Fraudulent identity documents [BGR42382.E]

The European Union (EU) described the Bulgarian passports and identity cards introduced in 2000 and 2001 as being "of very high quality from the point of view of document security" (EU 13 Nov. 2001, 80). The Research Directorate found few recent reports referring to counterfeit, forged or otherwise fraudulent Bulgarian passports or national identity cards among the sources consulted.

The European Law Enforcement Organization (Europol) and the Council of Europe describe Bulgarian counterfeiters as skilled in the forging of documentation and provision of false identity documents to illegal migrants (Europol 2003, 17; COE Dec. 2002, 72). In Bulgaria, counterfeiters have been apprehended for forging Bulgarian alien identity cards, entry visas (BTA 24 July 2002) as well as driver's licenses and blank forms for high school and university diplomas (ibid. 24 Apr. 2001). Bulgarian police have also confiscating the seals of the Interior Ministry, the prosecutor's office, border and customs offices as well as other state institutions in raids occurring in 2001 and 2003 (ibid.; ibid. 31 May 2003).

In addition, reports mention that police have confiscated counterfeit passports, visas and other identity documents of a number of countries, including Canada and the United States, from Bulgarian printing houses (ibid. 24 Apr. 2001; BTA 31 May 2003; LA Times 28 Nov. 2001). In October 2003, representatives of the United States Secret Service (USSS) met with Bulgarian representatives to discuss the need for "[u]rgent legislative measures ... to thwart the production of counterfeit documents" (Khristo Botev Radio 29 Oct. 2003). A representative of Europol was quoted as saying that Bulgarian state law on counterfeiting provided insufficient penalties for those caught counterfeiting banknotes and identification document (Sofia News Agency 18 Nov. 2003). In 2004, the USSS representative in Bulgaria stated that US and Bulgarian authorities had been successful in a number of cooperative investigations of the counterfeiting of currency and identity documents (BTA 27 Jan. 2004).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


BTA [Sofia, Interenet version]. 27 January 2004. "Bulgaria Wants Permanent Office of US Secret Service, DEA, FBI, Borisov Says." (Dialog)

_____. 31 May 2003. "Bulgarian Police Arrest Gang Forging Euros, Travellers' Cheques, Passports." (FBIS-EEU-2003-0531 2 June 2003/Dialog)

_____. 24 July 2002. "Bulgarian Police Break Up Counterfeit Euro Operation." (FBIS-EEU-2002-0724 25 July 2002/Dialog)

_____. 24 April 2001. "Bulgarian Police Raid 'Printing Houses,' Seize Counterfeit Currency, Documents." (FBIS-EEU-2001-0424 25 Apr. 2001/Dialog)

Council of Europe (COE). December 2002. Council of Europe Organized Crime Situation Report 2001. (PC-S-CO [2002] 6 E) [Accessed 3 Feb. 2004]

European Law Enforcement Organization, European Police Office (Europol). 2003. 2003 European Union Organised Crime Report. [Accessed 3 Feb. 2004]

European Union (EU). 13 November 2001. 2001 Regular Report on Bulgaria's Progress Towards Accession. (SEC[2001] 1744) [Accessed 3 Feb. 2004]

Khristo Botev Radio [Sofia, in Bulgarian]. 29 October 2003. "Bulgarian, US Officials Discuss Measures Against Money, Document Forgeries." (SouthEast Europe Security Monitor 30 Oct. 2003). Received by e-mail.

Los Angeles Times. 28 November 2001. Richard A. Serrano. "Innocuous Make List, but Notables Don't.",1,4477372.story [Accessed 2 Feb. 2004]

Sofia News Agency. 18 November 2003. "Europol Expert Mollifies Criticism for Bulgaria." (SouthEast Europe Security Monitor). Received by e-mail.

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including:

Centre for the Study of Democracy

European Country of Origin Information Network

European Union Candidate Countries, Page for Bulgaria
European Union.

2002 Regular Report on Bulgaria's Progress Towards Accession

European Union.

2003 Regular Report on Bulgaria's Progress Towards Accession


Migration News Sheet

Open Society Institute, Justice Initiative

Associated documents