay a fine – for absolutely nothing.
The wisest thing to do at Sofia Immigration Office is to get out of there as quickly as possible, after receiving the usual portion of pure bullshit.
The wisest thing to do at the chaotic Sofia Immigration Office is to get out of there as quickly as possible, after receiving the usual portion of pure bullshit.

There is nothing better than a nice little visit to the Immigration Office at Boulevard Maria Luiza. Two days ago, I had already handed in all documents they wanted, in order to receive a new Lichna Karta (I.D. card for foreigners). Today, I was going to pick it up.

There are two small booths for E.U. citizens. While waiting in line, I spoke to a Macedonian lady in front of me. She wanted to avoid the second booth, because “I don’t like that lady”. She meant the employee with her arrogant demeanor, who was bullying people, instead of doing her job properly.

When it was finally my turn, that same employee stared at me as if i had just run over her dog. She sent me to get more copies she did not need. But, the most scandalous aspect: She said, my old Lichna Karta was damaged. Indeed, it had a tiny crack (see photo), because it had been used for five years and since it was made of bad material. A tiny crack? So what? That card is already being discarded anyway. Nobody will ever use it again.

But, the Sofia immigration Office, a chaotic place where nobody speaks English, insisted on demonstrating what they think of people who dare to go there and make them work. They forced me to fill out a declaration, in Bulgarian, on which I was supposed to write down how, when and why the “damage” occurred. Then, I had to stand in line at another counter and wait a total of 45 minutes, until a lady came who wrote yet another report about that tiny crack. She said, I might have to pay a fine of around 50 Leva. Yes, 50 Leva for “damage” (a tiny crack, which is hardly visible), for a card which is not even in use anymore.

No, this was not the first time that place pissed me off. Neither was I the first victim of their caprice and bullying. The treatment at Maria Luiza reminded me of certain places at Sofia Business Park. Even the Immigration Office in Pyongyang is probably better, or at least not worse. Welcome to the European Union.

Addition: Minutes after this short article was published, several readers had already said they experienced the same. One expat lady, who lives in Plovidiv, wrote this comment: “Plovdiv Immigration office is the same, they won’t even deal with you if you haven’t got a Bulgarian with you, crazy. Can’t wait until the new year when we have to go there yet again.”

Second addition: Lots of readers have reacted by now. According to those living in smaller towns, things seem to be very different at the immigration offices there. They seem to have friendly and helpful staff.

By Imanuel Marcus

 

Yes, there is more: Check out the rest of Foreigners&Friends Magazine.

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6 Comments on "Immigration Office in Sofia: Fines for Absolutely Nothing"

  1. Patrick Brigham September 21, 2016 at 2:51 PM · Reply

    I went through similar procedures for fifteen years; remember these places are the last hiding place for the old commies and also people from families who thrived under communism. These antics are in order to prove that they have authority – of some sort – and they love winding up bloody foreigners. For those who think that communists are a thing of the past, go to Marie Louisa.
    In my day you were fined for anything – being a day late, a day too soon, not having this or that – but with the old blue passport of yore, this had to be inspected with considerable care, and many things could be found wanting. In the old days, if you were an important man or woman, you automatically spoke to everyone in a gruff and loud voice. This signified that you were not to be messed about with, or they would be in trouble. In the end, I found that it was better to use a lawyer or office manager, armed with a notarized permission, to act on my behalf. At least I only had to go to one office, and I did not have to undergo the ritual, and famous, Bulgarian humiliation.

  2. Glyn Thomas Jones September 21, 2016 at 10:55 PM · Reply

    I haven’t got to go there again now until 2025, the people who work there think they are God ! my second card I had a load of trouble with the “twats”, but my latest card everything ran smoothly, must have been the odd occasion the women there did not have PMT !

  3. Isabella Clochard September 23, 2016 at 4:42 PM · Reply

    You wrote, ‘One expat lady, who lives in Plovidiv, wrote this comment: “Plovdiv Immigration office is the same, they won’t even deal with you if you haven’t got a Bulgarian with you…”’

    They won’t deal with you without a Bulgarian mediator because they can’t. The last time I was there (March 2016), I noticed that their only English-speaking clerk had left – presumably to have the baby that she was noticeably pregnant with in March 2015. Her departure left two clerks who don’t know any English.

  4. Yoav Chudnoff October 13, 2016 at 11:03 AM · Reply

    I have not really had the problems you have faced in the past. Yes, it is a good to speak Bulgarian as it helps with the process. Yes, if you do not speak Bulgarian, bring someone along to help. But No to not being helpful. I have found the folks at Sofia Migration to be quite helpful, especially the first time around when submitting supporting documents. It is always easier to ask them ahead of time, before filing, what is needed, which documents need to be notarised, proof of residence and so on. I keep these documents in a file for the following year and have found the process to be relatively smooth once you have the paper bureaucracy figured out.

    As a side note, when I was there the last time, I was asking my questions in Bulgarian and the person behind the ‘window’ responded in English telling me to sign here and sign there and have a nice day.

    • Admin October 13, 2016 at 11:08 AM · Reply

      Lucky you! There was a lot of reaction to this article on Facebook. Most people who went to the immigration offices in Sofia and Plovdiv confirmed they went through the same crap as I did. The ones who tried those offices in smaller cities said it was o.k..
      Thanks for your comment! Have a good day!

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