Every citizen of an EU member state who wants to stay more than three months in Bulgaria has to notify the Migration Directorate for that stay. The latter issues a long-term residence certificate ("the Certificate") and an Unique Citizen Number ("UCN") is assigned to the foreigner.
Prior to Bulgaria's accession to EU, ID cards were issued to every foreigner who resided for more than three months in the country. Now, as Bulgaria is an EU member state, the citizens of other EU countries don't have to obtain such ID cards. They can use their own passports or ID cards. But in order to identify themselves before Bulgarian authorities (e.g. the Police Department, municipalities etc.) it is necessary that they have the Certificate.
Since very few of the clerks working in the state authorities can speak English or any other language except Bulgarian , it is necessary to identify yourself with the Certificate (which is written in Bulgarian).
The curious thing about that Certificate is that it does not look like a certificate at all. It is a rectangular, laminated, white sheet of paper measuring about 7cm x 5 cm with personal information details printed on it.
I think that Bulgaria's accession to the EU kind of surprised the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior. I mean that the above mentioned certificates are being issued while at the same time:
- the Ministry of Interior hasn't notified its clerks and the Police Departments about the existence of the Certificate, and
- the Certificate does not have the UCN printed on it